Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Day

Hopefully you are still in the festive mood even though the royal wedding frenzy (didn't you just love the dress, the pageantry and the KISS?) is settling down and are ready for May Day. It is a cornucopia of holidays. Traditionally the day has been a celebration of Spring with parades, rallies and even political protests. It is also a saint's feast day and a Labor Day holiday in many countries. Modern May Day ceremonies in the U.S. vary greatly from region to region. In our area the May Day Parade and Pageant was created by the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. This Minneapolis event attracts over 35,000 people each year.
In some parts of the U.S. May Day baskets are made and filled with candy treats and/or flowers. A May Day basket is usually secretly placed on a neighbor's doorknob or at a home of a loved one. The doorbell is rung by an anonymous donor. The basket demonstrates the gift of giving without receiving. Imagine our surprise when we heard the doorbell ring and found this basket filled with lots of candy at our door. What a great start to the day!
With Cinco de Mayo trailing close behind May Day check back on the blog this week for several Mexican recipes just in time for May 5th.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beef Stroganoff 101 follow this link to Julie Danielson's book blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She is a children's lit critic who reviews new books out in children's literature. Her reviews include notable illustrators as well as authors.

The following recipe caught my intrigued me because it was a new take on an old favorite Beef Stroganoff. I have been using my mother's recipe for many, many years but thought this recipe using some different ingredients and a different technique was worth exploring. The recipe has been adapted from Cuisine At Home April 2008 .
Some of the steps will have added explanation
Beef Stroganoff
Dredge; sear
  • Dredge 1-1/2 lb. beef cubes (round steak or arm roast-use a good cut) in 1/2 to 1-cup flour
  • Melt 3 TB. butter in fry pan
  • Over medium-high heat brown (sear) meat in butter
  • Brown meat quickly on both sides using a wooden spoon to move meat around in pan to avoid sticking
  • Remove meat
Add in same fry pan
  • Saute 1 small package of sliced mushrooms and 1/2 cup chopped green onion in 1 TB. butter about 3 minutes
  • Stir in 1-1/2 TB. tomato paste and cook for a minute
  • Add 1/2 cup sherry or Marsala wine or white wine to tomato mixture
  • Add 3/4 cup chicken broth (use low fat and low sodium)
  • Add 2 TB. flour to 3/4 cup beef broth (use low fat and low sodium) and add to sherry/tomato mixture
  • Simmer until wine almost evaporated
  • Turn off heat and add browned beef cubes to the sauce
  • Add meat/sauce mixture to a covered baking dish and cook in oven @ 325 for 35 minutes
  • Remove and add back into frying pan
Whisk together
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 TB parsley flakes, 2 TB. chopped fresh dill
  • Add to meat mixture-cook on low heat for a few minutes till heated through-do not let boil
  • If sauce needs to be thinned use a combination of 1/4 cup beef broth and 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • Just before serving add 1 TB. sherry or white wine or Marsala
Place sauce over cooked wide egg noddles
Comments: The added ingredients of chicken broth and tomato paste gave it a flavor I really liked plus having a thicker sauce than traditional stroganoff recipe. Mom would have approved!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Royal Watch: Royal Breakfast Recipes

The following recipes are fit for a would-be-king and queen and royal watchers. I chose recipes that required easy and short preparation since it is a very early morning kitchen time! The recipes come from a variety of sources and I gave credit where credit is due.
Several articles suggested crumpets and scones. I would suggest going to your local bakery for these items to make the planning easier. Don't forget to put the teakettle on.

Grand Champagne Cocktail
by Bobby Flay
Serves 4
  • 4 shots of Grand Marnier
  • 4 tsp. honey
  • 5 fresh strawberries sliced
  • 1 bottle champagne
  • Add the orange-flavored, honey and strawberries to a food processor and process until smooth.
  • Fill each of the chilled glasses halfway with the strawberry mixture and then fill the rest of glass with Champagne
A Royal Toast
by Pelly
London nightclub owner and friend of Prince William
serves 2
  • 1/4 cup fresh raspberries
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. raspberry liqueur
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. simple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chilled champagne or sparkling wine
  • Puree berries and water until smooth
  • Combine berry puree, vodka, lemon juice, liqueur and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker and shake vigorously
  • Divide among two champagne flutes-top with champagne
  • Drop one or two raspberries in flute
Smoked Salmon on Irish bread with Chive Butter
by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh
  • 1 loaf Irish Soda Bread sliced
  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 3 TB. chives
  • 8 oz. smoked salmon, sliced
  • Fresh dill for garnish
  • Mix butter with chives
  • Butter bread and top with a piece of salmon
  • Garnish with sprig dill
Wedding Cake
by Sandra Lee
  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1-1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 TB. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1- 8oz. can crushed pineapple drained
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 2-10 oz. can cream cheese frosting prepared or make your own
  • Spray PAM on two cake pan
  • Combine cake mix, butter,buttermilk, egg whites and extracts.
  • Beat low for 30 seconds- then beat on medium for 2 minutes
  • Fold in crushed pineapple, coconut and 1 cup pecans
  • Bake 30 minutes but check at 25
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes than invert to wire racks to cool
  • To frosting mix add 1 cup pecans mix well
  • The cake will frost better if chilled for an hour first
  • Frost one layer then stack other layer on top and do sides
  • Sprinkle toasted coconut on top
British Meat Pies
by Food Network Magazine
  • 1/2 lb. sausage (use a spicy one since the meat mixture seems a bit bland to me)
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 tsp. ground chives
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • baby carrots-sliced thin and cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup mashed potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • refrigerated biscuit dough
  • Brown sausage, celery, carrots, onion, salt, pepper and spices
  • Drain and add mashed potatoes to sausage mixture
  • Roll out a can of refrigerated biscuit dough and cut into 12 3-inch rounds
  • Top each biscuit round with spoonful of filling-fold in half; pinch to seal
  • Brush with beaten egg
  • Make slits in top and bake 350 about 15 minutes
Stuffed Strawberries
2 quarts strawberries
1-8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup Grand Marnier
2 TB. orange zest
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
  • Halve the mixture if only using 1 quart strawberries
  • Combine Grand Marnier, vanilla and brown sugar
  • Beat softened cream cheese and sour cream
  • Add brown sugar mixture and orange zest
  • Beat till brown sugar dissolved
  • Spoon into a ziploc bag chill
  • Cut top off strawberries and make 2 cross cuts taking care not to cut all the way through
  • Cut off corner of ziploc bag and pipe cheese mixture on each strawberry might need to bring to room temperature so filling mixture comes out of bag easy
  • Chill till serving
Pesto Cream Cheese Mini Quiches
from Star Tribune April 21, 2011
serves 8
  • 8 frozen mini tart shells
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup whole milk or half and half
  • prepared pesto (found in refrigerated section) recipe calls for 1 TB. but I would add 2 TB.
  • 1 TB. baking mix such as Jiffy or Bisquick
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Place tart shells on a baking sheet
  • In bowl combine eggs, cream cheese, milk, pesto, baking mix, salt and pepper
  • Whisk well
  • Pour into tart shells
  • Bake uncovered until quiches are puffy about 30 minutes
  • Cool 5 minutes before serving
Fruit Plate
or a fruit Salad
Assorted fruits and cheeses

Party Favors:
Dollar Tree store-plastic slippers and fill with jelly beans (in the wedding aisle)
Small soaps wrapped and tied with ribbon
Party City-tiaras
Enjoy the day!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter/Spring Greetings

Note: Any picture inserted into blog can be viewed full screen by just clicking on the picture.

This is the opening poem from Caroline Kennedy's book She Walks in Beauty A Woman's Journey Through Poems
The poem was written by George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) also known as Lord Byron who wrote Don Juan

She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress
Or softly lightens o'er her face,
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek and o'er that brow
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent;
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent.

Caroline Kennedy's introduction to her book revealed many insightful and profound statements. She states "Woman have always been at the center of poetry-throughout history we have been its inspiration...In today's world, as woman struggle to balance work and family, to be good mothers and friends, to care for our children and our parents, poetry can help us accept our limitations. and inspire us to overcome them. In a world where language is too often used to manipulate, poems can help us find our authentic voice....Poems distill our deepest emotions into a very few words-words that we can remember, carry with us, and share with others as we talk and weave the cloth of life."
Speaking of women at the center many are focused on one special woman Kate Middleton and her upcoming nuptials to Prince William. Some have their reasons for tuning into the televised special: curious about the reveal of the dress, they enjoy the spectacle of all the pageantry, wanting to check out what's new in hats, and/or looking to see if the Queen will carry her purse. So... perhaps you have a tiara in the drawer collecting dust and have been looking for some excuse to wear it. How about planning a Royal PJ party to celebrate the wedding ceremony? Where I live the ceremony will be televised at 5:00 AM. I will be posting tomorrow food and drink recipes suitable for a Royal Breakfast with some party favor ideas and links.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lamb shortage-Key Lime Pound Cake-Spinach Pesto Ravioli

I awoke the other morning to hear Bella what I thought sounded like humming to the tune/rhyme of Mary Had A Little Lamb. Her legs were twitching like she was running after something. I guessed she must have been in the middle of an early morning dream thinking about those darn lambs again. Seems she can't stop thinking about her favorite lamb/rice dog food that has suddenly vanished from the store's shelves. It certainly was a mystery to us how a popular and I might add favorite dog food could disappear from several chain stores.
Fortunately, a search on the Internet solved the mystery as well as a recent newspaper article. Who would have ever guessed there could be a lamb shortage!! And to think the demand for lamb more than doubles during the spring holiday. Bad timing! Meat packers, butchers, and chefs blame the increase of lamb prices due to the shortage of imported lamb and the weak American dollar. So I have tucked my roasted rack of lamb with herb crust recipe away till next holiday and will settle on two other recipes. At least I know their ingredients are plentiful.
As for Bella she has been forced to settle on a new chicken/rice variety mix till we see the lambs come gamboling back.
FYI: Mary Had A Little Lamb a 19th century children's nursery rhyme was written by Sarah Hale from Boston. It was interesting to note that the words to this rhyme were the first ones ever recorded by Thomas Edison on tinfoil on his phonograph.
Ravioli with Spinach Pesto
  • 1 package refrigerated four cheese ravioli or tortellini
  • 12. oz. babypan squash or yellow summer squash halved lengthwise
  • 3-1/2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup bottled Caesar Parmesan vinaigrette salad dressing
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cook ravioli according to package directions
  • Add squash last 2-3 minutes of cooking and drain
  • In blender add spinach, basil, salad dressing and 1 TB. olive oil
  • Cover and process till smooth
  • Toss with ravioli
  • Add shredded Parmesan cheese on top
Key Lime Pound Cake
  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup softened margarine
  • 2-3/4 cups sugar (it called for 3 cups but I cut back 1/4 cup)
  • 6 large eggs-separated
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup lite sour cream
  • 3 TB. lime zest
  • 1/2 cup Key lime juice-if can't find real Key limes use fresh limes but not bottled lime juice
  • Preheat oven to 325 and grease a tube pan
  • In large bowl beat butter and margarine till creamy
  • Gradually adding sugar and beating until fluffy
  • Add egg yolks one at a time beating well after each addition
  • In another bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sour cream and ending with flour
  • Beat well after each addition
  • Add lime juice and zest beat well
  • Beat egg whites with a dash of creme of tartar until stiff peaks
  • Fold into batter
  • Bake 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes but check @ 15 minutes with a long wooded toothpick inserted in center till comes out clean
  • Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack
  • Invert and cool on a wire rack

Friday, April 22, 2011

Recommended Book-Blog-Lemon Pie and Frittata Recipe

When every day distracts us, poetry
can help us feel centered
Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy's new book She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems is truly a visual and literary delight. Ms. Kennedy is an eloquent writer who is passionate about poetry and its importance in her life. Her first book on children's poetry A Family of Poems is one of my favorites. I have given it as a gift many times since it was published. For her newest adult book she has chosen well known poets covering a wide range of poems as well as styles. She Walks in Beauty is arranged as a journey of a woman's life through poetry covering a range of topics: love, life, friendship, marriage, motherhood, work, joy, grief, middle age and aging. Check it out.
Please note in the header a new link
The author Cynthia Leitich Smith, a published author and college professor writes a blog called cynsations. It offers a wealth of information about children and YA writers, writers' resources. author interviews and what's is new in the publishing world.
Lastly, as part of my new design layout on this blog I will include in the blog title name/names of any recipe included on the blog for that day. This is to help make your search for a previously published recipe in the archives box listed on the left easier.

Zesty Lemon Pie
adapted from Southern Living August 2010
  • 1-1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 TB. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 5 Tb. melted butter
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice-about 4-5 lemons
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 TB. powdered sugar
  • Combine first 4 ingredients
  • Press into bottom and sides of a deep dish pan
  • Bake 8-10 minutes @350
  • Cool pan on a wire rack
  • Whisk together egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lemon juice
  • Pour into a prepared crust
  • Bake @ 350 for 15 minutes
  • Cool on rack about 30 minutes, cover and chill 4 hours
  • Beat whip cream and powdered sugar dollop over chilled pie
Easter bunch menu idea
adapted from Southern Living August 2010
2 TB. olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 cup diced onion
1 can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles (10 oz. ) can drained
3/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
12 large eggs beaten
1 small box white mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red or yellow pepper
1/2 bag fresh baby spinach-stems removed
1/2 cup crumbled garlic-herb feta cheese
  • Preheat oven @ 350 heat oil in a 10 inch 2 inch deep oven proof non-stick skillet medium-high heat
  • Saute garlic, mushrooms, pepper and onion-1 minute
  • add spinach cook just till it begins to wilt
  • Add tomatoes/chiles
  • Cook 2-3 more minutes
  • Add eggs and sprinkle with cheese
  • Cook 3-5 minutes lifting edges of frittata with spatula and tilting pan so uncooked portion flows underneath
  • Bake in oven 12 minutes until set and lightly browned
  • Remove from oven let stand 5 minutes before sliding onto a large platter
  • Cut in 8 wedges
Other Options:
  • 1 cup cooked crumbled sausage that has been drained
  • bacon, cooked and drained
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped eggplant that has been sauteed 5 minutes
  • 1/2 cup chopped olives
  • cheddar cheese

Monday, April 18, 2011

A New Look

Being snowbound at the lake for a few days due to an unexpected snowstorm has its perks. One perk: some added exercise to improve the heart rate as on day two we sloshed/staggered our way down a two mile road through 6 inches of wet snow. We were on a mission to find human life. It became apparent after the walk snowplowing had been wrapped up for the year in this area. Perk two: More indoor time to write and explore some computer options. So with some technical support I was able to redesign the blog. At the top where the header is I have included some noteworthy links and will continue to add new ones. has added a new feature to the home page called Front Porch Forum where you can discuss recipes and access new ones. There is also a link on the front porch forum to chat about books, movies, films, quilting and other life experiences.
Writers Almanac is hosted by Garrison Keillor. He recounts some historical highlights in the literary world and reads a short poem or two.
Let me know what you think of the new layout.
Looking for ideas to add your child or grandchild's Easter basket? My friend has written a book called On Harley's Farm that can be ordered through Follow the following link to view a zipped copy you can download and read about Harley and his life on the farm. Its a wonderful visual to show that special child in your life more about what farm life is like and some of the machines used.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Today is the day William Wordsworth published his first copy of the poem I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud in 1807. His later revision was in 1815. Perhaps this poem teaches us we must commit to the best things we have seen and heard to our memory so that our inward eyes can recall them. William and his sister Dorothy were walking home one day in the Lake District in England near Ullswater Lake when they observed a huge field of daffodils dancing in the wind. Dorothy wrote their observations in a journal and William two years later wrote this famous poem. When he revised it a second time his wife Mary even added lines 21-22.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth

Celebrate Spring with a Daffodil Cake and Tangy Lemon Frosting
  • 1 box angel food cake mix
  • 1/4 tsp. yellow food coloring
  • 1 tsp water
  • 6TB. softened butter
  • 5 -1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • milk
  • Prepare cake mix as directed on box
  • Equally divide the batter into two bowls
  • Mix water and food coloring add to one bowl of batter-blend
  • Spoon batter into tube pan-alternating batter white -yellow-white-yellow
  • Bake as directed-invert- cool and frost
  • The cake will frost better if refrigerated an hour so its firm
  • Beat 5TB. softened butter or margarine till fluffy
  • Beat in 5-1/2 cups powdered sugar with 3 tsp. lemon zest and 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • Use about 1/3 cup milk to get spreading consistency
  • Frost and add lemon zest on top
  • Can sprinkle toasted coconut on top and sides after frosting or try macadamia chips on top

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A Houdini Trick

Since returning from a dog heaven vacation Bella has had a few adjustments to life back in the suburbs. She spends a great deal of her time gazing out the window checking for passing by wildlife and pond activity. Believe me this past week there has been a lot to see.
One morning within a time span of just half hour 3 deer pranced by, an otter carried a dead rabbit across the the pond's waters and in front of the house a turkey strutted by the driveway's edge. I can assure you Bella did not miss a single one of these sights and began to plot her escape.
The next day I hooked her up out back on a tether to do her business. I left my window post for only just enough time to get a cup of coffee. Upon return I was aghast! She had simply vanished. But how could this be? She had been secured tightly with her collar to the tether chain. And there lying on the ground was her orange collar with tags still secured to the chain. Now this seemed like some Houdini type of trick to me. She must have just slipped out of the collar (which I thought was tight enough) and off she went in search of something that she really wanted to catch.
Fortunately this mishap had a happy ending. I stocked myself with dog treats and began my search in the neighborhood for a collarless dog. Bella showed up after awhile several blocks away and seemed totally unfazed by all the fuss. To her this was just one more excellent adventure!

PS. Houdini was a magician, escapologist, stunt performer and actor. He died in 1926 from a ruptured appendix. I posted a picture of his ostentatious grave site.

Primavera means "spring" in Italian. The name refers to the crunchy and colorful melange of vegetables in a creamy pasta dish. There are many variations of this pasta but I found this one easy to follow and quite good. If you are vegetarian substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth. Also I choose to roast the vegetables first rather than cooking them in boiling water. Roasting gives a more intense flavor. A variety of pasta can be used when making this dish. I used penne.
Check out the May issue of bon appetit. They have made some major changes in their format/design and type of articles which give you advice, tips and the stories behind the recipes. The entire issue is devoted to Italy.

  • 1 package of mushrooms
  • 1 small container of cherry tomatoes or four large tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil 0r 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 TB. lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 TB. herbes de Provence
  • 2 cups green beans cut in half
  • 1 cup bias sliced carrots
  • 1-1/2 cup fresh asparagus cut in 2 inch long pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli or cauliflower
  • 12 oz. fettuccine, linguine, vermicelli or spaghetti
  • 1 small red or yellow pepper
  • 1 small zucchini or summer squash
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 TB. Balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup whipping cream
  • 2 TB. flour
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Heat oven to 450 and line a cookie sheet with foil
  • Lightly grease foil with olive oil
  • Toss cut up vegetables except mushrooms with 3 TB. olive oil and 1/2 TB. lemon juice
  • Roast 15-20 minutes until tender (al dente)
  • Cook pasta- drain and add vegetables to hot pot with drained pasta- cover both to keep warm
  • Saute in 2 TB. olive oil and 1 TB. butter minced garlic, mushrooms and onion about 5 minutes
  • Add herbs. vinegar and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
  • In a small bowl add flour to whipping cream and then add it to broth/herb mixture
  • Cook and low heat till thick adding 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese at a time to blend in
  • Pour sauce over vegetables and pasta-toss gently to coat
  • Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Paying Attention

You learn something
everyday if you
pay attention.
Ray Le Blond
A daily posting of a doodle and a grand total so far of 528 drawings to be exact, writer and illustrator Nancy Carlson has to her credit. Her prolific writing and illustrating career has produced 61 published books. She has delighted readers with her Harriet the pup, Henry the mouse, Loudmouth George the rabbit and Louanne the pig. I was impressed reading the feature story about her in Sunday Star Tribune paper: A Doodle A Day by Jeff Strickler. You can access the story through this link to the Star Tribune or go directly to her blog to see her posting of the day.
What I found fascinating about her blog is the approach. It is a picture blog with subjects running an imaginative gamut from roller-skating squirrels to chickens in outer space. The posting has minimum words. Her doodles vary both in style and the type of media used. She is clever finding inspiration for her drawings in everyday happenings, unusual holidays and has even tapped into the Justin Bieber fever. The above quote I found suits Nancy Carlson well. Perhaps her works in progress will be just the inspiration you need the next time the urge comes on for you to doodle!
Some spring menu ideas...
Asian Pork Tenderloin
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1-1/2 lbs. each)
  • 2 TB. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1/2 TB. salt
  • 1/2 TB. pepper
  • 2 TB. peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup Chinese plum sauce
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 1 TB. tomato paste
  • 1TB. soy sauce
  • 1 TB. rice vinegar
  • 1 TB. fresh ginger minced
  • 3 TB. pineapple juice (can use orange juice as a substitute) add 2 TB. cornstarch to juice, blend
  • 1/2 TB. chili garlic sauce
  • Trim tenderloins of any excess fat
  • Combine five-spice powder, salt and pepper and rub over meat
  • Heat oil over medium high, sear pork on all sides about 5 minutes
  • Simmer remaining ingredients in saucepan for few minutes till slightly thickened
  • In oven proof pan place pork and pour sauce over
  • Cook till internal temperature 140 degrees
  • Garnish with fresh chives
Asparagus and Green Onion Risotto
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb. fresh asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat
  • Add onions and thyme and saute 1 minute
  • Add rice stirring to coat
  • Add 2-11/2 cups of the broth and bring to a boil
  • reduce heat to medium low simmer, stir occasionally about 15 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup broth stir till liquid absorbed
  • Repeat procedure with remaining broth
  • Stir in asparagus simmer 3-5 more minutes or until asparagus is tender
  • Stir in Parmesan cheese and sere immediately

Tequila Lime- Coconut Macaroon Bars
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice-do not use bottled lime juice
  • 3 TB. tequila
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • Line bottom and side of a 13 x 9 pan with foil and extend foil 2 inches over the side
  • Lightly grease
  • Stir 1-3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon
  • Cut butter into mixture using fingers to get a crumbly mixture
  • Press into bottom of pan and bake @ 350 20 minutes or until lightly browned
  • Whisk eggs till smooth, add coconut, lime juice, zest,tequila and rest of sugar (1-1/2 cups)
  • Whisk till smooth
  • Stir baking powder, salt and remaining 1/4 cup flour
  • Add this mixture to egg mixture and blend till smooth
  • Pour over hot crust
  • Bake @ 350 for 29 minutes or until filling is set
  • Cool one hour and lift foil from pan and place on a baking rack to cool more
  • Garnish with powdered sugar when cooled

Friday, April 8, 2011

Peeps Show and Garden Candy

Who knew marshmallow treats could inspire such creativity!
I read recently in a local paper Twin City Pioneer Press that they were sponsoring their annual peep contest just in time for the Easter holiday. It was amazing looking at some of the past entries. Then I saw in a magazine an advertisement for a site where one can go to vote for this year's finalists sponsored by the Washington Post. They have a wonderful video explaining each finalist entry. I posted both sites Twin Cities Pioneer Press and Washington Post.
Be sure to check out what's happening with peep contests in your own area. If too late to enter for this year maybe you will find some ideas to use as a holiday centerpiece.
With warmer temperatures and thoughts of spring gardening right around the corner you might be interested in knowing about about a new garden candy variety called Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea. It is a stunning 2010 winner. Check your local landscape nursery for availability.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Comfort Food

"Well", said Pooh," what I like best-and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat which was better than when you were but he didn't know what it was called."

So for me this moment might be called "mom's cooking from my growing up days" As I was preparing and sampling the following recipe Chicken Ala King it was a reminder of a comfort food my mother would make for special occasions. She would serve it over those weird patty shells with the gummy centers that needed to be forked out and filled with sauce. I decided to take on a Betty Crocker favorite recipe from the 50's 60's and 70's and put my own spin on it.
I have some recommends in the cooking magazine department. BHG has a special interest publication called Best Comfort Food Feed Your Soul. Lots of tried and true recipes but with a modern spin. Another publication Pillsbury Breakfast and Brunch Made Easy has a variety of recipes made with few ingredients and a simple approach. These publications can be found at the grocery store.
But let me segue back to Winnie The Pooh. There is a site that gives some of his famous quotes
this is one of my favorites...
"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."
In case you need to be brought up to speed on Winnie facts I have included a few
Born December 24 1925 in London Daily News as a story for children by A.A. Milne
Nationality British
Education Hundred Acre Wood and Trail Smarts
Occupation Large hearted friend, huntsman honey, braver of bees, solver of problems
Interests/Hobbies Mirror exercises, visiting game player, adventuresome in search of honey
Winnie The Pooh is endearing because he often embodies many of the qualities we might find undesirable in ourselves. He's packed on a few pounds and is always hungry. But above all he is a loyal friend and bearer of practical wisdom. He even has authored his own cookbook!
Mom's Chicken Ala King Recipe
with my own adaptations
Serves 8
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1 small package of fresh mushrooms cleaned, dried and chopped
  • 5 TB. butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cooked chicken breasts diced (can substitute ham)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1-1/4 cup chicken broth( Swanson low sodium)
  • 1 Tb. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 2 TB. chives
  • 1/8 tsp. marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1-1/2 cup cooked peas/carrots (I used frozen package)
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • optional 1- 4 oz. jar diced pimento
  • optional spice called herbs de Provence 1 tsp.
  • In butter saute onion, mushrooms, pepper, celery about 5 minutes
  • Add dry spices to 1/2 cup flour
  • Mix with a whisk flour and chicken broth and then add to mushroom mixture
  • Add half and half and bring to a slow boil and cook till thick
  • Fold in chopped chicken and cooked frozen vegetables
  • Sprinkle fresh grated Parmesan cheese and blend till smooth
  • Serve over shells or biscuits
  • If sauce is too thick can be thinned with a bit of milk

Sunday, April 3, 2011

End of the Line

Sometimes your joy
is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile
can be the source
of your joy
Thich Nhat Hanh
Final Chapter: The World According to Bella
After three long days on the road we finally made it home. My people told me I deserved a 10+ for the ride. Not once did they hear me say"Are we there yet?" But I can tell you that thought was in my head many, many times. My resting space for the ride home seemed to be so much smaller than I remembered when we began the trip. When I got bored riding in the back I would inch my way up to front as far as my people would allow. I liked to rest my head between my people listen to their conversations and hope some extra treats would come my way. We posted a photo.
Since my behavior was exemplary at the end I got an unexpected trip to the dog park. I ran like a gazelle freed at last. I wowed all my friends with tales of my adventures. They were amazed at the variety of foods from the beach seafood buffet I consumed and lived to tell.
As soon as car stopped I bounded inside. I was so excited to see all my stuff and a favorite quilt. I quickly snuggled into the folds of the quilt and that brought a huge smile to my face. My eyes seem to get heavier and heavier. Just as I was about to drift off to sleep I started thinking about another new adventure but this time it was about the lake.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Second Best Place

Chapter 16 The World According to Bella
Just as I thought I couldn't be any more bored watching endless scenery out the window hour after hour I heard my people say" We are here."
I was puzzled what did they mean by here and this did not look like my home. I soon found out that we had arrived at the second dog friendliest place in the US: Asheville. I couldn't believe all the water bowls out in front of the downtown stores just for me and my doggie friends. Many store windows had signs that said: Dogs Welcome. One store sign even said: Dogs Welcome and Humans on Leash!. Now this is what I call a dog friendly town with a sense of humor. I got excited seeing a store named Bella. But for me the best part of this stop was the dog bakery for treats. I was salivating just looking at all the bakery choices. The owner couldn't have been nicer asking me what I would like to sample. I ask you...why can't we have something like this at home!!! Our stop was brief and we were on the road again. But I didn't seem to mind since my tummy was full and it was time for my late morning nap.
Granny's Sheath Cake
adapted from Christy Jordan's cookbook called Southern Plate
This cake has many names. It often called Texas Sheath Cake but Ms. Jordan calls it Granny's Sheath Cake because it is one her Granny often makes.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 stick margarine and 1 stick butter
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 TB. Kahlua
  • Heat oven 400
  • Lightly grease 13 x pan pan
  • Sift flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon
  • In saucepan combine butter, margarine, coffee and cocoa
  • Whisk-place on medium heat and bring to a boil
  • Remove from heat and pour into flour mixture
  • Add rest of ingredients mix well
  • Bake 20 minutes
  • Make icing and spread over cake
  • 1/4 cup margarine or butter
  • 1 package ( 6oz.) chocolate chips-semi sweet
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • 2-1/2 cup powdered sugar
Directions for icing
  • In medium saucepan bring margarine, chips, sugar, and milk to a boil
  • Reduce heat and cook for 3 minutes-remove from heat
  • Beat in powdered sugar and vanilla-use tablespoons of milk to get right consistency about 1/3 cup-beat till smooth-can do this right in saucepan
  • Note: Will use only 1/2 mixture (icing) for the cake-rest can be stored in freezer in a tightly covered plastic container

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

GET TO KNOW YOUR APPLES Pink Lady , great balance of sweet and tart. Granny Smith , maybe the most popular baking apple. A little more tart ...