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Souper Bowl Sunday: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

SAM 5603 Edited Souper Bowl Sunday: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

As far as I’m concerned, winter can end on January 2 and we can jump right into spring. Once Christmas and New Year’s Day have passed, I have no use for cold winter temperatures and gray winter skies. I feel a bit odd professing my dislike for winter given Charlotte’s yet to experience winter this year. The weather was so nice yesterday I was comfortable wearing shorts and a long sleeve t-shirt while I walked outside.

Perhaps it’s not winter I resist as much as I do January. Other than a few birthdays sprinkled here and there, poor January offers me nothing to anticipate. Sandwiched between November’s Thanksgiving/December’s Christmas and February’s Valentine’s Day/March’s St. Patrick’s Day, poor January is dull. I’ve therefore decided to give myself something to look forward to by starting a Souper Bowl Sunday series for the next four Sundays until this year’s Super Bowl on February 5.

SAM 5608 Edited e1326037325500 Souper Bowl Sunday: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

Most everyone agrees soup is a good winter food. This soup recipe was shared with me by my super friend Kerri (friends seem to be the theme this weekend!). We discuss recipes from time to time, and she sent me a photo copied magazine page of this recipe with “Yummy recipe” scrawled across the top a few years ago. I’ve made this soup so many times, I don’t really even look at the recipe anymore. And really, there’s not a whole lot to mess up when it comes making soup. Simply toss a few ingredients into a pot, simmer, and enjoy.

I tweaked the recipe to my tastes by using cayenne pepper rather than poultry seasoning. The original recipe calls for a can of cream of chicken soup, but I find the fat from the juicy rotisserie chicken I use along with buttered flavor biscuits or croissants makes the soup creamy enough for me. Feel free to substitute the ingredients that work for you. I’ve often thought keeping the cream of chicken soup in the recipe and adding peas and corn would result in an easy chicken pot pie soup, though I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you do, and enjoy!

SAM 5615 Edited Souper Bowl Sunday: Easy Chicken & Dumplings

Easy Chicken & Dumplings
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Ingredients
  • 32 ounces (one box container) chicken broth
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 can refrigerated biscuits or crescent rolls
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken broth, rotisserie chicken and cayenne pepper in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. When the soup reaches a boil, reduce heat to low.
  3. Add the carrots and celery, cover, and allow to simmer.
  4. Place the refrigerated biscuits or crescent rolls on a lightly floured surface and cut into thin pieces.
  5. Drop the pieces into the simmering mixture one at a time.
  6. Allow to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

 

Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

SAM 5624 Edited Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

Today is my oldest friend’s birthday. Oldest not as in age but as in the friend I’ve known the longest. Kristin and I were born just 12 days apart, and since our mom’s are best friends, we were naturally thrown together at a young age. When you’ve know someone your entire life, there is really no end to the things you could write about. So this is the condensed version.

When I search for my first memory of Kristin, a few fuzzy things come to mind. I remember standing in a little strawberry patch outside the farmhouse where she lived. Her mom Jill was pointing out the empty skin a snake had shed to Kristin, her younger brother Eric, and me. I think Kristin thought it was cool, or maybe that was Eric. I thought it was scary and gross.

I also remember making personal pizzas and getting a makeover at what must have been one of Kristin’s birthday parties when we were pretty young, maybe five or six years old. I remember this party because most of our friends made their pizzas into the shape of hearts, but Jill helped me shape my pizza dough into a skull. I also got talked into having my face and hair painted silver.

SCN 0015 Edited Edited Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

Kristin is on the right end in the bottom row. I am on the left end in the top row.

As we progressed through childhood, Kristin and I took dance lessons together. I think we would both agree we liked dance, but we loved the trips through the McDonald’s drive through after dance.

As time moved on, Kristin and I moved apart, which is really no surprise given we always had different interests. When we were very young, Kristin and my sister would play with her dolls, while Eric and I would play with his dinosaurs and He-Man. As we grew up, we both ditched dance; I played sports and she focused on music and performance.

We toured Ball State together during our senior year of high school. While Kristin chose Ball State for undergrad, I made the better choice of Ohio State. She came to her senses and subsequently to Columbus for grad school where we lived together for a year. We graduated, got real jobs, and moved to different states.

SAM 5620 Edited e1325962312596 Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

SCN 0007 Edited Edited 995x1024 Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

Laura, Kristin & LeAndra at Kristin’s wedding reception

A short time later, Kristin and her then-just-a-honey Eric (not her brother, a different Eric!) took time out from a visit to his mom in Florida to meet up with me. Not too much later, I was standing in a church with Kristin as she promoted Eric from honey to husband. Today, she lives in Indy, a working professional and mom to two adorable little boys, while I live a selfishly single life in Charlotte.

Pineapples are a symbol of welcome, and since they can also stand for friendship, I baked pineapple upside down cookies this morning. These cookies can be baked as plain pineapple cookies if you choose to forgo the trouble of cutting up pineapple rings and placing them on the cookies. Though be warned the cookies without the pineapple rings have only a sweet rather than a distinct pineapple taste. If you like coconut, you may also want to consider adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sweetened, shredded coconut to the cookie dough batter.

As for the caramel sauce topping, after burning two batches of sugar and my fingers, my third batch of caramel ended up with a consistency closer to hard tack candy than soft, chewy caramel. If you are anything like me, you may want to consider topping the pineapple cookies with store bought caramel.

SCN 0004 Edited Edited Edited 0001 Best Friend Pineapple Upside Down Cookies

Laura, Eric, LeAndra, & Kristin

Not many people are lucky enough to say they’ve been friends with someone for their entire lives. Happy Birthday Kristin!

Pineapple Upside Down Cookies
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar (plus 1 additional cup for an optional caramel sauce)
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice
  • 1 20 ounce can pineapple rings
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed.
  3. Add the egg the vanilla, the pineapple, and the pineapple juice and beat until smooth.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and continue to beat until just combined.
  5. Place a tablespoon of cookie dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  6. Cut a pineapple ring into six to eight equal pieces and press 4 to 6 of the pieces into the top of the cookie.
  7. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough and pineapple rings.
  8. Bake at 300 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until very lightly browned.
  9. If desired, drizzle caramel sauce across the top of the baked cookies.
Notes
To make caramel sauce, melt one cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. The sugar will burn very quickly once it begins to melt, so be sure to keep a close eye on it. When liquid, very slowly add one quarter cup of water to the the saucepan. The mixture will bubble up very rapidly, so be very careful! Stir until smooth, remove from heat, and spoon over the cookies.

 

Resolutions and a Side of Cider Cinnamon Brussels Sprouts

SAM 4772 Edited Resolutions and a Side of Cider Cinnamon Brussels Sprouts

I realize a vegetable dish isn’t common place on a blog primarily focused on sweet treats, but this cider cinnamon brussels sprouts dish is my (likely lone) attempt to provide something useful to those who have made the popular New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

My resolutions usually aren’t too complex. In the past, I’ve resolved to untie my shoes before I take them off or to not swear so much (to my dismay, sometimes those words just slip out!). This year my personal resolution is to practice yoga on a more regular basis, and my baking resolution is to (try to) make a galette, Charlotte, and Baked Alaska. I’d also like to try canning, or at the very least, make freezer jam.

Other dishes I have not yet made, like tarts and fruit pies, landed on the “to do” list rather than the “resolution” list simply because they do not strike fear in me like the three I listed. They also beat out the desserts I feel like I should make but I have absolutely no desire to make, like petit fours. This resolution business is a tricky thing.

SAM 4783 Edited e1322331895677 Resolutions and a Side of Cider Cinnamon Brussels Sprouts

I don’t yet know how my tastebuds feel about brussels sprouts, but I do know these cider cinnamon brussels sprouts were the tastiest way I have prepared brussels sprouts thus far. The apple, pear, and cinnamon really cut what I consider to be the earthy (okay fine, they taste like dirt) taste of brussels sprouts. If you end up with leftovers, the remaining brussels sprouts  are best served sauteed with a bit of olive oil.

I will keep trying to decide if I do or do not like these little veggies. Though I lean towards the latter, I keep trying brussels sprouts because I think they got a bad rap. I hope you’ll try something new this year too!

SAM 4778 Edited Resolutions and a Side of Cider Cinnamon Brussels Sprouts

Cider Cinnamon Brussels Sprouts
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 1 pear, diced
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the Brussels sprouts and saute until browned, approximately 10-12 minutes.
  3. Add the apple and the pear and cook another five minutes until the fruit is soft.
  4. Add the apple cider and the cinnamon to the skillet and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until no liquid remains in the pan.