Realistic Cooking Ideas

for Busy People! And sharing our life adventures along the way!

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A great Christmas morning breakfast – or any time you want a special breakfast! You can make it ahead to save time and add any type of fruit as the topping. Enjoy!!

Originally posted on Realistic Cooking Ideas:

Christmas morning baked cinnamon french toast

Christmas morning is a wonderful time to treat yourself to a fun breakfast! We enjoy this french toast recipe because it is a nice break from our typical breakfast. Plus you can make it ahead of time and either bake it the night before or put it into the oven when you first get up. I typically bake it the night before that way we only need to warm it on Christmas morning. This allows more time to enjoy Christmas since the day tends to go by quickly!

I make this recipe once a year for Christmas. However, it is an easy recipe that you could make any time of the year. If you are having a brunch or a breakfast gathering it is the perfect recipe. If you bake it in a glass pan, it will stay hot for a while. Have some fresh strawberries or other fresh fruit…

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A great Christmas cookie recipe!

Originally posted on Realistic Cooking Ideas:

Chewy Chocolate Drop Cookies Cover Picture

This is an easy cookie that I have made for many years and it is great with or without icing. Though I do prefer it with chocolate icing! This is the recipe I like to use but you could substitute your favorite frosting recipe.

In this posting, I would like to share a few more of our Victorian theme Christmas ornaments. I have to admit this is my favorite theme for our Christmas tree. I love all the ornaments and it is such a joy to decorate this tree. The Victorian age is a time period I enjoy studying and watching movies based upon how people lived back then.

Victorian Ornament FanVictorian Ornament UmbrellaVictorian Ornament BootsCookies Ingredients
1 cup White Sugar
½ cup Butter, softened
1/3-cup Buttermilk
1-teaspoon Vanilla
1 Egg
2 oz. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, melted
1-¾ cups Flour
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
½ teaspoon Salt

Frosting Ingredients
2 oz. Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
2 tablespoons…

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Sun Dried Tomato Basil Meatloaf with a Chunky Red Sauce 3

It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving is already over and now we are preparing for Christmas! Before Thanksgiving we had a snow storm that dumped 6 1/2 feet of snow on us over a three-day time period. Now most of that snow is gone. I am fairly busy at work since I will be taking time off for Christmas, which means a lot of work has to get done! Plus a lot of Christmas shopping and writing out Christmas cards needs to happen over the next couple of weeks. Over the years I have reduced the number of Christmas cards we send. A couple of years ago I decided to no longer send Christmas cards to people who do not send them. It makes writing out the ones I do send more enjoyable. What is your practice? Do you send out cards? Do you only send them to people who send cards to you?

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Meatloaf with a Chunky Red Sauce 2
My husband loves meatloaf and over the past couple of years I have been trying different recipes. I typically do not eat meatloaf but I do like to try recipes with a nice sauce and experiment with different ingredients. This was a good recipe – though if I make it again I will add more liquids because it was a dense meatloaf. Plus I would add some sauce to the top before baking to help retain more moisture. Do you add sauce to your meatloaf before baking? The layering affect was nice though a bit challenging to serve since the top layer wanted to break off! Another option is to mix in the filling ingredients.

Sun Dried Tomato Basil Meatloaf with a Chunky Red Sauce

Olive Oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped

Ground Turkey Mixture
2 pounds ground turkey or ground beef
3 eggs
½ cup skim milk
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

4 ounces mozzarella, sliced or shredded
Sun dried tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup fresh basil

Chunky Red Sauce
Roma tomatoes or your choice of chunky or crushed tomatoes
¼ to ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
Basil seasonings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the vegetables in olive oil until tender. Combine ground turkey mixture and then add the cooked vegetables. To make your meatloaf you will place some of the turkey mixture in a meatloaf pan then layer mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and fresh basil. Continue until all ingredients are used. Bake in a 400 degrees oven until it reaches 165 degrees. About 50 to 60 minutes depending upon your oven.

Make the sauce and serve hot over the meatloaf.

Cranberry Apple Carrot Muffin close up

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! For the dinner menu, I tried out this cranberry muffin recipe and it is excellent! I purchased a bag of cranberries as I needed them for another recipe. Then I wondered what I was going to do with the rest of the bag. I did some research and found this recipe and luckily I had all the ingredients in the pantry. If you love a muffin with a lot of spices and chunky ingredients this recipe is for you! I got the recipe from Taste of Home and I made a few minor changes to the recipe. It is great for Thanksgiving and Christmas as another way to add cranberries to the menu and they are versatile. They make a great breakfast item to add to a buffet, they go nice with a cup of stew or soup, and are great if you are just looking for a snack! I like mine warm with a bit of butter but they are good on their own. I hope you enjoy them and I will definitely be making them again! What type of bread do you serve on Thanksgiving or Christmas with your main meal?

Cranberry Apple Carrot Muffins

Apple & Sugar Mixture:
2 cups chopped peeled apples – 1 large or 2 medium
1-1/3 cups sugar

Vegetables & Nuts:
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Dry Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
¼ tsp cloves

In a bowl, combine apples and sugar; let stand for 10 minutes. Add cranberries, carrots, nuts, eggs and oil; mix well. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt; stir into apple mixture just until moistened. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.

Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. This recipe made 21 muffins but I did fill mine more than two-thirds full.

Pork Tenderloin with Marsala Shallot Sauce Close up

We are trying to get back to normal after the early winter storm and are getting ready for Thanksgiving. Though it feels like we missed Thanksgiving with our winter blast as the whole experience was surreal. A lot of the snow has melted with some local roads flooding at the lower points and creeks close to or are flooding. This storm came with a lot of damage from roofs collapsing, basements flooding, windows imploding, and businesses closed with some workers not being paid. The Buffalo Bills home game was postponed and played on Monday night at Detroit. The worst though is the lost of lives. We can always replace personal belongings, go to future Buffalo Bills games, but we cannot replace human life. No matter how much we dislike this storm, we cannot complain since we got through it safely and so did our family and friends. I also want to thank everyone who sent well wishes and warm thoughts during this storm – they were all much appreciated!

Now on to the cooking:
This recipe for Molasses Pork Tenderloin with Marsala Shallot Sauce is a nice Thanksgiving substitute for those who do not care for turkey. Another options is Beef Tenderloin with a Madeira Rosemary Shallot Sauce. Marsala is a light wine as compared to Port Wine and some Madeira wines. I prefer a Port wine over Marsala since it is richer in flavor and depth. (I made the Beef Tenderloin sauce with Port Wine instead of Madeira.) The shallots are a wonderful compliment to this dish as they provide a slight sweetness and more depth to a sauce than an onion – so I would not substitute – but that is personal preference. Shallots also provide an elegant addition to the sauce.

Pork Tenderloin with Marsala Shallot Sauce

2 pounds Pork Tenderloin

1/8 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup molasses
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp ginger
1 large garlic cloves, minced

Marsala Sauce
1 large Shallot sliced
2 tbsp cold butter
1 cup Marsala (Port Wine or Madeira Wine)
1 cup beef broth
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch

Dry Rub
Three Little Pigs BBQ Rub

Marinade the pork tenderloin up to 24-hours in a plastic, sealable bag turning periodically. If you are concerned about marinating for 24-hours, then try 8-hours to see how that works. Preheat oven to 375. Take the pork out of the marinade and if desired, add Three Little Pigs BBQ Rub. Heat a little olive oil in a pan then sear the pork. Place in a baking dish and bake until desired temperature. Let rest for about 10-minutes before slicing.

Pork Tenderloin

While it is baking, cook shallots in a pan with a little olive oil until tender. Add Marsala and beef both. In a small bowl, add arrowroot or cornstarch plus the water, stirring to dissolve. Then add to the sauce and cook until desired thickness. Add cold butter just before serving.

November 23, 2014 McKinnley

Finally all the driving bans have been lifted. Today I have two videos to share of the actual roads once the ban was lifted. If you never saw snow or experienced a winter storm take a few minutes to watch them. The temperatures went from 20F to 50F and eventually it should hit 60F. We definitely lost a few feet of snow but there is still a lot left. Hopefully we will not experience the flooding that they predicted. I also hope to get back to posting recipes since I have been side tracked by this winter storm that resulted from very cold air coming over Lake Erie that was too warm and that produces heavy snow. Unfortunately that lake is still too warm and we could still be in danger for more lake effect snow until it gets much colder. We are going back to work tomorrow. Last week I worked remotely but tomorrow I will actually work at the office. Then I am off for Thanksgiving! Now take a drive with us around West Seneca and let me know your thoughts!

A drive around West Seneca after the driving ban was lifted! It was great to be out of the house for awhile.

A drive from the Post Office in an attempt to pick up our mail.

November 23 2014 plows 4

November 23 2014 plows 3

November 23 2014 plows 2

November 23 2014 plows

November 2014 two cars one road

Every winter storm has its own story. This one is called “SnoVember” – a winter storm in November and officially it is still Fall! Our official snowfall is 78 inches, which 6 ½ feet! The snow has finally stopped and many of the travel bans have been lifted or reduced to advisories. More than 20 towns and villages had driving bans for at least 4-days and most streets did not see a plow until late in the week. But even if driving bans are lifted – that does not mean the roadways are clear of snow. Many roads have reduced lanes since the plows only cleared one lane in each direction. Drivers need to be careful navigating their vehicles down these snow covered, rutted roads. The cover picture is a road that handles two lanes of traffic – but with the snow only one lane. Many people are still snowed in or their vehicles were outside and must be dug out. A lot of vehicles were abandoned and then towed. If you were towed by the county there are designated places to go find your vehicle. But expect some damage from the towing and bring a shovel to dig it out! If a private contractor towed you – good luck finding where they left your vehicle. Those people are having a problem finding their vehicle. Unfortunately these storms can be deadly and 12-people did die. One was a young man from Pennsylvania who came with his father to assist and he was killed in an accident. Several died from cardiac arrest from shoveling their driveways and a few died in their trapped vehicles. Very sad, indeed.

We did get out today and took a few pictures and videos of the conditions. I am still uploading the videos and will share them tomorrow. The below vehicle may have been damaged by a plow – especially if it was buried under 6 feet of snow.
November 2014 car damaged by plow

Over the next couple days, the temperatures are going to increase and we have emergency teams ready for the pending flooding. With over 6 feet in our neighborhoods, if the town does not truck it out we will be concerned about flooding. The payloader can shovel the snow into a truck but there needs to be a location to dump that snow, which becomes a problem. We will get temperatures into the 60’s F and right now we are at about 40F and it has been raining off and on today. It is cold and damp. Yesterday it was about 20F with some sun so it was easier to be outside. In Buffalo we are resourceful – we can use snow to keep our beverages cold!

November 2014 snow as a beverage cooler

Emergencies are always a concern during these snowstorms. Volunteer firemen were out digging out fire hydrants and they dug a path through our streets to get a neighbor to the hospital. Greg talked to him last night – he is home and is doing well. Other times they might send in a payloader to quickly dig a path to get the person to the hospital. This was the case for a young woman who went into labor. Mercy flight can come in to air lift someone as long as a spot can be cleared for them to land. This was used when a young man fell off the roof of a mobile home trying to clear off the snow.

November 19 2014 Winter Storm 4

Buffalo New York is known as “The City of Good Neighbors”. We are willing to help each other out whether it is to unbury a vehicle, check on a neighbor to see if they need anything, or bring over a hot meal. Below are candid shots of neighbors helping each other. Our one neighbor hired a front loader to plow out our neighborhood – very generous! Another neighbor brought over his vehicle to help people get on their roofs to remove the heavy snow. Notice that even with the snow everyone is smiling and laughing.

November 2014 clearing off a roof

November 2014 Winter Storm Neighbors helping each other
November 2014 whatever it takes to help

This could be your view backing out of your driveway.
November 2014 your view backing out of your driveway

And there is always alternate transportation!
November 2014 another mode of transportation

Yep the snow banks are high! To give you a perspective, I am 5 feet 2 inches.
November 2014 me in front of snow

I wonder if we will ever get mail again!
November 2014 our mailbox

Greg and I got out a bit since the driving ban is lifted. Below are a few pictures from the car. The first is our local gas station!

November 2014 gas station

This is Kone King – an outdoor ice cream business. Closed for winter and nobody could get close to it!
November 2014 kone king

The 6+ feet of snow is fun when you need to turn onto roadways – basically this is your visibility in a car – basically creep out and hope there is no one when you pull out or that they can stop!
November 2014 car visibility

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