HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!

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This year I really wanted to make some special Halloween treats! I love love love Halloween, it is one of my favorite holidays (after Thanksgiving, which is my all time favorite). This year I have been all about challenging myself in the kitchen and I had never made confections or really done much cake decorating. So when my cousin Michelle aka “ The Evil Tooth Fairy” and her partner Luke invited us to a Halloween party this past weekend I knew it was the moment to challenge myself in this way. Trick or Treat!
PS – Don’t forget November 1st is the last day to post your entry for the Royal Foodie Joust! Don’t forget to participate this month!!!

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Something Is Missing….

My Daring Bakers Challenge post this month….I am so sad that I was not able to participate this month. Too much going on to spend much time in my own kitchen! Next month I am back on track! Great job to all the DBS who did participate this month! :)

Boston’s Little Italy Article!

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I just posted an article about our trip to Boston’s North End (Little Italy) on my Travelcloseup Blog! Check it out!

Royal Foodie Joust

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It is hard to believe that the month of October is drawing to an end. My favorite month of the year. What this means though is that yet another Royal Foodie Joust competition is underway and you can join! Please post your recipe using Mushrooms, Cheese and Herbs of your choice on the Leftover Queen Forum. This month’s ingredients were chosen by last month’s winner, Brittany aka The Pie Lady. This is a very fun foodie event and the registration for entries closes on November 1st. So please join us today. I will make an announcement when you can begin voting for your favorite entry!

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You will most likely recognize my entry from an earlier post: Mushroom and Yogurt Tart. I hate to post recipes twice, but this month has been so busy – with our trip to New England and now all the catch up that comes after a great vacation. I will be up to my normal posting activity soon with lots more on our New England adventure! So please stay tuned!

Coffee Love: A New England Art

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Everyone who reads my blogs knows that my passion for coffee is deep and strong.

I just love the complexity of different beans and blends. I love the originality of coffees from all different regions of the world. They are all so unique. Some are rich and smooth and chocolately; others taste of berries or citrus; some are earthy giving off flavors like tobacco, bitter, earthy and verdant. Coffee is like wine in a sense. There are rituals involved in the making of, the preparation of and the aging of. There are connoisseurs who spend years perfecting blends and roasting methods or traveling the world in search of the perfect bean. It is all so fascinating. Coffee may not grow in New England climates, but I believe the soul of coffee is in New England. People in New England know what to do with their coffee, to bring it to the next level. Everywhere you go in New England you can find excellent coffee. Even gas stations serve up Green Mountain Coffee and McDonalds has Newman’s Own Organic Coffee. But the real unique ways of preparing coffee are found in the local coffee shop in those picturesque towns in Vermont or Massachusetts. No matter how small the town is, you can always find a local coffee joint. There are Starbucks to be found of course, but people generally prefer their local coffee place. There is excellent competition between coffee houses which for the consumer means there is great coffee to be had around every corner.

That was one of my major goals of our recent trip to New England. I wanted to go back to all my favorite coffee joints and boy was it ever a treat!
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Recipe: Chicken Chianti: One For The Road

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Well guys, I am just posting obsessed. I just couldn’t leave for 10 days without posting yet another fall favorite to really get me in the mood to go to New England! I have been gearing up by drinking apple cider and hot chai teas and eating things with maple – but this is such a unique take on a comfort food – pan seared chicken.

This is a recipe we tried from my “bible” of Italian cooking – Italian: The Definitive Professional Guide to Italian Ingredients and Cooking Techniques. This is a Barnes and Noble book my mom picked up for me years ago – and it contains all the classic, regional Italian dishes with step-by-step, pictures and instructions. There is also 120 pages discussing Italian ingredients and how they are used regionally. Very informative! The funny thing about it is that it shows up in the households of many Italian Americans I know!

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It has become my bible because everything we make from it turns out wonderful and tastes exactly as it should. It is a beautiful books filled with delightful, easy to make dishes! I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning more about classic Italian foods. It has become in-dispensable in our house!

This dish, Chicken Chianti is something I had never heard of before. You cook chicken in Chianti (not unheard of) and GRAPES! It was a wonderful dish full of the deep flavors associated with wine as well as the sweetness from the ripe fresh grapes! Very unique dish! Hope you enjoy it. See you all in 10 days!!!
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October Royal Foodie Joust Winner!

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It is that time again! Time to announce the winner of the Royal Foodie Joust! This month’s Winner is The Pie Lady! Her winning creation is White Chocolate Lavender Ice Cream with Merlot Poached Pears:

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Second Place is Raspberry Eggplant with her Lavender Pear Bear Cupcakes:

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Third Place was a tie between Cris of From Our home to Yours with Pear Pudding with Lavender and White Chocolate Drizzle:

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And Valli of More Than Burnt Toast with Black & White Fondue Infused with Lavender:

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Congrats to Everyone!

For those of you who have not yet participated in this very fun and creative monthly event this is how it works: Competitors from all over the globe compete by creating a dish based on three ingredients which are chosen by the last month’s winner. In the case of this month’s challenge, our winner from last month, Mehgan of A Craving For Perfection, chose as her three ingredients: White Chocolate, Pears and Lavender.
The three ingredients are announced and the competitors have about a month to create their dish, post their entry on The Leftover Queen Forum and then anyone can vote for their favorite. Voting lasts for 5 days and then the winner is announced, who then chooses the 3 ingredients for the next challenge.

The participation has been growing and the creativity is getting better each time! So if you have not joined this event yet, please join us this month for another round of
The Royal Foodie Joust.

*personal note* – I am leaving for New England on Friday and will be gone for 10 days. I will not have much internet access so I will not be able to get back with people as quick as I would like. I will do my best to get back with everyone personally, but may not be able to – please forgive me!

Pantry Organization: The Secret Way To Easy Cooking!

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I always know when it is time to re-organize the pantry- things begin to go missing. You know those laundry mysteries? Two socks go in the dryer but only one comes out, never to return again? Well the same phenomenon occurs in the pantry.  I call the phenomenon pantry elves, but what it really is, is frustrating!

A few months ago, I knew it was time, because I bought a new bottle of balsamic vinegar, put it in the balsamic vinegar spot that was empty and looked a few inches over and there was a half full bottle of the same exact balsamic vinegar. Same thing with the confectioner’ s sugar – something I must say was rarely used in my kitchen, except for now, I have joined that pesky group known as the Daring Bakers, and sugar, flour, baking powder and things that got used once a year started getting used once per month! But now there were doubles of everything – old containers I forgot where there, sitting right next to new containers of the same stuff. So now, my small pantry had even less space because I was repeat buying things I couldn’t see in my dis-organized pantry!

The moral of the story is keep your pantry organized and cooking will be much easier.
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