Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Blog Party#19: Take Comfort, the Round-Up

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Welcome to the Nineteenth Blog Party! This goofy little event just keeps on chugging, doesn't it?

We have an amazing turn-out this evening, and I'm so happy you all could
be here. Clearly, I'm not the only one who takes solace in a bowl of
somethingcarb -heavy...there are some truly amazing, and inspired,
entries here. I, for one, can't wait to dig in; but of course, we have
to set the mood first, right?

This is a tough one, as far as the music goes. What's comforting to one can come off as annoying as heck to another.

But I have to say that, personally, the 1975 eponymous Fleetwood Mac album is a source of great comfort and happy memories for me.



Unlike '77's heartbreak-fest 'Rumours', Fleetwood Mac Fleetwood Mac has a warm, welcoming feel to it. Ok, there's some subtle (and not-so subtle) signs of things to come ("Blue
Letter" & "Landslide" aren't exactly depictions of a happy relationship), but the music itself wraps around you, and for me, it's a like a blanket.

For something a bit more broad, a collection of Glenn Miller's greatest hits is sure to work.




And what's happier and welcoming than the voice of Doris Day?



And since we're just sitting around on couches and comfy chairs, we don't really need a table setting.

But I've lit lots and lots of these amazing candles



(I used this company almost entirely for our wedding; they rock); with scents like Banana Bread, Snickerdoodle and Caramel Apple, I think we've got the 'comfort' thing covered.

And now I think it's time we got to the food. It's what we've all been waiting for, right?



Our very first guest, here's Elle!
Knowing that love and comfort often go hand in hand, Elle's prepared
the sweetest Heart-Shaped Parmesan Crisps. Aren't they adorable?? She's also the woman with the Port, and with a few almonds on the side, I think it's an absolutely perfect start to the evening.
Thanks so much for coming, Elle!







Not only is this night about comforting foods, it's about welcoming new
friends! Say 'hello' to Tigerfish, everyone.
And what a way to make an entry! Impressing the heck out of me, you have to try this Puffy Pastry-Topped Cream of Mushroom Soup! It's brilliant,
seriously. Hold the mug in one hand, and use the crust as a spoon.
Fantastic. It's a beverage, it's an appetizer.
Tigerfish, we're very glad to have you here!






We love repeat-party-ers here at Blog Party, so it's great to see Mel's come back for a bit of comfort tonight. Mel's proving that party food doesn't have to be about triple-cream brie, because her Roasted Carrot and Potato Wedges sound divine! Dipped in some garlic-flavored mayonnaise, this promises to be a real treat. And clearly on the right track tonight, Mel's brought more Port. Good to have you back!






Yay! Breadchick's here!! Her name alone conjures visions of comfort, doesn't it? Well, she's not letting us down, with her wonderful MiniYooper Pastys; dough-wrapped packets of meat and veggies. I'm a sucker for foods like this.
She's also scored points with Matt, because there's also some some
wonderful Vernor's Ginger Soda, one of his favorites. And oh, I do happen to have some Edy's Vanilla in the freezer!
Thanks so much for coming, Breadchick.








Everyone say 'hi' to Sara! She's offering up some serious comfort food, too, with her Mini Sloppy Joe's...and they're even vegetarian! I can have
some!! Yippee.
Sara's also got my attention with her Pineapple Juice & Soda Water; just happens that
I adore pineapple juice.
And because desserts are always comforting, be sure to try her Lemon Gem Cupcakes; they look delicious.
Always happy to have you with us, Sara!






I'm so very glad to have J back, if only for her serving ware!
No, the food will definitely have you saying thank you, trust me. You'll want to pace yourself...there's the delightful Spoonfuls of Bangers & Mash, the Poached Quail Eggs on Toast, some fantastic-looking, and
tiny, Steak & Mushroom Pies, more spoons, with some containing melted
Cauliflower Cheese, and others Baked Macaroni & Cheese; yum. And we finish up with a warming mug of Hot Chocolate...that's a hug in a cup, for sure.
Wow...J; we are all impressed, yet again. Thank you so much!







Good to see, you, Brilynn!
I can always count on you for something sweet, too, thank goodness.
Tonight, it's her Chocolate Fudge with Cherries & Pistachios, served in
spoons. Adorable!
And keeping with the sweet theme, more Hot Chocolate. That's alright with me, how about you?
It's a wonderfully comforting, and sweet, bite, Brilynn...happy you could make it tonight!






Next, it's Jessica! Wishing for warmer weather, Jessica's doing her best
to get Old Mr. Sun out of hiding for good, with her cute MiniS'mores.
I love the idea of using a candle from an oil warmer to heat the marshmallows! I have a couple handy, just in case we need to make more.
Jessica, I will happily eat these (of course, mine are made with vegan marshmallows), and even do a little sun-dance, if it helps. I'm tired of being cold, too!
Thank you so very much for coming tonight.






Welcome back, Marie-Laure! So glad you could be here tonight.
And you'll be thanking her, as well, after you've had a few of these
Little Cheese Pies
.Mmmm. I've kept the oven on, so feel free to pop them back in for that melted effect!
And I love her Pomegranate Lassi's; what a lovely combination! Healthy, sure...but you know that's going to taste good. And they're so pretty!
Thanks again, Marie-Laure.






Tag, Brigitte!
Parties really are a good place to meet new people, aren't they? Well,
you're sure to get a very warm welcome tonight, with the feast you've prepared. Check out the amazing appetizers she's brought along, like the
Screwed Japanese Cucumber en Nature
, the glasses of Buttered Lettuce and Cocktail Tomatoes with Dill Sprigs, little spoons of Conchiglioni filled with Crisp Fried Kipferl Cubes, and...oh, well, take a look for yourself!
And yes, there's something comforting about a little bottle of San Pelligrino, isn't there?
Brigitte, this was fantastic. Thank you so much for joining our party!






Freya's just shown up (have I ever told you I have recurring nightmares, since I was four or five, about zombies?), and this is her first time at Blog Party, too! No worries, you're already a hit, because I've started passing
around your awfully cute Mini Malted Chocolate and Banana Cupcakes. Having grown up
with Whoppers, I'm curious about yourMaltesers!
And comfort in a cup is what you'll get when you try Freya's Bailey's Shot with Maltesers.
I'm so happy you could make it, Freya!






I'm very happy, because the much-too busy Ulrike has returned! It's really good to have you back, you know.
And I think you're going to enjoy her Spoons of Spaghetti with Bell Pepper & Tomato Sauce; that really does look comforting! And I'mlovin' the spoons.
And that Hot Milk & Honey sounds wonderful; thanks again for coming, Ulrike!








We have another new face tonight, and another Jessica! Welcome.
You're going to fit right in, because those Grilled Cheese Strips, and the Tomato Soup Shooters are practically the poster children for Comfort Food! And I'm definitely going to be trying some of your Peppermint Tea; I'm a bit of a tea junkie, no coffee for me.
It's a perfect addition to the party, Jessica; thanks so much for coming!






We have another first-timer here tonight; say 'hello' to Rinku!
I have a feeling you're all going to love these Green ChickenDrumettes, marinated in so many wonderful spices and herbs. They look fantastic, Rinku....thanks so much for coming tonight!






Yippee! I'm always happy when a guy joins Blog Party, I mean c'mon; who doesn't like a man who cooks?
So give a warm welcome to Ian!
And boy, did he get creative, turning some serious comfort (and almost college-bound) standards into cocktail fare.
But be prepared: I've had a certain TV jingle floating around in m head for days.
Tonight, Ian's given us the Bacon 'N Egg Rice-a-Roni Canape, bacon-flecked frittata
pieces served on toast. Then, there's the Weenie-Kabob (I feel so fifth grade right now...);
with bits of hot dog and various toppings on a skewer. It's brilliant.
I'm already calling 'dibs' on the Mashed Potato Poppers...just wanted to give fair warning.
And Ian has come up with one of best-named cocktails Blog Party has seen in some time: The Flux Capacitor. Ouzo and Sprite. I'll bet that's really how Doc got the idea, not the hit
to the head.
Thanks so much for coming Ian, I do hope you'll stop by again!

Ok, you've all made so many fantastic dishes, I almost hate to add a few more. But, what the heck. We can all hit the treadmill tomorrow.




First, Breakfast Bites. Very simple, really. I love breakfast foods, but not necessarily the usual serving times. Here, a toast square serves as base for creamy scrambled eggs which are topped with crumbled crisp bacon and gratedAsiago cheese. Delicious.
(this one was for Matt, I had some with faux bacon.)



One of the few things I 'miss' as a vegetarian is turkey dinner. It was probably my favorite thing. I loved Thanksgiving, and even requested it for a couple of birthday dinners as
a teenager.
I can't have it now (although the Now & Zen Complete Unturkey Feast does a passable job), but I can live vicariously. Through these Tiny Turkey Dinners: mashed potatoes, wrapped in
smoked turkey breast slices, and pinned to a round of stuffing. Served with a gravy dipping sauce.


For me a glass of milk can be comforting, but not very exciting. So instead I've turned to the Root Beer Float. Not only comforting, but charming and old-fashioned.
I used Edy's Vanilla, and a marvelous brand of root beer we get from Earth Fare.


Ok, I have now eaten so much that the Yoga DVD's I've been ignoring for weeks are starting to seem like a good idea. I've had a really good time, and I hope you all have, as well.
As promised, everyone who attended the party will be getting an email from me, announcing March's theme. Of course, this is a bit late, so the email won't really be much of aheadstart.

And that takes me to another round of 'thank yous', for being so patient with me and the
round-up. Between computer and health issues, I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever get this posted! So, thanks again.

Ok, glad I wore pants with an elastic waist tonight...thank you all for coming, and I do hope to see you here in March!




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Monday, February 26, 2007

Waiter, there's something in my...Pie-Yah!

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I'm a gal who keeps her word, and as I'd promised Jeanne I'd be there for this round of "Waiter, there's something in my...", I present to you: Pie!

It may not be The Great Pie, but it was a pretty darn good one.

See, I don't like pie. I never ate them growing up. For me, it's a texture issue, as well as a flavor problem.

I'd never even made a pie until a few years ago. But that's what love is...you may not like a thing, but when the object of your affection does, you make exceptions.




As I was telling a friend, in addition to the not liking pie-thing, I'm horrible with crusts. They simply won't cooperate. We start out wary of each other. By the time the oven's come to temperature, we've had a huge fight, I'm in tears and the crust falls apart in disgust.

My in-laws came to my rescue, though, this past Christmas. Pie crust-making therapy in the form of two lovely gadgets: a non-stick rolling mat (I can never gauge dimensions), and an extremely large spatula.
Admitting you have a problem is a big step to recovery. Actually using the tools of therapy gets you a heck of a lot closer still.



It also helps that I've been seeing the episode "Samurai Pie", from the Backyardigans, an awful lot lately.

A children's show that doesn't make you want to stick sharp objects into your eyes...that's heaven-sent.
A children's show you actually want to watch? Well, I don't know what to call that, except for...The Backyardigans.

This episode features Tyrone as the Master Pie Maker for the Empress of Ancient Japan. He's teaching Austin how to make pies, all set to music from those wonderful, old, spaghetti Westerns. Very Sergio Leone.

Uniqua and Pablo are ninjas who want to steal the pie. Really, it makes sense (moms, can I get a shout out here?).

Empress Tasha demands The Great Pie. No actual description of said pie, but I was inspired.

Using a pie crust recipe from the wartime cookbook, and with some help from Matt & Alex on peel-and-slice patrol, I baked an apple & pistachio pie, flavored with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Crust was very light, and very flaky. So light and flaky that, if not for the spatula, I would have needed spackle to cover the pie itself.

The apples were tender, but not smooshy. The pistachios give just a bit of crunch. Not too prominent, but a little extra richness.





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Back Now

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Things are fixed, I'm recovered (long story).

I'll be posting my "Waiter, there's something in my..." entry later today, and the Blog Party round-up will go up tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience. It's been a rough week.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

*#&!*#@$% Connection!

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Sorry, technical issues again. I'll be getting Blog Party up when they're resolved.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Apples? We don't need no stinkin' apples!

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Forget the shiny red apple as a teacher gift.

For Alex's preschool teacher's birthday, we gave cake.

I call it 'The Turtle Cake', for what I hope are obvious reasons.

Two (square) layers of a seriously dense chocohlate cake, smothered in dulce de leche and chopped pecans, and then finished off with a heavy drizzle of dark chocolate.

Happy birthday, indeed.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

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Technical Difficulties

We've been having connections problems here, but I'll be back to posting tomorrow.

I'd like to thank everyone who volunteered to send an extra BBM package to those people who wouldn't otherwise receive one. We'll have everyone covered, and we could have done it even if we had needed to send out more. You guys rock!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Blogging By Mail: Request

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So, we've almost wrapped up the Holiday edition of BBM; all but a few packages have now arrived. (the link isn't as updated as it should be)

And that's why I'm turning to you.

It looks as though some of the packages haven't made it to their destinations, and I'm determined that this round, No Blogger will be go un-swapped!

So, I ask you, wonderful, kind bloggers: would anyone be willing to ship a second package? To a deserving food blogger?

I'll be taking care of two, leaving just a few more.

If anyone would like to help, please send an email to thehappysorceress at gmail dot com.

And thank you!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Roast Chicken with Tarragon Juices

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Is making one meal just so you have the fixings for another the sign of a foodie, or a crazy person?

Or are the two synonymous?

I needed both roasted chicken, as well as the carcass, for an upcoming dinner. That meant I needed to roast a chicken.

I used a Nigel Slater recipe; tarragon and smooshed garlic are mixed with butter, then spread all over (inside and out) a whole chicken. The next step is to add a glass of wine, but...well, I'm fairly certain we have white wine some place in the house, but at the time I made this, I had no idea where. And even if I had, odds were it was too high up for me to reach...so I used water.

I also chucked in some peeled and cut potatoes, because...well, that doesn't really need an explanation, does it?

The bird is roasted at a fairly high heat for fifteen minutes, then the temperature is reduced for another forty or so. Chicken gets basted during the process.

Very crunchy skin, nice roast flavor, very moist. Subtle.

And the left-over chicken and carcass are waiting for stage two...





Blog Party#19 is under way, and this month, we're taking Comfort in our favorite feel-good foods. Turn your favorite comforting treats to appetizers by Thursday, 15 February (thehappysorceress at gmail dot com), and hope to see you there!




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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Matt's Fancy Dinner

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Chateaubriand with Bernaise Sauce, Deep-Fried Souffled Potatoes and Herby Popovers

Just because I'm not a carnivore doesn't mean Matt has to give it up.

I've had this recipe kicking around for some time, and finally decided Matt had to have it.

Gorgeous cut of Australian grass-fed beef, a lovely sauce flavored with white wine vinegar and tarragon. Matt was speechless when he ate this.

In the early days, that concerned me. Had I done something wrong? Was the food horrid?

No, it just meant he was having a foodgasm, and couldn't talk just then.



These potatoes are actually much too good. Sinfully so.

Imagine the center of a French fry, but coated in batter and fried.

No...that's not good enough.

These potatoes are difficult to explain. Simple mashed potatoes are mixed with melted butter, water, egg and flour. Basically, the 'batter' is mixed into the potato.

It's then dropped by spoonfuls into hot oil, and fried till golden.

And then becomes little, pillowy, bites of heaven. I am not lying. I ate a couple, and swore I wouldn't touch another...they're dangerously good.



These mini-popovers were less 'herby' and more 'stinky cheese-y'. Not saying that's a bad thing, mind you.

Both chives and parsley in the batter, but the addition of crumbled Bleu cheese in the middle of each, well, that kind of overwhelmed the flavors of the herbs.

Future recipes...and yes, according to Matt, there will be future recipes...will employ a less-bite-y cheese.

But, Matt cleaned his plate (literally), so I think he liked it.

Oh, that and the fact he spent the rest of the evening telling me "dinner were really good".




Blog Party#19 is under way, and this month, we're taking Comfort in our favorite feel-good foods. Turn your favorite comforting treats to appetizers by Thursday, 15 February (thehappysorceress at gmail dot com), and hope to see you there!




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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rockingham Teapot

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I bought this teapot because I was told it was the best in the world.

I probably should have checked with my British friends before I got it, true...but now, any thoughts?








Blog Party#19 is under way, and this month, we're taking Comfort in our favorite feel-good foods. Turn your favorite comforting treats to appetizers by Thursday, 15 February (thehappysorceress at gmail dot com), and hope to see you there!




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Monday, February 05, 2007

Dogs and Curry: But Not in the Same Dish!

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A few weeks ago, we made (and by 'we', I mean Matt...lucky me) this wonderful La Hore Chicken & Potato Curry.

This may be the closest we've come to a restaurant-like dish at home. Creamy, flavorful...everything we love about our favorite Indian restaurant.



The recipe came from Indian Home Cooking, which was exactly the sort of book we were looking for.

Not difficult to make, with excellent results.

This book is going to become dog-eared.


Speaking of, I missed WDB yesterday (busy from start to finish), so here's a couple pictures of Duke & Fluffy. Donegal even manages to sneak in there.






Sweet puppies.





Blog Party#19 is under way, and this month, we're taking Comfort in our favorite feel-good foods. Turn your favorite comforting treats to appetizers by Thursday, 15 February (thehappysorceress at gmail dot com), and hope to see you there!




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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Fritz's Bread

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When asked 'what fictional characters would you most like to dine with', I actually have an answer.

I'm terrible at making lists of favorites: people, songs, movies, whatever. But this one...I can do this.

If someone were to wave their magic wand or whatever magical item required, I'd want to sit down and enjoy a meal with Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Nero Wolfe.

Yes, I'm a mystery fan. I've read all three, still do. Their sleuthing techniques are a bit different from each other, and I'm sure the conversation would be both lively and intense, at intervals, as they discussed their methods.

But the real reason I'd invite these crime-solvers to dinner is the fact all three were interested in food.

It wasn't necessarily at the forefront, in the novels, but give them a read and you'll discover the attention to food detail.

Holmes and Watson try out a new vegetarian restaurant. Poirot goes to great length to set the perfect table for a special guest.

And Mr. Wolfe? Well, for him, it was always about the food.

Nero Wolfe and his long-suffering chef, Fritz Brenner, talked about food all the time. How many cardamom pods were acceptable in a dish. Whether or not to use juniper berries.

The meals Wolfe and Archie Goodwin ate were detailed in the stories, and some years back, the author, Rex Stout, offered fans of the detective series a real treat: The Nero Wolfe Cookbook.

The book is filled with the recipes mentioned throughout the Wolfe books. Main dishes, breakfast treats, sides...everything.

I've made four or five things from this book, and every one was a winner.

The most recent: Fritz's bread. To paraphrase Archie Goodwin, when Fritz dies, Wolfe will never eat bread again.

This bread is pretty darn good, I'll give him that.

Very solid, sandwich bread. It makes small loaves, but it works. Really good flavor. Dense.

This recipe requires three risings, but it was worth it. Not necessarily difficult, just set aside a few moments of your day for kneading and the like.

This also made the most excellent French toast.

Now, I very much doubt I'd give up eating bread if this were unavailable to me, but it's a pretty darn good loaf.





Blog Party#19 is under way, and this month, we're taking Comfort in our favorite feel-good foods. Turn your favorite comforting treats to appetizers by Thursday, 15 February (thehappysorceress at gmail dot com), and hope to see you there!




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Thursday, February 01, 2007

Blog Party#19: Take Comfort

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Blog Party#19: Comfort Food


As much I as enjoy an elaborate and architectural wonder on my plate now and then, or I may 'ooh' and 'aah' over the fancy presentation and expensive ingredients of a dish, there are times when all I want is a bowl of mashed potatoes.

No, not fingerling potatoes run through a ricer, then mixed with creme fraiche and topped off with truffle oil.

I mean, a bowl of violently beaten Idaho potatoes, flavored only with milk, butter, and a bit of salt and pepper.

And over the course of the past few years, I admit I've been spoiled when it comes to chocolate. I have tasted the most exquisite, high-quality, chocolate bars. Chocolate that has been hand-crafted, made with as much cocoa as legally possible.

But there are some days...days that seem to go on for weeks...when all I want is that brownish bar wrapped in maroon and silver; I want to snap off each piece and let it melt in my mouth. It just makes me feel good.

There are times when all I want is Comfort Food.

And this month, that's what we're going to do.

The challenge of February's Blog Party is this: turn your favorite comfort foods (and I assure you: you will not be judged!) into appetizers.

Whatever it is (sticking with food, of course) you turn to just to feel better, down-size it. Dress it up, if you must. That goes for the drinks, too...when you're down, worn-out...what do you drink? Milkshakes? Hot tea? We'll take it.

Bite-sized comfort foods; that's what we're after!

We have a short month this time, so your entries will be due Thursday, 15 February (that's right after Valentine's for those keeping track), with the round-up posting Saturday, 17 February. RSVP to thehappysorceress at gmail dot com.



For newcomers, here's the 'rules'.

What, in my opinion, qualifies as cocktail food:

  • Finger foods: anything that can be picked up, carried around and eaten with one hand...the use of the second hand as crumb catcher is perfectly acceptable

  • Dippers: vegetables, crackers, bread, chips, breadsticks and any inventive foods which are used for scooping or spreading dips and uh...spreads

  • Miniature meals: by this, I mean a normal-sized dish, cut or displayed as individual servings. A quiche, cut into small enough pieces to be eaten in less than four bites would be accepted.


All you have to do is make ****AT LEAST ONE appetizer AND cocktail**** (that's a minimum of one EACH); take some photos, and write about it.


Still have questions? Here's a fairly helpful guide.


Hope to see you there!


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