A Little Kindness Give Away & Inspired, Spirited Bars

Southern Belle Bars

Southern Belle Bars

This week I was treated to an overwhelming amount of kindness. My nephews Michael and Felipe pulled out all the stops to make me feel welcome in their gorgeous home in sunny Orlando.

Family time in Orlando

Family time in Orlando

It started with a spa treatment and then snorkeling and floating down the lazy river at Discovery Cove. There were thoughtful gifts left on my pillow. One surprise after another including a special candle that smells like gingerbread because they know I love to bake. These two young men made me feel so loved and special and I am ever so grateful for their kindness. They inspire me to be a better more thoughtful person.

Did you notice the heart on my gingerbread candle?

Did you notice the heart on my gingerbread candle? It brought me to tears.

This is my 1 year “blogiversary” and I owe you. Looking back at my About page I wrote, “I am happy you are here and always grateful for any kindness shown me.” You, my friends and followers have out-done yourselves. Your comments and support have comforted me and others in so many ways. Never underestimate the power of a little kindness. It changes the world for the good. So to show my appreciation you can win this delicious box of spices from Penzey’s. You know what to do…leave a kind comment. On November 1st I will randomly choose a winner and send you a little kindness for your palate.

Penzy's Kind Box of Spices

Penzy’s Kind Box of Spices

In the meantime, here is a little thank you recipe. It’s spirited and inspired by one of the kindest boys I know. He spent a little time down south at Camp LeJeune. 100_1942

 

Southern Belle Bars 

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) peanut butter
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups (12 oz.) chopped bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped peanuts, optional

Heat oven 350F. Lightly coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with no-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper leaving a small overhang. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1 cup of butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. Gently press about 2/3 of the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. In a microwave safe dish, heat the condensed milk, bittersweet chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and ¼ teaspoon of salt, stirring every 30 seconds until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of bourbon. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over dough in pan. Crumble or dollop the remaining dough on top. Sprinkle the top with semisweet chocolate and peanuts; gently press down. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden on top. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into bars. Makes 12 to 16 bars.

chocolate, peanut butter, bourbon

chocolate, peanut butter, bourbon

Here For Me & You & the Guacamole

"whole" foods guacamole

“whole” foods guacamole

This week marks one year since I started this blog. I have to wonder how I ever got to this place spilling my private life and innermost thoughts. It’s unlike me to share in this way. To grieve and to mourn so openly not only with friends, but with complete strangers. Why am I here? This blogging thing is hard work. It’s not only the writing, but the technology, too. Why in the hell am I in this struggle?

my sweet William

my sweet William

My very first blog post http://goodgriefcook.com/2013/10/21/following-in-his-light-with-cookies brought it all back. In an instant, I remembered. Stepping out of my comfort zone. Following in his light. Being brave in the way he would want me to be brave. Celebrating his life and never forgetting HIS struggles is why I am here.100_1911

The blog started with a chocolate chip cookie recipe spirited with a little Jack Daniels and retrieved from the oven…perfectly baked…in the shape of a heart. Is it a sign from him that this is a good thing cooking, baking and sharing?

Sweet William's Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sweet William’s Fancy Chocolate Chip Cookie

It is clear that cooking and baking are my coping skills. Right now, it is what I do best and what gets me through the day. One recipe at a time like one foot in front of the other it works for me. Some recipes for my own enjoyment, some for sharing with family and friends and still others to share with complete strangers. Each and every recipe celebrating who I am, where I have been and inspired by those who I love. Every recipe, putting pieces together in hopes of making something new and whole.guacamole

And along with that I hope my story is helping others to grieve or to learn about grief. To dispel some of the myths about this subject that no one ever really wants to discuss. A subject no one ever wants to think about or be a part of it, but then it happens. Eventually it will. And so I am here.

And sharing this “whole” food recipe. Whole foods means fresh and not processed. I think this guacamole is perfect for the upcoming holidays or your favorite tailgate party. Unlike blogging it is super simple to throw together. Enjoy and from the bottom of my heart thanks for hanging out with me this past year.

Pomegranate Guacamole  (just figured out I can type in color here so could not resist)

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted and mashed–chunky or smooth -your choice

juice from 2 fresh limes

1 tablespoon each finely chopped cilantro and red onion (rinse the onion in cold water to remove those nasty sulphur compounds that make us cry)

1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt (more or less to your taste)

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Mix it all together with half the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the rest on top along with a sprig of cilantro. And I don’t know about you, but I hate double dipping, so pull out those shot glasses (unless of course you are doing shots of Jack Daniels) and fill them with guacamole along with some fresh carrot and jicama sticks..so pretty and festive and wholesome.

 

Surprise-Surprise-Fennel Apple Pie

fennel apple pie

fennel apple pie

Days like today remind me just how much I love my son and how much he was loved by others. Thru his goodness I am constantly blessed. He continues to bring me great joy when I least suspect it.

Ellie & Emily

BFF’s Ellie & Emily

My heart nearly exploded when I saw Emily at the door. It’s been a few years since I have seen her.  A surprise visit along with her dad and a lovely vase of flowers. And William stories. Funny William stories. One, in particular, I had never heard before. Scattegories….scary words that start with G. Oh, my goodness–His answer (an inside joke)…so funny and clever. One could always count on him for a good, spit soda out your nose kind of laugh.

a good laugh with Tyler and Will

a good laugh with BFF’s Tyler and Will

Today was such a gift and I have dear sweet Emily to thank for it. I hope you all have “an Emily” in your life. Pay a surprise visit to someone who can use cheering up. It just might make all the difference in the world.IMG_0412

It comes as no surprise that today’s recipe is just a little off beat. It is kind of what I do best. Take your typical apple pie and give it a bit of a twist with fennel. Fennel and apples are like BFF’s-it works. Try it and be surprised at how delicious this combo is.

Festive Apple-Fennel Pie

Pastry for double crust pie

6 medium baking apples, peeled, cored, thinly sliced

1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, then chopped (1 cup), fronds reserved for garnish

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons all purpose flour

pinch of salt

Heat oven 425F. Roll out half of pie dough to fit 9-inch pie plate. In large bowl, toss apples, fennel and cranberries with lemon juice. Mix sugar, cinnamon, flour and salt; sprinkle over apple mixture and gently toss again. Spoon filling into prepared crust. With the tip of your finger moisten the edge of crust with some water. Roll out remaining pie dough. Top pie with second crust wrapping any excess top crust under bottom crust edge pressing to seal. Flute edges. Cut several slits in top crust with the tip of a knife to vent steam. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling. During last 15 minutes of baking time cover fluted edge of pie with a crust protector or foil to prevent excessive browning, if needed. Cool before serving. Garnish with fennel fronds. Serves 8.