It’s February Already?!

I simply cannot believe it is February 22nd already! Normally I would be pining for Spring at this time of year, but instead it has been so different. We have had the most snowy, record-breaking cold Winter ever and I’ve pretty much been homebound for most of it… and currently snowed in by the latest storm! Happily so, though, because I’ve been spending lots of time learning so much about blogging, websites, food photography and the food blogging online community and am completely enjoying it. I hope I can slowly translate all I’m absorbing into this blog. One thing I have learned is how much time it takes to create a blog that people will enjoy reading. I have a long way to go, but I’m thoroughly enjoying the process.

The holidays have come and gone so quickly – sadly so! It was a wonderful time of friends, family, creating – and enjoying the moments. It was the first holiday season without homework and finals in a very long time and I soaked it in for all it was worth! It’s the first holiday I was able to actually make a craft and I had a blast! Of course there was excessive over-the-top baking and eating of sweets and savories. Aahhh… how many more months until next Thanksgiving and Christmas?!

Gingerbread Holly Heart Ornament I made.

Gingerbread Holly Heart Ornament I made.

Meg and I had fun making a gingerbread house together.

Meg and I had fun making a gingerbread house together.

An old family favorite - Vanillegipfel.

An old family favorite – Vanillegipfel.

It's not Christmas without the traditional Sugar Cookies!

It’s not Christmas without the traditional Sugar Cookies!

We have a simple traditional Christmas dinner that includes 'Roast Beast' and Yorkshire Pudding.  It came out so wonderful this year!

We have a simple traditional Christmas dinner that includes ‘Roast Beast’ and Yorkshire Pudding. It came out so wonderful this year!

Christmas Morning 2014

Christmas Morning 2014

I was lamenting that I did not want to take down the tree and decorations the next day... it was sooo beautiful at night.

I was lamenting that I did not want to take down the tree and decorations the next day… it was sooo beautiful at night.

Some post-Christmas Sale bargains... can't wait to decorate next year!

Some post-Christmas Sale bargains… can’t wait to decorate next year!

One special event that shaped some of our festivities was the decision to go to France in October of this year. Meg and I will go together to take a four-day cooking workshop with one of our favorite bloggers, Mimi Thorisson. Meg was the one who found the workshops. She had been following Mimi’s blog, ‘Manger’ for quite a while. We looked at it together and the workshops look to be exactly the way we hope to do any kind of travelling – to the home of a native of the country. It is my experience that visiting a foreign land where the language is not familiar can be a bit daunting. The thing that turns a trip like this into a joy is being able to share the time with a family who can help guide you to the best local spots and share special moments steeping in a new culture. We absolutely cannot wait. One thing Meg and I are doing to count down to our trip has been to start a little side blog called ‘Cooking Our Way To Medòc’.  We plan on cooking a few recipes out of Mimi Thorisson’s new cookbook entitled A Kitchen in France. We’ve published a couple entries, hence, my delay in posting here! Do take a look if you have a chance.

The Title of our new blog:  'Cooking Our Way to Medòc'...  http://cookingourwaytomedoc.com

The Title of our new blog: ‘Cooking Our Way to Medòc’… http://cookingourwaytomedoc.wordpress.com

Our first blog post featured this picture.

Our second blog post featured this picture.

Mimi Thorisson's book:  'A Kitchen in France'.

Mimi Thorisson’s book: ‘A Kitchen in France’.

So with all this homebound time, I’ve had time to experiment with recipes and have found a bunch of good new ones and re-vamped some tried and true ones. I’m sharing two below. The first is one that I tried because I have a weakness for mac and cheese. It piqued my interest because it was not a typical mac and cheese recipe. ‘Deliciously Yum’, a blogger, created it. The main ingredient for the sauce is butternut squash!! I was intrigued because I love butternut squash and it was a mac and cheese to make you ‘feel good’ about the fact that you were eating a healthy, much lower-calorie version without sacrificing taste. I adapted the recipe to use what I had on hand and to be proportioned to a 16 oz. box of macaroni. I’ve never quite understood recipes that measure dry macaroni in cups! In my opinion, all recipes that use macaroni should be created for the measurement the pasta is sold in… and in most cases it’s a 16 oz. box or bag. So, that’s what I did and I absolutely love this new version. It is creamy, yummy and is not heavy feeling after you eat it. I plan on trying out some variations (keeping it healthy) in the future, but here is the recipe for ‘Feel Good Mac and Cheese’. I hope you have a chance to try it.  Here are some pics of our ‘Superbowl’ viewing fare:

The traditional family favorite:  Chalupa dip!

The traditional family favorite: Chalupa dip!

 

Meg made us Jack Frost Cocktails... mainly because they are blue - you know... cause the Patriots are blue.  ;)

Meg made us Jack Frost Cocktails… mainly because they are blue – you know… ’cause the Patriots are blue of course… 😉

Balsamic Flank Steak Sliders with Creamy Horseradish Sauce on homemade 'Amazing Dinner Rolls'!

Balsamic Flank Steak Sliders with Creamy Horseradish Sauce on homemade ‘Amazing Dinner Rolls‘!

Honey Ham and Swiss with Honey Mustard Sauce on homemade 'Amazing Dinner Rolls'.

Honey Ham and Swiss with Honey Mustard Sauce on homemade ‘Amazing Dinner Rolls‘.

The second recipe I want to share with you is one of my favorite cornbread recipes with some added delicious morsels that just transform this from a delicious cornbread, to a dazzlingly delicious cornbread. Ha ha! I should probably rename the recipe to Dazzlingly Delicious Cornbread. Okay, done!  🙂

Enjoy the rest of this Winter. If you are not a Winter fan or are growing weary of the cold and snow, just think how good it is for the gardens and trees and bugs… It makes this wonderful New England what it is and I surely could not live without it. It sure helps to get some spring flowers to brighten things up a bit.

Daffodils and Tulips to remind us that Spring is near!

Daffodils and Tulips to remind us that Spring is near!

OH and I almost forgot to mention – the bluebirds have returned! I am so beside myself happy about this because they stopped visiting the feeders for a while. They never left the yard, but I didn’t get to see them close-up. There are 6 of them and I hope they continue to visit. They come for breakfast like clockwork at 6:43 every morning so far. Is that cute or what?!

The bluebirds have returned!  Be still my heart!

The bluebirds have returned! Be still my heart!

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