Thursday, February 26, 2015


Overnight we had quite the "snow storm" and this morning we awoke to a beautiful sight -- and no power! Fortunately it wasn't as bitterly cold as it has been. On the plus side, I had a workplace with power where I could go to stay warm. As the day wore on, the sun came out, the temperature rose above freezing and the snow on tree branches, sidewalks and streets melted. The power came back on around lunchtime, so that was a blessing. I'm so happy we had at least one decent snowfall this year!

Here's Ella in her winter coat. She can be tough to photograph sometimes. I had to lure her out into the snow with the promise of a "treat" but each time I'd turn the camera on her, she would hightail it back to the side door. Such a princess!  


Sunday, February 22, 2015

Gluten-free Banana Nut Bread

With extreme temperatures -- and even some snow -- this past week, I have been hibernating on the weekends. One day this week we had a high of 17 degrees and a low of 2 degrees! It's rare for the Southeast to get such cold weather.

Even though I've been enjoying making chili, snuggling into my "fur" blanket at night, watching movies, and wearing my coziest of sweaters and wool socks, I must say I'm ready for warmer weather. Next week's forecast is for temperatures in the 40s, which might actually feel balmy in comparison to last week.  

Meanwhile, to keep the house a little warmer, I've been baking -- a favorite winter pastime of mine. I wanted to share with you this tasty banana bread recipe I made using Cup 4 Cup gluten-free flour. This brand of gluten-free flour is made from cornstarch, white and brown rice flours, milk powder, tapioca flour, potato starch and xanthan gum. Nearly every time I've used this product I've gotten excellent results. I imagine you could substitute regular wheat flour in this recipe if you don't have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. 

Your house will smell SO good as this bread is baking. Enjoy -- and stay warm!

Gluten-free Banana Nut Bread 

1-1/2 cups gluten-free flour, such as Cup 4 Cup (which contains xanthan gum)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use coarse Kosher salt)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 to 3 medium; I used 3 and didn't measure)
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts

1) Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray or butter. 
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well combined. Set aside.
3) In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
4) Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until smooth, about 30 seconds. By hand, stir in the mashed banana, then the nuts. Spoon batter evenly into prepared loaf pan.
5) Bake until golden brown and wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 50 to 60 minutes (I baked mine for 50 min.). Remove pan from oven and immediately remove bread from pan. Let cool on a wire rack 

This is not a sponsored post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Kitchen Scale

I had a $50 gift card to Williams-Sonoma and for a few weeks I agonized over what to purchase with it (okay, I'm exaggerating a little ... I didn't really agonize over it). Well, this past weekend it occurred to me that something I could use is a kitchen scale.

Sometimes when I'm baking I find that a scale would be a handy tool. For example, I made warm chocolate puddings for Valentine's Day and needed 4 ounces of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. I had a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips, partially used. Do you know how it can be hard to measure things like chocolate chips in ounces using a measuring cup? Well, now it's easy and accurate with my new scale!

The one I chose is this electronic model by Salter for Williams-Sonoma. I like it for its small size (easy to store) and touchless tare feature. Simply place a bowl on the scale, wave your hand over the right side of the scale to zero it out, then add the ingredient you want to measure until it reaches the correct weight. You can also use this feature to add more ingredients to the same bowl and weigh up each ingredient's precise amount.

My husband made me laugh ... he said now he won't be able to steal a few chips from the bowl and go undetected. Very true! 

So tell me, do you use a kitchen scale when cooking?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Snuggle Buddies

These dogs of ours sure do love to snuggle! I'm always catching them in funny positions -- usually with Ella resting her head on sweet Henry -- and I run to get my camera. We have more photos of our dogs than we do of us! 

Today, Ella ended up with her head on Henry's back leg, above, then he casually placed his other leg across her shoulder. Pretty cute, these two! They get along so nicely, you'd think they had grown up together. Instead, we adopted them as adults six months apart. Such a blessing that we have them -- and that they have each other.

Check out my "Dogs" board on Pinterest for more cute photos!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cocktail Hour: Greyhound/Salty Dog

I like making cocktails at home, and I try to use fresh ingredients when I can. Gin cocktails are a favorite of mine. This drink, the Greyhound, combines gin with grapefruit juice and a little simple syrup. If you rub the rim of the glass with a grapefruit wedge and dip the rim in coarse salt -- like you would for a margarita -- the drink becomes a Salty Dog. Or, you can make a Greyhound with vodka, if you don't care for gin. Scroll down for the recipe.

I prefer to use freshly squeezed juice for this cocktail and others, such as whiskey sours. It's a little more work, but it makes all the difference in taste. If you're pressed for time, you can certainly use bottled grapefruit juice.

For my birthday in January, my husband gave me this set of Tovolo sphere ice molds. They are so cool -- no pun intended. Because they are so large, they take a long time to melt, and chill your drink without diluting it. I thought it was a fun -- and unexpected -- gift! This would make a nice hostess gift too.

Greyhound Recipe
3 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (or bottled)
1.5 ounces gin (or vodka)
2 teaspoons simple syrup*
Combine all ingredients in a glass over ice and stir well. Cheers!

* To make simple syrup combine equal parts water and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium low heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and store in the refrigerator

Check out my Pinterest "Drinks" page for more cocktail inspiration!

Saturday, February 7, 2015


I wanted to share a few photos of these pretty flowers, which I brought home with me the other evening after a networking event I attended with a coworker. As the event came to a close and most people had left, I mentioned to a gentleman we were speaking with that I wondered what would happen to all the pretty flower arrangements. He promptly went up to one of the catering staff and asked about the flowers on my behalf. My coworker and I were each allowed to take an arrangement home with us (in plastic cups, of course; the caterers had to keep the glass containers). What a lovely, mid-winter pick-me-up to brighten our living room! And they were free! Just goes to show, it never hurts to ask.
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