Friday, October 2, 2015

Oatmeal Scotchies

About a month ago, I made these cookies to take with us on our Slovenia trip.  They were popular and everyone enjoyed eating them.  They're easy and the recipe comes from the back of the butterscotch chip bag.  :)
Oatmeal Scotchies
adapted from Nestle

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats (I used a mix of both)
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.) butterscotch chips

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.   Combine flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

2.  Bake for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 
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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

First Visit to Croatia

After our time in Slovenia, we headed over the border to Croatia.  It was so close and we had never been.  Our B&B hosts provided some helpful info on a coast town we should visit.  It was so beautiful.  Children's parks right on the beach, multiple places, fancy, beautiful resort hotels, and a beach-side walkway spanning the whole town.  The small parts of Croatia we saw were beautiful- clean, picturesque, sparkling sea views everywhere.  (The beaches are rock/pebble beaches though.)

At a sea-side restaurant, my son ordered fried calamari (above) and I got grilled salmon and veggies (below).  The calamari was some of the best we've ever had!

 They built swimming areas into the rocky shores, pic below.  Just like the Azores!!!  :)

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Monday, September 28, 2015

Radovljica, Slovenia

After our trip to Lake Bled, we stopped at the little town of Radovljica, Slovenia.  It's close to Lake Bled, and our B&B hosts recommended a gingerbread factory/restaurant there in the old part of town. We loved walking through the old part of town; it was so picturesque and not crowded with tourists at all.  This would be a great town to stay in for a Lake Bled trip.
We ate at the gingerbread factory (also a huge restaurant) before seeing the actual factory.  The place is called Gostilna Lectar.  It's also a hotel.
My husband and I ordered traditional Slovenian food.  (Our kids got stuff like turkey cutlets and pasta, lol).  My food is pictured above, and it's a beef goulash with dumplings.  It was good, and very hearty.  Perfect winter food.  :)  My husband got the rabbit stew, pictured below, and it came in a type of crisp eggy, edible bowl.
During the meal, we were serenaded by some traditional music (pic below).  It was very lively; my 4-year old was dancing in his seat.  
The gingerbread factory is in the basement.  There were two ladies down there baking and icing the gingerbread cookies.  They were very small and delicate designs.  This building is a few hundred years old.  Almost 500 years!  They make the dough down here, bake it in those tiny white ovens, frost, and package the gingerbread.  These cookies are a drier variety.

 After dinner we took a short stroll around town.  Above, pic of a nice viewpoint.  Below, some tunnels underneath the old part of town.  These tunnels were so cool!  They're the city's old moats. Some of them go under houses (last picture).

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting

I had some leftover mascarpone cheese after making this zucchini mascarpone dish.  I had to make cupcakes for a function, so I decided to use the rest in the frosting.  Mascarpone is an Italian sweet, fresh cheese that is super creamy and delicious.  It's wonderful in both savory and sweet dishes.  For fall, try this with these Pumpkin Cupcakes (instead of the cream cheese frosting). When I made this, I just used vanilla cupcakes and loved that combo.
Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Frosting 

1/2 cup (or so) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup salted butter, room temp
2-3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, optional
milk, as needed (a few tablespoons)

1. In a bowl using electric beaters or a stand mixer, mix mascarpone and butter together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar.  Use 2 cups first, and if that doesn't look like enough, add another cup.  Add vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds.  Then, use milk to thin to desired (spreading) consistency.  Frost cupcakes or cake.  (I use a Wilton 1M to frost the swirls.)

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Lake Bled, Slovenia

During the first week of September, we took a trip to Slovenia.  We stayed in the South-Western part of the country, but took a day trip to Lake Bled one day, as Slovenia is a small country.  It only took an hour to get to the Lake.  (We also went to Skocjan Caves on the trip, but no photos are permitted inside, so I don't have any.  The caves were freakin' awesome, though.)

Lake Bled is pretty small, and there is a walkway built all around the lake.  So, we walked the whole thing with our family.  It took about 2 hours, with lots of stops.  I think it's about 4 miles around, but I'm not sure.  The kids loved it.  We stopped for gelato and Lake Bled Cream Cake.
We took a boat ride over to Bled Island.  No motorized boats are allowed on the lake, so everything is by rowboat.  This was a large rowboat rowed by a strong man in the back.

Our rower, above.  Next four pics, below, taken from Bled Island.

Bled Island.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Apple Crisp

I made this simple apple crisp when I was trying to use up a lot of apples from the trees in our yard. It was getting late so I only got this one pic.  The whole family enjoyed this with whipped cream (we were out of vanilla ice cream).

Apple Crisp
adapted from Allrecipes
recipe halved; makes one 8x8 or 9x9 pan

5 cups all-purpose apples, peeled, cored and sliced (measured after slicing/peeling)
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup quick-cooking (or old-fashioned) oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup salted butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degree C).  Place the sliced apples in a 8x8 or 9x9 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1/2 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water over all.

2.  Combine the oats, 1/2 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 25-35 minutes, or until apples are tender and topping is browned.

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Gnocchi Festival

Throughout Italy, there are many Sagras, or Festivals, all through the year, but early fall is a very popular time for them.  They celebrate different things; sometimes, just focusing on one type of food. I found out about this Gnocchi Festival a month before it happened and I was so excited to go, but it looked like we weren't going to have time to go.  At the last minute, some stuff got canceled, and my husband and I drove out to it.  It was everything I hoped for, and more.  :)
Here are some pictures from our night.  It was held in the hills in a tiny town of Trissino, right by this lovely church.  The Sagra had some booths, (besides gnocchi), selling produce, cheese, salami, home goods, handmade jewelry, etc.  Below is a photo of the special potatoes one needs to make gnocchi.

The photo above is all the different types of gnocchi available to eat.  It was SO hard to choose!!  I wanted them all.  At first we decided on just two types (pic below), the pumpkin one and the truffles one, but eventually we added the rosemary and cream on, too.  It was way too much for the two of us!!  We ate it anyway.  The sauces available: leek, pumpkin and speck (similar to prosciutto but peppery and smoked), prosciutto with cream and rosemary, truffles, radicchio and pastasalado (not sure what that is... lol), a Padovian goose sauce, speck with walnuts, butter and sage, mascarpone and red peppers, regular meat sauce, and plain tomato sauce.

Above is a gnocchi and wine pairing list.  Below is the pumpkin, leek and speck.

Above, rosemary, prosciutto, and cream.  Below, truffles, with butter.  My favorites!!  It was so good. They were ALL so good!

 Above, a pic of the typical sagra eating set-up.  The benches are not very sturdy!  Be careful getting up and down.  :)  Below, tents with wares for sale, and the locals talking, kids playing, etc.

Live music is always at Sagras after a certain time (usually starts at 9pm).  Above is a pic of the VERY GOOD Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band; they even dressed like them and had long hair!  We usually miss the music because we have the kids and leave before it starts, but not this time. Below is a farther shot so you can see the cool church they were playing right in front of.

Above, the inside of the church.  Below, shot of the band and crowd taken from the church's entrance.
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