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People who live the FULLEST LIVES know how to let love in….

Oprah

What does a “BRANDEE FIX” look like?

Well, something like this….I love cozy socks, strong coffee, extra dark chocolate, wood-burning fires, crisp air, fall leaves, the smell of fresh spring rain, farm fresh flowers~especially fragrant peonies & orange tulips, warm blankets, long walks, ice cream (everyday), listening to my favorite tunes while cooking, quiet nights IN, planning family adventures, traveling, decorating and designing, planning gatherings, GIVING to the less fortunate, hanging out with the people I cherish most, and watching my kids sleep (even though they are 16, 14 & 11 now).

What is BIG MUCH LOVE?

It’s a phrase that my dad always used to say to his grand kids~”I love you BIG MUCH” he would bellow. And when they were itty-bitty, he would throw his arms in the air with theirs to show that his love was infinite. Although their papa bear is no longer with us here on earth, his presence in LOVING his family SO HARD could never be diminished. So I am actively CHOOSING to spread love with VIGOR and intention in a BIG, BIG way…. in my personal life and in the lives I touch through this space. I’m choosing, above all else, to GIVE LOVE and BE LOVE in every action I take daily and to use his words as a mantra of sorts, a simple reminder that LOVE, above all things, has the power to transcend time and space.

When LOVE is in play, one thing typically leads to another, am I right? So in the spirit of “BIG MUCH LOVE” our concept for a non-profit organization took shape. Although we are still in the early stages of this venture, WITH LOVE & SUGAR is a testament to the power of LOVE and how it can be shared through simple pleasures. The focus is to lead from the FRONT, with open hearts, and provide inspiration through service. Our work will be centered around local veterans in VA hospitals wherein they are provided with books, inspirational messages and home-baked goodies.

We LOVE to entertain and connect with the people we adore through FOOD. Showing hospitality and serving others in this way, is a universal means by which we ALL tend to the care and keeping of those that MATTER MOST.

So….I’m inviting you to step into OUR KITCHEN where you can peek at some of our seasonally-inspired recipes. These are Family Favorites and I’m hopeful they will become just that for your brood too! Bon appetite!!

Morning Glory: Buttermilk Waffles

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living circa 1999
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 mins
Total Time19 mins
Servings: 5 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 8 tbsp butter softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Heat Waffle Iron. Mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • In a separate bowl whisk together the buttermilk, butter, egg yolks and vanilla. Mix into dry ingredients.
  • In a small bowl beat the egg whites with a handheld mixer until stiff but not dry. Gently fold into batter.
  • Ladle 1/3 C into waffle iron. Cook 3-4 minutes (or as specified by your waffle iron).
  • Top with syrup, whipped cream and fruit or anything you desire.

Healthy Snack Attack: Yogurt Parfaits

Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Servings: 1 serving

Ingredients

  • 1 cup greek yogurt we use vanilla
  • 1/4 cup granola
  • seasonal berries we use sliced strawberries, blueberries and raspberries
  • Smattering of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Drizzle of Honey

Instructions

  • Fill custard cups with yogurt and then layer on the rest of the ingredients. Beginning with the granola and ending with the drizzle of honey.

Main Meal Magic: Honey Glazed Salmon

Adapted from Cooking Light circa 1999
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time35 mins
Servings: 5

Ingredients

  • 4 6 ounce salmon filets about 1 inch thick
  • 2 tbsp minced shallots
  • 1.5 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 3 tbsp Honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions

  • Prepare Oven Broiler.
  • Clean fish and cut two slits in each fillet. Place in glass baking dish lined with foil (this makes clean up a cinch).
  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix together.
  • Use a spoon to gently cover the salmon fillets with the mixture. Ensuring that it seeps into the slits as well.
  • Cook uncovered 15-20 minutes. The glaze will begin to caramelize and crisp up. Some shallot bits will char as well but don’t be alarmed~ this is utter deliciousness!

Delightful Dessert: Traditional Cheesecake with Raspberry Coulis

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Desserts Cookbook
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Servings: 16 servings

Ingredients

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter melted plus extra for greasing

Filling

  • 4 8 oz packages of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs

Coulis

  • 3 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven 400 degrees

For the crust

  • Generously grease a 9 inch spring-form pan and combine graham cracker crumbs sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter. Blend until very moist.
  • Pour into pan and press evenly on the bottom and 3/4 of the way up the side of the pan. I do this by using both a spoon and an old fashioned coffee mug.
  • Bake in the oven 8-10 minutes until the crust is set. Then set aside AND REDUCE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE to 300.

For the filling

  • Combine the cream cheese, flour and salt. Using a mixer beat vigorously until it is light and fluffy. Add the sugar, sour cream and vanilla and blend well. Add eggs one at a time (be sure to stop and scrap down the sides periodically). Once fully blended carefully pour into crust.
  • Bake the cheesecake 60-70 minutes or until set. You can tell it is set because the edges are slightly puffed and the center jiggles slightly. Remove from oven and allow to cool until room temperature.
  • I recommend refrigerating OVERNIGHT for the best consistency.
  • To serve, unclasp the pan and use a think bladed knife and wipe clean after each slice. Serve alone, with fresh berries or with our favorite coulis.

For the Coulis

  • Combine all the berries and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the berries are pureed. Then carefully pass the puree through a mesh sieve over a small bowl in order to extract the juice and leave the seeds behind. I use a metal spoon to press the juice through. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust to your liking with extra sugar or lemon juice.

What are my all-time favorite TUNES?

Here is a sneak peek into my PERSONAL PLAYLIST

I’m a voracious READER

About five years ago I shifted from novels to almost strictly MOTIVATIONAL and Personal Development books because I was in a MAJOR GROWTH CYCLE (and still am). If you’re looking to GET GROWING too, here are my TOP SUGGESTIONS.

You may also be wondering about my BOOK queue (there’s always a queue)!! Here’s a glimpse into the goodies in my current book basket…..

  • Necessary Endings (Henry Cloud)
  • Atomic Habits (James Clear)
  • Outliers (Malcolm Gladwell)
  • Hardball For Women (Susan Golant)
  • How Champions Think (Dr. Bob Rotella)
  • One Person Multiple Careers (Marci Alboher)

Top Summer Pleasures:

  • Get OUTSIDE
  • Gaze at the Beauty that Surrounds You
  • Walk & Talk
  • Journal Your Way to Your Dreams
  • Make time and TAKE Time to Invest in YourSELF-care. It’s NOT selfish my friends; rather, It’s a RADICAL act of LOVE to be one with those things that fill your ENERGETIC BUCKET! Do MORE of those things and watch how quickly your energy, LIGHT and LOVE spill over to those within your closest circles! It’s the ultimate act of unconditional positive regard!