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Showing posts from December, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago I posted my first blog post  as Just One Donna .   It was a spur of the moment thing, that first post.  I had just returned from an invigorating walk on the beach after a few days pent up in the house due to a blizzard.  I decided in a momentary flash that starting a blog would be a good thing. 321 posts later I celebrate my one year anniversary as a blogger.  When I started the blog a year ago I committed to daily posting.  Little did I know at the time that blogging is a time consuming endeavor.  I soon learned that planning, writing, cooking,  photographing, editing pictures and editing content can take the better part of a day.  As a result, in August I adjusted my publishing schedule to five days a week, with no posts on Sunday and Tuesday. When I started this blog I had no plan.  I didn't know what I would write about.  I assumed topics would present themselves and I would pick and choose as I wished.  167 recipes later , I have learned that food is high on

New Year's Eve Appetizers

Are you getting ready to say goodbye to 2011 and hello to 2012?  Me, too.  Do you want some suggestions for appetizers to get your New Year's Eve started? My two favorite dips ... I like to have at least one dip to serve with tasty crackers or toasted bread slices.  My two favorite dips are spinach and artichoke dip, which is served warm, or caramelized onion dip.  Choose one, or the other...or both.  They are certain to please your guests. Spinach and Artichoke Dip Spinach and Artichoke Dip Ready for Heating Caramelized Onion Dip Caramelized Onion Dip and Crackers My favorite stuffed mushrooms.... For a spicy version of an old favorite, serve these kicked up stuffed mushrooms .  Stuffed with hot sausage and cheese, these are delicious bites, perfect for any party.  Don't worry about the hot sausage.  There is just enough to add a kick, but not enough to overwhelm. Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms Spicy Stuffed Mushrooms Ready for the Oven My newest favo

Joanne's Cherry Cheesecake

Whew!  With the Christmas holiday behind me I am free to get back to the blog world.  This past week was filled with much holiday preparation because we traditionally host a Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch for family and friends. Joanne's Cherry Cheesecake Today I wanted to share one of the delicious desserts we enjoyed this Christmas, Joanne's Cherry cheesecake.  Joanne is my neighbor and friend who was kind enough to share this family favorite with me.  I loved this recipe because it is beautiful to look at, light and delicious.  Thanks, Joanne, for sharing this recipe with me. You will like that this dessert is very, yes, very easy to assemble, with no baking required.  It makes a lovely presentation, and it's light as can be.  It is decadent, though, and is not light in the calories area. You'll also like that this is a make ahead dessert, requiring an overnight stay in your refrigerator. Make this recipe the next time you need a quick, bu

Cream Cheese Brownies

An old favorite brownie recipe of mine is the cream cheese brownie.  Most of the time I favor a straight up, no frills, fudgy, chocolate brownie, but occasionally I want a  kicked up version.  Mixing brownies and cream cheese is a winning combination in my book and is always a crowd pleaser. Yummy Cream Cheese Browies I also like that you can start with a box brownie mix and end up with a delicious dessert. If you don't want to use a box mix you can use your favorite from scratch brownie recipe .   Using a pre-packaged mix makes this a perfect addition to your dessert menu at the holidays because this recipe is relatively easy to bake when you have a lot of things going on in your kitchen all at once.  You'll appreciate that no kitchen appliances are required to make the brownie layer.  You can, and should, mix your brownie batter using a your favorite bowl and a wooden spoon.  This will ensure that your brownies are fudgy and dense, the perfect texture to support the cr

Holiday Cheer-The Pomegranate Cosmo

When hosting holiday gatherings it is fun to have a festive adult beverage available for your guests. This Pomegranate Cosmopolitan is a deep red color that is the perfect signature cocktail for holiday gatherings. Make Pomegranate Cosmopolitans Your Signature Holiday Cocktail A Pomegranate Cosmopolitan for the Holidays The pomegranate cosmopolitan is a favorite of mine any time of year, and it is especially festive during the holidays because of the deep red color from the pomegranate juice.  You can make a large batch of Pomegranate Cosmopolitans easily by following the "parts" recipe below. Here's how we make our Pomegranate Cosmos for our Just One Donna  holiday parties. The Pomegranate Cosmo Serves 1, or Many 2 parts mandarin or orange flavored vodka 2 parts Pom pomegranate juice 1 part Cointreau 1 part freshly squeezed lime juice Lime slices for garnish Directions Early in the day prepare your martini glasses by first rubbing the r

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

Truth be told, I am not one to make dozens and dozens of cookies for the holidays.  Cookie platters have never been my thing.  I also avoid cookie exchanges.  It's not that I don't like cookies, I just don't like many cookies...all together...at one time.  You're thinking that's a little strange, aren't you?  Maybe, but I like to think of it as a cute little idiosyncrasy.   I have one or two... I do like a special cookie or two for the holidays though and this cranberry-pistachio biscotti has become a favorite of mine over the past few years.  Make it this weekend and treat yourself.  It is the perfect cookie to have with a hot cup of tea when you want to take a break from the hectic pace of holiday preparations. Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti Printer Friendly Recipe Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti Ingredients 2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperatur

It's National Cupcake Day

A week ago we celebrated National Brownie Day and today it is National Cupcake Day .  I bet you are happy I told you that, aren't you?  You were looking for a reason to eat a cupcake weren't you?  Let's be honest, none of us need a reason to eat a cupcake.  After all, they are just small, single portion cakes, right?  No harm there.  Not if we eat just one.  In honor of National Cupcake Day I am sharing links to three of my favorite cupcake recipes from 2011.  Any of these would be a perfect choice for today's cupcake celebration.  These are not in order of preference because if truth be told, I love them all.  Each one has its own reason to shine.  Read on and decide which will suit your fancy today. Lemon-Lime Cupcakes Lemon-Lime Cupcakes If you are a lover of all things citrus, like me, you will adore this recipe.  These Lemon-Lime  Cupcakes are moist and flavorful, with a burst of lemon-lime flavor. Please make sure to add the citrus to your frosting

Beach Art

I walk along the beach at least a couple of times a week all year long.  It doesn't matter to me whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter.  I actually prefer the off-seasons when there are fewer people around.  The beach at those times is the perfect place to go to be alone with one's thoughts. Even though I usually walk the same stretch of beach it seems that the view is never the same.  The ocean seems to have an ever changing personality.  Some days it is bright and cheerful and other days it rages.  The beach, as well, changes daily.  One day it will looks smooth and pristine while the next day it will be covered in ruts and mounds of rock. Occasionally I find that some creative person has left his or her mark with a delightful beach sculpture.  I always stop to admire the work and wonder what the artist was thinking. Was it kids whiling away their day? Or, was the artist rejoicing in the rocks and driftwood offered by the tides? Whatever the reas

Five Ways to Kill Your Blog

Soon I will celebrate my one year anniversary of blogging.  Yes, it's hard to believe, but the end of December will mark a blogging milestone for me.  In anticipation of reaching this milestone I wanted to share five blogging "don'ts" gathered from reading and observing a multitude of blogs over this past twelve month period.  Am I a blogging expert after twelve months?  Not at all.  These "don'ts" are based on my experience and preferences as a blog writer and perhaps more importantly, a blog reader.  I've encountered these "don'ts" over and over again as I have blog-hopped the blogoshpere.  They reflect experiences with blogs I have only visited once because I have found those blogs to be unwelcoming or difficult to read. Five Ways to Kill Your Blog #1.   Don't make your blog readable Use a black background with colored fonts that make your readers strain their eyes Make your font too small (less than 12 points) and write

A Little Bit of Christmas

December is... Our Christmas tree... Remembering the first homemade ornaments from our first Christmas... A poinsettia plant here, a poinsettia plant there... Candles in the window... A welcoming pot of greenery at the door... A little bit of Christmas... Enjoy!