Sunday, July 23, 2017

Weekend Round-Up- Part One

Skinny Taco Dip
Cook's notes:
This dip comes together so quickly and easily in just 10 minutes, making it perfect as a party appetizer or even for game day! And with the lightened up ingredients, you can eat this guilt-free.  YUM !YUM! Serve with your favorite chips. Recipe inspiration-dammdelicious.com and yellowbliss.com
Ingredients:
  • 8 ounces light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup fat free Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 -1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
Directions:
  • Combine softened cream cheese, Greek yogurt, salsa and taco seasoning until smooth and well combined. Spread into a rectangle baking dish or pie plate (I used an 11"x 7" baking pan) 
  • Refrigerate for an hour to let flavors combine (optional). Top with remaining ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips or tortilla strips.

Interested in history with a Minnesota connection? This could be just the book you were looking for "Alice in France."

In March 1918, twenty-six-year-old Alice O'Brien and three close friends set off from New York harbor, bound for wartime France. Unlike the soldiers aboard their ship, they were unpaid volunteers. As the daughter of a wealthy family in St. Paul, Alice had no need to work no need to go to war. But she also drove her own car, was trained as an auto mechanic, spoke French, and had the passion and determination to contribute selflessly to the war effort.

Alice and her friends joined hundreds of American women serving as nurses, clerks, drivers, and canteen workers for the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and other organizations. Her letters home, full of breezy gossip and telling detail, describe living conditions, attitudes and actions of French soldiers and civilians, and her own remarkable efforts near the front.

The letters dated from the time she boarded a ship bound for France in April of 1918 to December of that year, have been gathered and edited by her grandniece, Nancy O’Brien Wagner, daughter of the late St. Paul entrepreneur Thomond O’Brien and his wife, Alvina.

A side note:
In 1945, 20 years after William O'Brien's death, his daughter Alice offered 180 acres along the St. Croix riverfront to the state. The donation was eagerly accepted, as Minnesota did not yet have a state park near the Twin Cities, and the park was ratified by the legislature two years later. The proximity to the metro area was a mixed blessing. Land was added to the park at every opportunity, to reduce crowding and to prevent housing developments from being built right up to the boundary. In 1958‚ S. David Greenberg donated Greenberg Island in memory of his parents. Accessible only by canoe‚ the island has become a haven for wildlife and wildflowers. The park was expanded into the bluffs west of Highway 95 and a second campground added. A large tract was added in 1973, leapfrogging a rail line, and another 120 acres came in 1986. William O'Brien remains one of the top five most-visited state parks in Minnesota.
Information from Wikipedia

Friday, July 21, 2017

Beat the Heat

GO GREEK this week with Greek Pita Chip Salad
This light satisfying salad is loaded with flavor not only from veggies and herbs but a vinaigrette made of red wine vinegar, garlic and olive oil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar to the  vinaigrette which takes the edge off acidity from tomatoes and peppers.  Store bought fat free Greek vinaigrette can be substituted for homemade vinaigrette. It's all ready under 15 minutes. Lots of flexibility with the ingredients and so perfect when your garden is bursting with tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The recipe called for red peppers but I found using yellow peppers were more of a contrast and provided same great taste. Pita chips add extra crunch and texture to the salad. 
Recipe adapted from averiecooks.com and serves four. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, seeded if desired
  • 1-1/2 cups diced English cucumber
  • 1-1/2 cups diced mini red peppers, seeded or mini yellow peppers
  • 4 cups green salad mixture (I used a combination of romaine and spinach)
  • 1/2-1/3 cup crumbled feta (I used a garlic and herb variety) 
  • 1/2 cup sliced olives
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley or regular parsley, finely minced
  • crumbled store bought pita chips
  • Optional 2-3 TB. fresh mint, finely minced
Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 TB. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp, Italian seasoning
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
Salad Directions:
  • Place all salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss to combine.  Add in crumbled pita chips right before drizzling vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette:
To a glass jar with a lid add all ingredients. and shake to combine. Taste and make necessary flavor tweaks. Drizzle over salad and toss to combine.

 HAPPY BIRTHDAY
-Ernest Hemingway (July 21,1899-July 2,1961)
American novelist, short story writer, journalist
"You see, I am trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life across - not to just depict life - or criticize it - but to actually make it alive. So that when you have read something by me, you actually experience the thing. You can't do this without putting in the bad and the ugly as well as what is beautiful."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Summer Discoveries





A recent canoe ride from one lake to another lake under the bridge was a photographer's dream. Here I discovered an abundance of water lilies in full bloom. The sea of lily pads reminded me of the French Impressionist Claude Monet's Water Lilies. 










Depending on the light and angle the color contrasts were amazing with the ever changing hues of greens and blues.
Though water lilies look as if they are sprouting from the water, they are actually floating on top of the water, with their roots tethered deep into the water-logged soil at the bottom of the lake or pond. The lily pad beneath the flowers is the leaf of the water lily plant.

The water lily is repeatedly used in the oil paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926). His water lily series of 250 oil paintings are some of his most masterful works.
The water lily paintings were inspired by Monet's flower garden at Giverny. 


This photo below I took is one of Monet's massive murals Nympheas (Water Lilies) displayed in Paris at the Musee de l'Orangerie.

Water Lilies 1916

"I had planted them for the pleasure of it; 
I grew them without ever thinking of painting them. ”
 -Claude Monet


A popular treat that screams summer are Mini-S'more Pies.
Recipe inspiration iowagirleats.com 
This dessert merits attention for your summer entertaining. Here is why the recipe works.
1. It's easy to put together with only three ingredients: Hershey candy bars, graham cracker shells and mini marshmallows. 

2. It's a summer crowd pleaser and good alternative to a having a campfire.
3. It's not messy as you eat from the foil container.
4. And it has the same great taste as a campfire S'more

5. They are the perfect treat for kids and kids at heart. 

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 and bake graham cracker pie shells for 4 minutes.
  • While shells are still warm and on cookie sheet place 4 pieces of chocolate in each shell. Let chocolate set a few minutes to melt.
  • Adjust rack one level above middle rack and set oven to broil.
  • Place 3 regular size marshmallows or a handful of mini marshmallows on top of the chocolate.
  • Brown marshmallows on broil-about 1 minute 
  • In microwave melt one whole chocolate bar, stir to blend and drizzle over top of broiled marshmallows.
  • Serve foil S'more Pies immediately. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DIY Project with Cherry and Peach Galette



These DIY bags were purchased at a church bazaar. It is such a simple idea that can be quite economical especially if you just happen to have scrapbooking supplies. The only expense would be plain bags from The Dollar Store. Add a little creativity and imagination to personalize the bags to   
upscale your gift giving. 
Cherry and Peach Galette
A galette is a free-form pastry, baked without a pie or tart pan. The dough is easy to make and much more forgiving than pie crust. The dough is rolled out flat, and then folded around the filling. It doesn’t matter if the crust tears a little or if the fruit juices leak out—galettes are supposed to look rustic. A prepackaged frozen pie crust thawed can be substituted for a homemade pie crust. Any mixed fruits (3 cups) e.g. blueberries, strawberries, raspberries; can be substituted for the pears and apples. 
Some other galette recipes on Ever Ready include 
Peach Galette
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2015/09/peach-galette-and-peach-margarita.html
Apple and Pear Galette
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2015/09/early-autumn-dishes-from-seasonal-plate.html
Tomato Galette
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2016/07/taste-summer-with-tomato-recipes.html
Cook's Notes: Cherry and Peach Galette is made with puff pastry so the crust is light and flaky with a bit of crunch. Take advantage of fresh cherries and peaches available this month and next for this summer dessert. Recipe adapted from FoodNetwork Magazine July/August 2017.
Ingredients:
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed from a one 17.oz package 
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 TB. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh cherries. pitted and halved
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cups, fresh peaches, diced
  • 1 TB. sugar mixed with 1/4 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1 tsp. butter
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 
  • Line a pizza pan with parchment paper. 
  • Beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water. 
  • Place two sheets of wax paper on working surface and generously flour.  Unfold 1 sheet puff pastry on floured surface. Brush egg wash over dough. Unfold other sheet of puff pastry and lay on top. Press sheets together with a rolling pin and roll out to a 12 inch square. 
  • Transfer to a prepared baking sheet, cover with wax paper and  refrigerate 30 minutes. 
  • Combine sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and lemon juice. Add in cherries, peaches, almonds and 3 TB. flour. 
  • Remove pastry from refrigerator and use a pastry wheel to shape square into a circle. Spoon cherry mixture on puff pastry leaving a 2 inch border. Scatter small pieces of butter on cherry mixture. 
  • Fold edges of puff pastry to the center over the filling, pleating as needed. 
  • Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees.  Baste outside crust with remaining egg wash, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until juices thicken and pastry is cooked through.  
  • Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes.



Monday, July 17, 2017

Mix It Up

Since Ever Ready missed Healthy Friday how about mixing things up and  declare today  
Embrace the week by giving it a healthy start with Lemon Basil Chicken Caesar Salad Sandwich. It's a light and summer-y salad with a twist that captures your favorite chicken Caesar flavors served on whole grain bread.  
Recipe adapted from closetcooking.com
Cook's Notes:
The recipe did call for bacon which sounded very good but I opted to keep it healthier. I marinated the chicken breasts in 3/4 cup buttermilk for two hours, drained buttermilk and cooked chicken covered at 350 for 35 minutes.  
The salad was made a few hours ahead of serving time for flavors to meld. 
Lemon-Basil Caesar Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Miracle Whip
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1 TB. lemon zest and 1-2 TB. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 TB. basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional 4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
Salad Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cooked chicken, diced (about 3 skinless chicken breasts) 
Dressing and Salad Directions:


  • Use a whisk and mix dressing ingredients together. Fold in cooked chicken and mix well. Cover salad with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours.  
  • Add sliced tomatoes and lettuce for each sandwich.
Cherry Peach Galette
Tomato and Peach Salad
Kung Pao Chicken Salad with Sichuan Dressing

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Weekend Round-Up


This weekend it's all about the links. Check out these recipes and book reviews.   
Ever Ready Grilled Summer Veggie Salad 
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2016/07/summer-sizzle.html
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2016/07/summer-sizzle.html
Ever Ready Strawberry Rhubarb Dessert

25 Fun Avocado Recipes from Kate the vegetarian blogger.
http://cookieandkate.com/2017/25-fun-avocado-recipes/









Explore the Jane Austen Legacy with these three book reviews from NY Times 
https://nyti.ms/21RPlY4
15 Superfast Asian-Inspired Recipes
Shrimp and Broccoli Stir-Fry
http://damndelicious.net/2016/03/10/15-superfast-asian-inspired-recipes/

Three Cheese Stuffed Zucchini Rolls Stuffed

Light Wedge Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Slice of Summer

Strawberry Blueberry Cream Pie
Cook's Notes: A slice of pure summer bliss with juicy strawberries and blueberries. Raspberries can be substituted for the strawberries. The cream filling is nestled in a crunchy cookie almond crust. YUM! YUM! Recipe from Star Tribune July 13, 2017 by Beth Dooley
For best taste serve the same day it is made. 
Cookie Almond Crust Ingredients: 
  • 2-1/2 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
  • 1 cup sliced almonds 
  • 1 TB. Saigon cinnamon
  • 5 TB. melted butter
  • 1 TB. sugar
Cookie Almond Crust Directions:
  • Use  food processor to crush vanilla wafers. Add in cinnamon, sugar, almonds and melted butter. Mix well. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat crumbs into pie pan. Bake 6 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Cream Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • 2 tsp.vanilla
  •  1 TB. honey
  • assorted berries
Cream Filling Directions:
  • In a medium bowl whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Whip in yogurt, vanilla and honey to taste on low speed. 
  • Place filling in cooled crust. Arrange berries on top. Refrigerate until serving. 


"Ice Cream" or "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream" is a popular song, first published in 1927 with words & music by Howard Johnson, Billy Moll, and Robert King. After initial success as a late 1920's novelty song, the tune became a traditional jazz standard, while the lyrics refrain "I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream" has remained a part of popular culture even without the rest of the song.
National Ice Cream Day July 16, 2017: Free Ice Cream and Deals 
Ice cream lovers are sure to be super excited for this weekend—it’s National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, July 16 (or should we say Sundae). In fact, July is technically National Ice Cream Month. 
The following are some ice cream freebies and deals to enjoy-—and, in one instance, your four-legged, furry friends will be able to indulge, too.
The fine print for all of them stipulates that the giveaways are available at participating locations only, while supplies last.

McDonald's: Download the McDonald's app and get a coupon for a free vanilla ice cream cone on Sunday.


Wendys: Get a vanilla or chocolate Frosty for 50 cents through August 25.

16 Handles: Download this self-serve frozen yogurt chain's mobile app and you'll get a coupon for a free four-ounce order from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Starbucks is giving away free iced teas, and Krispy Kreme is offering a dozen donuts for 80 cents when you buy a dozen at regular price.)

Carvel: Buy any size cup or cone on Sunday, and you'll get a second one for free.

Dippin' Dots: Free mini cups of ice cream will be given out in a two-hour window on Sunday. Check with your local Dippin' Dots store to find out when.

Friendly's: For every $2.99 Friend-z ice cream order on Sunday, Friendly's will donate $2 to the Boys & Girls Club of America. Customers who purchase a Friend-z on Sunday will also get a coupon good for a free ice cream in the future.

Krystal
: The Krystal fast food chain is offering sundaes for only 99 cents from July 16 to July 23.

Monkey Joe's: All guests at Monkey Joe's indoor play centers get free ice cream cups on Sunday.

PetSmart: All pets visiting PetSmart PetHotel locations get free Doggie Ice Cream Sundaes this Sunday.

Subzero: From 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, you'll get a free order of Subzero's liquid nitrogen ice cream when you purchase one at regular price.

Your Pie: All customers at this brick-oven pizza chain get free gelato on Sunday.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

This is a Poem That Heals Fish

"This is a Poem That Heals a Fish" is written by a French poet, novelist and dramatist Jean-Pierre Simeon translated into English by Enchanted Lion Books and illustrated by Olivier Tallec. 

It is a picture book but also a poetic and and philosophical tale. Arthur’s pet fish Leon appears to Arthur to be dying of boredom. He asks his savvy, artist mother what to do. She considers this carefully and answers, “Hurry, give him a poem!” then leaves for her tuba lesson. The book follows Arthur's quest as he tries to save his beloved red fish Leon's affliction of boredom by asking everyone he can find what a poem is, but each answer just seems more confusing than the next.
“A poem!? But what is a poem?” Arthur wonders and sets out to find the answers.

He searches in cabinets, under the bed and then queries many friends. He asks the bicycle shop repairman who is always in love and the baker, Mrs. Round, and Mahmoud who waters his rhododendron every morning—-because he is from a desert land. This is implied surreptitiously, but not stated and part of the joy I found in rereading this book.

All of the people Arthur asks have partial answers:
“A poem, Arthur is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”
“…and it is hot like fresh bread. When you eat it, a little is always left over.”
“A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.”

After this last line. Arthur remembers his fish and worried, he rushes home. Leon is floating...but still alive. Arthur continues searching. He asks his bird (no bird brain) named Aristophanes. This sent me looking up Aristophanes. He is supposed to have said, “By words the mind is winged.”


My interest in this book was piqued when I read a review of the book from a site called Brain Pickings hosted by Maria Popova.  And I'd also like to add I was on board immediately with a book title that suggested a poem could heal a fish.  
https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/03/24/this-is-a-poem-that-heals-fish/ 
If you go to her review she has printed each page of the book so you can enjoy reading it online. 

Originally I bought the book as a birthday gift for a friend who loves and appreciates poetry  as much as I do. But when I got the book I knew I had to have my own copy. 
The book was written as an introduction for children to the world of poetry but adults can certainly appreciate this exquisite lyrical picture book. Each page seems to sing with color, wit and charm. The paintings/illustrations are every bit as important as the text and seem to have a personality of their own.  It is also one of those books that can be read more than once.  Each time you read you can find more meaning and value in the words. Since it has a mature theme children would need to be guided along to understand some of the abstract concepts. Recommend interest level ages 5-9.  
Two of my favorite pages



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tomato Tea Sandwiches

Tomato Tea Sandwiches
Cook's Notes: Love the simplicity and flavor of these tomato tea sandwiches-so easy to put together and perfect for using fresh tomatoes from farmers market or your garden. Use a firm hearty bread. Lightly toast it before adding cream cheese mixture.  
Recipe adapted from Southern Living July 2017. 
Ingredients:
  • Bread slices 
  • 1 container of cream cheese ( there are a variety of flavors: Chive & Onion, Jalapeños,
    Chipotle I used Garden Vegetable)
  • 1 container pesto
  • tomatoes, sliced and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • Red onion slices
  • Salt
Directions:
Cooking Tip: Assemble sandwiches near the toaster
  • Slice tomatoes and drain on a paper towel. Lightly salt to bring out the flavor 
  • Toast bread slices two at a time and trim crusts.
  • Spread one bread slice with cream cheese mixture. Add a very thin layer of pesto on top of cream cheese, then red onion slices and 2 sliced tomatoes. Cover with other bread slice and cut sandwich diagonally and then diagonally again in other direction.  
The only thing missing from this photo above is a glass of ice tea.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

With A Grateful Heart

Imagine discovering a covered bridge in the woods of Crow Wing County that takes you into the enchanted land of imagination. Drive up the winding hill and arrive at Glory Hill Studios
and there you will find artist owner Kathy Lande.
Her studio bursts with energy, enthusiasm, creativity, love and joy. This one of a kind art studio and gallery is a feast for your eyes and soul. Here you find evidence of God's love that touches every single piece through beautiful expression and a joyful style. The studio is a renovated garage with brightly colored walls brimming with unique wooden creations where Kathy works and sells her art in the summer season.

Kathy has always dreamed of being a professional artist. She attended Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. A native of Bloomington, MN she set up her life in the Twin Cities after college. Kathy worked commercially in the corporate world for 26 years with different advertising agencies and public relations firms in the Twin Cities. Kathy had her art studio in her home in St. Paul and participated in the Minneapolis and St. Paul outdoor art fair circuit during the 90’s, always dreaming of one day having her own little studio and gallery on a lake nestled in the woods.

Glory Hill Studios opened its whimsical doors in 2011. The studio’s name evolved because being on a hill overlooking Eagle Lake it is here Kathy gives glory to God for her talents and gifts she has been blessed with. With much gratitude she shares her blessings with others.
Kathy’s customers are drawn to her original art pieces as they offer a universal message of hope, kindness, love and gratitude. Her designs evolve using an etched wood burning technique with splashes of bright colors and stains Kathy designs herself. Her typography, a personality style of her own, makes people smile and the pieces seem to come alive.

Kathy has a creative mind that is able to visualize color, shape and form. Each piece is designed and meticulously handcrafted in her workshop. Many of her works of art are created from old found wooden pieces that she repurposes and brings back to a different and new beauty on antique pieces, old baskets, boxes, bowls, trays etc. The studio offers an amazing collection of special occasion gifts that can be custom designed and personalized with special dates and names as well as very unique home décor pieces.

Kathy has a soft spot for making children’s custom furniture. Each piece is crafted one at a time in northern MN. Wee little ones can climb up and all over a family heirloom piece that is personalized with a name. In the winter months, Kathy has her studio in South West Florida where she commissions and sells her work in galleries and boutiques from Naples to Sarasota.

Glory Hill Studios is open seasonally May through October, Wednesday - Saturday 9:00 AM-6 PM in Fifty Lakes MN. Off-hours special group visits can be arranged. This truly is a unique place that you don’t want to miss when you’re up in the lakes area.

Check out Glory Hill Studios website for examples of Kathy’s work and directions to Fifty Lakes 5 miles north of Crosslake. http://www.gloryhillstudios.com/home.html