Friday, March 23, 2018

The World According to Bella

Winding Down
Lucky me!!

I found real GREEN GRASS- I think the only spot in town to sit my butt on besides going to a golf course. After nearly three months this was the best discovery of the day. I could have sat there all day. There was even a small tree nearby for shade. All I've ever seen the past few months is rocks and more rocks. This felt so good on my paws. 
Mrs. S was shopping at an outdoor Farmers Market and we were waiting for her.  
It was dog friendly. Mr.C found us a grooming place. He thought it might be a good idea for me to have a bit of an overhaul. Mrs. S calls it a beauty makeover much needed after all the dusty, dry weather.
Not only did this lady have a water station for dogs but she was handing out doggie biscuits.  

Last night I was dozing off and sort of listening to the  news when I heard the word rattlesnakes. Now that got my attention. What an alarming thought.  I was happy they decided to skip signing me up for a class called Venomous Snake Avoidance Training. I'd hate to meet a rattlesnake face to face. But Mr. C said not enough time for classes as we are leaving soon. 
Then the news man talked about how hungry the javelinas were and how one little doogie even got attacked.
I shuddered hearing that part since just hours before Mr. C and I came across javelinas-not one not two but eight! They came out of a culvert that ran under the road. They didn't seem to care about me until I started barking very loudly to warn Mr. C of danger. Lucky he had a good grip on me as I was ready for a chase. But then again I could have gotten lost running out in the desert. We turned and quickly went another direction.  
Mr. C and Mrs. S have had lots of company. Fine by me as I get extra treats, and other stuff. How do you like my latest gift? Mrs. S says a pop of color next to my tan coat looks nice. So far I've gotten a lot of compliments. 

Love, Bella

Friday Favorites

Creamy Tuscan Garlic Shrimp
Cook's Notes: Creamy Tuscan  Garlic Shrimp is a restaurant quality meal ready in 30 minutes. The creamy garlicky Parmesan cheese sauce takes the dish up a notch with its delicious decadent flavor . Two chicken breasts diced can be substituted for shrimp following the same steps except chicken pieces will be stir fried longer than shrimp. Serve with pasta e.g. penne or linguine. 
Recipe adapted from and serves four.
  • 2-3 cups cooked shrimp, thawed with tails on
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups dry penne or linguine 
  • 1 cup sweet onions, diced  
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 TB. flour
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth 
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 cup (jarred) roasted sun dried red peppers, diced and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • 1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup torn spinach leaves
  • In a large nonstick skillet saute  garlic and onions in olive oil for 3 minutes, adding in shrimp and cook 2 minutes more, Set aside and keep warm. 
  • Cook pasta al dente, drain and set aside in pan covered to keep warm. .
  • Wipe skillet clean add in cream, broth, seasonings, roasted peppers and flour. Whisk to blend in flour. Add in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and cook on low heat until it thickens.   Add in spinach leaves and let simmer until spinach starts to wilt. Add shrimp mixture back to pan and heat through. 
  • To serve grate rest of Parmesan cheese over the top. 
Creamy Tuscan Garlic Chicken

9 Healthy Fun Easter Snacks for Kids
Note that some recipes come with tutorials.

30 Easy Easter Treats-Think Beyond Candy 
Peeps S'mores Brownies

Spring Humor 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring for a Brunch Meal

Usher in spring with a festive brunch meal. Fresh asparagus is a spring star in this puff pastry Asparagus and Ham Tart. It can either be a main dish or cut into small appetizer pieces. Lemon Ricotta Cake is the perfect dessert to welcome spring with a delicious moist richness and a fresh lemon flavor. 
It was previously at
Pair the meal with a compote of Fresh Fruit with Chinese Five-Spice Vinaigrette.
Asparagus and Ham Tarts
Recipe serves 6 and adapted from
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry thawed according to package directions 
  • Dijon mustard 
  • 6-8 pieces thinly sliced deli ham 
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese 
  • 12 thin asparagus spears 
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 TB. water 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking pad. 
  • On the baking sheet gently roll the pastry sheet once. Cut into thirds lengthwise and push each piece a few inches apart. 
  • Score a ¼ inch border around each pastry with the tip of the knife but don't cut through. This helps create a puffy border. 
  • Spread a thin layer of mustard inside the border of each pastry. Divide the ham and place over the mustard. Sprinkle cheese over ham and arrange 4 asparagus spears in a single layer over each pastry. 
  • Brush pastry borders with egg wash. 
  • Bake tarts until pastries are golden brown and cheese melts, 15 to 17 minutes. 
Asparagus and Ham Tarts served as appetizers.
Fresh Fruit Compote with Chinese Five Spice Vinaigrette
Recipe from Purchase a prepared bowl of mixed fruits in produce section.
  • 3 cups mixed fruit (e.g.grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple, cantaloupe) 
Vinaigrette Dressing Ingredients:
  • 2 TB. each fresh lime juice and honey 
  • 1/2 tsp. lime zest 
  • 1/8 tsp. Five Spice Powder 
  • Whisk dressing ingredients and drizzle over fruit

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Escape to Fort Abercrombie

that Fort Abercrombie was known historically as "the Gateway to the Dakotas?" It was the first permanent United States military fort established in what was to become North Dakota. It was also the only post in the area to be besieged by Dakota (Sioux) warriors for more than six weeks during the US-Dakota War of 1862. During the conflict, Minnesota Volunteer soldiers manned the fort when area settlers sought shelter there.
Drawing of an aerial view of the Fort layout around 1863.
Award winning author, Candace Simar, gives the reader an opportunity to experience first hand a tumultuous time period through the eyes of Scandinavian pioneers living on the prairie in her newest book “Escape to Fort Abercrombie.” 
The book is action packed and plot driven narrated by 14 year old Ryker. 

Simar's evocative prose shines in this book with her carefully chosen words that create vivid images and historically accurate descriptions of pioneer life on the prairie. Her well crafted words draw the reader into the developing harrowing events that surround the children fleeing from a deadly Sioux attack on their homestead. When 14 year old Ryker and 9 year old twins Sven and Klara arrive home from school they find their mother and baby sister Elsa are missing and their father is dying with an arrow in his chest. Frantic for help, they set out to walk to Fort Abercrombie, a civil war-era fort on the banks of the Red River, through the tall prairie grasses. 

Despite his young age Ryker now is forced to assume being head of the house and make good on his promise to his dying father to care for his siblings, find his mother and baby Elsa. A sense of responsibility weighs heavily on him. Their older brother Martin has been gone from home for many months with his regiment. Throughout the story Ryker has many difficult decisions to make facing a succession of obstacles that challenge him and his siblings trying to reach the fort. Remembering Mama and Papa's words, Ryker puts his trust in God  hoping they'll find help at the fort to locate his family.

Simar's characters are well developed and believable displaying characteristics appropriate for their age. As the story moves along you learn more about each one but holding your breath wondering if they will survive. Numerous twists and turns in the plot challenge Ryker's determination and resourcefulness. One can't help but admire the children's resilience and devotion to each other as they encounter obstacle after obstacle.

Once you start reading this book I guarantee you won't want to stop. The bittersweet ending does feel real and satisfying since all good endings come at a cost and ends are not all always neatly tied up. Your imagination propels you into thinking what life could hold for each of the characters with all sorts of possibilities. I was mesmerized by Simar's storytelling skills. She is a gifted writer.  

Simar has created a winning story with “Escape to Fort Abercrombie.” The book falls into a YA Crossover category geared for middle school students all the way through adulthood. 

Order online at Amazon
and check out Candace Simar's website for a complete list of her previous books.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has headed into the Southwest region weaving its magic over the desert vegetation. 

Lemon Ricotta Cake
The perfect dessert to usher in spring and serve for Easter brunch. It's an Italian inspired cake made from scratch with an off the chart delicious lemony flavor and a moist texture. Lemon zest gives it an extra zing. 
Cook's Notes: The cake can be iced with a lemon glaze or topped with macerated strawberries. Recipe inspiration
Cake Ingredients:
  • 1-1/3 cups flour (scoop and level to measure) 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • Lemon zest from one large lemon
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
Lemon Icing Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. softened butter
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • Optional added lemon zest
Cake Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan sides and bottom.
  • In a bowl add flour, baking powder and salt, whisk and set aside.
  • Cream sugar, lemon zest and butter until pale and fluffy. 
  • Mix in eggs one at a time, adding in almond extract and beat.
  • Add in half of the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Add in ricotta and mix just until combined 
  • Add in last half of flour and mix just until combined. 
  • Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake until cake is set and a toothpick comes clean from the center. Check at 30 minutes.
  • Cool cake in pan and run knife around edges before removing ring.  
Icing Directions:
  • Using a whisk mix all ingredients until smooth.
  • Ice cooled cake. Optional toasting coconut and almonds together and sprinkling over icing. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

and it seems like forever
add a few titles to your booklist 
These authors were featured speakers at the Tucson Book Festival 
A heart-breaking, heart-warming historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. For readers of 'The Nightingale," "Lilac Girls," and "Sarah's Key." 
Alert: Same author of a book club favorite "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" and based on a true story. It earned a prestigious KIRKUS REVIEW...
Too old to dream of being adopted, Ernest Young is raffled off at the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific World Exposition to Madame Flora, who runs a notorious brothel. His adventures have just begun.
This book is for early readers and would be a great resource in the classroom as a  discussion tool. 

Maria is from Guatemala, Jin is from Korea, and Fatima is from Somalia. All three are new to their American elementary school, and each has trouble speaking, writing, and sharing ideas in English. Through self-determination and with encouragement from their peers and teachers, the students learn to feel confident and comfortable in their new school without losing a sense of their home country, language, and identity. 
Recipe Round-Up
Atomic Buffalo Turds
What a fun way to explore a downtown area by going on a culinary adventure. On this tour we sampled food (small bites) from six local restaurants and one tea store. Guides were knowledgeable pointing out architectural highlights, cultural sites, and great local shops along the way. We saw one of the downtown's 13 art murals

and one of the many be kind mosaic art designs found throughout the area. The project is sponsored by the Ben's Bell's Kindness Education Programs. It's based on the belief that everyone has the capacity to be kind, and that kindness can be cultivated through intentional practice and celebration in a variety of venues, including schools, workplaces, neighborhoods and communities.

And yes the food-some samples included:
Quinoa with Thai Peanut Dressing
Bavarian Cream Chocolate Doughnut topped with Bacon Bits
An owl decorated car caught our attention on the way back-truly a memorable day.    

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Weekend Round-Up Part One

Hash is a dish consisting of diced meat, potatoes and spices that are mixed together and then cooked either alone or with other ingredients such as onions. The name is derived from the French verb hacher (to chop).

Corned beef hash became especially popular in some countries including Britain and France during and after World War II as rationing limited the availability of fresh meat.

In many locations, hash is served primarily as a breakfast food on restaurant menus and as home cuisine, often served with eggs and toast (or biscuits), and fried potatoes or hash browns. The dish may also use corned beef or roast beef stirred into potato mixture.
Hash has recently made a comeback as more than just a dish for leftovers or breakfasts. High-end restaurants now offer sophisticated hashes and the first cookbook dedicated exclusively to a wide variety of hashes was self-published in 2012.

Corned Beef Hash
Cook's Notes:If you choose to make this hash with eggs, you’ve got breakfast. Take away the eggs, pair it with a green salad, and dinner is served.  Five cups frozen hash browns can be substituted for red potatoes.  
And don't forget a slice of Irish Soda Bread to round out the meal. 

Recipe adapted from and serves 2-3
  • 4 medium sized red potatoes, peeled and cubed 
  • 2-3 cups corned beef, diced in small pieces
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup carrots, finely diced 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups raw cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 cup combination mini yellow and red peppers, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried thyme, rosemary, parsley and basil
  • 1 TB. oil
  • 1 TB. butter
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Place cubed potatoes in large pot, covered with 3 inches of cool water, add in 1/2 tsp. salt.
  • Bring pot to a boil, then cook until potatoes are fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain potatoes in a colander and set aside to cool.
  • In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 TB. oil, onions, minced garlic, carrots, cabbage, peppers and saute until veggies begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in butter, cubed cooked potatoes, spices and corned beef, stirring to combine.
  • Continue cooking until potatoes and corned beef begin to brown about 10 minutes – stir every 2-3 minutes. Add a dash of Worcestershire just before serving. 
  • Serve the hash in bowls. Adding over-easy eggs on top of each bowl is optional.
Check out these St. Patrick's Day treats served at a recent party. Between the food and decorating it was off the charts. We were all instructed to bring green food. Hope to round-up some of these recipes this week.  
Baileys Irish Cream Cupcakes
Shrimp with Avocado Dip
Green Veggie Dip
Atomic Buffalo Turds
Puff Pastry Asparagus
Artichoke Dip 
Fruit Kabobs
Guacamole Deviled Eggs
Part Two: Tuscon Food Tour and some recommended reading