Posts made in December, 2014

Tea at the Ritz Carlton

Posted by on Dec 19, 2014 in Holiday | 3 comments

Christmas in Heaven

Oh, how we loved this tradition...


--Photo by Britton Hostetter

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Comfort My People

Posted by on Dec 17, 2014 in Holiday | 0 comments

 "Comfort, comfort my people," says your God. " Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.

Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned."  (Isaiah 40: 1-2 NLT)

God does not comfort us only to make us comfortable -- rather He does it to make us comforters.

-- Navigator's Daily Walk Bible




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My Mother’s Toffee

Posted by on Dec 15, 2014 in Holiday | 1 comment

Christmastime baking has always been a huge part of the holidays, which began for me as a child.   As long as it wasn't raining, one candy my mother made for forever was English Toffee.  Without a candy thermometer and just a cup of cold water, she boiled butter and sugar together until it reached hard-crack and poured amber molten lava over a tray of completely raw almonds.    The method of checking a smidgeon of candy from the boiling pot into the cup of water  was like testing the tip of a glue gun with a bare finger. My sisters and I broke up giant Hershey bars and set them on top of the candy to melt into small puddles.  It was so difficult for me to wait—I wanted to start spreading the sweet milk chocolate over the hardening candy too soon.  Disastrously, this would poke a hole somewhere in the giant sheet of candy or produce grainy chocolate.








I haven't made toffee in many years until yesterday.  I updated Mom's notes to accommodate  her technique and ingredients.








I toasted the almonds on a foil lined 9x13-inch baking sheet for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.








Meanwhile, grind another ¼ cup of almonds to a fine dust (I threw in a few pistachios for color). Set the ground nuts aside.








Using a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter and sugar together with salt and vanilla.








When the contents are combined, simmer it over medium-high heat until it reaches 300 degrees F or hard-crack mode.  This will take about 10 minutes or so.











It can burn in a flash; watch it carefully.








Look for the color to be deep amber.








Quickly pour it over the nuts on the sheet pan.  If a few nuts are displaced you can quickly readjust them with a spoon.








Gently sprinkle the chocolate morsels over the hot candy.  Wait one long minute.








Mom was with me while Dean Martin sang Let it Snow; I patiently waited for the chocolate to melt and spread it with an offset spatula; then dusted glistening chocolate with magic nut dust.








MP and I let it harden to confection perfection and went to church. 








"Sometimes-- the long walk is part of the gift." --Jentezen Franklin









Miss you, Mommy.

English Toffee


  • 2 ¼ cups whole almonds, divided use
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (12-ounce) package milk chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 cups almonds on a 9x13-inch foil lined baking sheet and toast in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes until pale golden and aromatic; set aside.
  2. In a mini processor, grind the remaining nuts into a fine dust (do not over process or they will become nut butter) set aside.
  3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine butter and sugar with salt and vanilla. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until butter is melted. Continue cooking 10 (or more) minutes until the candy reaches hard-crack (300 degrees) on a candy thermometer and is deep amber.
  4. Remove from heat; immediately pour mixture over nuts on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the hot candy. Wait one minute; then using a spatula, spread the chocolate over the candy until it is smooth. Sprinkle almond dust over chocolate layer.
  5. Let cool until hardened and break into small pieces. Store in an airtight tin in the refrigerator.
  6. © Copyright 2014 Peggy Barrett Lunde
  7. All Rights Reserved




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French Wheat and Whoopie Pies

Posted by on Dec 12, 2014 in Cookies | 2 comments

The weather outside is frightful meaning it is a good day to bake








Chocolate Ginger Whoopie Pies.  Assemble the ingredients in the wee hours of the morning when sleep evades; rock them out when you wake up—








Butter and bittersweet chocolate








are melted and swirled together








with a whisper of fresh grated ginger,








vanilla, sugar, milk, and eggs.















Gently add the dry ingredients with a hand held mixer.








Stir in the semi-sweet chocolate morsels.  I set the dough in the refrigerator for a few minutes while I cleaned up.








Drop the dough onto prepared sheets in 1-tablespoon blobs.








These bake up quickly; check after 8 minutes.










Lastly, prepare the ganache filling.








Then go back to bed and listen to the Rhythm of the Falling Rain. 

Image result for image of a 1965 blue camaro

All of this reminds me of a 1965 Blue Camero. . . . .




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Black Bean and Mushroom Enchiladas

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014 in Asian and Vegetarian | 1 comment









This is exactly what you need to get dinner on the table while doing a beat-the-clock holiday hustle— spicy black beans, cheese, and mushrooms wrapped up in a saucy tortilla revive you for the next round.








I plucked this recipe from Real Simple because it was make-ahead, whole grain, and vegetarian.  It could be gluten-free too if you stick to corn tortillas. Of course, I made a few changes.  As I was underway, I realized there was no enchilada sauce.  Do you know you can make enchilada sauce from pantry staples?







I have never met a fresh chili who had a pop-up thermometer—so I am suspicious of merely dicing one up roulette style for a dish.  Char and steam the called for poblano, then remove  blistered skin and seeds; the result is bonus smokiness.








This is when I taste a bit for heat value.















Honestly, you can substitute a can of diced mild chilies but the flavor of a fresh poblano elevates the essence spectrum.








After sautéing the onions, mushrooms, and cumin remove from the heat, add beans and diced chili. Half the cheese goes in too—








I added only 2 ounces and 4 more to the top reducing the total amount.










We love the texture of corn and wheat tortillas.  They roll without cracking if you zap them first. Place a little sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and rock them out.

Image result for hatch enchilada sauce image

The second time I prepared this I used  my favorite mild enchilada sauce making sure I covered the edges of the rolled tortillas well; Cuz we do not like crispy edges.  If you are making this ahead, spray foil with cooking spray and cover the dish (oiled side down) before refrigerating.  Bring to room temperature; bake covered for 30 minutes and remove foil for another 10 minutes or so; watch those edges.

So earthy and satisfying-- because in Cali we eat Mexican-style food like-- every day.








Make this yesterday for dinner tonight, a holiday potluck tomorrow or freeze it for a party next week.

In a pinch, you can even make your own sauce...

Red Enchilada Sauce


  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Salt to taste


  1. In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat, add oil, then add flour and stir together for one minute; add the paste and combine well. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Add salt to taste. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until thick.
  2. © Copyright 2014 Peggy Barrett Lunde
  3. All Rights Reserved

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