This easy to make treat is sinful and full of cozy holiday cheer – these Brown Butter Toffee Shortbread with Chocolate Ganache made a great holiday treat or homemade gift. Learn how to Make Your Own Brown Butter HERE!
I live in a testosterone filled household. I mean it’s only 2:1, and one of the two has no balls to hang (It’s Huck…he’s neutered) – but I am still outnumbered in “Man”. And there is definitely a camaraderie there leaving me in the dust. Huck has his people – me and Ben, and it is very clear to me that that mutt is firmly on the side of Ben right now. And I have a serious case of the sads. #DogMomProblems
Mom is the evil one who cleans the allergic-to-everything-under-the-sun puppy ears, clips the paws, restricts his food intake so he doesn’t balloon to become a walking barrel on toothpick legs and cuddles with him against his will.
Did I mention that I’m the one that lets him on the bed? Yeah… I’m the evil one!!
But Ben does all the cool stuff. Like Dads do. Ben takes him out, scratches him ’til cows come home, plays tug-o-war until his shoulder comes out of its socket, doesn’t clean the mutt’s ears, or give him a bath (except that one time…), and gives him treats just because he’s a big giant two legged pushover. Dads are always the cool ones.
Huck has to know where his people are at all times and wanders around the house making sure he is right where he left you. In the morning after our morning walk and coming back inside Huck has the compulsion and need to go find out if Ben is still in bed. Every morning. For that reason I keep our door closed as much, even if it doesn’t latch without a swift yank. But that dog is persistent! He’s a bull in a china shop to get to his person in the morning and trying to stop him is pointless!
It starts off with “Huck, leave Ben alone…come here” all while making my lunch in the morning, which usually holds his attention hoping for some cheese or lettuce to fall. His response? “Lol. Nope.” where he paws off and HEAD BUTTS the door, bursting into our room to stick his big wet nose in Ben’s face, wag his tail, and then lay down right next to the bed. SCREW THE CHEESE!!
If having a toddler is anything like having to repeat myself, bathe them, did I mention repeat myself, and provide basic human needs – I’m going to need to have a LOT MORE shortbread around to get me through it. And a couple more years of well-tempered baby fever.
Learn how fall time is the best time for shellfish and learn how to shuck and grill your own oysters with some safety tips and step by step photos.
I grew up as a shellfish hater. Unless it came in chowder form, I wouldn’t touch it. What a load of wasted years!! I grew spending weekends at the parental’s place out on the calm, briny waters on Puget Sound, and averting all forms of shelled fish.. and the fish with too many or too few legs – fish of the star and jelly variety, if you catch my drift. But I’m finally coming around to them, 28 years later. So a couple weeks ago on our last visit out to see the folks, I wanted to be the Daniel-san to Bonus Dad’s Miyagi and learn the way of the shellfish, how to shuck the oysters and how to make his family famous clam chowder. See, no more shellfish aversion for me! I’m sold and I know you will be too. I mean just WAIT until tomorrow ’til you get this chowder. Your falls will never be the same again.
The shucking of an oyster is pretty easy – it’s the “try not to stab yourself with the shucker” that is the hard part. For people that love raw oysters like their life depended on it – shucking is how you open them up. For those who want to cook their oysters, you can open them up first, or apply some heat to them and they will naturally open. I wanted to learn it from the beginning, so I got snaps of it from start to finish.
Step one : Procure a shucker. Do not use a knife, oh dear lawdy you’re asking for it then. Even more so than with a shucker.
Step two : Find the narrow end of the oyster, where the muscle is.
Step three : Wrap your hand with a towel and FIRMLY grip the fluted and frilly, wide end of the oyster. And I mean Grip. It. Like you’re Rose and that Oyster is Jack and you’re never gonna let it go. *Note* Also make sure the cupped or bowled side of the oyster is facing downward. The flat side of the oyster should be facing upward. No losing juice here, people!
Step four : Wedge the shucker into muscle, and wiggle it until it starts to penetrate the shell. Once it does, twist your wrist to help pry the oyster open. Thennnn…once it pops open, run the blade along the top of the shell to dislodge the additional muscle that connects the oyster to it’s shell.
Step five : Remove the flat top shell, and run the blade along the bottom bowl of the oyster shell to remove the other side of that muscle that connects the oyster to it’s shell. The oyster should then kind of move freely in it’s shell. And no, do not drain the juice.
Step six – if you’re an oyster shooter : SLURP!! But that’s not for me. Don’t worry we’re getting to the good stuff!.
I’m one of those who prefers them grilled and not raw. It’s a texture thing. Slippery things just don’t suit me. Like, at all. Instead – we grill our oysters over the fire with a couple of not-so-secret-but-OMG-good ingredients. Namely, BUTTER. Duh. And Garlic Power sauce.
So once you’ve shucked all the oysters you can muster and your arm is the size of Arnold’s from back in his Terminator days, top each oyster in his little oyster shell with a little butter and drizzle with garlic sauce.
If you don’t have access to a fire with a grill during the winter months – take them to your gas grill!! They will be just as tasty. Let them heat over the fire until the liquid starts to boil and the oysters are no longer opaque. Carefully remove from the grill onto a plate – and let them cool for just a hot second so you don’t end up saying good bye to your taste buds forever. Then, devour.
All the work of oyster shucking is totally worth it. And if shucking oysters for just a few on the grill isn’t worth it – you can always lay them on your grill – rounded, cupped side down – and they will open naturally. Then you can gently spoon in your butter or sauce in then. It’s just easier with them all the way open.
Grill season isn’t over yet – and oyster season is just beginning in the PNW. Get to it – you won’t believe what fantasticness awaits you!!
Thank you to Yakult USA for sponsoring this article. Learn why Yakult’s exclusive L. casei Shiorta probiotic strain can make all the difference for digestive health.
Every year without fail, I can count on two things – one is getting super pumped and jazz-handsy about fall time and the other is getting sick. Fall is my favorite time of year, but the getting cold thing is obviously my least favorite. I eat (mostly) right, eating a good breakfast, having a yogurt for a snack, and an apple after work. I try to take my vitamins, usually having Ben remind me every night, and then eat my 17 servings of vegetables that Ben insists I have at dinnertime because three servings I already had plated was not enough. I married a farmer, so veggies are sacrosanct. Then lastly, I’m an avid lunchtime walker and after work runner, doing my best to stay active to keep my heart and the rest of me in shape. Well, a shape.
But for all of those things that I try to do right, I still get sick. Darn it. Recently I tried adding a probiotic to the mix to see if that would help my body fight the good fight and give my innards a little boost to keep my digestive system and hopefully my immune system in check. I’d like to think of those little bacteria as reinforcements to my intestines. I just never knew that all probiotics were not created the same.
Probiotics, like the one I recently tested – Yakult – can help with a myriad of health issues, helping bolster the system of those with possibly compromised immune systems or those who have recently been ill and may have just finished with a round of antibiotics to replenish the good bacteria the medications have destroyed. For those that are healthy, probiotics can reduce intestinal discomfort like bloating, abdominal pain, and other not so savory rear end issues. Have you ever experienced a UTI? A UTI is an overabundance of bad bacteria that has over taken the good in your urinary tract. Ouchie. Maintaining a healthy and active balance of bacteria can help reduce the number of uncomfortable and painful occurrences such as these.
Replenishing your body with the good bacteria before the bad bacteria set in can save you a lot of time, discomfort and pain in the long run and help keep your body and your intestines running at full speed, even allowing your body to take in more nutrients, like vitamins and minerals from the foods you eat.
Probiotics can really pack a one-two punch. The Yakult brand includes one specific probiotic that sets it apart from the rest, the Shirota strain. We have to remember that not all probiotics are created equal and some, although well intentioned, don’t always survive the entire trip to your intestines. The specific Shirota strain found in Yakult is shown to survive the entire way through your digestive tract, meaning it’s working the entire journey. A probiotics entire journey should not be for nothing – so picking one that can get the job done is important. After a week of drinking my Yakult, twice a day, I noticed a considerable reduction in bloating – super sexy – but if they reduce just that one side effect – what else could they be helping me with?
With fall in full swing, I’m determined not to let one cold get me down and hopefully continuing to drink my daily Yakult will keep me, my intestines, and hopefully my immune system in check all season long. And beyond.
This is a paid post sponsored by Yakult USA and Technorati. I received a free 10-day supply of Yakult Probiotic Drinks to complete my review. Although I have been compensated to help spread the word about strain-based probiotics, all opinions expressed here are genuine and my own.
Try these Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Almond Bars with Whole Foods 365 Organic Cranberry Sauce for your next holiday shindig! Easy to make and packed with flavor, they will be a hit at your holiday party!
I don’t know what it is about being kid at Thanksgiving, but you can’t go through the holiday without the infamous jellied cranberry sauce. It was, and still is, my favorite part of the holiday Thanksgiving spread. Even as a small child my mom would let me help open the can, slice it, and serve it to the whole family. I think it was me who ended up eating the majority of it every year, but it was mine and I ate it ravenously.
Even though this comical canned creation graces our tables only once or twice a year – it’s amazingly versatile and this year I will be including it into a new classic Thanksgiving Day treat, gluten free cranberry orange almond bars featuring Whole Foods 365 Organic Cranberry Sauce.
This semi-homemade treat is a cinch to put together, makes you feel like a kid when you get to crack a can and see it slide out of the can in one piece, and doctor it up with seasonal citrus and warm and cozy almond flavors. These bars will be hard to keep on the table until dessert time!
These can be made gluten free or with standard flour to suit your needs. They are delicious either way.
A fall twist on neo-classic monkey bread! Get stuffed with Apple Pie Stuffed Monkey Bread rolled in cinnamon, sugar and homemade Apple Pie Spice.Yesterday marked the start of my 28th year and I think it’s off to a pretty good start. Dinner with friends, carbs covered in marinara and wine is always a good way to do it. And I’m partial to sweet carbs covered in apple-y goo, too. Ben and I don’t make big hay over birthdays and that’s kind of the way I prefer it. In the way of keeping it low key we didn’t really plan gifts and really I didn’t have my eye on much of anything at all. So after last week’s dinner party with friends he spent the evening scoping out and man-drooling over the host’s entertainment set up and honed in on the Apple TV. As a self proclaimed Hulu addict, it was getting a bit tiring of watching my cell phone streaming Hulu while I was cooking all weekend and catching up on the shows I don’t get to watch since I am part of the pre-mature early bird special club. Being in bed as soon as primetime TV starts is really putting a burr under the saddle of my TV time.
And as it turns out Ben was just excited about getting the new Apple TV as I was and texted me as soon as it arrived to see if I wanted to open it myself or if he would like me to set it up and have it ready for my viewing pleasure. I can see right through that thinly veiled attempt at cloy… he’s really really bad at it. He was way to excited for his own good. So my birthday gift became a gift for me for him for me and us. Which is more than fine. And as soon as I woke up this morning what did I put on – nope, not my normal morning TV with the lame traffic an the traffic girl who we are convinced is wearing the same dress every. single. day. but Nashville.
Let me tell you it’s hard to pull yourslef away from the Scarlett-Gunnar-Avery triangle!! And don’t eveennn get me started on Juliette and Richie Rich!! What is THAT!?!
Even harder to pull yourself away from – is this Apple Pie Stuffed Monkey Bread. Just don’t be a hero – dive in an enjoy. It’s the holidays and I for one am firmly committed to working on the sweater body of mine.
Apple Pie Monkey Bread:
½ cup Milk, heated to 104 degrees
1 package Quick Rise Yeast
¼ cup Sugar
½ tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Butter, melted
1 tsp Apple Pie Spice
1 can Apple Pie Filling, roughly dice apple chunks
3 cups Bread Flour
Monkey Bread Coating:
½ cup Sugar
1 tsp Apple Pie Spice
Caramel for Drizzle
For Monkey Bread Dough:
Set up stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
In cup with heated milk, stir in sugar. Sprinkle yeast over the top of the warm milk and sugar - gently stir to moisten yeast. Set aside for about five minutes to activate yeast.
Pour warm milk/yeast mixture into stand mixer with dough attachment. Stir in salt, melted butter, apple pie spice together and start to mixer to incorporate together. Begin to incorporate the flour slowly until it has been fully added and just incorporated together. Turn mixer to medium-low speed and allow to knead for about 4 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Spray a ceramic bowl with non-stick spray and pour dough into the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a dark, and warm place. Place a towel over the bowl to make sure light does not get in as well. Let rise for about an hour. The dough should about double in size.
After dough has risen, spray a non-stick bundt pan with cooking spray.
In small bowl, mix together Monkey Bread Coating, 1 teaspoon of Pumpkin Pie Spice and Sugar. Set aside momentarily.
Take about egg-size sections of dough out of the bowl, and spread out into a small disk with your fingers. Add in 1/2 teaspoon of apple pie filling and then pinch together the edges of the dough. Roll each ball into the monkey bread coating and place into bundt pan. Repeat with remaining dough. When all dough has been rolled in coating and put into bundt pan, place plastic wrap over the bundt pan and set back into warm, dark place. Allow to rise another hour.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Place bundt pan on a baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the dough on the top of the bundt pan just becomes brown on top. Remove from oven and cool in pan for about 30 minutes.
To remove from pan, invert a large serving plate over the bundt pan. Grasping both the plate and the pan, invert the two and allow the monkey bread to fall onto the serving plate. Serve while warm.
Take a bite of this cripsy and totally cheesy roast turkey and veggie panini for those chilly fall nights. Its even better with a side of completely creamy creamless tomato soup!
I’m a hormonal, nesty mess. Every few months I go through this phase where I start house hunting, turn into this faux-mommy bird where I have to nest and have a house. It’s not in the cards right now and I try to remember that we have 11 months, 12 days and 18 hours left in the one bedroom apartment I’ve had for over four years.
It’s time for an upgrade. And NONE of this is helped by the fact that I downloaded the worst app for a person with this Nesting Condition known to man – the Zillow App. What have I done to myself? It’s pure torture. Really, getting my right big toe removed would be less torturous than this. And this is voluntary!! Clearly, I’m a hormonal nesting sadist – because I can’t stop finding the next perfect starter house for Ben and I. Of course it has to have a big yard – for Ben’s imaginary 1.143 acre sized garden that he says he’ll take care of…*cough* yeah right *cough* The kitchen for me, obviously, and an open layout, with enough updated appliances, fixtures and good construction so that I’m not going to be replacing a water heater within the first six months after I move in. Thankfully I have two wonderful sounding boards in this process that attempt to keep me grounded. Ben. And my mother.
Between those two- who are neck and neck for the title of cheapest persons on the planet – my mom always acknowledges my fevered desired for a new little abode to call our own with a little “yes, dear” and a pat on my pointy head, but (rightfully) discourages us on buying anything on the west side of Washington state because, truthfully we know it’s not where we want to be. And if her rationale doesn’t work she employs the next card up her sleeve – telling me that Walter White will be my new next door neighbor – so I better get used to seeing ATF jackets floating around, or that there is a slaughter yard back behind the house, to which the urge to go rescue all the cows with rough tongues and big doe eyes would over ride my all consuming love that is a hamburger. Buzz Killington.
She knows how to kill my imaginary puppies doesn’t she? But it only comes from a good place. She realizes that Ben’s and my goal is to end up back in the wheat fields of the Palouse in the next couple of years, after establishing his new career and I can blow this popsicle stand of a job. But it’s hard to be patient when you know your dreams are just a couple of years out of reach. At least my mom keeps me grounded out of the goodness of her heart, even if she has to resort to calling my imaginary neighbors Walter White.
And yes – while she is telling me all about the horrors of my imaginary house and trying to halt my self inflicted house hunting blues she always knows how to make me feel better – with carbs. We have that in common. This sandwich is one of my favorites – and it comes straight from the Mama. It’s a staple in our house using our Calphalon 5-in-1 Panini Press and Griddle. I love that thing to pieces. And I freakin’ adore this sammich. Yeah, yeah – and my mother, too.
Does anyone else remember much of first grade beyond recess and calling their teacher “mommy” that one time on accident and then getting made fun of relentlessly for it? Oh no? Just me? Well the other thing that I remmeber from first grade was my teacher Mrs. Patterson doing a weekly compilation of a little flip book in each of kids’ favorite color – where each student would write down one nice thing about that student of the week. Each person got to decorate their card with something nice to say, glitter the living daylights out of it and then she’d tie them all together and each student would read their Nice Thing out loud to the week’s recipient. Naturally mine was Hot Cool Pink. And I think I kept that thing up until lik the 7th grade when being a 1st grader was like, so behind me.
Anyway – what does this have to do with OKMH? Well – I feel like every other month when these packages come I get to talk about my friends and say my one nice thing about them. Except I have way more than one nice thing to say about each of them. Like this month – is Mads from Petite Pancake.
I adore Mads for many reasons – because she’s hilarious, we could commiserate over our beater old cars that were one step out of the glue factory, she is my hippy living SoCal friend that makes fun of the SoCal hippies and she dispenses incredible life advice and has a heart of gold.
Oh and she has a Pug shaped like a potato that I want to snoodle and never put down.
And the girl loves some random stuff. I love her to pieces. For thos months’ OKMH box she outfitted me with all things random – including a lot of Halloween loot! Truth Time – Halloween – and my birthday – are tomorrow and I have yet to decorate at all. I mean, zilch!! Who am I? But no fear, Mads has me covered.
There are definitely birthday cupcakes in my future with those cupcake liners. And that pumpkin napkin holder is going to be a perfect votive candle holder casting spooky shadows all over the dang place!
As a person who cooks a lot – my mitts are in aconstant state of disrepair and cracking. It’s like she knows this or something and bestowed upon me her choice hand cream. No lie – it’s amazing.
Lastly she rounded off the box by telling me that my chesticals are clearly NOT large Enough and thinks I should pad them some more with a blow up version. I really wish that three years of Japanese from high school hadn’t escaped me because I’m dying to know what this package says. Are these even for girls?!?! It looks like a 14 year old boy on the package! I’m so confused, frightened and yet still laughing through the awkward.
This is totally why we’re friends.
Also – not pictured – the empty, crumpled and torn bag of the Peanut M&M’s that were opened and devoured within two days. No excuses, eat M&M’s like a champion!!
Thank you Mads so much – I love it all to pieces. If this faux-boob pressons makes it into someone’s white elephant gift this year it will be because of you. Spreading the love. And cleavage.
Do you remember 90′s television programming? Ya know, when family’s actually sat down to watch TV together, the acting was really bad, the story lines were uber cheesy and we drank it all in as we lounged in our over sized sweatshirts, leggins and big neon night socks that had the non-stick patterns on the bottom? Oh, that was just me then? It’s cool, I’ll just sit here alone like the weirdo I am… Anyway – I TGIF’d. I fawned over Cory and Topanga (Sidebar – OMG Topanga got married!), and I swooned over surfer, van living life reject Cody from Step by Step – before I knew it was really creepy to live in a van and have a rat tail…
But what I really lived for was Saturday night TV and Dr. Quinn. So bust out your antenna TV’s friends – cause Ben and I are watching it from the beginning and I’m feeling like a kid again. I don’t even care that I could totally ride a horse better than Dr. Mike, or that I still have an old-man crush on Sully – I mean that hair, hubba! (Don’t get me started that I can throw an axe as well as him…True Story), and that really I still find Colleen to be as obnoxious now as I did then. Dang, them teenage girl hormones are biotchhh!! But what I’ve also realized – is that Ben is the reincarnate of Mr. Bray, the crotchety old store keeper. Yeah, I said it – my husband is an old man, Old Man Keno.
We just watched and episode where Brian and Mr. Bray each run away from home for totally different reason – Brian is afraid of girls and puberty, and Loren Bray is afraid of getting old and keeling over. Well they end up in the same old tree, running away from the same old bear, and Brian starts acting like Brian and asking question – about girls. Ewww, girls. Am I right? What makes us happy? What are we thinking? Blah Blah Blah… Poor men.
Loren tells Brian that you gotta do nice things for your woman every once in a while. Get her a small gift, something practical to show her you appreciate her. … like a broom. *Pause* A what???
And as soon as those words were spoken Ben LIT UP!! He looked at me, like a he just won his fantasy football league, “See, I can get you a new broom! You’d like that!”
At that moment my body couldn’t decide whether it wanted to roll it’s eyes into the back of it’s skull or punch him in the jugular simultaneously… A Broom? LOL. Nope.
Would SULLY ever give Dr. Mike a BROOM? No! (Bold, underlined and Italicized means this is serious, people.) He’d whisk her into his arms, take her to some distant ridge top to watch the hawks and pick her wild flowers for her hair and fashion her some new saddle bag with his own two hands from a deer he killed himself. Now THAT’s a token of appreciation. So, nice try hunny – but a broom just isn’t gonna cut it!
Moral of the story men – Be more Sully than Mr. Bray. And if fashioning your woman her own dead dear bag isn’t in the cards – make her some Nutella Magic Shell. I mean, seriously you can never go wrong with chocolate. And even you dear men, can’t screw this one up.
Need more Nutella Treats? Try these other favorites!
You want to know how excited I got over getting my latest StitchFix box? I had just got back to the gym and had to try it on immedialtely so lucky you, you get to see me with Post-gym hair. Sorry. I am, but I wasn’t going to put it all on twice and closet safari this beast twice just to wash my hair. I love ya and all, but StitchFix won over a shower and photos.
But do you want to see what I got anyway? I promise the hair won’t deter you from the nifty stuff I got in my StitchFix box!
Yup – I’m kicking myself for not keeping this one. This is why Ben isn’t the one to go shopping with me, I keep Beka, the bestie, around for these kinds of things. Ben said “No”, and Beka would have said “Yes”. I should have listened, but apparently my telepathy wasn’t working that day…Dang it, dang it!
Spun Scarves by Subtle Luxury – Batik Dot Scarf – $48 – Kick It
Simply, I have enough scarves. It’s totally my signature color (name that movie!), and plain adorable, but I just don’t need another.
Angie – Xavier Geo Print Dress – $38 – Kick It
I couldn’t get past the bright pinks being “summer only” colors. But with brown tall boots and my puce green cardigan I could have made it work. It was a bit tight in the chestical region. TMI, but well, it happens. So back it went. Bummed out, but it was for the best.
So there we have it – StitchFix Numero tres. It wasn’t a total loss, and I loved some of the stuff. With a quick change of my Style Profile, I made the adjustments, so I am betting my next fix will be a total win.
What do you think? Should I have kicked or kept anything else?
If you’re thinking about check out Stitch Fix, do it! It’s so much fun, plus – No Malls!! I see that as a win all around!
Make your own custom blend of DIY Apple Pie Spice to make plenty of pies all season long!
I used to make a Christmas WISH list every year growing up. I’m pretty certain that I made one almost all the way through high school as a last ditch effort to get that pony I so longed for, and something to this day I’m only slightly bitter about…MOM. I was pretty well one track minded on the horse stuff – and I emphasized the WISH part every year. I know usually looked something like this…
1) A horse
2) Horse stuff
3) Subscription to Horse Illustrated
4) Horseback riding lessons
5) Horse Vet book
6) The new 98 Degrees CD
I had such varied tastes, can ya tell? With an adolescence brimming with the love of all things pony and Nick Lachey, I really should have expanded my horizons… And I think it’s time to get the Christmas WISH list back out again. Even if a pony is still going to be at the top of the list.
After last weekend though – I found out what else needs to be added to the list… a Safety Can Opener.
I used to swing axes at my feet, run with chainsaws up logs and I got taken out at the hand by the lid of a cranberry sauce can. Really, universe? As I was attempting to throw the dang thing away I ended up ramming it, edge first, into the bow of my hand between my thumb and first finger. Ben immediately jumped into nurse mode and patched me up pretty nicely. And thank goodness it happened AFTER I was done fixing lunch with the besties that had come by. Oh what’s that red on your sandwich, just tomato. I promise.
As a notorious picker, he’s making sure I don’t mess around with it too much and open it up again and get blood in the salsa or something stupid. He takes all the fun out of it. Geez. So, safety can opener it is. How lame. And they’re useless at draining tuna from the can. Next thing I know he’ll be putting bumpers on the coffee table to make sure I don’t kick it with my shins. No need for baby proofing, I just need to Megan proof it.
If you love your fall pies – make sure to get your mitts on this DIY Pumpkin Spice Blend, too! There is no such thing as too much pie. Truth.
PS – The gash is healing nicely. No stitches required.
Welcome to Country Cleaver, where country comfort and convenient cooking come together. Follow my adventures of self-reliant country cooking and baking from scratch with a little life mixed in for kicks! ...more