Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Eve.  Not sure entirely why, but part of it is I don't like endings.  Even if it's just the ending of one year and on to the next.  RW feels the same way, so we kind of keep it low key.  Headed to a movie in the afternoon and we are going to cook crab legs for dinner at home.  No need to be out among the crazies.

Despite my feelings about tonight, here's to a safe, healthy and prosperous 2015.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Finally getting around to sharing photos of my Christmas tree and mantel for 2014.




Took only a couple photos of the kids and they are all blurry.  Epic fail on Christmas photos this year.  Hoping Cait will send me a few.

Happy New Year everyone.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Card of the Month

Squeezed in a little time to make some cards tonight.  Needed some Sympathy cards, which will unfortunately be used immediately.  Loss seems particularly challenging at this time of year for me.

Focus.

Here's the inspiration I used from CAS(E) this Sketch:


And here are my versions:





Glad I got a chance to make these...but dinner is going to be a little late tonight.

Happy carding.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Card of the Month

I'm not finding the time to make cards very often.  It makes me sad…but it's just the way things are for now.

I did manage to get one made to celebrate Caity's Birthday.  I did use the CAS(E) this Sketch #95 for my inspiration:



But…I'm so late in posting about it that I can't share on their site.  Oh well, it still turned out rather cute.




Not my best photo, but I was rushed.

Off to finally put up my fall mantel.  (It's about time.)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Roasted Winter Squash Soup

I made a pot of squash soup the other day and it turned out to be absolutely delicious.

I adapted this recipe from Ina's Winter Squash Soup recipe.  Just tweaked it a bit to fit my taste.

I decided to use a couple different kinds of winter squash as I had been given a buttercup squash. I already had a butternut squash from my garden.

I've never used a buttercup squash before, so this seemed like a great opportunity to give a whirl.  They look like this:

This isn't my photo.  I forgot to take a photo before I started.  Bad me.

Anyway…I took out my good knife. The one that cuts the butternut squashes with ease.  Barely a dent.

So then I tried the cleaver.  That made a cut, but I couldn't move it any further with my own strength.  So out came the hammer.

I know it should have been a wooden mallet, but I don't have one.  After extensive pounding, I got a couple good chunks off the sucker.  Sliced off the outer layer and managed to dice them up.  Holy cow.  I ended up with a bruised palm from holding the cleaver.  Ouch.

Now that I'm done complaining, let's get back to the recipe:

Ingredients:

Olive Oil
S&P
1-2 Butternut squash - peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
1 other type of winter squash - peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks (optional)
1 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree
1 medium to large onion - diced
2 medium carrots - diced
2 celery stalks - diced
4 cups chicken brother
1 cup half and half
1 Tbl butter

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place diced squash on cookie sheet.  drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Mix well with your hands.  Place squash in oven and roast until fork tender and lightly browned.  Stir halfway through cooking process.  Approximately 20-30 minutes.  May take longer if you do larger pieces.

Meanwhile, put 1 Tbl olive oil in your favorite soup pot.  Add onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt and pepper.   Sauté until onions are tender and translucent.  Add the roasted squash, chicken broth and pumpkin puree.  Bring to a light boil and then reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until carrots are tender about 20 minutes.

Take pot off heat and using an immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until smooth.  (You can also use a blender, but be careful with the hot soup.  Take out the center piece of the blender top and cover with clean dish towel before you blend.  Blend the soup in batches.)

Add the half and half and pat of butter to finish the soup.  Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Happy Eating!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Pump up the Volume on your Chicken Broth

After years and years of failed attempts and making soup, I finally learned the secret.

DON'T USE WATER!

Use boxed or canned chicken broth as your base.  That's the first lesson here.

But I do like to pump up the volume on my boxed broth.  Here's how I do it.  (Keep in mind you don't have to do this, I just like to make sure my soup has the most flavor possible.)

Typically, I like to roast a whole chicken every week or so.  They are super easy and I use Ina's Lemon and Garlic Roast Chicken.  It's so yummy.

After you've cut of all the meat, keep the chicken carcass in an air tight container in your fridge.  Then when you are ready, here's what you do:

1.  In a soup pot or dutch oven, add the chicken bones, 2 carrots in large chunks, 2 celery in large chunks, half a large onion quartered, 1 clove of smashed garlic, 2 bay leaves, 10-20 whole peppercorns.


2.  Add two boxes of store bought chicken broth and 1-2 cups water.  This is the brand I usually use.  Obviously, use whichever you like best.



3.  Bring the pot to a boil.



4.  Then cover and simmer over low heat for an hour or two.


5.  Using a mesh colander, strain the broth into a large pot or bowl.  Store broth in airtight container in your fridge until you are ready to make your soup.  I like to use Mason jars to store my broth.  I use a ladle and funnel to make the transfer super easy.

Here's my finished product:



I usually can get 2 1/5 jars of which I can make two batches of soup.  I hope this doesn't sound like a lot of work as you can spread it out over a few days when you have time and it really does pump up the volume.

Next up Squash Soup.  Happy Eating.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup

Every now and again, when the Food Network magazine arrives, I find so much inspiration that I can't wait to start cooking.  The October Edition was a perfect example.


It just arrived yesterday and this evening I made Tyler Florence's Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwich…page 127.

It was great and as I made a double batch, it was a great way to use up 4 pounds of tomatoes from the hoop houses.  And I have two full jars in the fridge.




The sandwich is grilled cheese with bacon and apple slices.  So yummy.  Highly recommend!

As BW brought home about 15 pounds of tomatoes…. I peeled, chopped and crushed the remaining 11 pounds and I now have 7 more bags of crushed tomatoes in my freezer.  

Very productive day.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stuffed Green Peppers

There is the rumor going around the family, that I only make foods that I like.

I want to use this venue to provide proof to the contrary.

This is documentable proof, that I can and do make things that I don't like:


Green peppers (strongly dislike them) stuffed with beef, sausage and rice (strongly dislike rice).

(My mother strongly dislikes the word hate, which is what I first typed and then corrected myself.)

My sweetie ate them all gone!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Black Bean Soup

Made this soup last night and it got thumbs up all around as it was delicious. Best part was it was quick, easy and I had all the necessary ingredients.

Here's how I made it:

Ingredients

10 slices of bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, crushed (or diced if you like chunky tomatoes)
3 cans (15 oz size) black beans, rinsed
1 TBL chili powder (or a little less if you have someone sensitive to heat)
2 TBL ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with lime juice, cilantro or parsley, diced green onion and sour cream if you like.

Cook the bacon in a large heavy pot.  Cook over medium heat until the start browning.  Stir in onion and cook until translucent (5 minutes or so).  Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Just until you start to smell it.  Season with S&P.

Add the broth, tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire and chili powder.  Give a good stir.  Add the beans.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.  Done.

We had this with a salad with fresh lettuce and greens from my garden.  Great dinner.

Monday, June 30, 2014

My Real Garden 2014

After years and years of just doing container gardening, this year I have a real garden.  And just any little old garden plot.  I've got this:


It's about 20 x 40 and the fencing is 6 feet high.  And when my sweety told me he was going to install a gate, I envisioned chicken wire tacked to a strip of wood that I would roll back when I needed to get in, but no…this is what he made:


A real freakin' gate.  Brilliant.

Here's what I'm growing:


Corn



Tomatoes.  Some of the plants that I bought too early, before the garden was ready got a little pot bound and still seem to be struggling.


Peas (in the foreground) and cabbage and habeneros (in the background).


Mixed greens


Peppers, beets and the carrots are just sprouting.



Cucumbers and butternut squash

Enough blogging…got to go out and finish weeding.  Happy growing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Front Porch

One of the real perks of the new house is an enormous wrap around front porch.  It will take me a while to get it just the way I want it, but I am making progress.

So, here are some photos I like to call "Getting the front porch ready":





The last photo shows the newly installed wood screen door.  Still needs hardware and the trim painted, but I just love it.  It's sounds like summer when it closes, although I figure one day with the grandkids here and I'll be ready to scream.  But I still think it's perfect.

Happy Summer!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing

I made this Grilled Corn Avocado Tomato Salad with Honey Lime Dressing tonight.

I found the recipe on Facebook and as I had a very ripe avocado sitting on the counter, it was  perfect for dinner.

It was delicious and something I highly recommend.

Here is the recipe:



GRILLED CORN, AVOCADO AND TOMATO w/ HONEY LIME DRESSING

1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ripe avocado
2 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Honey Lime Dressing
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
Dash of cayenne pepper


DIRECTIONS:

Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomato Salad

Remove husks from corn and grill over medium heat for 10 minutes. The corn should have some brown spots and be tender and not mushy. Cut the corn off the cob then scrape the cob with the back of your knife to get the juices. Set aside and let cool. Slice the tomatoes in half. Dice the avocado and chop the cilantro.
Honey Lime Dressing

1.     Add all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

2.     Combine the sliced tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and grilled corn and honey lime dressing and mix gently so everything is evenly coated. Be careful not to mash the avocados. Let the salad sit for 10-15 minutes to let flavors mingle


I did make a few alterations.  First, I didn't want to heat up the grill for two ears of corn, so I just cut the corn off the cob and sauté the corn in some olive oil until I got a few brown bits of corn.  I also used parsley instead of cilantro as I have a "certified" cilantro hater in the house.  And, finally…no cayenne as the cilantro hater is also not a fan of "heat".  I think he has a sensitive palate.

And here is what I served with the salad:



This is the world's best sandwich.  It's a salmon BLT on Ciabatta roll.  Oh my goodness.  Oh my goodness.

So wonderful and so messy,  but worth every bite.

Happy Friday everyone.


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Yeah Sunshine

Finally able to bring out the toes from hiding.  It's been a long, long time since they've seen the sunshine.  Welcome back to the land of the living little guys.


Now let's see if I can find the screens for the bedroom windows.

TTFN.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Roasting Vegetables

One of the best way to eat more vegetables is to make them taste better.  One of my favorite ways to enhance their flavor is by roasting them.  I only started roasting veggies in the last couple years.  It started slowly and has expanded to include quite a wide variety.

Basically, here's the process:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Rinse and dry your vegetable of choice.  Place on a rimmed cookie sheet.  Drizzle with Olive Oil and season well with salt (I prefer Kosher salt) and pepper.  Toss with your hands to make sure everything is evenly coated.


Roast until tender and slightly browned.  Use a large wooden spatula or metal flipper to toss the veggies once or twice during the roasting cycle.  This helps them to cook more evenly.


This process works with asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, beets, brussel sprouts and any other sturdy veg you would like to try.  Obviously, the larger the vegetable pieces the longer they will need to roast.  Asparagus will likely take 10 minutes whereas cauliflower can take 30 to 40.

I do have some modifications for certain veggies.

Beets:  As beets are a very messy veggie, I cut the top and bottom off the beet and place in individual foil packs (making the foil into boat like shapes).  I them add the oil and S&P.  I then seal them and put them on a rimmed cookie sheet.  These suckers take a long time to cook.  I usually like to give them an hour or so.  Once the are tender, I open the foil packs and them them cool.  You can then easily slide off the outer skin and then slice them into a bowl.  They heat up super easy in a microwave if they need to be warmed.

Cauliflower:  You can click on the following link to  find my full recipe for roasted cauliflower .  Essentially you roasting cauliflower with olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme sprigs and S&P.  In the final 10 minutes you top it with a little shredded parmesan.  The recipe really does work wonders for cauliflower (hint…I don't really like cauliflower any other way.)  Again, don't forget to toss the veggies once or twice during cooking.

Brussel Sprouts:  These are pretty much at the bottom of my veggie list, but if you sauté up some diced bacon, drain and set aside.  Then replace the olive oil with the bacon drippings and roast until tender and browned…even brussel sprouts can be yummy.  (Remember to toss the cooked sprouts with the diced cooked bacon.)

If you've never roasted a veggie before, I sincerely hope you give it a try.  I think you will like it.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vegetables!

With the warmer weather just starting, it's been putting me in the garden state of mind and of course vegetables come quickly to mind.

I've decided my next few posts will be all about cooking vegetables.  Learning how to properly cook vegetables so that they are delicious has been one of my best accomplishments as a home cook.

We will talk about roasting veggies and sautéing veggies, so that they turn out yummy.  (Even brussel sprouts.)

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

What's in Your Camera??

I finally got around to transferring my latest batch of photos out of my camera.  Here's a little of what's been going on around the old farm.

I am completely obsessed with eggs at the moment.  Poached eggs in particular.  When in doubt…this is what's for dinner and I couldn't be happier.  (How happy am I that the I was able to capture the steam rising off the eggs.  Marvelous.)


We took care of Luke and Logan for a few days, so there were lots of these photos:


Luke is such a sweetie and he had a little cold too.



Logan sitting still.  A small miracle.


Logan found a new game.  Turn water on…turn water off.  Over and over and over.


Note Joey's location.  This is his favorite spot during lunch time.  He always knows to sit by the youngest member.  He gets a lot of snacks that way.

And here is another food adventure.  Barbecue chicken salad.  Yummy.


And finally, a moment with Gigi and Luke.  He is explaining "Pokeman" to Great Grandma.  She has no idea what he's talking about, but you'd never know that by her attention level.


Note to self…turn up the heat.  Mom looks like she's freezing.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Firehouse Rules

My favorite sandwich place has officially been replaced.  Firehouse Subs have taken over that corner of my heart that loves a hot sandwich.

It used to be Potbelly's, but they just don't measure up to Firehouse.  Since there is one is Rochester, I have now officially become a regular.  Even talking about it make me hungry and I just finished dinner.

I'm not exactly sure how many franchises exist…but if you get a chance give it a try.  Yum!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monuments Men Movie Review

The Monuments Men

Grade:  B++

It has been way too long since I've done a movie review.  Shame on me.  It's not like there haven't been worthy movies in the past months.  There has.  Saving Mr Banks,  Philomena  and About Time come quickly to mind.  But since I missed the boat on those, I don't want to miss out on recommending The Monuments Men.

I loved this movie.  This is kind of a older style of a movie making.  It focuses on telling a great story like movies used to do in the 30's and 40's.  There were some elements that maybe missed the mark of great film-making, but sometimes the story is all that matters.

George Clooney plays Frank Stokes who leads a band of unlikely solders…museum curators, art historians, sculptors, architects, into France, Belgium, Germany after D-Day to search out and find the art stolen by the Nazi's during WWII.  And for the first time in our warring history…"to the victors go the spoils" did not apply.  The goal was to restore the art to the rightful owners.  Unheard of at the time.

I thought the actors did good jobs with their characters…George does come off a little too "George" if you know what I mean…BUT it is the beauty of the art that steals this movie.  It is unimaginable the vast caverns of paintings and statues that were taken from homes and museums across Europe.  Not to mention the art destroyed through ignorance and stupidity.

Go see this movie.  I promise you will enjoy and appreciate it.

Have some popcorn for me.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Birthday Card Crazy Part 1

It's February, which means it's time to make a bunch of birthday cards.  I'm posting the first batch today.  Hopefully I'll be able to get to the next batch by next week-end.

For this series, I decided to use some of the cards that I've "pinned" on Pinterest as my inspiration.

Here goes:

Inspiration….


My version…



Inspiration…


My version…



Inspiration…



My version…


Big thanks to Pinterest for being a constant source of ideas and a great place to put stuff I want to remember.