Saturday, October 31, 2015

Shortbread S'mores Cups and The Stanley Hotel

Today is Halloween once again.  The Tamale Casserole is in the crockpot and has been brewing since 6:00 this morning, when we saw the girls off to their volleyball tournament.  After a full day of sports, I'm afraid I have become my worst nightmare...this year I decided to boycott Halloween and handing out candy.  This year, I announced "we're going dark" candy handouts.  Since the girls won't be home, it's just not the same this year.  They were sweet enough to carve masterpiece pumpkins for me, and decorate our front porch, but that's the extent of it this year...and that's perfectly okay.

We did however, get a dose of spook while visiting the famous Stanley Hotel in Estes, Colorado, just 45 minutes from our house.  "The Stanley" is quite a historical landmark, both outside (and inside).  Just walking around either on the grounds or in their haunting halls, can give you the chills.  We treated my brother-in-law and his friend to a first class tour there.

They recently made some incredibly beautiful improvements to the grounds, including a new reflective pond and maze (just like in the movie, "The Shining").

Our self-guided tour was glorious.  The sun was perfectly shining on the porch and we sat and enjoyed their garden sofas and a glass of wine with all the other tourists.  Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a picnic on one of their breathtaking lawn areas...the perfect way to spend an afternoon.

If you're also doing away with the Halloween candy this year but are looking for a treat and no tricks, this little one is awesome.  I took my Grandma's Layered Pudding and morphed it with my daughters' favorite S'mores.  These were great for just wanting a little taste of sweet without having a full pan of calories haunting me every night!!

Shortbread S'mores Cups

1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (plus 1 cup) powdered sugar, divided
1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, room temperature
1 9 ounce container of Cool Whip
1 small package instant chocolate fudge pudding
1 small package instant white chocolate pudding
3 cups cold milk, divided
large marshmallows

Mix flour, butter, salt and 1/4 cup powdered sugar well and pat out in a 9" x 13" pan.  Bake in 325 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

While shortbread is baking, mix cream cheese, Cool Whip and 1 cup powdered sugar.  Whisk/beat until well blended.  Set in refrigerator for one hour.  

In a separate bowl, mix chocolate fudge pudding and 1-1/2 cup milk. Whip well with electric mixer and set in refrigerator for one hour.  Do same process in separate bowl with the white chocolate pudding, and also set in refrigerator for one hour.

When ready to serve, remove cooled shortbread from pan and crumble.  Add a layer of the shortbread crumbles in a short triffle cup.  Add a spoonful of the cream cheese/Cool Whip mixture.  Then, add a small layer of chocolate fudge pudding and a layer of white chocolate pudding.

Toast your marshmallows in fire or on a gas cooktop flame (carefully).  Add toasted marshmallows to top of pudding....and enjoy some ooey, gooey sweetness!!

One Year Ago: TyKu
Two Years Ago: Tamale Casserole

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Crockpot Pulled Pork Chili...Pull Out The Blankets

It finally happened...our days of 79 degree fall weather has left us.  Our days of sunshine warming our skin while taking in the beautiful fall colors is over.  We had three solid days of bone chilling cold rains last week and you know what that means...comfy blankets, slippers, soups and chili!

A few fall colors over our fireplace mantle.

Autumn florals over the dining table.

My handsome guy with his "Boo Bandana".

When my brother-in-law was here visiting a few weeks ago, we made 83 pounds of pulled pork for our slider dinner one night (okay, maybe the pounds are an exaggeration), but there was a lot of meat left over.  I froze it until I could figure out what to make with the masses of meat.  Bingo...chili!!  Our cold days and nights last week were the perfect prescription for such a dish.  I prepped in the morning before work, fired up the crock pot, and the dish and dinner was served when we all came home - yummy and comfy!!!

Crockpot Pulled Pork Chili

2 to 2-1/2 pounds, cooked, shredded/pulled pork
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) cans chili beans in hot sauce
1 small can tomato paste
4 Tbl. chili powder
2-1/2 Tbl ground cumin
1 Tbl smoked paprika
2 small zucchini, grated

for serving, optional:
sour cream or greek yogurt
grated cheese
sliced green onions or chives
chopped red onions
diced/sliced fresh avocados
tortilla chips/strips

Set crock pot to low heat setting.  Add all ingredients (except zucchini) in crock pot. Mix very well. Cover and let cook approximately 8 hours.  During the last hour, add the shredded zucchini and stir well again.  ** This chili is very thick, if you like your chili a little thinner/soupier you can add a small amount chicken stock/broth to your liking.

Pulled Pork Dinner (before the leftovers and Chili) - awesome slider sandwiches!!

Two Years Ago:  Pumpkin Pancakes

Friday, October 23, 2015

Goat Cheese, Artichoke, and Olive Bruschetta and Chapel On The Rock

(photo taken before 2011 floods)
One of the great things about having company stay with you for the first time, is you get to play tourist right along with them.  I had been wanting to visit Chapel on the Rock, ever since we moved to Colorado and three years later I finally made it.

We took my husband's sister and her husband there, on our way to Rocky Mountain National Park for the day...the Chapel was everything I had imagined and heard about.  The Chapel on the Rock (officially, Saint Catherine of Sienna Chapel) is a landmark in Allenspark.  

In 1999 Boulder County designated the chapel as a historic site.  Pope Saint John Paul II prayed at the chapel during his visit to Denver in 1993; he blessed the chapel afterwards.  

The grounds and surroundings of the chapel are so peaceful and tranquil.  Unfortunately after the 2011 floods, much of the terrain was destroyed, including the lake surrounding the chapel.  There is a stream, pictured above that is starting to grow and the area is maturing again.

After an incredibly memorable and fun weekend, our finale was their amazing dinner they made for us and completely spoiled the family with. We started with these bruschetta that were out of this world...they were so good that I made them again for us the next week!!  These would be perfect for your upcoming holiday open houses, parties, or pot lucks!!

Courtesy of Sunset Magazine, October 2015

1 large artichoke or 1/2 cup diced thawed frozen artichoke hearts
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, minced, plus 1 whole clove
1 Tbsp. Meyer or regular lemon juice
about 1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. .chopped flat leaf parsley, plus small leaves
1/3 cup picholine or Nicoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
12 baguette slices (from 3/4 baguette), cut on a diagonal about 1/2 inch thick and 4 to 5 inches long
1/2 cup fresh goat cheese

Cut off and discard artichoke stem and all but 1-1/2" from leafy top.  Pull off leaves down to pale yellow ones.  Cut off all green parts from outside.  Halve artichoke through stem and use a pointed teaspoon to dig out fluffy, fibrous choke.  Cut artichoke into 1/4" dice.

Cook fresh (or thawed frozen) artichoke, shallot, 1 Tbsp. oil and 1/4 tsp. salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, covered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add minced garlic; cook until artichoke is tender, 5 minutes more.  Let cool.

To artichoke mixture add 2 Tbsp. oil, the lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. pepper, the chopped parsley and olives.  Stir; let relish sit at least one hour.

Preheat broiler with rack set close to heat.  Broil baguette slices on a baking sheet, turning once, until light golden, 3 to 4 minutes total.  On one side, lightly rub toasts with garlic clove, brush with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Spread toasts with goat cheese, leaving a corner uncovered and top with relish.  Set a parsley leaf on each.  

Peace and Blessings be with you...Enjoy!!

Pairs beautifully with white or red wine....we enjoyed Educated Guess for the evening.

After we relaxed with our Bruschetta and Cabernet Sauvignon, 
my sister-in-law's star of the evening was her unforgettable dinner!

Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs (Sunset Magazine, October 2014) click here.
Kohlrabi, Apple, and Horseradish Remoulade (Sunset Magazine, October 2014) click here.
Roasted Carrots

Two Years Ago:  Grannie's Lasagna

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Silk Pie and Rocky Mountain Park Picnic

Other than the Alaska mountain ranges, I have never seen anything more beautiful than Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall.  The colors and wildlife just take your breath away.

A couple weeks ago my husband's sister and her husband came to visit us for the first time.  We did all the local Colorado stops including Rocky Mountain National Park.  The elk were making their annual appearances in full force and were a sight to see!

We made a day of it, packed up a wonderful wine picnic lunch and enjoyed the most incredibly memorable afternoon by the creek with our delights.

Never a dull moment when my husband is around!!

A feast for the forest!

Cheers and a toast by all!

Before all our company arrived, our neighbor gave us a huge bowl of beautiful fresh raspberries from her many that I didn't know if we could use them all.  I remembered a decadent dessert my friend Toni made for us once, her famous Chocolate Silk Torte.  Given I was trying to make this thank you dessert for our neighbor during the middle of the week, I needed to do some short cuts.

I figured out a semi-homemade fudge bottom, chocolate silk pie with fresh raspberries and cream. Wow!!!  Went together really easy and quick.  Our neighbor was so overjoyed with our gift, she was speechless.  Oh, don't worry...there were so many raspberries, I made a pie for us too.  This recipe will make many future appearances...I think my friend Toni would be proud of me!

Chocolate Raspberry Silk Pie
For Friends and Neighbors

2 packages (3.9 ounce) Jell-O Chocolate Fudge Flavor Instant Pudding
2 cups cold milk
4 ounce Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided 
1 Oreo pre-made pie crust
1 tub (8 ounce) Cool Whip Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
2 cups fresh raspberries, washed and dried
powdered sugar
fresh mint leaves

Beat pudding mixes and milk in large bowl with electric mixer and whisk on high for 2 minutes.

Microwave (3 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate on high 1 minutes, or until almost melted.  Stir until completely melted.  Stir in 1 cup of the pudding and pour into crust.

Add half the Cool Whip to the remaining pudding.  Fold and mix carefully until fully combined.  Spread over the pudding/chocolate layer in crust.

Add 2 rows of raspberries around perimeter of pie.  Top with a couple spoonfuls of Cool Whip and garnish with a few more raspberries and sprig of mint.

Dust powdered sugar over the raspberries.  Grate/shave the remaining chocolate over the pudding areas and center.

Chill for at least one hour (the longer it chills, the better) before serving.

Ready for special delivery.

Pairs really well with a red wine, warm fire pit and beautiful night.

One Year Ago:  Chocolate Chip Shortbreads
Two Years Ago:  Chicken Tortilla Soup

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie and the Lodge Room

Ever since we returned back from our Oregon trip to Sunriver, I had been itching to re-do our guest room.  I was so influenced by the breathtaking lodges there, the textures and vibrant, yet soothing colors, I really wanted to bring a little of that back to Colorado.

My starting inspirations!

I took everything that was previously in our Guest Room and revamped our Master Bedroom...this ended up turning into a double bedroom makeover.

The new lodge Guest Room has ended up being more of "Country Americana" feel, with a few barn, lodge and sunflower accents.  The jean comforter was made for us in Minnesota.  We originally found them at a darling country fair there, made by a husband and wife team.  The crochet blanket was made by my Grandma and the bedspread and shams are from the Lady Antebellum collection.

I was able to keep our accent throw pillows and just recovered them with new overlay zip pillow covers from Hobby Lobby, on sale of course.  I also had our American Flag pillow from 4th of July and scored the red and blue paisley pillows on clearance at Target.  

We found these wonderful signs at our new store At Home.  Thank goodness it is a 45 minute drive for me to get there, because that place is very dangerous for any home accent shopping addiction.

I finished off our lodge room for our guests with a "Made In Colorado" basket.  Everything for our guests to enjoy during their stay comes from Colorado.

Of course, nothing says American like Chocolate Chip Cookies and this take on a pie is unbelievable. I could not stay out of it...brought back sweet memories of dunking cookies in milk for an after school treat.  Delicious!!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie

1 (13 ounce) package Chips Ahoy Original Chocolate Chip Cookies) - the crunchy ones
1 (9 ounce) ready made graham cracker pie crust
1 cup milk
1 (8 ounce) container Cool Whip

Place milk in a measuring cup.  Dunk 8 cookies, one at a time in the milk.

Dunk each cookie quickly before it gets too soft and starts to crumble.

Place in a single layer in the bottom of the graham cracker crust.

Spread 1/3 of the Cool Whip evenly over the cookies.

Dip 10 to 11 cookies, one at a time, in the mile and place in a single layer
over the Cool Whip layer.  Spread Cool Whip evenly over the cookies.
Repeat to create one more layer of cookies and one more layer of the Cool Whip.

Cover and chill for at least 8 hours before serving.

Enjoy and Sweet Dreams!!

One Year Ago:  German Chocolate Bundt Cake
Two Years Ago: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ribdemption and BLT Macaroni Salad

If you have followed this blog, you may remember my brother-in-law's visit a couple years ago and our "Priceless" dinner that we experienced, as indicated in my blog post and photo below.

Well I am very happy and proud to report that during his most recent visit with us a couple weeks ago, we had a very successful bbq night and "Ribdemption".

Perhaps it was our new rib recipe from Traeger or the fact that I kept my husband and his brother more focused this time and stay on point with the various steps to smoking these beauties.

Whatever the case may be, they were beyond amazing and one of the best dinners we have ever had. I tried out a new side dish with our BLT Macaroni Salad.  It was devoured by all and definitely a keeper for any future BBQ or pot luck!!

BLT Macaroni Salad

1 (16 oz) package macaroni, cooked according to directions, rinsed and cooled
1-1/4 cup celery, diced
5 green onions, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
1-1/4 cup Best Foods Olive Oil Mayonnaise
5 tsp. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1 (4 ounce) container blue cheese crumbles
1 pound bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

In a large bowl, combine the cooked macaroni, celery, onions, tomatoes and blue cheese.  In a separate bowl, combine and whisk the remaining ingredients (except bacon).  Pour over macaroni mixture, tossing to coat well.  Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.  Just before serving, sprinkle with bacon crumbles.

Evidence of my brother-in-law's visit...he has impeccable tastes in wines!