Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

My newest online find is a site called Hometalk.com I guarantee you could get lost for hours browsing all the DIY possibilities in a variety of categories. Take for instance Patriotic.  http://www.hometalk.com/categories/seasonal-decor/patriotic
There are 20 subcategories which include: centerpieces, banners, home decor, party etc.
Step by step instructions are given to create each piece. 
How about tablescape ideas?
and to think all these discoveries just begin with a simple freezer paper DIY idea I had seen on hometalk.com to make stencils using freezer paper!  
Need some holiday food ideas?  How about...
Cheesecake Tarts:
Cook's Notes: Lot of possibilities with this idea. Fill shells with your favorite cheesecake filling, ice cream or pudding. These cone cups are found in ice cream section of the store. 
 http://www.itsoverflowing.com/2012/06/simple-cheesecake-tart/
Cookie Bark
Cook's Notes: Other Red White and Blue Desserts can be found at this site. 
Of course I know I'd cook and DIY better if I only had these new shoes -hummm
Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Your Favorite Broccoli Salad Gets A Makeover
Curried Peach and Chicken Salad with Almonds
Heirloom Tomato Salad   and a book review 




Sunday, June 25, 2017

Weekend Round-Up: Part One

A Sunday well spent brings a week's content
Tex-Mex Brunch Cups
Cook's Notes:These brunch cups are perfect for your next breakfast meal or brunch. They are packed with plenty of your favorite Mexican flavors, most of the assembly done ahead and can be made different sizes depending on which muffin pan you use. I used a large muffin pan but if use a smaller pan these cups can be used as appetizers. The recipe makes 6-7 large brunch cups.
Pair the meal with fresh fruit and Strawberry Shortcake Kebobs.  
Ingredients:
  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts, softened as directed on box  
  • 3/4 lb. Italian Sausage or Mexican Chorizo
  • 3/4 cup each sweet onion, diced and red and yellow sweet mini peppers, diced
  • optional 2 TB. green chiles
  • 1 cup Mexican 4 Cheeses (prepared package) 
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3 TB.salsa
  • 1/2 tsp.cumin
  • 3 TB. heavy cream
  • dried parsley flakes

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, cook sausage with peppers and onions. Add in chiles if using. Drain and crumble meat. Set aside.
  • In a blender mix eggs. salsa, heavy cream and cumin.  
  • Place two sheets of wax paper on work surface and sprinkle with generous amount of flour. Use one sheet of pie crust at a time. Since the diameter of the muffin cup was 3-1/2 inches I used a 4 inch bowl for cutting out pie crust circles. Press each round into muffin cup. You may have to reroll scraps to make 7 cups. 
  • Spoon into each pie crust cup a generous tablespoon of sausage, onion, pepper mixture. Divide the cheese mixture among each of the cups. Pour or spoon liquid carefully dividing among the  cups. Do not pour liquid over pie crust rim. Sprinkle each cup with parsley flakes.

  • Bake 17-18 minutes until filling is set. Let brunch cups rest in pan 5 minutes before removing.
Strawberry Shortcake Kebobs
Cook's notes:The concept is simple and can be tailored a myriad of ways. Start with a pan of baked and cooled shortcake or angel food cake. Choose a few other kebob-worthy items, such as juicy red strawberries, blueberries, pineapples chunks, etc – the sky is the limit here, thread the shortcake cubes and fruit onto the skewers, drizzle with white chocolate sauce and……And you’re all done!
Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes strawberries
  • 1 box of white cake mix or 
  • 3/4 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • 1 bag of white chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp.shortening
  • 10 inch Skewers

Directions:
  • Combine the cake mix, Greek yogurt, egg whites and water in a bowl.
  • Mix until smooth and pour into a greased cake pan or dish. (9 x 13)
  • Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean or according to directions on the box.
  • Cut stems off of strawberries.
  • Cut shortcake into 2-inch cubes. Place in freezer for 20 minutes to make them easier to thread on skewers. 
  • Take skewer and alternate strawberries and shortcake cubes. (I like to do three or four of each per stick).
  • In a glass bowl melt chocolate in the microwave with 1 tsp. shortening for about two minutes stirring every 30 seconds.
  • Drizzle white chocolate all over kebobs and place in fridge to set.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Healthy Friday

FOOD NEWS
DID YOU HEAR? Amazon bought Whole Foods. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out in the market. Maybe just maybe some day my food shopping options will improve here in a small town.
http://www.thekitchn.com/amazon-is-buying-whole-foods-for-13-7-billion-246879

Summer Fresh Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Mint Dressing
Cook's Notes: The official start of summer means more fresh fruit options in produce and abundance of farmers markets in your communities. Who can resist healthy juicy fruit drizzled with a tangy refreshing honey lime mint dressing! Recipe serves four.   
Salad Ingredients:
  • 2 cups diced watermelon, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups diced cantaloupe, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups diced fresh pineapple, 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • Optional fruits: strawberries, mangoes, kiwi
Honey Lime Mint Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime zest
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • Optional 2 tsp. poppy seeds
Directions:
  • Whisk together all of the Honey Lime Mint Dressing ingredients and chill for at least 20 minutes.
  • When ready to serve, chop watermelon and pineapple and add to a large bowl with blueberries/other fruit. Pour desired amount of dressing over fruit and toss to combine. Serve immediately.
Cooking Tip:
The watermelon will release a lot of juice so I don’t recommend combining the fruit with the dressing until ready to serve. You could still combine the fruit together without the dressing and refrigerate (if making ahead) and just drain off any extra juice before adding the dressing.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Celebrate Summer with Taco Thursday

Celebrate with 

Cook's Notes: Let's shake things up a bit and switch Taco Tuesday to Taco Thursday. 

Here are some recipes to get you started 
Cook's Notes: Honey Chipotle Chicken Tacos stuffed with wonderfully juicy, flavor packed Honey Chipotle Bacon Chicken and piled with crispy BLT Slaw topped with Cilantro Lime Crema! A flavor and texture explosion you might just crave for days. 
I was drawn to this recipe that used a new product Grill Mates Bacon Chipotle flavor in the marinade.  
 http://carlsbadcravings.com/honey-chipotle-chicken-tacos-recipe/
Shredded Pork Tacos with Root Beer Chipotle Sauce 
Cook Notes: Loved the idea of slow cooking a pork shoulder roast with root beer and chipotle peppers to amp up the flavor with a sweet and smoky taste .   
http://www.midwestliving.com/recipe/shredded-pork-tacos/

Ever Ready Taco Special
Taco Salad
Cook's notes:
Looking for an easy summer meal? This taco meal can be ready in 20 minutes. It's a crowd pleaser. These shells were found as a bakery item at a local grocery store. If not available at your store there are other taco shells to choose from in Mexican food aisle.
Serves 4 and a suggested side fresh fruit
Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. hamburger or Mexican Chorizo
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1-2 TB. chili powder
  • 1 jar Raspberry Chipotle Salsa ( I used Mrs  Refro) 
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 1/2 package of Mexican 4 cheeses

Suggested Toppings
  • chopped lettuce
  • chopped tomatoes
  • prepared guacamole (dairy section) 
  • additional salsa
  • corn
  • black beans(rinsed and drained)
  • optional olives
Directions:
  • Cook hamburger with onion. Drain and crumble. Add meat and onion back to pan.
  • Add in a jar of Raspberry Chipotle Salsa, refried beans, chili powder and cheese. Cook on low uncovered for 25 minutes. Stir frequently. Add meat filling to shell and layer with suggested toppings. 
Look for Taco Thursday Next Week 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes

Cherry Float Cupcakes
Cook's Notes: These cupcakes were a nostalgic step back in time for me. A cherry coke was one of my favorite drinks growing up. I have fond memories taking the bus downtown going to the library for my weekly stash of books and then going to Moudry Apothecary Shop in St. Paul, MN.  
Here my sister and I enjoyed cokes and egg salad sandwiches before we headed home. 
There are a plethora of recipes online for Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes.  After awhile I decided it was time to put my own spin on the recipe. 
Cherry Coke Float Cupcakes are a dessert that will float your boat! Or your taste buds. Or maybe even both. Buttermilk helps make the cupcakes moist and cherry coke/cola captures the flavors of a favorite drink. A half teaspoon espresso powder was added to  draw out the natural flavors of chocolate giving it more depth.  A recipe using a boxed mix is included at the end of this posting.  Recipe makes 10-12. If you are looking for more of a 4th of July theme use red, white and blue cupcake liners and star or red. white and blue sprinkles.
Cooking Tip: Avoid overbeating batter so cupcakes rise nicely.   
Cupcake Ingredients:  
  • 1-½ cups flour
  • 3 TB. cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder 
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 8 TB. butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ¾ cup Cherry Coca-Cola
  • ¼ tsp maraschino cherry juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Maraschino cherries, stemless
Cupcake Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with paper liners and set aside.
  • In a bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt. Stir together and set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine the sugar and butter and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg until incorporated.
  • In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, Coke, maraschino cherry juice, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
  • Mix the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture on low speed, alternately with the liquid ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners.
  • Insert 1 maraschino cherry in the middle of each cupcake and cover with batter.
  • Bake for about 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 4 TB. softened butter
  • 3 TB. cherry juice or Cherry Cola
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • milk 
  • 3 cups powdered sugar 
Frosting Directions:
  • Beat cream cheese and butter. Add in cherry juice or Cherry Cola, almond extract and powdered sugar. Add in milk beating until desired frosting consistency.  
  • Decorate with half a straw and cherry with a stem. Refrigerate 30 minutes to set frosting. 
Boxed Cake:
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Devils Food Cake Mix 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup Coke
  • 1/3 cup Maraschino Cherry liquid
  • 24 Maraschino Cherries
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350. Line muffin pan with paper liners. Make batter according to mix direction except substitute 1 cup Coke and 1/3 cup cherry liquid for water. Fill liners 2/3 full and add 1 cherry to the middle of each. Bake according to box directions and allow to cool completely.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tex-Mex One Skillet Dish

Just living is not enough
one must have sunshine, freedom, 
and a little flower.
Hans Christian Anderson

Cook's Notes: One Skillet Tex-Mex Casserole is a simple recipe that comes together in just 30 minutes. A one pot meal that features your favorite Mexican flavors that cook all in one pan. You can't beat that! It's a quick and easy weeknight dinner option with little clean up. Underneath the crunchy chips are cheesy goodness with protein and lots of Tex-Mex flavor. Depending on your barometer level for hotness increase or decrease spices and chiles and type of enchilada sauce.  The recipe serves four but can easily be doubled. Swap chicken for ground beef and long grain rice for orzo for other options.  Pair the meal with Cherry Float Cupcakes
 Ingredients:
  • 2 TB. olive oil, divided
  • 1 LB. ground beef or chicken rotisserie (about 3 cups cooked chicken) 
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 cup mini sweet bell peppers, diced (combination red, yellow and orange) 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth, low sodium
  • 1-19 oz. can mild enchilada sauce 
  • 3/4 cup dried orzo or long grain rice (uncooked) 
  • 1-14.oz can steam fresh Mexicorn, rinsed and drained 
  • 1- 14.5 oz can Fire Roasted tomatoes 
  • 3 TB. mild green chiles, diced 
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, chili powder and smoked or regular paprika 
  • 1/2 can refried beans
  • 1-1/2 cups from package of Mexican 4 Cheeses

Toppings
  • Tortilla chips, crushed
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Chopped lettuce
  • Chopped avocados
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Guacamole 
Directions: 
  • Use a large fry pan with deep sides. Brown ground beef in 1 TB. olive oil, crumble and set aside 
  • Wipe pan clean and add 1 TB.olive oil to pan, Saute onions and peppers for 3 minutes and add in garlic and saute 2 more minutes more. 
  • Turn heat to low and add in cooked meat, chicken broth, enchilada sauce, corn, roasted tomatoes, chiles, spices, refried beans, uncooked orzo and cheeses. Cook uncovered on low for 30 minutes.  Water or chicken broth can be added the next day for reheating if needed.  
  • To serve choose some suggested toppings,     

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

It’s been 22 years since Lorna Landvik, Minneapolis entertainer, debuted as a novelist with “Patty Jane’s House of Curl.” The story of Patty Jane, who began a Minneapolis beauty salon with her sister, was a favorite of readers and especially book clubs. Landvik went on to write nine more novels, but fans of Patty Jane and the friends who patronized her salon and performance space kept asking when she was going to write a sequel.
“Once in a Blue Moon Lodge” Landvick's newest novel, is a follow up to "Patty Jane's House of Curl". It is a multi-generational novel starring the ever charming Rolvaag family and their friends. It follows the family for over two decades as they navigate life's numerous ups and downs. Landvick writes in the style of Fannie Flagg. She creates characters that are quirky flawed but lovable.

Nora Rolvaag is a little lost after her mom, Patty Jane, decides to sell the family owned business. Craving a little solitude, she sets off on a weekend of camping that leads to some very unforeseen life-altering changes. This novel is a more ambitious and sprawling novel than “Patty Jane.” Action moves back and forth in time and from Minnesota to Norway. There are more characters, related in so many ways you have to be a careful reader. But like “Patty Jane,” this novel is suffused with love — between parents and children, between spouses or lovers, between people who are unrelated but considered family. There is a gentle humor and good-heartedness in all of Landvik’s books, a fondness for her characters that touches the reader.

This past weekend I caught up with Lorna Landvick in Park Rapids. Beagle Books, a small independent bookstore, in northern Minnesota hosted a book signing and presentation.
Landvick is comfortable in front of audiences as she is a veteran improvisational comedienne. Her  spontaneous performances "Party in the Rec Room” at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis are a hilarious night of entertainment. And she makes her own margaritas right on stage. 

As an extra bonus she brought her ukulele along to entertain the book crowd. 
One of Landvick's trademarks at her book/ author Q & A sessions are a bag of Hershey's chocolates. You ask a questions-she fires a Hershey kiss (I might add with a great aim) to you and answers the question. 

It was an entertaining event to attend and a lot of eager readers buying books. 
Time to celebrate and remember all those special dads.   
Billy Collins remembers his father in this poem The Death of the Hat. It evoked memories of my growing up years when my father always wore a hat and an overcoat when leaving the house.
Collins writes...
"On Father's Day, The Death of the Hat. For all of the fathers out there and for everyone who had (or has) a father. Hats off to you."

THE DEATH OF THE HAT
by Billy Collins June 16, 2013

Once every man wore a hat.

In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.

The ballparks swelled
with thousands of straw hats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.

Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.

You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.

Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.

There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.

The day the war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat
and they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.

My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.

But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.

Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.

Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.

And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,

A lighter one of cloud and sky--a hat of wind. 

We marked the day with a family summertime favorite
Mexican Chocolate Ice-Cream Pie