Saturday, September 20, 2014

The World According to Bella

Despite what the calendar says... 
Fall washed ashore overnight.
It was just that kind of day for a walk in woods. I led the way. But I must say Mrs. S was much too slow. 

She kept stopping and taking this picture and that. I was beginning to think if she doesn't pick up the pace she 'll never wear off all those monster cookies I saw her eating. 

As for me, I kept busy exploring. But after awhile I started feeling anxious and wanted to head home.   Mrs. S had bought me a huge bone from the meat market. I was worried she might want to take it back for some reason. So I found a hiding place under a tree near the lake. I dug a hole and buried it deep. I need to make a check. Hope it's still  there.
Love, Bella    

Cook's notes:Butternut squash is an all purpose squash. Its hard skin protects the flesh and allows it to be stored for a month or more in a cool, dark place. Its a rich source of antioxidants and offers an abundance of health benefits. For the purest squash flavor, steam-roast  the squash. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Lightly coat squash halves with oil on both sides. Place squash flesh side down on a prepared baking sheet. Add 1 cup of water to baking sheet. Bake squash until tender, about 45 minutes.  
For this recipe the squash was not precooked and the following steps were followed. 
 The outer skin of the squash was peeled with a potato peeler. The squash was cut in half and seeds scooped out.
The squash was then cut into  small pieces for the chili. A time saver is finding precut squash in the grocery store produce section. (I have found precut squash at Traders Joes and Costco)
Beef and Butternut Squash Chili
recipe adapted from Southern Living Our Best Stews and Soups 2014 and serves 6-8. Use a large soup pot. 
I highly recommend making this chili a day ahead to maximize the flavors. Its a real chili winner adding in the flavor of butternut squash. Serve with cornbread or bread sticks.
  • 1 LB. lean ground beef or 1 LB. beef stew meat
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 (14.5 oz. ) cans Mexican style stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can chili beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2-3/4 butternut squash, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup  frozen corn kernels
  • Cook ground beef, bell pepper, onions and garlic. Drain meat mixture and crumble ground beef. Add it back to soup pot. If using beef stew meat sear the meat cubes first, set aside and then saute pepper, onions and garlic. 
  • Add in stewed tomatoes, chili beans, broth, squash cubes, cumin and chili powder. Bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  • Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer about 50 minute or until squash is tender. Stir in corn last 15 minutes of cooking time. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Monster Cookies

or a batch of monster cookies.
Sometimes there are days when a cookie is just what we need.
Monster Cookies
Cook's notes:
My justifications for nibbling several of these yummy cookies are there are some healthy ingredients used in the recipe; peanut butter and oats. The recipe makes about 30 cookies. I used an ice cream scooper to place each dough ball on the cookie sheet and pressed the dough ball slightly. 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. corn syrup
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1-1/2 cups chunky peanut butter
  • 4-1/2 cups rolled oats or use a combination of rolled and quick oats
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate  chips
  • 1 cup M and M's
  • optional nuts
  • Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Combine peanut butter with sugars and butter, beat until fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, corn syrup and vanilla.
  • Add flour, oats and baking soda. Mix well.
  • Stir in chips and M and M's.
  • Chill dough for one hour.
  • Make one batch and keep rest of dough chilled in refrigerator or freezer until needed for next batch.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes (depends on how crisp you want the cookies). 

that a potato ricer can be used to mash bananas needed for recipes.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kindergarten Books on Review

A fun twist/variation of an alphabet book. All the letters are out of order. Each letter is personified and has a personality. The book starts out with the letter A (with eyes, mouth, arms and legs) saying “A is for app—,” but the letter A is cut off by the letter Z. The letter Z is upset because it always gets stuck at the end, so it jumps in and decides to start the alphabet from Z.
Then, P gets upset about still being stuck in the middle, so then the letters decide to go in a completely random order. The letters each have their own quirks and there are opportunities to discuss sharing, feelings, taking turns, etc. Bright illustrations, humorous dialogue, and side stories make this a great book! I loved it and would highly recommend for ages 4-7.
Pete the Cat is a series of popular books by New York Times bestselling artist James Dean. Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses is a poignant and funny story with a learning lesson. Pete the Cat wakes up feeling grumpy—nothing seems to be going his way. 
But with the help of some magic sunglasses, Pete learns
that a good mood has been inside him all along. Along the way Pete helps Squirrel, Turtle, and Alligator discover that the sun is shining and everything's alright!
Fans of Pete the Cat will love watching him take his positive outlook and transform a grumpy day into an awesome day by realizing how important it is to look for the good in every day. Perhaps even a learning lesson for adults who are reading the story.
Highly recommended for ages 4-7.
It's all a learning process figuring out how to be a kindergartner with rules and expectations and learning new things. In this picture they are lining up for recess with hands behind their backs. The teacher calls it "show me your tail feathers!"
Cook's notes: These recipes have been previously posted but are worth repeating. 
Hot German Potato Salad
serves 6-8
  • 7 medium size red potatoes with skin on 
  • ½ lb. of bacon-cooked and drained on a paper towel
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 TB. sugar 
  •  ¾ cup water
  • 3 TB. flour (heaping) 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • dash pepper
  • 1 tsp.celery seeds
  • Boil potatoes (covered) with skins on till slightly soft-you want to cook them until peel starts to split-don’t overcook 
  • Drain and peel off skin,cut in quarters
  • Fry bacon reserve 2 TB. bacon grease
  • In fry pan add bacon grease and sauté onions
  • Add sugar, vinegar and water-whisk on low heat 
  • Add flour to 1/3 cup water and whisk that into sugar/vinegar mixture and cook till thick, adding in celery seeds and salt and pepper
  • Add cubed potatoes and chopped bacon. 
  • Cook on low heat 30 minutes (uncovered),  stir occasionally 
Apple Sausage Mixture
  • Polish Kielbasa (fully cooked and no fillers) 14 oz. 
  • Smoked Sausage (fully cooked and no fillers) 13.5 oz 
  • 2 apples peeled and diced in large chunks
  • 1 onions diced
  • 5 cups apple cider
  • Dice meats in 1-1/2 slices.
  • In a large soup pot add meat slices, cider, onion, apples.
  • Cook covered on low heat for 45 minutes or until apples soft.  
  • Drain mixture and serve with red cabbage.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Black Forest Cherry Cake and a Black Forest Cherry Trifle

Cook's notes: Black Forest gâteau and Black Forest cake are the English names for the German dessert Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte literally means "Black Forest cherry torte", where it originated.
Typically, Black Forest cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, cherries and chocolate shavings. In some European traditions sour cherries are used both between the layers and for decorating the top. Traditionally, kirsch is added to the cherries. True Black Forest cakes are decorated with black cherries. 
Several Black Forest dessert options are posted. 
Black Forest Cherry Trifle
Black Forest Cherry Individual Trifles 

  • 1 chocolate cake mix (18.25 oz box)
  • 2- cans Dark Bing Cherries, pitted in heavy juice
  • Fresh orange juice, as needed
  • 1 cup + 2 TB. sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons Chambord or Kirsch
  • 4 oz. Chocolate mousse mix (commercially prepared) found in baking aisle
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract, pure
  • 1 oz. shaved chocolate 
  • Bake cake according to package instructions. Cool. Cut 6 by 8 into 1 1/2" squares.
  • Drain cherries and reserve juice. Add enough orange juice to cherry juice to equal 1- 3/4 cups.
  • Heat juice and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a light boil. Reserve 2 TB. sugar for whipped cream.
  • Blend cornstarch with water. Add to boiling juice. Blend with a whisk to thicken.
  • Add cherries and cook for 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature and add Chambord. Chill. 
  • Whip mousse mix with cold milk and refrigerate to thicken slightly. Mix well with a whisk.
  • Whip heavy cream on medium speed. Add remaining 2 TB. sugar and vanilla extract and whip until cream forms soft peaks.
  • Assemble torte in an 8" round, 5" deep glass trifle bowl.
  • Line the bottom of the bowl with 1 layer of chocolate cake cubes. Fit cake cubes tightly against sides of bowl. (This should take approx. half of the cake.)
  • Spread a layer of the cherries and sauce over the cake cubes, making sure they're visible against the side of the bowl. Then add a layer of mousse. Repeat the layers of cake, cherries, and mousse. Reserve 5 to 9 cherries for garnish.
  • Spread a layer of whipped cream over the top and garnish with the remaining cherries, Grate chocolate over the top.

Black Forest Cherry Bundt Cake 
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix with pudding 
  • 1 can cherry pie filling (reserve 1 cup for cake mix ingredients and save rest for the topping) 
  • 3 eggs 
  •  ¾ cup water 
  • ¼ cup oil 
  •  2-3 TB cherry brandy or 1 tsp. almond extract 
  • Grease a bundt pan or a 13 x 9 pan and sprinkle with 1 TB. sugar 
  • Mix cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs, water, oil and cherry brandy or almond extract. 
  • Bake @ 350 degrees for a bundt pan 45-50 minutes or if using a 13 x 9 pan check at 25 minutes. 
  • Frost cake with chocolate frosting. 
  • For each cake slice top with large TB of cherry pie filling, then top with dollop of whip cream and a maraschino cherry.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Oktoberfest is the world's largest fair, with more than 6 million people around the world attending annually in Munich. 
Munich will be celebrating its 181st Oktoberfest this year beginning at noon on Sept. 20th when the mayor will tap the first keg. By the time the festival ends on Oct. 5th about 7 million liters of beer will be served during the 16-day celebration, while visitors enjoy a wide variety of traditional German delicacies.
The original Oktoberfest celebration began in Munich in 1810 at the royal wedding of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. It has become a worldwide festival into the mid-20th century.
Cook's notes: Create an Oktoberfest themed feast complete with pretzels, sausages, pork dishes, cabbage, German potato salad and German desserts. And oh, don't forget the beer!
Potato Beer Cheese Soup-Potatoes and beer, two German favorites, create a perfect pair in this traditional soup. Serve the soup with pretzel, rye or caraway bread. 
  • (6 medium) russet potatoes, peeled, chopped (6 cups)
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 3/4 cup onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. chives 
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz) low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup light beer such as a Pilsner
  • 8 oz. (2 cups) sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/2 cup whip cream or 2% milk
  • bacon bits
  • In large pot, heat butter over medium heat until bubbly. Add carrots, onion, garlic and celery. Saute 5-10 minutes. Add in chopped potatoes, chicken stock, mustard, Worcestershire and spices. Stir to combine. Simmer for 30 minutes, covered or until potatoes are tender.
  • Remove bay leaves and put about half the soup in a blender. Process until smooth. Add soup mixture back to pot. Mix flour with milk or cream and add to soup mixture. Stir in beer and cheese, whisk to combine.  
  • Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered.
  • To serve soup top with bacon bits.

Smoked Pork Chops with Red Cabbage

Cook's notes: Recipe adapted from One Pan Recipes BHG Special Edition Publication


  • 8 cups shredded red cabbage  (1 medium head) 
  • 1-1/3 cups chopped Fuji apples, peeled
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or cider and 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 TB. quick-cooking tapioca, crushed
  • 2 TB. packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup red onions
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 TB. apple jelly
  • 6 smoked pork chops


  • In a 4-quart slow cooker combine cabbage and apples. 
  • Stir in vinegar, tapioca, brown sugar, caraway seeds and pepper.
  • Top with smoked pork chops. Add apple jelly on top of chops. 
  • Pour juice or cider and broth over the mixture and cover.
  • Cook on low heat 8 hours or high heat 4 hours.   
  • Remove chops and place on a serving platter. Serve with red cabbage.
Next postings German Potato Salad and Black Forest Cherry dessert

Monday, September 15, 2014

Cranberry Pumpkin Nut Bread

that you too can paint like just Matisse by following this easy tutorial on painted pumpkins.

tutorial on how carve this cat pumpkin
no carve pumpkins-now these three are ones I could handle!
Tin Man
candy corn pumpkins
Cranberry Pumpkin Nut Bread
Cook's notes: This bread is moist and quite flavorful with the added spices and cranberries.
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened) 
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar 
  • 3/4 cups white sugar 
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 1 cup unsweetened canned pumpkin not pumpkin pie filling
  • 2 TB orange zest 
  • 1/4 cup orange juice 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1-1/4 cups white flour 
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder 
  • 2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • scant ground cloves 
  • scant nutmeg 
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger 
  • 1 tsp. allspice 
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 cup cranberries (coarsely chopped) 
  • 2 TB. sugar

  • Preheat oven 350.
  • Grease one large loaf pan or use two-three mini loaf pans.
  • Toss coarsely chopped cranberries in 2 TB. sugar and set aside. 
  • Cream butter, sugar and 1 egg. Add in second egg, pumpkin, orange zest and orange juice, beat all ingredients together. 
  • In another bowl add flours, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and cranberries and nuts. 
  • Add to pumpkin mixture but only stir to moisten ingredients. 
  • Bake for 4o minutes or until center comes clean using a toothpick. 
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes, invert to a cooling rack.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tarragon Tuna Melts and Salmon Fillets with a Tarragon Sauce

Tarragon Tuna Melts
Cook's Notes: I will be upfront and say I have not made tuna melts in years. In fact when I shopped for tuna I didn't realize there was even another option out there besides canned tuna. This product caught my interest with the words fresher tasting and no draining  
and I will say it lived up to its advertisement. 
These sandwiches were amazing. The mix of herbs and other ingredients elevated this tuna sandwich several notches. When adding tarragon start small and taste before increasing it. I used dried spice tarragon leaves. Use a firm bread like a sourdough or a Portuguese. Roma tomatoes are firm and hold up better than a regular tomato when using in a grilled sandwich. The sandwiches were cooked on a griddle. 
Makes 4 sandwiches and adapted from
  • 1/3 cup Miracle Whip or lite mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 TB. each Italian parsley and chives
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice 
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 12 oz. solid white tuna, flaked
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded white or yellow cheddar
  • 3 TB. melted butter
  • Mix salad dressing or mayonnaise, flaked tuna, herbs, mustard, lemon juice , celery and onions.
  • Cover and refrigerate several hours.
  • Melt 3 TB. tablespoons of butter and use a pastry brush to butter each piece of bread.
  • Divide tuna mixture on 4 slices of bread, sprinkle with grated cheese and top with tomato slice. Add rest of bread slices on top of tuna mixture. Grill at 400 degrees on a griddle.  
Grilled Salmon with Tarragon, Lemon and Garlic Sauce
Cook's notes: It is important to make the sauce several hours ahead for flavors to meld. 
  • 4 (4 oz.) salmon fillets
  • 1/2 cup lite mayonnaise
  • 2 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB. Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 TB. fresh chopped tarragon or 1/2 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon pepper
  • Whisk sauce ingredients together and refrigerate several hours.
  • Grill or bake salmon fillets.
  • Take sauce out 1/2 hour before serving and rewhisk before serving on top of the fillets.