More Awards – Versatile Blogger and Sisterhood of the World Blogger

Blogger AwardsOnce again, the blogging community has shown me how friendly, encouraging and supportive they can be. I have been nominated for not just one, but two blogging awards this week. As always, I am honored and surprised to receive recognition for my little blog. Thanks to Charlotte at Tales of Chinese Cooking for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award. And thanks to Yen at Little Calico’s Journal for giving me my second nomination for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Be sure to stop by both their lovely blogs.

Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Show the award on your blog
  2. Thank the person that has nominated you
  3. Share 7 different facts about yourself
  4. Nominate 15 blogs of your choice
  5. Link your nominees and let them know of your nomination

Rules for the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award:

  1. Put the Award logo on your blog
  2. Thank the person who nominate you, linking back to their site
  3. Answer 10 questions the person asked you
  4. Nominate 10 blogs and notify them
  5. Write 10 new questions for them

Since both awards have similar rules, I’m just going to combine them so this post doesn’t go on forever.

Questions and Answers:

Q: What type of weather do you like?

  • Born and raised in California, so I like sunny weather.

Q: What is your favorite color?

  • Purple.

Q: What is your favorite drink?

  • Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha. (Don’t judge me.)

Q: What is your favorite pastime?

  • Going to see movies.

Q: What do you find inspiring?

  • People who take the time to help others without regard to themselves.

Q: Do you have pets?

  • No, but I really want a little dog.

Q: Do you cook?

  • I try my best. 🙂

Q: Coffee or tea?

  • Coffee of course!

Q: If you could only live on one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

  • Chicken breasts.

Q: Use three words to describe yourself.

  • Quiet, loyal and silly.

Nominees for either or both awards, because you all are lovely people with awesome blogs:

Evgenia at Living on Annette

Chelsey at Diaries of a Recovering Diet Addict

Carol at Retired? No one told me!

Ishita at Twisted Top in Flip Flops

Lynz at Lynz Real Cooking

The Mouse at Live2EatEat2Live Blog (And yes, Mouse I know you are a Mickey and not a Minnie. So Versatile Blogger Award for you. But feel free to choose both.)

Bec at What’s Bec Cooking

Koolaidmoms at What’s for Dinner Moms?

Dawn and Rachel at Meals Our Kids Love

Linda and Heidi at Fabulous Fare Sisters

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Nominees 10 Questions: 

  1. What is your best childhood memory?
  2. What is your favorite music?
  3. If you could only keep 5 possessions, what would they be?
  4. Who do you most admire in life?
  5. If you won the lottery, what would you do?
  6. If you could witness any event in the past, present or future, what would it be?
  7. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?
  8. What is your favorite thing to spend money on?
  9. Who would you most like to be stuck on an elevator with and why?
  10. Aren’t you glad I only asked 9 questions? 🙂

A big heartfelt “Thank You” to  Charlotte at Tales of Chinese Cooking and Yen at Little Calico’s Journal for nominating me for these awards. And thanks to all those who follow my blog and/or hit the “like” button on my posts. It really keeps me motivated to continue blogging my recipes.

❤ Joann

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Lemon Sugar Cookies

Lemon Sugar Cookies 2I’m not much of a breakfast eater. A cup of coffee usually hits the spot for me. But sometimes I want a little something to go with my morning coffee. I made lemon sugar cookies last night. They are just sitting there in a container on my kitchen table. Someone should eat them, right? I’m not saying that having cookies and coffee for breakfast is good for you. But they are there. And my coffee is there….

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling dough
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • zest of one large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sugar, cream cheese and butter. Mix until fluffy.
  3. Add vegetable oil and egg and mix for 1 minute.
  4. Next add milk, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract and lemon extract. Mix well.
  5. Finally, add in your dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix until a soft dough comes together.
  6. Place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar for rolling in a shallow bowl.
  7. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough between your palms. Then roll into sugar. Then place on baking sheet spacing your dough balls at least 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. The tops will be a little puffy and slightly cracked.
  9. Let cookies rest for 2-3 minutes before transferring to wire rack to completely cool.

This recipe yielded 36 crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside cookies for me.

Lemon Sugar Cookies Lemon Sugar Cookies 1

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken CacciatoreWell, what do you know? It’s another chicken dish from me. I’m told cacciatore is Italian for “hunter’s stew.” When I think of stew, I think comfort food. This dish is exactly that. Serve it with pasta, polenta, rice or fresh warm bread and your tummy will be thanking you. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts for mine. But you are more than welcome to use skin on thighs or even a whole cut up chicken.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and paprika for seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, sliced (you can substitute with white button mushrooms)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes with Italian spice blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Italian flat leaf parsley for garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.  Meanwhile season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper and paprika. When the oil begins to ripple, carefully place chicken breasts in the pan. Brown the chicken on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan.Chicken Cacciatore 2

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and peppers. Stirring occasionally until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Chicken Cacciatore 3

Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown. Then add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Chicken Cacciatore 4

Add the wine and cook until it is reduced by half. Chicken Cacciatore 5

Add the diced tomatoes and juice, thyme, turmeric and red pepper flakes and stir. At this time taste the sauce and add salt if needed. Chicken Cacciatore 6

Reduce heat to low. Return the chicken breasts to the pan and let simmer in covered pan for 40 minutes. Chicken Cacciatore 7

Garnish with Italian parsley and serve with pasta or whatever you prefer. Chicken Cacciatore plated 1

Pan Seared Brined Pork Chops

Pan Seared Pork Chops PlatedI’ll be honest. I’m not much of a pork chop fan. Probably because it is not a forgiving meat. If you are not careful, it will go from moist and tender to dry and leathery rather quickly. So since I usually brine my turkeys to keep them moist, I decided to experiment and try using a brine on my pork chops. This extra step worked wonders. The pork chops came out moist and tasty. And now I will add pork chops into my meal rotation more often.

BRINE INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ cup salt (I use Diamond Crystal kosher salt)
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves slightly smashed
  • 2 cups ice cubes

BRINE DIRECTIONS:

  1. Stir together the water, salt, and sugar until dissolved.  Add thyme sprigs and garlic cloves. Stir in the ice and cool the brine to 45°F or lower.
  2. Place 4 pork chops in a zipper-lock bag. Pour in the flavor brine and seal the bag. Place the bag in a bowl in case it leaks and refrigerate for 2 to 6 hours, depending on the thickness of the chops. Remove the chops, discard the flavor brine, and pat the chops dry. Proceed with the recipe, or wrap the chops in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook, up to 2 days.Brined Pork Chps

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 brined pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

DIRECTIONS: 

  1. Let brined pork chops come to room temperature by setting out 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. On medium high heat,  add olive oil to sauté pan.
  3. When the oil begins to ripple, carefully add pork chops to pan.
  4. Next add butter, garlic cloves and thyme sprigs to pan.
  5. Spoon butter over pork chops to baste repeatedly. Continue to do this for 2-3 minutes then flip pork chops over.
  6. Repeat basting butter over pork chops for another 2-3 minutes. (Depending on thickness of your pork chops.)
  7. Pork chops are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 145°F. Let rest for 3 minutes before serving.

Pan Seared Pork Chops

Bloggers Recognition Award

Blogger Recognition AwardI always get the warm, fuzzy feels whenever I am nominated for a blogging award. It’s that pat on the back that you don’t expect to get, but sure feels nice when you do.  So a big thanks to Evgenia from Living on Annette for nominating me for the Bloggers Recognition Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize bloggers, give them encouragement and motivation to continue blogging, and basically just let them know that they are loved and appreciated.

The Rules:

  • Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  • Write a post and give a brief story of how your blog started
  • Give a piece of advice or two to new bloggers
  • Select 15 other blogs you want to nominate for the award
  • Let the nominees know you have nominated them and provide a link to the nomination details

I started this blog as just a place to store my holiday treats recipes to share with my family, because they would always ask for them. I didn’t plan to open my blog up to the entire internet, so you can see my first few entries are just straight recipes. But with a little nudge, and words of encouragement from my sister-in-law, I decided to give blogging my recipes a try.

I still consider myself new to blogging, but if I had to give some advice to others it would be not to be discouraged easily by blogging numbers. For some, it’s the number of followers you have. For others it’s the quantity of posts you put out. I have a little over 100 followers, but to me they are they best community of friends to have. Sure it would be nice to have more followers. But I get enough support and encouragement from my followers that I do not feel a hole in my heart because I don’t have more.

I’m supposed to nominate 15 other bloggers for the award, but I hope you don’t mind if I only nominate three. The first is wildly popular and her blog is what I hope mine can become someday. The second, is relatively new, but has a lovely blog already. And the third is so supportive and her comments are always so nice.

The Award Nominees:

Once again, thank you Evgenia @ Living on Annette for nominating me for this award. It was a nice surprise. Thanks also to all of you who continue to follow my blog and leave comments and/or likes. It means the world to me.

❤ Joann

White Chocolate Blueberry Cheesecake Cookies

White Chocolate Blueberry Cookies platedSo my daughter moved all the way to Hawaii and had to learn to cook for herself and her boyfriend. She is not into baking, but she suggested I come up with a cookie recipe that did not require her to purchase baking products (such as baking powder or soda.)  Because she would probably never use those again. Challenge accepted! With a little help from a prepackaged muffin mix and some leftover blueberries from my lemon blueberry mini loaves recipe, this is what I came up with.

INGREDIENTS: 

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick of butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 (7 ounce) boxes of Jiffy blueberry muffin mix
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, butter, vegetable oil and brown sugar.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each is added.
  3. Add muffin mix and flour until just combined.
  4. Stir in white chocolate chips. If you have chosen to add fresh blueberries, stir in as well.
  5. Chill dough in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, line your baking sheets with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  7. Scoop cookie dough into 1 tablespoon balls and place on your baking sheets. Be sure to keep them at least 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown on edges.
  9. In between baking batches of cookies, make sure to return unused dough to the refrigerator.
  10. This recipe yields 36 cookies.

White Chocolate Blueberry Cookies

These cookies came out crispy on the bottoms and soft in the centers. I recommend you store in an air tight container in your refrigerator to keep fresh.

So what do you think? Did I live up to the challenge, Ashley?

Joann and Ashley

Joann and Ashley

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken PlatedThis curry chicken recipe is one of the first recipes I created. It is very simple to make, uses a few ingredients and can be cooked in one pot. How easy is that? Who would have thought after all these years I would still be making it? Oh and you may want to light some scented candles after making this if you don’t want your house smelling like curry for the next few days. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons yellow curry powder (your choice of mild or spicy hot)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into quarter or half-moon pieces
  • 2-3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 4-5 red potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Curry Chicken Ingredients

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, add vegetable oil. Set temperature to medium high.
  2. As oil begins to ripple, add chicken pieces and stir.
  3. Add curry powder to chicken and mix to coat all pieces.
  4. Next add carrot and celery pieces and combine with chicken.
  5. Add chicken stock. When stock comes to a boil, turn heat down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  6. After 30 minutes, turn heat back up to medium high and add potatoes and stir.
  7. Meanwhile make a slurry by mixing cornstarch and water.
  8. When the stock in the pot starts boiling add the cornstarch and water slurry and stir well. This slurry will thicken the stock and will have the consistency of gravy.
  9. Turn the heat back down to medium low and continue to cook another 20 minutes or until potatoes are done.
  10. Serve with jasmine rice.

Curry Chicken