Saturday, November 30, 2013

Can't-Be-Beet-Beef Salad

"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, 
but the making something out of it after it is found." 
James Russell Lowell 
James Russell Lowell(February 22, 1819 – August 12, 1891) was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets. These poets usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.

Cook's notes: The clever recipe title with an interesting combination of salad ingredients caught my attention. It was featured in BHG Best Recipes Yearbook 1995. The photo in the BHG book showed the salad artfully displayed on a large platter. I chose to make individual servings as shown in the photo below. This is a salad with possibilities. All you need is a bit of creativity arranging the ingredients on the mixed greens . The salad is a healthy dish depending on how much dressing is used and what kind.  The suggested dressing was a dill buttermilk but a herb ranch could be substituted as well as an orange or raspberry vinaigrette. 

Can't-Be-Beet Beef Salad
Ingredients:
  • deli Angus roast beef
  • beets (canned or cooked beets-red- stripped-gold-white)
  • cucumbers
  • red onion
  • tomatoes
  • mixed greens
  • pine nuts or walnuts
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • options: mushrooms, squash, orange slices 
Directions:
  • Lay mixed greens on salad plate 
  • Group ingredients together that are the same over mixed green as show in the photo 







Friday, November 29, 2013

Billy Collins

It wasn't just the cover that enticed me to buy the book though I will admit it has a very cute dog picture on it. I find that Billy Collins's poems appeal to a wide range of literary tastes. He is a master at capturing the nuances of everyday life and inspiring readers to wonder and think about the simple things in their lives.

Billy Collins is a former two term U.S. Poet Laureate who recently published Aimless Love. This book of poems is a compilation of over 50 new poems and some selected poems from four of his previous books, Nine Horses, The Trouble with Poetry, Ballistic and Horoscope for the Dead.  
"Envoy"  is a clever poem written on the back flap of the book.

Envoy
by Billy Collins

Go, little book,
out of this house and into the world,

carriage made of paper rolling toward town
bearing a single passenger
beyond the reach of this jittery pen
and far from the desk and the nosy gooseneck lamp.

It is time to decamp,
put on a jacket and venture outside,
time to be regarded by other eyes,
bound to be held in foreign hands.

So off you go, infants of the brain,
with a wave and some bits of fatherly advice:

stay out as late as you like,
don’t bother to call or write,
and talk to as many strangers as you can.

Billy Collins was the U.S. poet laureate at the time of the 9/11 attacks. A year later, he wrote "The Names" in honor of the victims. Collins read the poem before a special joint session of Congress held in New York City in 2002.
The Names
by Billy Collins


Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.

A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,

And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,

I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,

Then Baxter and Calabro,

Davis and Eberling, names falling into place

As droplets fell through the dark.

Names printed on the ceiling of the night.

Names slipping around a watery bend.

Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.


In the morning, I walked out barefoot

Among thousands of flowers

Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,

And each had a name --

Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal

Then Gonzalez and Han, Ishikawa and Jenkins.


Names written in the air

And stitched into the cloth of the day.

A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.

Monogram on a torn shirt,

I see you spelled out on storefront windows

And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.

I say the syllables as I turn a corner --

Kelly and Lee,

Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.


When I peer into the woods,

I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden

As in a puzzle concocted for children.

Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,

Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,

Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.


Names written in the pale sky.

Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.

Names silent in stone

Or cried out behind a door.

Names blown over the earth and out to sea.


In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.

A boy on a lake lifts his oars.

A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,

And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --

Vanacore and Wallace,

(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)

Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.


Names etched on the head of a pin.

One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.

A blue name needled into the skin.

Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,

The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.

Alphabet of names in a green field.

Names in the small tracks of birds.

Names lifted from a hat

Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.

Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.

So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.02

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gratitude

Thanksgiving
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, 
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)


Thanks for checking in with Ever Ready blog :) 
Happy Thanksgiving! 
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The World According to Bella
Mrs. S thought I should write a list of all the things I am grateful for. Here is what I came up with...

The lake
Boat rides
Squirrels and chipmunks to chase
Walks to the dog park with Mr. C
Treats
My buddy Mulligan
Losing 3-1/2 lbs. this month
Naps
Food drops from Mrs. S's cooking 
Belly rubs
Rawhide bones 
Mrs. S's stories
Breakfast and dinner

and my bed

Happy Thanksgiving
Love, Bella

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Support Saturday Shop Small and Turkey Pot Recipe

With a late Thanksgiving Day in the calendar the controversy over holiday shopping on Thanksgiving day has been drawing a lot of media attention. Retailers are opening their doors earlier and earlier each year on Thanksgiving to jump start Black Friday and cyber Monday.

Small Business Saturday is a day dedicated to supporting small businesses across the country. Founded by American Express in 2010, this day is celebrated every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 30th.
This movement is an refreshing alternative for small business retailers to compete against the big-box chains. Many small independent stores are offering early promotions on Saturday as a savvy way to counter big-box retailers.  

In 2012 shoppers spent $45.5 billion on that designated Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year more than two-thirds of small business surveyed plan to offer special discounts of free offers. In the Twin Cities many shops and restaurants are are featuring specials, discounts and complimentary food and drinks. 

Small-business retailers across the country feel the need to get more aggressive to compete with big box chains. Each year chain stores continue to chip away at  the small business market share. Consider Saturday to shop locally and support small businesses in your area.  

Go to Small Business Saturday website to find out more about which local stores in your area will be participating in this event. 
https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/small-business/shop-small/about/?linknav=us-open-shopsmall-homepage-about

Some information was taken from an article titled: Small Retailers Find Ways to Compete with the Big Boxes by John Ewoldt  Star Tribune November 26, 2013 http://www.startribune.com/business/233398761.html
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Just in case your guests have not eaten all the turkey here is an idea for leftovers 


Turkey Pot Pie

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked turkey chopped 
  • 1 small sweet onion chopped 
  • (8 oz.) package of white mushrooms 
  • 1/4 cup white wine 
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 
  • 1 cup frozen baby peas thawed 
  • 1 cup matchstick carrots 
  • ½ cup flour 
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper 
  • ¾ tsp salt 
  • ¼ tsp. pepper 
  • ½ tsp. dried tarragon 
  • 1 TB. parsley 
  • 1 TB. chives 
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard 
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated 
  • 1-1/2 cups light cream 
  • 2 TB. butter 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 (17.2 oz.) package frozen puff pastry sheets thawed 
Directions:
  • In a large skillet melt butter and sauté mushrooms, onions, pepper, and carrots till tender 
  • Stir flour into chicken broth, whisk to blend, then add to mushroom mixture with cream, peas, spices, Parmesan cheese and cook on low heat till thick and bubbly 
  • Stir in wine, turkey and peas-keep mixture warm while preparing pastry 
  • Pastry 
  • Unfold and roll each puff pastry sheet into 12 x 10 inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface 
  • Fit one sheet into a 9 inch pie pan or a casserole pan with low sides 
  • Spoon turkey mixture in dish and top with remaining pastry sheet-fold edges under and press with tines of a fork, sealing to bottom crust 
  • Whisk I egg with 1 TB. water brush over top of pie 
  • Option: skip bottom crust and lightly grease pan adding turkey mixture and top with one rectangle of puff pastry 
  • Bake uncovered @400 on lower rack of oven till crust is puffed check at 30 minutes 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Little Free Libraries and Charlie Brown

Looking for a satisfying weekend project? Think about installing a tiny house in your front yard to store books. It would encourage anyone who passes by to take a book and better yet leave a book in return. 

Little Free Library is a project conceived by Todd Bol from Hudson, Wisconsin. He built his first one for a garage sale in 2009. His mother had recently passed away and he wanted to honor her with something bookish. So a small red schoolhouse box was erected in the yard and filled with her books. A sign was placed next to the box that said Free Books. Bol stated that the library box was "a spiritual gesture," a tribute to his mother.
http://littlefreelibrary.org/ourhistory/ This is the link to Little Free Library website. 

The unique concept of a free lending library has taken off with some savvy marketing. These libraries serve as a fulcrum to connect people within a community. Today barely four years later there are more than 12,000 Little Free Libraries around the world. Right here in Minnesota there are more than 1,000 and two right down the street from me. 
What puzzled me on a recent walk was that only a driveway and a yard separated the two Little Free Library boxes. So I divided my pile of books between the boxes. I was pleasantly surprised to see how full both boxes were that day. The concept of these lending libraries was a featured story in the Star Tribune on November 13, Take A Book, Return A Book. It was an informative article. Follow this link to read the entire article and find out how Bol is planning new strategies to make lending libraries more global. 
http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/231619501.html

Since the article appeared in the paper it has promoted several Letters to the Editor in the Star Tribune. Most of the letters show support for these lending libraries as it affords an opportunity for anyone to choose a book and it promotes reading. It can serve as a connection between neighbors. One young mother's letter stated that it can also give children excitement to see one more place to choose a book from.  A self- published author wrote in that he viewed these libraries as another way to share his own writing with the community.

But there always is a flip side to the equation. A retired librarian wrote in expressing her concern that by having these libraries in the neighborhood people would then not support the public libraries in their area that are already experiencing cutbacks.  As a result of her letter several rebuttal letters have been sent in to the editor debating the pros and cons of Little Free Libraries.  At least this concept of free lending libraries has been generating lots of discussion in the community. I like to think the more books around, the better.
Any thoughts on this subject?  
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Charles Monroe Schulz (November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) was nicknamed Sparky by his uncle. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Schultz was an American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Peanuts (which featured the characters Snoopy and Charlie Brown among others). He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, cited as a major influence by many later cartoonists. 


After serving in World War II, Schulz worked as an art instructor and created his first comic strip, Li'l Folks, which was published in a local newspaper. He sold the comic strip to United Feature Syndicate in 1950, and the company retitled it Peanuts.

Schultz based the Charlie Brown character on himself and the inspiration for Snoopy came from a childhood pet. Peanuts became one of the world's most successful strips that would run in more than 2000 newspapers and in many languages. The comic strip has been adapted for television and stage and expanded into TV specials like the Emmy-winning A Charlie Brown Christmas well as books and a huge merchandise collection


In December 1999, Schulz retired from cartooning, citing health problems. After his death in 2000, Schulz received several honors, including the Congressional Gold Medal from the U.S. Congress in 2001.
One of my favorite quotes...
"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.” 
― Charles M. Schultz
One of Bella's favorite quotes...
"Happiness is a warm puppy.”
-Charles M. Schultz

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Book Thief

The Book Thief is a novel by Australian author Markus Zusak.  It is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.
The story is narrated by Death and set in Nazi, Germany, a place and time that the narrator notes were extremely chaotic with the horrors of war unfolding. 

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich who has been abandoned by her mother. She resorts to stealing and encounters something she can’t resist–books. She commits her first theft at her brother's funeral, taking the Grave Digger's Handbook  which has fallen to the ground. Liesel does not know how to read but learns with the help of Hans, her new step father. While Liesel sometimes joins up with a gang to steal food and the like, her only thieving passion really is for books. Not good books or bad books — just books. From her bedroom to the bomb shelter down the road, reading helps her commune with the living and the dead and finally, it is the mere existence of stories that proves to be her salvation. She shares stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.


The Book Thief was first published for adults in Zusak's native Australia. In the United States the intended audience has been for teenage readers as it has been labeled a YA novel. Some will argue that a book so difficult, long 552 pages and quite sad may not be appropriate for this age group. It is a fair criticism, but it's also the kind of book that can be life-changing. It offers the readers a believable, hard-won story of hope embodied in Liesel. She grows into a good and generous person despite the suffering all around her, and finally becomes a human even Death can love. It is an amazing story that unfolds with Liesel clinging to hope in the midst of poverty, war and violence and the realization that words alone will never be enough to save the people she loves. 

The Book Thief is about growing up in Nazi Germany. But it’s also about hope, love, family, rebelliousness, guilt, the human spirit and the beauty that tragedy can bring.

I recently spoke to a book seller at a large chain store regarding the surge in popularity of the book. A recent movie release of the book has helped keep sales brisk. Despite the length and subject matter of the book it appeals to all age groups.  I certainly would give it a high recommendation. It is an engrossing story and will leave the reader with a sense of gratitude not having to cope with the horrors of war and compassion for those whose lives were forever altered and diminished. 
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Ring of Coconut Fudge Cake
Cook's notes: This recipe was developed by Lucy Dellapiano. It was a winner in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 2004. I came across the recipe on the back of a bag of Pillsbury flour at that time and it has been one my favorite cakes to make since.
The cake has a moist dense chocolate flavor enhanced by a tunnel of cream cheese mixed with coconut. It does not get any better than that!
The bundt cake serves 12-14. I recommend keeping the cake in the refrigerator because of the cream cheese layer. 
I added my own touch to the cake by using a favorite homemade chocolate frosting.
Cake Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 cup cooking oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts-reserve 1/4 cup for topping on frosting
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 8 oz. cream cheese softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1-1/4 cups of chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Grease a bundt pan
  • Combine sugar, oil, eggs and beat well
  • Add in rest of ingredients except nuts and beat well
  • Fold in nuts
  • Combine all cream cheese filling ingredients
  • Pour half the batter into the bundt pan 
  • Drop by large tablespoons filling ingredients into the batter
  • Pour rest of batter over cream cheese layer
  • Bake 50-60 minutes
  • Cool in pan 15 minutes, invert onto a plate
  • Frost and refrigerate one hour for frosting to set, cover cake loosely with foil
Fudge Frosting from Chocolate Cookery by Mable Hoffman
Cook's notes: Any extra frosting I put in a Tupperware container, wrap container in foil and freeze. It is enough for a pan of brownies or another cake.  
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips (6 oz.)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 2-1/2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 TB of milk if needed
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
Directions:
  • Combine butter, chips, sugar, milk and salt in a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil stirring constantly and simmer 3 minutes
  • Remove from heat, add powdered sugar, vanilla and Kahlua
  • Place pan in sink and beat until smooth with a mixer
  • Let frosting set for 20 minutes, frost cake and sprinkle with crushed nuts









Saturday, November 23, 2013

Inspiring Holiday Ideas From Bachmans

Words are profoundly powerful, especially when chosen carefully. I thought this quote was thought-provoking when reflecting recently on JFK's legacy.
"And that is how change happens. One gesture. One person. One moment at a time." 
Libba Bray 
An American writer of young adult novels including 
the Gemma Doyle Trilogy, Going Bovine, and The Diviners.  
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Bachman's Florist and Greenhouse in Minneapolis, MN invites the public to their Idea House three times a year. The house is located at their Lyndale store right near the parking lot. Call ahead for tickets if you are in the area. 
Each season, the designers transform this 1920's bungalow, by repainting, refurnishing, and redecorating the house with their signature mix of new trend items, repurposed pieces and a touch of vintage. This season the home makeover was titled "A Cozy, Contemporary Nordic Celebration." The designers brought in a lot of outdoor elements into the decorating scheme.
Each cut piece of birch had a hole drilled in with a dogwood branch pushed into the hole. Letters were printed in marker on the birch.
If only I had known about this repurpose project sooner. My husband just got rid of tire rims. This table was made from 2 truck tire rims stacked on top of one another and a glass piece placed on top. 
Instant curtains by hanging dishtowels and fastened with chalkboard clips.
A vintage bed spring hung as a pot rack.
  
Vintage frame repurposed as a tray.
A bed fit for a princess. Porch posts used to make a canopy bed accented with miniature lights.
  A collage wall arrangement made with rustic star containers that held photos.
Chandelier made of small terra cotta pots and garland.


Little red barn used as a doghouse.















Vintage window screen and grate hung as wall art.

So perhaps some of these ideas will inspire your holiday decorating. These photos represented only a small portion of all the available ideas. As you can see "red" was the color of the day.

A warm drink on a chilly day was the perfect ending to an inspiring afternoon.

 Apple Cran-Raspberry Drink
Ingredients:
·         ½ gallon apple cider
·         32 oz. cran-raspberry drink (I used a product from Ocean Spray)
·         10 whole cloves
·         3 large cinnamon sticks
·         1 orange cut in half

Directions:
·         Place 5 whole cloves in each orange half
·         Pour cider and cran-raspberry drink into a large pot on the stove 
·         Add orange halves with cloves cut side down into cran/cider mixture with                                   cinnamon sticks
·         Warm on low heat for an hour, stir occasionally
To serve: Remove orange halves and cinnamon sticks, pour into mugs.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We Remember JFK

 As we express our gratitude we must never forget 
the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.
John F. Kennedy
Today the nation pauses and pays tribute to the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, on  the 50th anniversary of his assassination. This date evokes among many thoughts and memories of that tragic day November 22, 1963. President Kennedy was a visionary who strove for equality and human rights.
Kerry Kennedy, daughter of the late Robert Kennedy, wrote a thought provoking article for the Huffington Post titled:  Honor His Life, Not Just His Death remembering her uncle JFK.

follow this link to read the entire article://www.huffingtonpost.com/kerry-kennedy/honor-his-life-not-just-h_b_4295710.html
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Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf
recipe serves: 6 
Cook's notes: Serve the side dish at room temperature. You may not need all the dressing for this dish. If serving the dish the next day, add more dressing. It can be served on mixed greens as a salad. Precut butternut squash can be found in the produce section of the store. 
This dish is a perfect accompaniment to a holiday meal. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes or 2 cups butternut squash cubed from the produce section
  • 1-1/2 cups wild rice, rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Citrus Dressing:
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
Directions:
1. Whisk to combine the spices, juices and honey. Drizzle in the olive oil whisking until the oil is thoroughly incorporated or use a blender. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Add the butternut squash and toss with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Roast squash for 20 - 25 minutes or until softened and slightly caramelized. Remove from oven and cool.

3. While squash is roasting, combine the stock and rice in a large saucepan. Cover and bring
mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes until the liquid is
absorbed and the rice is tender. Rinse in a colander.

4. While rice is cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the 2 Tb. of olive oil, garlic and chopped onions. Sauté for about 6 minutes until onions translucent. Reduce heat and continue to cook onions until slightly caramelized. Remove onions and garlic from the pan and set aside.

5. Add pecans or walnuts  to sauté pan and cook over medium heat, until toasted - watch closely so they don't burn! 

6. In a serving bowl add the cooked rice, butternut squash, onions/garlic and dried cranberries. Start with 1/3 cup of the citrus dressing. Mix well and adjust seasonings. Add in as needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate till serving. 
Garnish with minced parsley if desired. 
Another option is to skip toasting pecans or walnuts and garnish with cashews.

Mixed Berries Trifle
Cook’s notes: Use a glass stemmed compote dish to showcase the dessert. Make the custard the day before and refrigerate. Assemble the trifle the day it will be served.
Ingredients:

  • 1 small pint of raspberries and blueberries

  • 1 quart sliced strawberries

  • optional adding in 1 pint of blackberries

  • 2 tsp. orange-flavored liqueur

  • 1 large prepared angel food cake torn in chunks
Custard
  • 6 large egg yolks

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup of flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup of whip cream-whipped
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 TB. Amaretto or 1 tsp. almond extract 
Directions:
  • Whisk yolks in a saucepan, add in sugar, flour and blend well
  • Bring half and half to a simmer in another saucepan and then add to yolk mixture
  • On low heat use a whisk as mixture thickens cook about 1-2 minutes do not let boil as mixture will curdle
  • Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, almond extract or Amaretto
  • Run mixture through the blender to make sure it is a smooth consistency 
  • Place in a bowl to cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate
  • Just before assembling the trifle, whip the whip-cream and fold into the custard mixture
  • Assemble early in day of serving: rinse fruit and pat dry on paper towels, add all fruits in a bowl and drizzle with Grand Marnier, divide torn cake into thirds as well as fruit and custard, bottom layer of serving glass with 1/3 cake pieces, 1/3 of the custard and 1/3 of the mixed fruit, repeat two more times, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 







Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Appetizers and a Food Craft

"Never place a period where God has placed a comma." 
by Gracie Allen


Walnut Cranberry Crostini

Recipe from http://www.fishernuts.com/recipes/appetizers/Walnut-Cranberry-Crostini makes 1 dozen
Ingredients:

  • 1 small French baguette cut into 12 slices
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts 
  • 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola, Swiss or Blue-Cheese 
  • ½ dried sweetened cranberries 
  • 1-2 TB. chopped green onion 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 
  • Brush both sides of bread slices with olive oil 
  • Bake 2 minutes on a cookie sheet, turn once-cook 2 minutes more
  • In a bowl mix cranberries, cheese, walnuts and onions 
  • Place 2 TB. walnut mixture on bread and toast 3 minutes more 
  • Serve immediately 
Cornbread Crostini
Cook’s notes: I tested with a product called Krusteaz Honey Cornbread. Use a coffee measuring scoop to place batter in muffin tins. 

Makes 38 appetizers
Ingredients:
1 box (15 oz.) cornbread mix
Directions:

  • Follow the directions on the box using 1/3 cup melted butter rather than 1/3 cup oil 
  • Grease mini muffin tins 
  • Bake at 375 check at 11 minutes 
  • Cool on a wire rack for several hours and then use a bread knife to slightly trim tops off 

  • Place on a cookie sheet to crisp @375 for 3 minutes 
Quick Crostini Toppers
Cold

  • Smoked Salmon: place a dollop of creme fraiche mixed with dill weed on top of corn cake -top with salmon and fresh dill or chives 
  • Spread Boursin cheese on crostini, add finely chopped red and yellow peppers and fresh chives 
  • Caramelize 1 chopped green apple with 1/3 diced onions and 1TB brown sugar in a small fry pan. On top of cornbread crostini add apple mixture, crumbled goat cheese and chopped walnuts 
  • Mix goat cheese, cranberry chutney, watercress and fresh ground pepper 
  • Fig spread topped chopped country ham 

Pesto Cheese Tarts
makes 15 appetizers
Ingredients:
  • 1 package (2.1 oz.) frozen miniature phyllo tart shells (Athens brand)
  • 2/3 cup diced tomatoes, drained on a paper towel
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese or Swiss
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4-5 TB. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. prepared pesto in a jar
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • chopped fresh basil
Directions:
  • In a small bowl combine all ingredients except shells
  • Spoon heaping teaspoon into each tart shells
  • Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake @ 350 for 8 minutes or until lightly browned  
  • Garnish with minced basil

Thanksgiving Cornucopia Treats
Cook's notes: Can be used as a place setting for your Thanksgiving guests 
follow link below for exact directions
 http://thecraftpatch.blogspot.com/2011/11/thanksgiving-cornucopia-treats.html#.Uoy92NItrU5
but an overview is 
  • Soak waffle cone tip in warm water 20 seconds
  • Microwave 20 seconds 
  • Roll tip around a pencil for 20 seconds 
  • After placing candies in cone cover with plastic wrap, add a rubber band to hold in place
  • Add a ribbon over the band

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Revisiting William Blake's Inn

Lewis Carroll, the author, said,"Begin at the beginning...and go on till you come to the end: then stop." So keeping these words in mind I went to the library and found the book A Visit to William Blake's Inn that was mentioned in yesterday's blog posting. 
This book of magical poems focuses on life at an imaginary inn run by William Blake, the poet. The inn is staffed by two mighty dragons and a menagerie of animals. I was surprised that the poem I had posted was only part of it. So I am posting the entire poem titled "Blake Leads A Walk on the Milky Way".



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Holiday Appetizers



Now that you have been fortified with a mug of Gluhwein its time to move on sampling appetizers.
The next few blog postings will cover a variety of holiday treats sure to please your guests.

Cranberry Meatballs


Cook’s notes: Meatballs can be made with ground venison, ground chuck or hamburger. Using prepared meatballs from the frozen food section is a time saver. I found a 24 oz. bag of pure Angus beef meatballs and the sauce listed would be enough for 2- 24 oz. bags.   
Meatball Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. meat
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. parsley flakes
  • 1/3-cup chili sauce
Meatball Directions:
  • Combine and shape into 54 1-inch balls
  • Place meatballs on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover with foil
  • Bake 25 minutes, remove meatballs, drain on paper towels, cool 
Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 can (16 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 (12 oz.) jar chili sauce
  • ¼ cup marmalade
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 TB. soy sauce
  • 2 TB. red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
Sauce Directions:
  • In a saucepan over medium low heat combine all ingredients
  • Cook about 20 minutes stirring occasionally
  • In a large pot add meatballs, pour sauce over and simmer for an hour-it can be baked covered @325 for an hour

Fresh Twist on Holiday Entertaining Using Kale
Kale is like the new spinach with lots of nutrients. There are a variety of health benefits to eating Kale on a regular basis.
  • Helps detox your body 
  • Can block cancer cells 
  • Ease inflammation 
  • Helps blood clotting 
  • Reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis 
  • Increased vitamins A B C and K 
  • Promotes new cell growth 
The flavor is relatively mild. Kale can be substituted for spinach in most recipes but may require more cooking since is thicker than spinach and stiffer more like cabbage.
Florentine Artichoke Dip 
Cook’s notes: I substituted kale for spinach.
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups from a package (3 oz.) of frozen kale 
  • 1-6 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry with a paper towel and chopped 
  • 1-8 oz. cream cheese (low fat) softened 
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • ½ cup mayonnaise (lite) 
  • 1-1/2 TB. lemon juice 
  • 1/4 tsp. of garlic from a jar 
  • 1 cup grated provolone or Swiss cheese 
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs or French breadcrumbs 
  • 1 TB. parsley flakes 
  • 2 TB. melted butter
  • optional 1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 
Directions: 

  •  Thaw kale, squeeze dry to remove moisture and chop
  • Combine kale with artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese and garlic 
  • Spread mixture in a greased glass pie pan, sprinkle with provolone or Swiss cheese 
  • In food processor pulse bread into crumbs, add butter and parsley flakes 
  • Sprinkle over kale/cheese mixture 
  • Bake uncovered @ 375 for 20 minutes or until bubbly
  • Serve with garlic/pita chips, chunks of bread or assorted crackers


Brie Cherry Pastry Cups 

Cook's note: Place pastry sheet on lightly floured 2 sheets of wax paper-use a rolling pin and roll gently. A pizza pastry wheel works well for cutting squares.
Ingredients:
  • 1 thawed puff pastry sheet cut into 36 squares 
  • ¾ cup cherry preserves (any flavor works) 
  • 4 oz. Brie cut into ¼ inch cubes 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts 
  • 2 TB. minced chives 
Directions:
  • Lightly spray bottom of mini muffin cups pan and gently press squares onto the bottoms 
  • Bake at 375 for 8 minutes-use end of a wooden spoon handle to make a 1/2 inch indentation in the center of each 
  • Bake 6 minutes longer or until golden brown 
  • With spoon handle press square down again and spoon ½ tsp. of preserves into each cup, add Brie cube, sprinkle with nuts and chives 
  • Bake 3 minutes or until cheese is melted-serve warm