Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Ciabatta, Pancetta, and Chestnut Stuffing
This is the only stuffing I will eat. EVER. I'm not joking. I use to hate stuffing until my sister made this a few years ago for the first time. Ever since then we make it each Thanksgiving and I actually look forward to it at dinner. I highly suggest it for your next Thanksgiving. Or maybe even Christmas. Oh and please excuse the photo. I totally forgot to take a picture and didn't remember to do so until dinner had been served so this is the last little bit in the pan.


  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter
  • 8 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 (7.4-ounce) jars roasted peeled whole chestnuts, coarsely broken
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1 pound day-old ciabatta bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup (or more) canned low-salt chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 15 by 10 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until crisp and golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, rosemary, and garlic. Saute until the onions are very tender, about 12 minutes. Gently stir in the chestnuts and parsley. Transfer the onion mixture to the large bowl with the pancetta. Add the bread and Parmesan and toss to coat. Add enough broth to thestuffing mixture to moisten. Season the stuffing, to taste, with salt and pepper. Mix in the eggs.
Transfer the stuffing to the prepared dish. Cover with buttered foil, buttered side down, and bake until the stuffing is heated through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the top is crisp and golden, about 15 minutes longer. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Hi Friends! It has been I wanted to update some things over my vacation from school, but forgot my camera cord and we all know that Recipes of the Week would not be the same without some food photography. I have a few recipes lined up for the next few weeks, hopefully the first (a Thanksgiving recipe a little late) will be posted later this week. But for now...some life updates.

Matt and I went to Pittsburgh for Thanksgiving. Definitely something I am thankful for. Matt may have a different opinion. The most ridiculous thing happened upon our arrival. We got to my parents' house pretty late. We were just about to go to bed when Matt came into my room saying he didn't think he was supposed to sleep in the guest room. I was pretty sure that's where he was supposed to sleep since that's where he always sleeps when we go to Pittsburgh. I kept insisting he was supposed to sleep there and he kept insisting he didn't think so, that I needed to come see the bed. At this point I thought maybe my dad had left a mess in there or maybe the bed was unmade, but Matt made me come look for myself. So I walk into the room and made up in the bed, between the sheets, were three hunting rifles. I about died laughing. I went and asked my parents if they were trying to send a message about us getting married. My mother also burst out laughing and was totally embarrassed, and I think my dad felt really bad. Apparently the carpet cleaners had just come and instead of the guns being under the bed on the floor my dad had hid them in the bed and forgot about them. The next day during a toast at my aunt's, my grandmother, resembling a pit bull, also reminded Matt about how the day he marries me will be the luckiest day of his life. Matt counts these two events as part of the top three funniest events of the weekend.

We also got quite a few wedding things nailed down. Most importantly we have a date set. We will get married on August 12, 2012. Our reception will be at Pittsburgh's Grand Hall at the Priory. Getting those things set make the planning process a lot more exciting and much less stressful! I also got a dress! You will be getting no details on that :) I'm sure you will be getting periodic updates on our upcoming nuptials, but I promise not to turn this into a wedding blog.

Like I said...lots to be thankful and excited for this year...especially family and an upcoming wedding. I promise a recipe very soon!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penn State Football

These past few weeks have been rough for Penn Staters to say the least. As a PSU football fan I have been invested in thinking about what would happen post Joe Paterno long before his untimely departure from his position. This weekend it occurred to me that the person I think/wanted to have the job will probably not get the position, let alone continue at Penn State after this season. I think Tom Bradley deserves the job. But if rumor has it this will not happen. I think it's sad. This is a man who has been offered head coaching jobs countless times, offers to coach in the NFL, and someone who clearly is loyal to PSU.

This is a little bit of a ramble-y post, but it was something I was thinking about and I really haven't posted much since my initial thoughts before Joe was outed. I am also still shocked every morning to hear PSU talked about on Today or the local news. I can't believe the nightmare continues. Gameday was rumoring Tony Dungy, Mike London, and Pat Fitzgerald. I do like Fitzgerald, but I don't think he would leave Northwestern. The other two I'm indifferent on. Urban Meyer has also been talked about in the past. Not a fan. I'm sure he would be a good coach, I just don't think it's a good fit. Just some random thoughts for a rainy Tuesday!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Channa Masala
I'm calling this the "Semi-Homemade with Erin" Recipe of the week. My take on Food Network's Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. I always want to make Asian food, but for some reason I lack all the confidence when it comes to actually making it. I think it because it has a lot of sauces and spices I don't always have on hand. I always scope out the International Food aisle at Wegs and quickly give up, but a couple weeks ago I broke down and bought a Channa Masala kit to assist me. I don't really ever buy kits because I think I can do it better myself. This was my baby step toward making Indian food by myself. All I had to do was cut up a lot of onion...I mean that was the most difficult part. You also have to do some mixing of ingredients and cook rice, etc. It was delicious. I do still really want to learn how to make some Pad I really badly want to learn this. If you have any tips please pass them along. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Pumpkin Cookies
½ cup sugar
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt

Penuche frosting:
3 tbsp. margarine or butter
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup milk
1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350º. In large bowl, beat sugar, ½ cup brown sugar and 1 cup margarine until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla and egg; blend well. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in walnuts. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 350º for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Immediately remove from cookie sheets. Cool completely.

In medium saucepan, combine 3 tbsp. margarine and ½ cup brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat 1 minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Cool 10 minutes. Add milk; beat until smooth. Beat in enough powdered sugar for desired spreading consistency. Frost cooled cookies. Let stand until frosting is set.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dear Old State

It's no secret how much I LOVE Penn State. To say that I am upset about the recent headlines is an understatement. I really can't speak calmly about it. My blood pressure rises each time I look at facebook, watch ESPN, or read the news online. I'm heartbroken. And for once I'm not exaggerating. I'm going to attempt to convey my thoughts in a fair and organized matter, but I really still can't even make sense of the things the media is saying so proceed with caution.

Let me begin by saying that in no way am I denying or defending Mr. Sandusky's alleged actions. If he is found guilty (which I do believe he will be and should be) he should be punished for what he did. That being said, read my first sentence again...Mr. Sandusky's actions being the key phrase. The wrong doings here and the illegal actions are only his. Responsibility for his action's does not lie with Penn State football, Joe Paterno, or Penn State University. This is where I become upset. How many websites, headlines, newspaper articles, and television programs are showing Jerry Sandusky's picture? Slim to none. Joe Paterno has become the fall boy for all of this and I think it's beyond unfair. It has been noted that the incident was reported the the authorities and the District Attorney decided not to prosecute.

Let me use the analogy/reasoning I have been using with my colleagues and friends this week. I'm a school counselor for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade. If teachers, or any school employee, suspect a student is being abused they are to report it to me and I am to report it to the appropriate people. Technically, I am also ethically responsible to not divulge whether social services was called or not. How does that teacher know I reported it or not?  Would it be fair if I chose to neglect my responsibilities to blame the teacher who did their part? And from personal experience, alerting the appropriate people does not always mean action is taken, an investigation is done, or that the right verdict is found.

To me it seems that Joe followed the law. Admittedly, I am also a very proud Joe Paterno loyalist. I keep a figurine of him in my office for inspiration because if he is almost 85 years old and can wake up everyday and go to work then I can too. Joe Paterno started at Penn State in 1950. 1950. None of these media people could walk (or were born) when he walked onto that field for the first time. The things that Joe Paterno has done for not only Penn State football, but college football in general, Penn State University, and the town of State College are so many that most people can only hope to be half as gracious as him in their lifetime. If there is one Penn State employee I could think to trust it would be Joe Paterno. Isn't it Joe Paterno that is credited with an outstanding dedication to not only football, but the character and education of his players? A mentality that says education first and football second? Yes, it sure is. That's the Penn State way. It sickens me to see so many alumni turn their backs and say ugly things about a place they use to call home and a person I'm sure they loved if not Friday, then at some point in the past.

The New York Times has reported that University officials are planning Paterno's exit as I type this. This has got to be the most heartwrenching news I have read today. It may seem dramatic, but I really am having a hard time bearing the thought of this. Does the man who followed the law, spent 61 seasons on the field at Beaver Stadium, spent 61 years improving the lives of young men, the town of state college, and the University Park campus deserve to be outed because of someone else's poor choices? In my opinion he does not.

Penn State is an institution deeply rooted in tradition, loyalty, and pride. I say this is a contributor to the media frenzy, the nation wide disbelief that something like this could happen in a place called Happy Valley. But that's just it. Jerry Sandusky and his actions are not who, or what, we are talking about when we say, "WE ARE." We are so much more. We are not only football. We are Penn State. And Penn State is people, organizations, a community, so much that I can't put into words. I am Penn State. I have never been more proud to be a Penn Stater than I am today, or will be tomorrow. For the Glory. FOREVER.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Great Falls

I have been living in N. Virginia going on four years now and have finally made it to Great Falls Park. It's something I have always wanted to do, but it never ends up happening. It was a perfect fall sunny day on Sunday and that made it even better. The trails we did were pretty much easy ones, but there was some moderate adventure involved. At one point I forged a river like in the the people in the Oregon Trail game. I didn't some close to death, but I did get a wet foot. The forging part is a slight exaggeration. Great Falls is pretty close to our house so I would like to go there more often, especially during different seasons to see what it looks like. If you live in N. Virginia I highly recommend this as a weekend activity. Next time I will bring water and snacks and maybe a book.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Diva is Back

As you know if you read my blog regularly, this lemon tree and I have a major love/hate relationship. Why does the lemon choose to do this to me? I don't understand why it has to drop it's leaves on a regular basis. Can someone please explain this to me? And I know you probably can't tell from the poor quality of this picture but there are flower buds all over it. Such a diva brat.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe of the Week!

Pumpkin Scones
Here is recipe one of two in pumpkin tasting. I made these for the BES birthday breakfast last week. They were quite a hit. I was not impressed, however. I used the recipe below, but I doubled it and used half whole wheat flour and half regular all purpose. I got about 30 scones from the double recipe. So if you like pumpkin and you like scones...I think this recipe is for you :)


For the Scones:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 tablespoons half-and-half
  • 1 large egg
For the Powdered Sugar Glaze:
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
For the Spiced Glaze:
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves