Friday, July 22, 2016

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Any party or get together requires some yummy creamy dips.  Dill dip, artichoke dip, pesto dip.  All delicious and usually starting with a mayo base.  If you are looking for something equally delicious, yet healthier...look no further.  I've got one for you.

Roasted Eggplant Dip.

It's all good stuff and works perfectly with crisp pita chips.  Although I would love to take credit for this recipe, I cannot.  It comes from the talented and wonderful Ina.



Roasted Eggplant Dip

Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant
2 red bell peppers, cored
1 red onion, peeled
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the eggplant, peppers and onion into 1-inch pieces.  Place in a large bowl and toss with the garlic, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Spread out on rimmed cooking tray.  Roast for 45 minutes, stirring once half way through.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Add all roasted vegetables into your food processor with the tomato paste.  Pulse 4-5 times to get a chunky texture.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.



That's it.  You now have a wonderful, healthy dip ready for your guests.



Enjoy!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Garlic Scape Pesto

I was just given a huge pile of garlic scapes from my niece Kelly...our farm manager.  It was time to trim them off the garlic so that the garlic bulbs could bulk up before their harvest next month.

Here's the bowl full of scapes:



Today I made a whole lot of garlic scape pesto.



And then I got it ready for the freezer.



One of these tossed into any pasta, soup or stew will be delicious.  I wonder how long it will last.

Here's the recipe I used.  Both a normal size portion and the bulk size portion.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Normal Size Portion:            
·      1/4 cup pine nuts
·      3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes
·      ½ cup basil
·      Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
·      1/2 teaspoon salt
·      A few generous grinds of black pepper
·      1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
·      1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Bulk Size Portion*:
·      1 ¼  cups pine nuts
·      5 cups coarsely chopped garlic scapes
·      1 + cup of basil
·      Juice and zest of 3 lemons
·      3 teaspoons salt
·      1 tsp black pepper
·      3 cup extra virgin olive oil
·      3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
·       
*(Makes enough pesto to fill 1 ice tray and 12 cupcake tins + 1 cup for the fridge)


Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes.  Let cool a bit.  Put the scapes, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper into your food processer.  Pulse until well mixed.  (About 20 pulses).   Turn the processor on and slowly drizzle in the olive oil.  Remove the lid and scrap down the sides.  Add the cheese and pulse again to well mixed and the texture you prefer.

Enjoy.




Friday, May 27, 2016

Work in Progress

I'm working on a granola bar recipe.  Hope to have it perfected soon.  I started with a recipe from Ina, but that one just fell apart.  Intertwined Ina and PW's recipes, but I think I over cooked it and the sunflower seeds gave it a funky taste...although it's still getting consumed pretty quickly.

I'll keep you posted.

HAHAHAHAHA!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

My Lost Blog

I have not been able to access my blog since May 8.  In fact, no one could access it.  It seemed to have just disappeared.  Turns out I needed to fix something with my DNS CNAME settings.

ARGHHHHH!!!

I set this whole blog thing up back in 2009.  I somehow managed to purchase a domain name and get it to work with Blogger.  But that was back in 2009.  That is a long, long time in techno years when you get to be my age.  I have NO memory of what I did back then.  I do remember being quite pleased that I got it to work, but today, it's all a mystery.

Ended up calling technical support and was quickly able to resolve the issue.  Somehow an additional CNAME alias was set up for my www link.  NO FREAKIN' idea how that could have happened since I never touch it.  They had no idea either.

So glad it's all better, but has caused me some significant stress today.




Monday, May 2, 2016

Easy Peel Hardboiled Eggs

I can't tell you how long I have struggled with peeling hard-boiled eggs.  Seriously....it's been a long time.  I have been so frustrated while peeling an egg, as I remove shell bit by tiny bit resulting in a tore up ugly egg with a significant portion of the whites still sticking to the shell.

Every recipe I ever seen has called for starting the eggs in cold water, bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover.  Let the eggs sit for 10-12 minutes.  That is how I have always made my hard-boiled eggs which always resulted in a difficult peeling process.  I pretty sure I even watch Ina make them this way.

In desperation, I reached out to my Facebook community and I got a lot of varied answers.  Add baking soda to the water, put a pin whole in the egg before cooking, don't use fresh eggs, make sure you get them cold quickly in an ice bath.

Finally, finally, finally...with the guidance of my Auntie Mar and the ever helpful Pioneer Woman, I succeeded in making an easy to peel hard-boiled eggs:

Hard-Boiled Eggs


  • Bring a pot of water to boil, making sure you have enough water to cover the eggs.  When the water is boiling, using a slotted spoon to GENTLY place each egg in the water.  Return the eggs to a gentle boil.  Boil for 12-13 minutes


  • Immediately, place each egg in a ice water bath.  Let them cool in the water for 5 minutes.  Remove the eggs from the water, dry them off and cracked the shells to peel.
Perfect eggs.

And here's what I made with my eggs:



Egg Salad

Ingredients
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced
1-2 stalks of celery, diced
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dry mustard
salt & pepper to taste

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and stir  to combine.   Spread liberally on two pieces of toasted wheat bread (buttered) with some crunchy lettuce and eat yourself happy.  I know I just did.





Monday, April 25, 2016

Breakfast Goodies #3

I know this is a long time in coming.  So sorry it has taken me this long to post.

Here is the third and final installment of the Breakfast casserole recipes from my mother's birthday brunch.

This is the sweet one.  Perfect for my mother who has developed a bit of sweet tooth as she has gotten older (haven't we all).



Sorry for the crap photo. 

Raspberry and Mascarpone French Toast Bake

Ingredients

Casserole:
12 slices of Italian or French bread cut into pieces (Leave out over night to dry out)
2 (8 oz) containers of mascarpone
1-cup fresh raspberries
12 eggs
2-cups half and half
½ cup maple syrup

Raspberry Sauce:
1-cup raspberries
1-cup water
1-cup sugar
2 TBL cornstarch
3 TBL butter

Spray the bottom and sides of a 9x12 baking dish (can also use large oval Corning Ware casserole dish).

Add half of the bread to the baking dish.  Scatter chunks of mascarpone over the bread.  Scatter 1 cup of raspberries over the mascarpone.  Top with the remaining bread cubes.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, half and half and syrup.  Pour over bread mixture.  Cover securely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the sauce:  In a small saucepan, whisk together the water sugar and cornstarch.  Bring to a boil over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens.  Gently fold in 1 cup of raspberries and butter.  Stir gently until butter melts.  Can be made the morning of or the day before.  If you make it the day before, just store in the refrigerator and reheat in the morning.

Remove casserole from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Remove cover and bake for 30-40 minutes until puffed up and brown. 

Serve with sauce or warm maple syrup.  Both work well with this dish.




And I'm adding this photo of mom and her sister...just because.

Sisters




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Card of the Week

April is by far the heaviest Birthday month for my family.  We have eight birthdays in quick succession.  Already sent out two cards and made two more today.

Here is the inspiration I used:

And here is my sister's card:



And here is Breslyn's:



I am often surprised by how a card changes from when I start it to when I finish it.   Frequently it's quite different.  Just an evolution I guess.

Happy Saturday Everyone.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Breakfast Goodies Part 2

Now it's time for the Spinach and Gruyere Strata.  Again, this recipe originated from Cooks Illustrated.  Need to give credit where credit is due.

You all ready...Here goes:


Breakfast Strata

Spinach and Gruyere Version – Double Recipe

Ingredients (makes one 8 x 12 inch strata)
  • ·       10 – 12 slices supermarket French or Italian Bread
  • ·       10 Tbl butter
  • ·       8 medium shallots, minced (about 1/2 of a cup)
  • ·       2 packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ·       Salt and ground black pepper
  • ·       1 cup medium-dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
  • ·       12 bounces Gruyere cheese, grated
  • ·       12 large eggs
  • ·       3 ½ cups half and half

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees.  Arrange bread in a single layer on large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes and flip.  Bake 20 minutes more until bread is dry and crisp. Set aside to cool. (Alternative option: leave slices out overnight to dry.) When cooled, butter slices on one side using 4 tablespoons of butter; set aside.

Heat 4 tablespoons of butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sauté shallots until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes; add spinach and salt and pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally, until spinach and shallots are combined, about 2 minutes. Transfer spinach mixture to medium bowl; set aside.  Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to ¼ cup, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Butter 8 x 12 -inch rectangular baking dish with remaining 2 tablespoons butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered-side up, in a single layer in the dish (can cut bread to fit).  Sprinkle half of the spinach mixture over the layer of bread.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese on top of the spinach mixture.  Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese.  Sprinkle remaining spinach mixture and then another 1/2 cup of cheese evenly over bread.

Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in cooled reduced wine mixture, half and half, 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap.  Place boxes of sugar or cake mixes on top of plastic wrap.  (Intent here is to press down lightly on the mixture so all the ingredients are covered in the egg mixture.)  Refrigerate overnight.


Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Uncover strata and add remaining ½ cup cheese.  Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have slightly pulled away from the side of the baking dish, 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Enjoy and make often. Preferably with the Sausage version.  It's hard to decide which version is better.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Card of the Week

I'm prepping for the onslaught of April birthdays that are fast approaching.  The next four will all have to be kid focused as four of the five grandkids have birthdays in April or early May.

Here was my inspiration from CAS(E) This Sketch:


And here is my version:


I was trying for a "guy" card.  I think it will work.  Happy carding.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Breakfast Goodies Part 1

After the big Saturday night party to celebrate Mom's 90th Birthday, we hosted a family breakfast out at the farm.  So thankful that everyone was able to make it and enjoy a few more hours together before my Minnesota family had to fly back home.  

For our breakfast I made three breakfast casseroles:


They are, in order from front to back:
  1. French Toast Bake with Raspberries and Marscapone
  2. Spinach and Gruyere Strata
  3. Sausage and Monterey Jack Strata
After, several requests, I've promised to post each of the recipes here.

Today we are going to start with the Sausage and Monterey Jack Strata.  It seems to be the most popular and if you only get around to making one...this is it.  The original recipe came from Cooks Illustrated.  I've made a minor adjustments to accommodate my families tastes.  This is also a double batch version, so you can cut this recipe in half and make a smaller version.

Always best to time this so that you are pulling the strata out of the oven while your guests are standing around your kitchen.  It comes out of the oven all puffed and brown.  It looks amazing.  After it cools and couple minutes and falls back down to earth, but it sure does make a fantastic first impression.

And as for taste...well there is nothing quite like it.

Breakfast Strata

Sausage and Monterry Jack Version – Double Recipe

Ingredients: 
  • ·       10 – 12 slices supermarket French or Italian Bread
  • ·       6 Tbl softened butter (approx)
  • ·       1.25 pounds of bulk breakfast sausage
  • ·       6 medium shallots, minced (about 1/3 of a cup)
  • ·       Salt and ground black pepper
  • ·       1 cup medium-dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
  • ·       12 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
  • ·       12 large eggs
  • ·       3 1/2 cups half and half
  • ·       4 Tbl minced fresh parsley leaves

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees.  Arrange bread in a single layer on large baking sheet and bake 20 minutes and flip.  Bake 20 minutes more until bread is dry and crisp. Set aside to cool. (Alternative option: leave slices out overnight to dry.)

When cooled, butter slices on one side using 4 Tbl of butter; set aside.

Fry sausage in medium nonstick skillet of medium heat, breaking sausage apart with wooden spoon, until sausage has lost raw color and begins to brown, about 4 minutes; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently until softened and translucent, about 1 minute longer. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add wine to skillet, increase heat to medium-high and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 2-3 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Butter 8 x 12-inch square baking dish with remaining 2 Tbl butter; arrange half the buttered bread slices, buttered-side up, in  a single layer in the dish (can cut bread to fit).  Sprinkle half of the sausage mixture over the layer of bread.  Sprinkle ½ cup cheese on top of sausage mixture.  Arrange remaining bread slices in single layer over cheese.  Sprinkle remaining sausage mixture and then another ½ cup of cheese evenly over bread.

Whisk eggs in medium bowl until combined; whisk in cooled reduced wine mixture, half and half, parsley and 1 tsp salt, and pepper to taste.  Pour egg mixture evenly over bread layers; cover surface flush with plastic wrap.  Place boxes of sugar or cake mixes on top of plastic wrap.  (Intent here is to press down on the mixture so all the ingredients are covered in the egg mixture.)  Refrigerate overnight.

Remove dish from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Uncover strata and add remaining ½ cup cheese.  Bake until both edges and center are puffed and edges have slightly pulled away from the side of the baking dish, 1 hr and 20 minutes. 

Here's a better view of the Sausage Strata...photo bombed by my cousin Leslie.

Now all you have to do is cut into squares and serve.  

Enjoy.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Card of the Week

Had a quiet moment and was able to make another card.  You know...you can never have too many "Happy Birthday" cards at the ready.

Here is the inspiration from CAS(E) this Sketch:


And here is my version:



Happy Wednesday...Happy Carding.


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mom's Birthday Card

Just finished making Mom's 90th Birthday card.  Wanted it to be pretty special and I sure hope it is.

I used the CAS(E) this Sketch as my inspiration:



So....let's just say, I started from this point and drifted off a bit.  Here is my version:



Not sure how often Mom checks out my blog anymore.  Let's just hope she doesn't check it for a bit.

Happy Sunday....with Chili in the crockpot.  All good.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Card Day

I got two cards made yesterday.  How fun is that.

Participating in the CAS(E) this Sketch challenge again.

Here is the inspiration:



And here are my interpretations:






I really enjoyed this sketch.  I even tried to do a version with paint graduated from light to dark, but it just didn't turn out how I envisioned it, which isn't all that unusual.

Happy Snow Day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Perfect Soup for a Snowy Day


On a cold, snowy day...there is nothing more delightful than a warm bowl of homemade soup.

I saw Rachael Ray make a chickpea soup the other day on the Food Network.  With a quart of homemade chicken stop in the fridge...it seemed like a perfect match.  Except, I don't really like chickpeas.  I know, crazy huh?  I like them in hummus, but on there own, not so much.

But I do LOVE Northern White Beans.  Seemed like an easy compromise.  I tweaked Rachael's recipe a little to accommodate my tastebuds.

Here is my version:


Potato, White Bean and Spinach Soup

Ingredients
2 tbl olive oil
2 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Two  15.8-ounce can Northern White Beans (drained and rinsed)
1 quart chicken stock

1 cup water1/2 cup small type pasta
1/2 package chopped frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
Grated Parmesan cheese (to taste)


Add olive oil to a stock pot.  Add the potatoes and let them cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes so the vegetables have a chance to sweat down.  Add stock, water and beans.  Stir and bring to a light boil.  Reduce heat and cook until potatoes are tender.  Add pasta and spinach (breaking up the spinach as you add it to the soup).  Heat throughly and serve with a generous heap of parmesan cheese.

Enjoy.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Muffin Fun!

I just received the March Edition of Food Network Magazine (which I love by the way...I think it's the best cooking magazine for the home cook).



This month's Special Insert is all about making goodies in a muffin tin.  So, naturally, I had to make something and it was these delicious ham and egg bakes.  We had them for breakfast this morning.  I of course, added a sprinkle of cheese on top.


So easy and fun.  These would be great to do for a large group.  Will definitely have to make these on our "Up North" vacation this year.

Breakfast was made extra special with homemade bread that a dear friend dropped off yesterday.  (Thanks Frank).

More muffin tin treats are in my future for sure.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Another Card

Another day...another card.

Here was the inspiration:



Here's my interpretation:




Hope you are staying warm were ever you are.  Bit brisk here in Michigan for the week-end.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Card of the Day

I got a card made yesterday...which is pretty amazing since I'm taking care of my two grandson's and BW is healing from the fall and clavicle surgery.

Found the card inspiration over at CAS(E) this Sketch.  Here was the inspiration:


And here is my interpretation:




So happy to be carding and sharing again.  It's been a while.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

Happy February!

Welcome February.


Tasks done today:

1.  Got the chalkboard updated.

2.  Took down the final Christmas decorations from the front porch and door and actually put it all away.

3.  Got the Valentine mantle done.


Next...Laundry.  F.U.N.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lemon Garlic Roasted Chicken

I'm making a roast chicken tonight.  It's a very simple recipe that has evolved over time into a one pot wonder.  Easy to make and delicious.

Here's the recipe:

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees

Ingredients
4-5 peeled potatoes cut into quarters
4-5 peeled carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1 4-5 pound whole chicken
1/4 cup butter - melted
1 lemon quartered
8-10 cloves of garlic - unpeeled
Fresh thyme sprigs (or dried if that's what you have)
4 slices bacon
S&P

Placed the potatoes and carrots in a roasting pan (I used a 8x10 casserole pan).  Toss with salt and pepper.  Remove any bags inside the chicken (I typically just toss these, but you may utilize if you like for something).  Pat dry the inside of the chicken with paper towel.  Salt the inside of the chicken well.  Place the chicken on top of the potatoes and carrots.

Stuff half of the lemon wedges and half of the garlic cloves and thyme sprigs inside the chicken.  Tie the legs together with cooking string (not a requirement).  Place the remaining lemon, garlic and thyme in the corners area of potatoes and carrots.  Brush the chicken with the butter, pouring all the butter over the chicken.  Season well with salt, pepper and thyme.  Lay the strips of bacon over the chicken.  Put into over and cook for one hour.

Chicken prior to going in the oven
At the one hour mark, carefully remove the bacon (place on the serving tray and serve with the dinner).  Continue cooking the chicken for another 30 minutes.  (If you have a smaller chicken...say closer to 3 pounds, you may only need an additional 20 minutes.)  Remove chicken from oven and place the chicken on a cutting board.  Tent with foil and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.  Place the potatoes and carrots in a covered dish.

Cut up the chicken and serve with the potatoes, carrots and bacon.  Dinner!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Surprise Around Every Corner

Just when I thought everything would calm down, my sweetie gets knocked off a ladder while trimming a tree.  Broken collar bone, broken ribs and three fracture discs.  Good news is no surgery, but it will be a long recuperation.

At least...it looks like this outside:


Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year...Fresh Start

I've been a very poor blogger the last couple years.  I want to correct that in 2016 and get back to at least a weekly update.  This should be easier to do because I've made the tough decision to end my short career as a real estate agent.  It just wasn't the fit that I hoped it might be.  I'm not sure what my next adventure will be, but I'm working on finding that next window of opportunity.

This year...I'm hoping to blog more about...

Cooking (these are treats from the holidays)





Gardening



 Crafting



 as well as a few of my adventures with my grandkids





More to come.  Happy 2016 everyone.