Thursday, May 24, 2018

Patriotic Round-Up

While a lot of the Memorial Weekend focuses on food, family and community events  don't forget to show your respect and gratitude to those who have given their service and those who continue to give their service in  the military by attending a service and/or visiting a cemetery. 

Ever Ready Weekend Patriotic Food Round-Up
Cook's Notes: A festive start to your weekend with mini-chocolate cakes drizzled with Baileys Irish Cream Icing decorated with star sprinkles and paper umbrellas. Small flags would be another great alternative. Buttermilk makes the cakes moist and espresso powder deepens the chocolate flavor.  Recipe makes 16 mini- cakes and was adapted from BHG Magazine. Another cake option is included at  the end of this recipe. 

Cake Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1- 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk or sour milk
Baileys Irish Cream Icing Ingredients:
  • 2 cups powdered sugar 
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 2-3 TB. Baileys Irish Cream 
  • Milk as needed
Cake Directions:
  • Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees .
  • Line muffin tin with cupcake paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder and salt. 
  • In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and brown sugar. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add sugar mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, beating on medium speed about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  • Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined. Beat on medium to high speed for 20 seconds more.
  • Divide batter among the prepared muffin cups. 
  • Bake 16-18 minutes. Remove cakes from pan. Cool on a wire rack and remove paper liners from each cake. 
  • Place wax paper underneath the wire rack. Pour icing over each cake. If using sprinkles add at this time. 
  • Refrigerate 15 minutes for icing to set.
Icing Directions:
Mix all ingredients together except milk. Add only as much milk needed to achieve the correct icing consistency. 

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cakes with Truffle Icing
Cook's Notes:
Use the same cake ingredients listed above but you will need a pint of raspberries for these mini cakes. Follow same directions except at the end of recipe place a spoonful of batter in each cupcake liner. Add 2-3 raspberries in center of each cup. Spoon remaining batter over berries in each muffin cup. Bake 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Remove wrappers from cake and add chocolate icing.   
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 TB. light corn syrup
  • 1-1/2 cups bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla 
  • In a medium heavy saucepan combine whipping cream and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium-low heat just until mixture is simmering. 
  • Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate pieces and vanilla; whisk until chocolate is melted. Transfer to a large bowl. Cover and chill about 20 minutes or until icing reaches a thick, pourable consistency, stirring occasionally.
7-Layer Salad

Patriotic Berry Parfaits with Yogurt
Patriotic Food Kebobs

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Chilled Italian Shrimp Salad with Spinach Tortellini and Veggies

Chilled Italian Shrimp Salad with Spinach Cheese Tortellini and Veggies
Cook's notes: This delicious, light shrimp and tortellini salad can be served as a side or main dish, perfect for summer potlucks or anytime you need a pasta salad. And the good news it's 8 Smart Points and 366 calories. Recipe serves two and was adapted from The salad should be refrigerated several hours to enhance the flavors. 

  • 1-8 oz. package of cheese spinach tortellini
  • 1/3 lb cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup red onions, sliced thin
  •  1 cup diced cucumbers
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and patted dry on paper towels
  • Optional 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • Fresh basil, chopped 

Lemon Herb Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/ 3 cup olive oil or lemon olive oil 
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 2 TB. dry white wine or water 
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB. honey
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. each dried oregano and parsley
  • Zest from one small lemon
  • Cook tortellini according to package directions, al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Mix dressing ingredients in blender.
  • In a large bowl mix tortellini, shrimp, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted red peppers and olives if using. 
  • Drizzle with dressing, reserving 1 tablespoon. Refrigerate several hours. To serve drizzle with rest of dressing and garnish with chopped basil.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp

Cook's Notes: A spring favorite that uses a combination of strawberries and rhubarb, two of spring's first produce. Tart rhubarb and sweet strawberries bubbling away in their own juices beneath a crunchy oat streusel topping is perfect for a spring night, served warm out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. And don't overlook leftovers which are also delicious for breakfast.
Filling Ingredients:
  • 4 cups strawberries, washed, cut in half, tops removed
  • 5 cups diced rhubarb, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 TB. sugar 
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon 
  • the juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • optional 1 TB. orange liqueur

Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 stick chilled butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)  
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans or sliced almonds
  • dash nutmeg
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chopped rhubarb and halved strawberries in a mixing bowl. 
  • Add sugars, cornstarch, cinnamon, lemon juice, orange zest, and orange liqueur. Toss all filling ingredients to combine. Pour fruit into a lightly greased 2-1/2 -3 qt baking dish. 
  • Add flour, butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt to a food processor. Pulse to combine about 2 times until mixture becomes grainy and can be pressed together. Add rolled oats and nuts. Pulse 1 or 2 times just until incorporated. Add a dash of nutmeg.
  • Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit. Bake at 350 degrees until fruit is bubbling and the topping has lightly browned, about 30 - 40 minutes.

by Elaine Magliaro

Tall lilacs border
my grandparents’ driveway.
In May they bloom
with clusters of lacy lavender flowers
that fill the air
with the scent
of remembered springs.

Poem selected from "A Home for the Seasons" (book of memoir poems) by Elaine Magliaro

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Weekend Round-Up

Well my daughter did not disappoint as she rolled out the red carpet for me despite it being only 5:30 AM. I wore my fascinator hat and gloves 
and my daughter paired her hat with her flamingo patterned pj's. No photo of that ensemble.   
We enjoyed watching all the royal wedding coverage with many sweet Meghan and Harry moments,

and breathtaking views of Windsor Castle with throngs of people lining up all hoping for a glimpse of the royal couple. 
Hat watching did not disappoint-some of my favorites
and The Queen's matching ensemble was quite colorful and look she is smiling!
It was a ‘stand-up’ wedding breakfast in Windsor Castle’s St George’s Hall, which saw 600 guests enjoy ‘bowl food’ and canapes such as Scottish langoustines wrapped in smoked salmon, croquette of confit Windsor Lamb and champagne and pistachio macarons. But it was this amazing looking cake that caught my attention.
Harry and Meghan’s £50,000 wedding cake made with 200 Amalfi lemons, 10 bottles of elderflower cordial and decorated with peonies and roses.
The mouth-watering three-tier cake is thought to have been too heavy to stack the sections on top of each other. Instead the three separate tiers are resting on ornate golden goblets.
I thought the presentation was quite creative using gold goblets. The cake was cut at the afternoon wedding reception.

All and all a fun way to spend the early morning hours royal watching.
Turkey Fajita Rice Bowls
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp
Lemon-Herb Chicken Kebabs
Chocolate Mousse Pie

Friday, May 18, 2018

Royal Watch Wedding

I'll be the first to admit I am 
when it comes to British Royalty. In 2011 when Kate and William got married
my sister (bless her heart) actually drove clear cross town at 4:30 in the morning to join me for a champagne toast with scones to watch their wedding festivities. Here's my blog wrap up for that event

So now 8 years later I tried my best to find some guests to join me in the wee hours for a champagne toast for Harry and Meghan's festivities

but unfortunately there were no takers. But at the 11th hour so to speak, my daughter came through with an invite for mimosas and muffins. So who am I to pass up this invite though it will still be dark to travel across town.  
I did some sleuthing on the wedding menu and here's what I found out 
Some 600 guests are expected at the afternoon reception immediately following the ceremony at St. George’s Chapel. 

Unlike at American weddings, on Saturday there will be a wedding breakfast served after the ceremony, basically a light lunch. And later Saturday night, there will be a smaller, more intimate sit-down dinner. There seems to be a lot of speculation as to what foods will be served at both events but the only certainty seems to be the cake. 

Kensington Palace has announced that Harry and Markle have selected pastry chef Claire Ptak, owner of the East London-based bakery Violet Cakes, to create their wedding confection. "Prince Harry and Ms. Markle have asked Claire to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavours of spring," the Kensington Palace said. "It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers."
Guess we'll have to wait for the big reveal on Saturday's complete menu. And yes while all eyes will be on the bride and groom there will be a royal watch on HATS. 
  To Be Continued...

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The World According to Bella

Lake Life
This was a 10+ week for me. Mrs.S  returned from the cities so we put the boat in. I was so excited for my first boat ride that I  jumped on board just as Mr. C pushed the boat off the trailer into water. It was a warm day perfect for a ride. Mr.C did not disappoint and remembered my usual milk bone treat for boat rides.

I think I got this trading stuff nailed down. I find something. I drag it home. Mr.  C or Mrs. S or both want me to drop it. I refuse to drop it until I see what kind of treat they are offering. This is my stash for just this week. Look at the size of these deer parts. And the week isn't even over.  

What a find today. A deer leg that still had its fur on. I dragged it home, ever hopeful for a good trade. 
Mrs S did not disappoint. She came up with a very fine piece of chicken from last night's dinner.  
So I saved my best news to last. Next month the lake becomes my permanent home. Oh, what adventures lie ahead for me. How exciting! The only things I 'll miss about the city life are Mr. C and I going to the dog park and seeing Mulligan.  Maybe someone at the dog park will have a going away party for me. I have made lots of friends there. 
Mr. C had a birthday recently. We had a small party for him. 
Happy Birthday Mr. C and thanks for taking such good care of me.  

Love, Bella 
P.S. I forgot to mention I've already had 3 swims of the season and water wasn't too cold for me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing

Figuring out what to do with all your stuff  is a challenge when you decide to merge two households to one. It is at that very moment in time when you realize just how emotionally attached you have become to your stuff and need to make decisions to sell, give away or keep. Next month the lake becomes our permanent home. Right now this could be me on the floor 
so when I found a way to shortcut my Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing with a little different planning I knew this was just the supper I needed to replenish my stamina.

Cook's Notes: The ingredients listed for the salad can be increased or decreased depending on how many servings you need. The dressing is enough for 3 salads. It's a thick dressing so use immediately rather than refrigerating. Creamy peanut butter works better as crunchy gives it a different texture. Thai Peanut Dressing is just amazing with a wonderful blend of sweetness, saltiness, sourness and heat with red pepper flakes. Add in cooked chicken or pork and the salad becomes a main meal. 
   Asian Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing
Salad Ingredients:
  • 1/2 bag of chopped Asian Salad Mix (discard the dressing packet)
  • Snow peas, diced diagonally
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers
  • Mini sweet red and yellow peppers, diced
  • Red onion, diced
  • Peanuts, coarsely chopped 
  • Optional cooked chicken or pork 
Thai Peanut Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 TB. rice vinegar
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice, from one lime
  • 3 TB. vegetable oil
  • 1 TB. soy sauce
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 2-tsp. sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-inch square piece fresh ginger, peeled, minced about 1 TB.
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Optional 2 TB. fresh cilantro leaves
Salad and Dressing Directions:
  • Mix the salad ingredients in a bowl.
  • Mix dressing ingredients in a blender. Use a spatula to remove all the dressing from the blender. Blend with  salad ingredients.