Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's this? Another apple recipe?

That's right- more apples! I promise, this one is just as good if not better than the muffins. (Although, those muffins are a little hard to beat.... ) 

I think John has been enjoying my apple recipe adventure for the past week. He is a huge fan of anything with an apple attached to the name- Apple pie, apple crisp, apple dumplings, apple muffins- even baked pork chops with apples and onions. So this weekend when I decided that I wanted to bake something with apples and didn't have everything on hand, it really shouldn't have surprised me that he was all for heading out to get the few things I needed. Off we went to the store and by around 11pm we were eating dessert. (Hey, don't judge. It was the weekend. You can have dessert whenever you want to on the weekend.)

This tasty apple torte was nicely buttery with a hint of lemon that just makes it all pop. Top with a little dollop of vanilla ice cream and yummmmm, you just might want to go back for seconds.  

Buttery Apple Torte
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz or 125 g) plus 1 Tbsp of unsalted butter
  • 3 good-for-cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick
  • 2/3 cup (3 1/2 oz or 105 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 oz or 250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest


1 Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Generously greese and flour a 9-inch (23 cm) round cake pan with 2 inch (5 cm) sides.
2 In a microwave, melt the butter. Pour 6 Tbsp (3 fl oz or 90 ml) of it into a small bowl or cup and set aside. Add the apple slices and the remaining butter to a large frying pan and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
3 In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs and egg yolk until blended. Add the 6 Tbsp of melted butter, the vanilla, the granulated sugar, and the lemon zest. Stir in the flour mixture and the apples. Spoon into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
4 Bake until browned, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert the cake onto a plate and lift off the pan, then invert the cake again onto the rack and let cool completely.

Recipe taken from one of my favorite blogs, Simple Recipes, without changes.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

New Favorite Muffin Alert!

John and I have been highly annoyed for the past few weeks with our usual grocery store for selling us bad veggies and meat. I mean, if we have to pay double what we would in the states, it better be good right? So last week we went on an "adventure" to find some new places to shop. I did some looking online, John did some talking at work and well, let's just say it had it's ups and downs. First we went to a HORRIBLE little store which I hope to never return to again. We did buy a few things, none very good, including a HUGE bag of apples. We needed fruit so I figured, how can you go wrong with a red apple? Just so happens, very wrong indeed. These are some of the most sour apples I have ever tasted. Absolutely make you pucker. So since we can't really eat them, I decided to bake with them! Watch out- a whole lot of apple recipes, coming at ya! First up- Whole Wheat Apple Muffins. (We all know how I love muffins.) And, I have from good sources that these are fan-stinkin-tastic. John took a couple to work and there have been recipe requests. That's right- in the land of awesome pastry, I have made something that is requested. Just this fact alone should be reason enough for you to try them out!  :-) 

Whole Wheat Apple Muffins


1 cup (4 ounces) whole wheat flour
1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk or yogurt
2 large apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (I used 2 and a half)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease and flour 18 muffin cups and set aside.

Mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon, and set aside. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and add the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Beat until fluffy. Add the egg and mix well; stop once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix in the buttermilk gently. (If you over-mix, the buttermilk will cause the mixture to curdle.) Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the apple chunks.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups, sprinkling the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar on top. (I did not use this much brown sugar at all. Small sprinkle is just as good) Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool the muffins for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Original recipe thanks to Smitten Kitchen

Get ready for more apple recipes in the future! I still have lots of apples to cook!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Next stop- Village number 2,795

Hello all! I am finally back.. Sorry it has taken me all week to get a post up! For whatever reason it has been a rather hectic week around Maison de Halliburton and I just can't get my bootie in a seat long enough to write anything! 

John and I had a wonderful weekend, the weather was a bit cloudy most of the time (Volcanic ash? Quite possibly.) but we still managed to make the most of it and see some more of our beautiful surroundings.We have become quite the "village visitors" lately but we just really love getting outside of the city. I don't think I could ever live in somewhere like the villages (I mean, being an hour away from a grocery store would be difficult for anyone.) yet they are so very peaceful and very different from what we normally see and do in Nice.

Looking out of the village

The village this weekend was Lantosque. Beautifully swished between two mountains, the town is quite large by village standards- about 4 restaurants, small clothing store, book store, even a hotel in the summer months. John had been told that it is actually quite touristy but while we were there we didn't see any tourists at all. Except for us of course... :-) Running beneath the village is the Var river which eventually makes its way to the coast not far from our apartment. The river can be heard from just about anywhere in the village and is just the most beautiful noise to accompany an afternoon of wandering.

We both love to visit the old churches inside the villages. Lantosque had 2 churches, only one of which still had services. Like many of the villages, there are not enough people or priests to go around, so they have a schedule. One week the Father would be here, next week across the mountain at a different church.

We had a fantastic afternoon as always. We even ate out for lunch! Woot! I had a pizza,which was delicious. John had a sandwich and then helped me with my Pizza and I had my Orangina.

I wish you all a wonderful week! 
More pictures from our trip are on my Shutterfly site.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Continuing the Celebration..

My hubby knows me so well. I love fresh flowers and he very often brings home bouquets of tulips, daisies, roses, etc just because. But yesterday he brought home the perfect bunch for my birthday. Orange roses, my all time favorite coupled with orange gerber daisies. Beautiful. Just one of the many reasons I love him so. 

Thanks for the birthday wishes guys!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to ME!

It's my birthday! Today, at 11:06 pm (Nice time) I will be a quarter of a century old. I remember when John turned 25, he was such a pansy about it... "I'm a quarter of a century old. I'm soooo old." (kidding Hubby, you could never be a pansy...) I have no such qualms about my age. yet. We will see how I react to 30 in 5 more years. Birthdays are just fun. A day to celebrate all that is good about a person. And eat homemade birthday cake! (This is definitely my favorite part.)

I was a spoiled child. I am really beginning to realize that the older I get. And no, I don't mean that I got everything I wanted. I didn't. But I was spoiled with love, and with special memories, and traditions. 

Every year growing up, my mom made my a birthday cake. They were beautiful. And there is no way that anyone can convince me that a crummy cake from walmart is HALF as good as a cake that was made at home by someone that loves you, with homemade buttercream icing. Sorry. Which is why now, I make John's birthday cake every year and when we have kids.. a million years from now... I will make their birthday cakes. Mom was known (and still is known) as the Cupcake Mom. She made the best cupcakes and I always took them to school on my birthday. To this day, I have friends that ask for my mom's cupcakes.

The other birthday tradition growing up was that I could not open my presents until it was 4:06 pm. Mom liked to say that until that moment it wasn't reallly my birthday and so I couldn't open them yet. (She really just liked to make me wait. She is pesky that way.)

Yes, there are other traditions that we had that I'm not writing about- birthday dinner and getting to pick whatever I wanted Mom to cook, getting woke up by Mom and Dad telling me happy birthday, the phone call from my Granny and Grandpa Saylor and having them sing Happy Birthday in their very off-key voices from two different phone extensions. These are the things that kids remember. I don't remember gifts, I don't remember all of my parties, but I remember the traditions. The things you could count on happening, the things that made the day special.

So, Happy Birthday to ME!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Changin' it up

Notice anything different?? I have been dying to change my blogger background for weeks now and just couldn't find anything that I liked. Everything looked too much like a page from a scrapbook. No, that's not a bad thing all the time, but I just didn't want a bright orange, yellow and pink striped background with a fake flower on it.... (My apologies if that is your blog background. It's lovely. I can't imagine why you would want something different......) This is the best that I have found thus far so for now- this is it! Enjoy! 

I realized this weekend that I have not blogged one of our favorite recipes! Ah! What have I been thinking? Maybe subconsciously I thought I could keep it a secret... but, I love to share and talk, so today is your lucky day! 

Baked Ziti 

  • 12 ounces ziti (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 26-ounce jar marinara sauce
  • 1 whole zuchinni, chopped
  • 4 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella (4 ounces)
  1. Heat oven to 400° F. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  2. While the pasta is cooking,  heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring every once in a while, until they begin to soften, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the beef,   ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon until it's not longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chopped zucchini and mushrooms and saute with the beef until they are slighty soft. Drain the beef mixture in a colander, return to pot. 
  3. Toss the pasta with the meat mixture, marinara sauce, spinach, ricotta, and ¼ cup of the Parmesan. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or 4 large ramekins. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and the remaining ¼ cup of the Parmesan and bake until the cheese melts, 12 to 15 minutes.
This is some gooooood stuff. Enjoy guys! 

Recipe is adapted from Real Simple. Original recipe here.  

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Village Hopping

Once again we had a fantastic weekend. This past Saturday was a beautiful day so we decided to get out of Nice and explore a couple more of the perched villages. First stop- Luceram! 

Luceram was by far the most beautiful perched village we have visited as well as the most alive and "lived-in" village we have visited. We were both amazed by how active it was- there were 2 restaurants, a post office, a library, and 2 churches that are actually still used as a church. It was great to see. Luceram is well know for it's Christmas decorating and during the holidays everyone in the village hangs pine branches and ribbons around their doors. Some even put nativity scenes outside. For us, it was just the perfect place to walk around and explore. You never know where a little medieval alley is going to take you or where you are going to end up when you walk around in these villages.

When we finished up at Luceram, John remembered that there is another village that is pretty close so we figured... why not? One quick destination change in the GPS and off we went, up one of the curviest, twistiest roads I have ever been on but it had some of the most amazing views! By the time we reached our destination, Peira Cava, I had already decided that what I had seen from the car had made the trip more than worth it. And then we got out of the car. Breathtaking. John and I have seen some beautiful things since moving here, but the snow capped peaks in the distance with the lush green of spring surrounding us really blew us away. Even Sadie was a little breathless... but that could be because she was tired..The trip back down the mountain was a bit "breathtaking" too. We found ourselves on the receiving end of a rally car race! I am quite sure that upon arrival at the finish line all of the drivers hopped out of their cars and said,"Did you see the crazy vw polo coming down the road while we were coming up!?!?! geezzzzz"

Sunday did not live up to our expectations weather wise- rain, incredible winds, just generally nasty but we made the best of it. Church in the morning, reading in the afternoon, and a trip to the parking garage with Sadie and her tennis ball. 

More pics of our trip are here.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Everytime I say that word I just smile.. It is just such a fun one! This is a Greek dish, and with my love of the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", whenever I say Tatziki I just want to throw a plate and yell "Oopa!" 

I have to give a big shout to my brother who sent me the recipe. John and I had this while we were visiting with him in the States a few weeks ago and once we tasted it, we fell in love.. I forgot to get the recipe while we were there and now that it is warming up here in Nice I decided to change that. One email later and we were eating a delicious dip! Everything about this dish is cool and refreshing- perfect on a warm sunny day while sitting in the sun or after you get back from a day at the beach. 


*All measurements are up for adjustment. Make this to your own taste! 

Pint of Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon dill (Fresh, chopped)
1 cucumber, shredded. *Do this on a plate and dry the cucumber with a paper towel Otherwise you will have a runny dip!  
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons of White wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix well and enjoy! Great with Tortilla chips, bread, anything...... :-) 
Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Blogger's Block

I have had a bad case of "blogger's block" this week for some reason. I have tried for the past 2 days to write about our Easter weekend and every time I try.... a block ... Ah well, let's hope it is over now! 

John, Sadie and I did have a wonderful weekend. Easter, while not so beautiful weather-wise, was just a great day. We went to the Anglican church in Nice for services and it was packed. On a normal Sunday there are about 100 people, for Easter there were at least 200. It was so nice to see so many people there, especially here in France where so few people go to church even for Easter and Christmas. (I know! I don't live in the Bible Belt anymore. It still feels weird.) That afternoon we made a fantastic Easter meal- Steaks, oven roasted herbed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, and the best part, of course, dessert. Dessert was a yummy parfait of strawberries, dark chocolate whipped cream, blueberries, and white chocolate whipped cream on top. It left John and I wanting more..so we had some more.. dipping strawberries in the whipped cream... yummmmm. After dinner we took Sadie on a walk and ended up playing with her in a near-by office park. She had a blast because there are so few places for dogs to just run free here unless you have your own garden.

Monday was another great day. (Aren't all Mondays that you don't have to work?) We headed off to Cap Ferrat which is just to the east of Nice. It is a beautiful little peninsula with a great promenade going right along the coast. I was hoping for more of a "trail" but a nicely paved walk is ok when the scenery is this beautiful. We walked for about an hour one way and then decided that we would never make it all the way around in the time that we had so we decided to come back another day. 

Today, I will share the recipe for the magnificent dessert we had on Easter. I promise, magnificent is not too strong of a word.. Rich homemade whipped cream with fresh strawberries and blueberries?? What could be better? 

Berry Parfaits
You will need:
3 oz of high quality White Chocolate
3 oz of high quality Dark Chocolate 
About 3 cups of Whipping Cream (I did not say that this was a healthy recipe. Just keep telling yourself- I am eating this with fruit. I am eating this with fruit.)
Strawberries, sliced

- Chop the White Chocolate, put in microwave safe bowl,  add about 1/4 cup whipping cream. Microwave on reduced power in 10 second intervals until chocolate is melted. 

- Add melted chocolate and whipping cream to a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/4 cup more whipping cream. Beat with a mixer at medium speed until soft peaks form. 

- Repeat process above for dark chocolate whipped cream. Only difference- add about 1 tbls sugar to knock the bite out of the dark chocolate

- Let both whipped creams rest in the 'fridge for about 15-20 minutes before making the parfaits.

- Pick your fav. parfait glasses, layering strawberries, whipped cream, blueberries, and top with whipped cream. 

It's good... I promise... really really good..

Recipe adapted from Ezra Pound Cake.

More of our weekend are here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Good Friday!

I love the Easter Season. It is such a great time of renewal and celebration. The Earth is refreshing itself, (at least in the Northern hemisphere... sorry for my Southern hemi friends who are heading into winter... ) and we should be refreshed in the knowledge that Christ is alive and well; that the tomb was empty. I wish for all of my readers a wonderful Easter weekend filled with joy, remembrance, and praise.

Since I haven't done a recipe in a while, I thought I would break the trend with a great cookie recipe that I...tweaked..  last night. We had enough leftovers for dinner, so since I didn't have to cook, I decided to bake. (Although, I really never need an excuse to bake.) The recipe is based off of an Oatmeal Raisin recipe that I found on Martha Stewart's website, which are equally great. But last night I didn't have any raisins.. and I had chocolate... sooooo.. The cookies turned into Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies. Ooohhh man are they tasty. 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 Cup Butter (the real stuff.no subs!) softened, at room temp. 
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Quick Cooking oats
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
About 3/4 cup Coarsely Chopped Dark Baking Chocolate
          ( If you have chocolate chips, use them, but use Dark Chocolate ones.)

- With a mixer, blend together the brown sugar and butter. After this is mixed well, add the egg and vanilla. Mix all of these ingredients well and make sure there are no clumps of butter in the mix. 

- Next, add the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix these by hand, so as not to over mix the dough. 

-Finally, add your chocolate. 

- Drop by rounded tablespoons onto a large baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes depending on your oven.

These are fantastically tasty and, not -quite- as bad for you as some cookies.. I mean, they do have lots of oats in them. Right? :-) 

Happy Easter Everyone! See you Monday! 
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 
Matthew 28:19-20

original recipe can be found here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Picture Perfect

One day last week it finally dawned on me that I am living in a postcard. After living in Nice for a year, I sometimes take for granted the beauty that is always around me.  Isn't it strange how easy it is to forget how very blessed you are and how beautiful your surroundings are? How, when you walk past the same things everyday, they become so normal that you almost forget that they are breathtaking. Since I have realized this, every day when I look outside, I remind myself to really look at the beauty that is God's creation. That an awesome God created a world where there are crystal clear seas next to green palm trees that back up to breathtaking snow capped mountains. Amazing. 

As we are so close to Easter, I think this is a great reminder of how awesome our Father is. He not only created an incredible planet for us to live in and be its caretakers but He also sent His only Son so we would have the chance to know Him and be restored to what we are intended to be. I pray you all have a wonderful Easter season and are greatly renewed in mind, body, and soul.

"You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here." Mark 16:6