Nothing is cheerier than receiving happy mail instead of the daily grind of bills. Greeting Card Universe can set you up with invitations, announcements, Birthday Cards and Holiday Cards for everyone in your address book. Continue reading “Greeting Card Universe”
This Thanksgiving leave the work to the talented and award-winning chefs of the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. The visionary culinary team has designed a menu with elevated classics and traditional offerings sure to entice every palate. Celebrate this holiday season in the idyllic atmosphere of Koâ€™Sin restaurant while enjoying stunning views of the nearby Sierra Estrella Mountain Range. Continue reading “Bountiful Thanksgiving Offerings at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass”
Today, for instance, January 6th is National Shortbread Day, celebrate today with Walkers Shortbread. The holidays may be over but we still celebrate the little nuance holidays. While I had no idea today was National Shortbread day until I visited the Walkers Shortbread site, I could not help but share this adequately timed holiday to the receipt of my package of Walkers Shortbread cookies. Stories that a magical castle the bakers at Walkers created in honor of the show Outlander on Starz had graced my email as well, so this is how I stumbled upon this wonderful little nuance holiday. If you are a fan of Outlander (and shortbread) like myself you know how cool this castle was to build. Outlander returns to Starz this Sunday January 10th with new episodes. Continue reading “National Shortbread Day Walkers Shortbread”
Have you ever wanted to take some amazing photos but are not sure where to start with a purchasing a quality camera? Are you tired of using your cell phone or a dated 35mm camera that takes less than stellar photos? Well look no further than this amazing giveaway for a Nikon camera from BuyDig.com. BuyDig.com is your one stop shop for electronics, gadgets and other gear for the electronics guy or gal in your life. Their expert advice for consumer electronics has been named BizRate’s Circle of Excellence Platinum winner four years running. Continue reading “BuyDig.com Nikon Camera Giveaway”
From our family to yours, Merry Christmas. We hope you all have a wonderful conclusion to your Chanukah and beginning to Christmas tomorrow. Please be safe and enjoy your loved ones. May your days be filled with laughter, joy, love and life. We will be off celebrating the birth of the Son and our Savior. Much love to you all!
Merry Christmas from The Five Fish.
The chef in the family is me. I create many dishes based on flavor, taste, experience and pure creativity. Some, are amazing, some, have been choked on and then tossed. So when I feel I need inspiration because my culinary creativity is a bit constipated I reach for my cookbooks. The holiday season is my favorite time of year, baking pies, cookies, and desserts is my specialty. But with the holiday seasons I am also finding I am running out of time to make regular scheduled meals.
Admittedly I like to be a lazy cook. Most days I would rather lounge on my couch and let the cooking be done by itself, I struggle some days to find the pure gumption to concoct a creative meal. Another admission, I rarely if ever, utilize my slow cooker. One might think with twins that I would be the slow cooker queen. Alas I am not and fail miserably to even have an ounce of creativity for it’s use aside from chili or chicken and dumplings.
Apparently there is a gamut of delicious recipes that span even farther than traditional dinners, stews, chili’s and dips. The slow cooker can be utilized for any meal at any time. With the cool weather here in Arizona and my social life that
has become more bountiful than it ever was when I was in my 20s, thanks to my children, I am finding that my slow cooker is a time and life saver when running amok. Scouts, church, volunteer events, school luncheons, field trips, Jeep owner gatherings and revelry with friends creates for little time to actually exercise my true culinary talents.
So the Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes Book is chock full of ideas for dinners….and now desserts. I chose one of my favorites to nosh on for dinner in a rush. Plus if you are like me and would love to use your slow cooker more, this is the book for you. Here is a new spin on beef stew for the whole family to stay warm these fall and winter nights:
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
2 lbs stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp vegetable oil (approx.)
6 tiny new potatoes, halved or quartered
2 parsnips, cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into 1â„2-inch wedges
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup beef broth
1â„2 cup dry red wine
1 can (7 1â„2 oz) pizza sauce
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1. In a heavy plastic bag, combine flour, salt and 1â„2 tsp of the pepper. In batches, add beef to bag and toss to coat with flour mixture. Discard excess flour mixture.
2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat half the oil over medium-high heat. Cook beef in batches, adding more oil as needed, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Stir in potatoes, parsnips, fennel and onion.
3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine broth, wine, pizza sauce, garlic, rosemary and the remaining pepper. Pour over beef mixture.
4. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours, until bubbling. Just before serving, stir in spinach until wilted.
Crush dried rosemary between your thumb and fingers before adding it to a dish. This helps release the full aromatic flavor of the herb.
Today I begin my marathon of holiday cooking. I truly love to cook and as I mentioned desserts. I had no idea this dessert was a holiday classic. In the Best of Bridge Holiday Classics, you can find over 225 recipes like this Chocolate Raspberry Torte that are sure to be a hit for holiday entertaining:
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3 squares (1 oz. / 30 g size) unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
2 cups light brown sugar,packed
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup strong coffee
1/2 cup coffee flavoured liqueur
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. icing sugar
1-12 oz. jar raspberry or strawberry jam
Chocolate Sour Cream Icing:
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
3/4 cup sour cream
dash of salt
fresh raspberries or strawberries
1 good quality dark chocolate bar (at room temperature).
Preheat oven to 350F. (180 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch (1.5 L) layer cake pans. Sift dry ingredients. Melt chocolate and let cool. In a large bowl beat butter, brown sugar, and eggs at a high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. At low speed, beat in flour mixture (in fourths), alternating with sour cream (in thirds). Add coffee and liqueur, blending until smooth. Pour batter into pans and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until surface springs back. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on wire racks.
Filling:Beat cream with icing sugar until stiff. Refrigerate. Slice cake layers in half horizontally to make four layers. (Hint: Cake layers slice more easily if frozen first.) Place one layer, cut side up, on cake plate. Spread with 1/2 cup (125 mL) raspberry jam and 1/2 cup (125 mL) whipped cream mixture. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with top layer, cut side down.
Icing:Melt chocolate chips in top of double boiler. Add sour cream and salt and beat until icing is creamy and smooth. Ice top and sides of cake. Garnish: Using a vegetable peeler, shave along long side of chocolate bar to create small curls. Make lots! â€“ and â€œspillâ€ some onto the cake plate.
We hope you love these two books as much as we do! I know I enjoy having a library of cookbooks in my arsenal when I want to create something different and I’m short on time and sometimes creativity. Now you too can have these in your collection of quality cookbooks.
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This past Friday was the kickoff to the holiday season here in Phoenix. Not an official kickoff with ribbons and hoopla and hullabaloo, but a kickoff in the grand scheme of over seven million twinkling LED Christmas lights celebrating the wonderful season that truly commences this Thursday.
Twinkling, glowing, flashing, dancing, and blinking in over a one mile maze of wonder for children to gaze their eyes upon each and every holiday season are beautiful Christmas lights. In the west Valley of Phoenix metro is a local farm that hosts these now eco-friendly LED beauties to share in the spirit of the holiday season and to give back to the community on a truly astounding level. Â Friday night was the official opening night for the Arizona Celebration of Lights for the VIP members of the media here in Phoenix and I was so thrilled to attend as a member to be among the staff of 12News and AZCentral. Not only to share the Christmas lights with my kids, but to also here more about how the Arizona Celebration of Lights has touched our community.
Thanks to generous sponsors like Sheely Farms who give up their farm for the wonderful production of glowing lights and the drive through traffic to enjoy the joyous event. Other generous sponsors such as PostNet, 12News, Channel 3, 99.9 KEZ, Holiday Inn Suites and Holiday Inn Express, Jamba Juice and Chik-Fil-A to name a few. With the help of the sponsors, proceeds from visiting the Arizona Celebration of Lights park where admission is $15 per vehicle Monday through Thursday 6-9pm and $20 Friday through Sunday 6-10pm, go to heartfelt organizations such as Salvation Army, St. Mary’s Food Bank, and Ronald McDonald House of Phoenix. Get $2 off as well by bringing in a bag, with a minimum of (3), canned goods to be donated to the food bank and families in need.
While listening to the presentation about the 14 year history here in Arizona I was pleased to hear about all the organizations that will receive proceeds from the event. The boost in local economy is tremendous in a devastating recession, but the truth is that these organizations are in great need as are the people they serve and as we come into the spirit of sharing, gratitude, and giving we should remember to give where we can. I was tweeting up a storm on Twitter that night in order to retain all the information to memory about how our non-profits will profit our local families and community members. This year alone St. Mary’s Food Bank of Arizona donated over 400,000 food boxes to local families in need, that is over 72 million pounds of food! Where in years past they doled out only half that, and this year is the first year the food bank has seen a decline in donations. So now even more we should give , if just for the receipt of a small discount while driving through the park, every little bit helps to donate to the food banks to help local families who are not as fortunate.
Moreover are the families of the children who travel to be at Phoenix Children’s Hospital for care and sought treatment and their families sought refuge and relief with Ronald McDonald house while in the care of the loving staff of Phoenix Children’sÂ Hospital, where Ronald McDonald House Charities housed over 1900 families so far this year and the year is not yet over!
Everyone enjoys beautiful, seasonal Christmas lights and we should love them even more knowing that the lights help our local communities and families like ours each day the park is open this holiday season.
My kids were loving the event on top of me getting my philanthropic fill of goodness to make me want to do more. They were antsy and chomping at the bit to get back in the car and see all the lights. But in the meantime we took photos next to the tree, and with the Chik-Fil-A cow! When we arrived at the park we were immediately greeted by a glowing tunnel of beauty and the cool evening air where we rolled down the windows to really take in the spirit of the season and the magic this time of year brings. Christmas music playing across the pretuned radio station as we drove along the path to Santa’s Village where the kids could get out and play.
How can so much fun be so rewarding on so many levels. If you have the opportunity, the drive is well worth seeing the fun the kids will partake with seeing the lights and taking at pit stop at Santa’s Village, and to share in the season of giving and sharing with your family and other families. If coming from the east valley, head over to I-10 and head West to 99th Avenue exit and go right for about a mile and a half and you will see all the signs and lights. But if you cannot get out that way, view a few of the videos on You Tube of the fun lights on display, or “like” the Arizona Celebration of Lights page on Facebook where you can see other great videos and photos.
Animated Christmas Lights Display Arizona Celebration of Lights
Wishing everyone the happiest and safe holiday season.
Big thanks to the staff at AZCentral for the photos and an ever generous and speechless thank you to the folks at Miller Davis Agency who put together and promoted a wonderful event, the generosity and kindness of Mike Miller, thank you for you time that evening Mike, and affording me and my family the opportunity to get a sneak peak before the park opened to the public and to share what the Arizona Celebration of Lights is all about.
My grandfather was and still is the patriarch of the family. He is the rock, always steady and calm, weathering every storm. He was always the joker, trouble maker, story teller, shepherd of all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Watching as they all played happily, giggling, laughing, he would bask in their innocence and fun. Occasionally he would join in on the fun and games. If you ask any of his grandchildren they will tell you his was perfect, despite all of his imperfections, Grandpa could do anything. In fact many of us believed he roped and hung the moon.
I recall many holidays, family gatherings, and weekends that I would spend with Grandma and Grandpa; they are and will always be some of my fondest childhood memories. I spent a great deal of my childhood with them.
At one of their homes in Eloy, shortly after they got Brig I recall Grandpa showing us how Brig would nip at your heels. As a child this was greatly exciting and scary all the same, considering the size of Brig compared to our small childish frames. Grandpa showed us to shuffle our feet and get Brig riled up, tell us to run like hell for the stalls and jump onto the railing. He would belly laugh and cackle to watch myself and my siblings, Chris and Brittany, run as fast as we could, but his cackle grew increasingly strong as you heard the shriek of Grandma Tina yelling through the kitchen window, â€œDanny!!! You Stop that and tell those kids to get in this house right now!â€ He was so good at getting her just as riled up as the dog.
He would reach the back door after riding or being in the stall with Sonny and stamp his feet as dust came rising off his boots and jeans. You could hear her from the other room scolding him and he would giggle under his breath, as he took those boots off at the back door. Grandpa spent a lot of hours, which seemed like days to me, in those stalls. I felt like we would walk for miles with him, at the house off the highway where they lived, which was next to the stud farm. He would walk us around, talking about horses, telling us everything and how that equated to life. The man was so graceful, he was in his element around a horse, he is my cowboy and no other will ever measure up to my Grandpa. He was lean, strong, wiry, and gentle, he could be cruel and kind all at the same time, and he was like no other man I have ever met.
He could tell you all you ever wanted to know about horses. But he could also take you on his lap, sit you there for hours and tell you about horses and cars, baseball, basketball, men and women, love and life, and he always had room to talk about business, he was savvy in business. Grandpa had a story, a lesson, a passion, and an unyielding love for horses, cars, sports and life; he told me â€œIf you donâ€™t love what you do, then you need to do something else, love what you do, find your niche. Life is not worth living if you donâ€™t love it, love what you do, and donâ€™t let anyone tell you how to do it.â€ Grandpa had a way of always doing things his way, they made sense, they were fun, and he showed that life was to be lived for every moment, no matter how big or small, good or bad, everything had a reason.
I will always remember the way Grandpa smelled. My family has a thing with smells, I think I get that from Grandma because her house always smelled like the freshest florist or the warmest bakery, it was heaven. But I remember the rough, calloused, and gentle smell of his hands, the hint of warm, earthy, dust from his morning ride, the remnant smell of a vanilla tobacco pipe, leather from his boots, chaps, and saddle, the sweat off his Stetson, the cotton from his shirt and jeans, and the air of his cologne. Each and every time I hugged him I could smell those smells, I can still smell him to this day. I know when I recall the smell I was at home, he was home.
My relationship with my grandpa cannot be expressed, the words will not come. A dear friend of mine (who recently lost her grandfather) told me that the love and relationship between a grandfather and his eldest grandchild and granddaughter is â€œmagical.â€ He truly was magical, his life, the experiences we shared, and the memories I hold dear, will always be magical.
I love you forever and always, Kare babe.
I tweeted and updated my Facebook status on how fabulous this holiday season would be, even after a tumultuous Thanksgiving I knew Christmas would completely drown everything that happened.
For the week leading up to Christmas Big G and I were on a Betty Crocker roll. I think I was channeling her or Martha Stewart for that matter with how many crafts and baking we accomplished together. We started by making these absolutely easy and aromatic Christmas ornaments courtesy of my friend Casey over at Extraordinary Mothers. Look at these beauties, I was so proud of my baby for sticking with the project.
We used some super simple ribbon too. Just a bit of wired ribbon and decorative craft rope and we have insta- ornaments that not only look fantastic and can be dressed up but smell absolutely intoxicating!
Next we did some rolled and cut Gingerbread Man cookies that were just the most tender, sweet, soft delicious cookies you could ever have. We did THREE dozen of those cookies. Look at the boy go! I was so proud he had so much fun…and we chowed on some dough! What good are cookies without cookie dough to nibble on.
So we moved onto more fun cookies and we did some really fun sugar cookies. I decided to use my new Wilton’s Cookie Press that I won from my friend Sandra over at Adventures In Mommyland (you should read…this woman has amazing strength!) and we did fabulous Christmas tree press cookies and some “star” shapes that actually looked more like flowers and we decorated as such.
Finally I made THREE, yes THREE homemade, from scratch, did not buy the shit in a pan from the store, PIES. I know I am a culinary snob…I truly enjoy the insult of being a snob, I pride myself in this delight. I have skills and I am proud to flaunt! HA HA HA. Okay, so enough of me, here is my prize winning pie…well actually it was eaten too fast before I could take a beauty shot, but I do have the original specimen, and I will be posting the recipe for Morsel Monday next week since I have failed to play along with consistent blogging this week. A-Okay by me, enjoying the relaxing time the no pressure of posting. But here is the specimen that I speak of…yes…that is a Pumpkin. An albino (white) pumpkin and what the insides look like after being cooked/mashed. Pretty right? Just imagine the taste. OH EM GEE!
The three wise pies were my infamous and prized beauties that each of my Grandmother’s raved over (yes both Grandmothers asked for the recipe….the women with phenomenal, mad cooking abilities wanted MY recipe!), my aunt’s who both have an insane level of gift in the culinary arts wanted the recipe, and of course my mother…who legitimized my claim of THE PERFECT child cook said my pie was better than the other pie she had that day…or any other day or holiday for that matter. Well of course…mine was made with love…not from an assembly line and stamped with the brand of “Marie Callendar’s.” kthxbai
I then worked on my Turkish chocolate cake. This cake was like no other though, more of a Swiss Roll with wonderful whipped cream inside…again, another recipe I will be sure to post. Super easy, super delish and very decadent. A true dessert cake and delicacy. However, one cake did not roll, so it was a layer cake of sorts, the other did roll, beautifully so I hauled that with us, along with the pecan pie, oh and the divinity. Yes, I made divinity. Which is a true feat to successfully create this confection in winter due to the weather and often cloudy days. You cannot make divinity on a cloudy day…same with fudge…the consistency just isn’t right. But I hauled all these goodies to my Grandmother’s house in Casa Grande for my 31st Christmas Eve celebration with her, with my Grandfather’s passing which was ever so bittersweet a celebration of family nonetheless, my aunt’s who had I many a laughs with, and my uncle who I joined in sarcastic witty banter as we jabbed others and one another.
Needless to say while the gifts were not overly plentiful as some may expect, the love of family, being together, having fun, and the creations of love and joy were shared abound. Those gifts are the gifts that carry no price, can never be replaced, and are felt year round and are remembered for a lifetime.
What were your holiday traditions? Family traditions? Baking fun? Any childhood memories you had that carry on with your present family? Children?