Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Bring in the Sides

The countdown to Thanksgiving is well on its way.
To help you kick off menu planning, here's a recipe round-up from notable food bloggers. Appetizers, drinks, side dishes and breakfast/brunch items are gathered in one list featuring 101 recipes 
Honey- Sage Sweet Potatoes with Pears, Cranberries and Walnuts
Cook's notes: Combine colorful vegetables and a fruit with simple seasonings on an ordinary roasting pan that results in a delicious autumn side dish. Sprinkle vegetables and fruit mixture with a dash of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon and the dish is irresistible. One small butternut squash can be substituted for sweet potatoes.
Recipe adapted from Midwest Living and serves 4.

Sausage Apple Cornbread Stuffing
Cook's Notes: For some it's all about the stuffing- three recipes to choose from on this link

Chocolate Pecan Pie
Cook's Notes: A decadent finish to a holiday meal

Cabernet Cranberry Blueberry Sauce
Cook's Notes: Add a fruit wine sauce as the perfect accompaniment for turkey, chicken or a pork roast dinner. Use a Cabernet, a full bodied wine and an inexpensive brand works for this recipe. The alcohol is reduced during the cooking process.

  • One 8-ounce bag fresh cranberries
  • 6-ounces frozen blueberries (about 1 1/2 cups), unthawed
  • 1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon (or Shiraz, Merlot)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. to 1/4 tsp. ground cloves, taste test
  • Combine all ingredients in a medium to large pot and bring to a rolling boil, stirring intermittently. Make sure the pot has room for sauce to at least triple in volume. The juices from the berries release and as the mixture boils rapidly, it will foam and a too-small pot will easily overflow.
  • Reduce heat to low and allow sauce to simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until reduced and thickened slightly, and most of the cranberries have burst. Sauce will thicken more as it cools.
  • Transfer to heat-safe jars or containers with lids. Allow sauce to cool at room temperature before refrigerating. Sauce will keep airtight in the refrigerator for at least 2 weeks.
Boursin Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Cook's Notes: Elevate your mashed potatoes to a new level by adding in boursin cheese. 
Brussels Sprouts Salad with Cranberries and Quinoa
Cook's Notes: A vegan gluten-free light salad for your holiday meal.  https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2017/01/welcome-back.html

"Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; 
not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.” 
by Charles Dickens

Monday, November 18, 2019

Soup de jour

Cook's notes: While you can never have too many cookie recipes the same could also be said of soup. It's the perfect course for any meal. We all have our favorites and one of mine is Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup with Spinach.
It's packed with flavor and a creamy goodness with every spoonful. Advance prep is a must for this recipe. Use a rotisserie chicken for a time saver. In fact, the veggies and chicken can all be diced, bagged and refrigerated a day ahead. Pair the soup with a slice of cornbread, your favorite sandwich or crusty artisan bread. Recipe serves 4-6 depending on the size of the bowl. To reheat the next day add more broth. 

Gnocchi are a variety of pasta consisting of various thick, small, and soft dough dumplings that may be made from semolina, ordinary wheat flour, egg, cheese, potato, breadcrumbs, cornmeal or similar ingredients, and possibly including flavorings of herbs, vegetables, cocoa or prunes.

Sidenote Alert: I was unable (trips to two up north grocery stores) to find gnocchi, mini potato  dumplings, so I had to substitute frozen mini cheese ravioli this go around for the soup. I was surprised it ended up being such a tasty substitute. 


  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup each diced onions, carrots and celery
  • 1/2 cup diced red peppers
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried rosemary, thyme and parsley flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 48 oz. chicken broth, low sodium
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken, diced
  • 3/4 lb. mini potato gnocchi (freezer section) 
  • 2-3 handfuls of torn spinach leaves, stems removed 
  • 2-1/2 TB. butter
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 1/3 cup cream
  • 2 TB. dry white wine
  • In a soup pot heat oil. Add in onions, carrots, celery, peppers and garlic. Sprinkle spices over the veggie mixture. Saute 2 minutes. Sweat veggies by covering and simmering on low for 10 minutes.
  • Remove cover, add broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Add in gnocchi and chicken, simmer 5 minutes more.
  • While broth is simmering melt butter in a small fry pan on a medium heat. Add in flour and cook 1 minute. Whisk in cream and wine, cook until thickened. Add to chicken broth, the cream mixture with torn spinach leaves. Cook 5 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. Remove bay leaves before serving. 

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Spinach and Artichoke Egg Casserole

Spinach and Artichoke Egg Casserole
Cook's Notes: A delicious healthy vegetarian egg casserole perfect for a holiday entertaining or a Sunday brunch. There are lots of options to customize with spices, cheeses and type of milk.  Recipe serves 6 and was adapted from twopeasandapod.com 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cup sweet mini red, yellow and orange peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 cups packed fresh spinach
  • 1- 1/2 cups chopped jarred artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and patted dry on a paper towel  
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes 
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1- 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, white cheddar or Colby Jack, divided
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 tablespoons, divided
  • 8 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Almond Breeze Original Almond milk or 2% milk 
  • Chopped basil for garnish, if desired
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large skillet, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and peppers, cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts. Add dried oregano, dried parsley flakes and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Pour mixture into prepared pan and spread out evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the mixture.
  • In a medium bowl, combine eggs and almond milk or 2% milk. Whisk well. Pour eggs over veggies and cheese. Top with remaining cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until eggs are set and slightly golden around the edges. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. Let cool for 5 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.
  • Note-if you want to make this dairy-free, you can use your favorite dairy-free cheese!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Arizona Part Two

The Unexpected
We couldn't resist the allure of the Southwest's warm weather so we took the plunge and bought a house.  

So you can probably expect more Mexican recipes coming your way from Ever Ready at least for the winter months.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

World Kindness Day

World Kindness Day November 13th need not be just one day but should be practiced every day. Here's some ideas to keep the kindness going...
31 Acts of Kindness : Your November Challenge

1. Donate to a local food pantry
2. Volunteer for a worthy cause
3. Start a gratitude journal
4. Shop handmade on Black Friday
5. Make someone their favorite meal
6. Donate a coat
7. Compliment a cashier
8. Give yourself a yes day
9. Pay for someone’s meal
10. Thank a veteran
11. Show your gratitude to a loved one
12. Jot down 30 great things about yourself
13. Give something to a homeless person
14. Let someone else have the parking spot
15. Donate to Toys for Tots
16. Invite someone new over for a meal
17. Make someone a handmade gift
18. Email an old friend
19. Donate to a local rescue or animal shelter
20. Thank you local police or firemen
21. Thank your delivery drivers
22. Leave unused coupons at the store
23. Let someone checkout before you
24. Bake something for a friend or loved one
25. Return someone’s cart for them
26. Compliment a loved one
27. Send flowers to someone
28. Hold the door for someone
29. Celebrate world kindness day (Nov 13)
30. Leave kind notes in library books
31. Make Snicker Turtles and give someone an unexpected gift


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Washington DC Area

Part Two: Alexandria VA
Who Knew
Torpedo Factory Art Center Alexandria VA
Founded in 1974 in an old munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the nation’s largest collection of working-artists’ open studios under one roof.
An Alexandria landmark for more than 40 years, it’s the highlight of the Potomac Riverfront, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors annually.
Here you can find artwork in a wide variety of media–including painting, ceramics, photography, jewelry, stained glass, fiber, printmaking, and sculpture–in

We were impressed with the ingenuity of this artist who created a bicycle out of an old torpedo.
YES, the Torpedo Factory Art Center once was an actual torpedo factory!
It all began the day after Armistice Day, November 12, 1918, marking the official end of World War I. Ironically, on that day, the U.S. Navy began construction on the original building, the U.S. Naval Torpedo Station. Once fully operational, it was responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of Mark III torpedoes for the next five years. (The silver torpedo by the Riverfront Entrance is a Mark III, but it was not manufactured in Alexandria.)

Work stopped in 1923 and the facility served as a munitions storage area until 1937 when production on the Mark XIV began leading up to WWII. Over time, the complex grew to 16 buildings and 5,000 employees. Workers were not segregated, which was uncoming in Virginia at this time.

The Mark XIV green torpedo, currently displayed in the main hall, was produced here in 1945. It was painted bright green so that the Navy could find it in the water when it was tested at Piney Point, MD.

After the War ended in 1945, the complex briefly manufactured parts for rocket engines before shuttering permanently in 1946. By 1950, it was converted to the Federal Records Center in Alexandria. It stored congressional documents, dinosaur bones, German war films and Nuremberg War Crimes trial records.

Lincoln's Cottage
We were privileged to have spent some time with Lincoln and his favorite horse Bob.
President Lincoln and Soldiers’ Home National Monument, sometimes shortened to President Lincoln's Cottage, is a national monument on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home, known today as the Armed Forces Retirement Home. It is located near the Petworth and Park View neighborhoods of Washington, D.C 
It's here at this cottage Lincoln and his family escaped the summer heat and humidity of the city. Lincoln composed The Proclamation of Emancipation there. 
PART THREE: An Unexpected Trip  to Arizona 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Washington DC.

PART ONE: Washington DC. area
Three days in the Washington DC area certainly is not enough time to adequately cover all the main attractions. But we did our best with the help of our nieces and Charley's sister who live here. And great tour guides I might add. 
Our last glimpse of Mount Vernon, a stately mansion overlooking the Potomac River, was 50 years ago. At that time the mansion was white not cream colored. Also there was not a humongous gift shop or museum in sight. We were told the reason for color change is to make it more authentic. When the exterior of the Mansion was painted and sanded in 1797 the lead white paint under sandstone produced a cream-colored, textured effect akin to sandstone blocks. This painting and sanding campaign appears to have been executed by Washington before his death in 1799.

View of the Potomac River

Washington's tomb is on the property. 
A tour of the historical Georgetown area was informative and quite picturesque. The architecture reminded us of Savannah with houses all lined up with decorative touches of ornamental black wrought iron. The area is also laid out in a grid pattern like Savannah.  
This tiny, tiny entrance is to a basement apartment. Have no idea how furniture would be even be hauled in and make a very tight turn though a doorway. 
 Real estate is pricey here. Note the small blue house dwarfed by houses on each side. The house is only 9-1/2 feet wide and cost 1 million dollars.
 You might be interested in knowing this Georgetown house posted below was once owned by the Kennedys before he became president. 
This house below Jackie Kennedy lived in for one year after her husband was killed. 
The listed house price in early 60's was 10 million but sold for a bargain price of 6 million.   
Georgetown University (Healy Hall)
After walking for two hours we were happy the tour concluded at the famous Georgetown  bakery.
Making a choice indeed was difficult. But we managed with these yummy picks.  
Lucky we had a cupcake break as a three hour tour of all the exhibits at the Spy Museum while interesting was exhausting and overwhelming with a huge Sunday crowd.  
The International Spy Museum is a private non-profit museum dedicated to the tradecraft, history and contemporary role of espionage, featuring the largest collection of international espionage artifacts currently on public display covering 140,000 square feet.
We found it interesting to see so many food trucks lined up in front of the capitol. 
We were quite taken with the creativity of this outdoor food venue S'mores on a stick at the wharf. 

We ended the day at a restaurant overlooking the mall with numerous historical monuments in view. Indeed it has been a surreal experience for us being here.  

Bring in the Sides

The countdown to Thanksgiving is well on its way. To help you kick off menu planning, here's a recipe round-up from notable food...