Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Call of Ladyslipper Cove

When the word was out in our Up North neighborhood the pink plants were blooming we jumped at the chance to visit Lady's Slipper Cove. Our neighbor has over some 700 Lady's Slipper plants. You need to know that is quite rare to have so many Lady's Slipper plants in one area. Usually the plants are scattered about near the shoreline and into the cool damp woods. These plants have a short bloom life often under a week. They are Minnesota's state flower and this wildflower has been protected by state law since 1925. It is illegal to move or cut these plants. What a relief there are no restrictions on how many pictures one can take! Indeed all these plants certainly were a yard show stopper.
A bit of a twist on Strawberry Spinach Salad
some added items to the standard salad
  • red onion rings
  • bag of baby spinach leaves
  • sliced strawberries
  • sliced cucumbers
  • blueberries
  • dressing: Girard Raspberry (it is a great accompaniment)
  • Honey Roasted Almond Accents (3.5 oz) found in the deli section (sprinkle on top of salad to serve)
A light-summer dish Broccoli-Asparagus Pasta
  • 2 cups cooked small pasta (ex. gemelli or corkscrew)
  • 1 head broccoli chopped
  • 2 zucchini sliced
  • 8 oz. asparagus (cut off woody stem)
  • 1-1/2 cups snow peas
  • 1 small package of white mushrooms sliced
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 TB. fresh parsley
  • 3 TB. fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cook pasta and drain
  • Steam veggies (except mushrooms) over a pan of boiling water and cook just till they soften
  • Rinse veggies with cold water
  • In same pan that had pasta melt butter and add onion and mushrooms
  • Saute 1-2 minutes
  • Add veggies and cooked pasta
  • Using a wooden spoon stir in cream, broth, parsley, Parmesan cheese and heat all the way through
  • To serve add a dash of nutmeg and more grated Parmesan cheese on top

Monday, June 27, 2011

An 1896 Reference Book

Brandied Peaches
  • 1 peck of peaches
  • half their weight in sugar
  • 1 qt. brandy
  • Remove skins from peaches
  • Alternate layers of peaches and sugar in a stone jar.
  • Then add brandy
  • Cover closely, having a piece of cloth under cover of stone jar.
exact recipe was taken from the Original Boston Cooking School Cookbook 1896
by Fannie Merritt Farmer

Needless to say this recipe caught my eye...not only from the standpoint of all the brandy but confusion of the recipe in terms of measurement (like how much sugar?? and what size is this jar??) I have seen this book Boston Cooking School Cookbook 1896 referenced as the first cookbook in history to provide carefully worked out level measurements with easy to follow directions. It also was the first cookbook to use cupful, teaspoon and tablespoon as measurements. In 1896 Fannie M. Farmer, the principal of Boston Cooking School, was responsible for the creation of this cookbook to help make women's lives easier in the kitchen.
Perhaps you are wondering how I happened to have my hands on this book. Today I was a volunteer sub at our town library which is an old cabin (circa 1937) Books are donated here by residents and summer visitors and are checked out on the honor system (paper-pencil and no due date) no high tech here. Since I had a bit of time on my hands I explored the books and was quite interested in reading this one.
I chuckled over the last chapter titled: Recipes Especially Prepared for the Sick.
It begins the chapter telling that statistics prove 2/3 of all diseases has some error in the diet. The correct proportions of food principles have not been maintained for properly cooked food and presentation. Proper preparation of food for the sick is of great importance in the restoration of health. The chapter gives step by step directions on how to arrange an invalid's tray using a spotless cloth over the food, daintiest china and choicest silverware, correct placement of flowers and food on the tray. The last line of the chapter seemed quite funny. "Never consult the patient as to his menu. Anticipation often creates appetite." p 491. The chapter also included recipes for foods with nutritional values to make the patient better.
Now we all know why our recuperation periods from sickness and diseases lag. We could use a nicely fixed tray.

I posted a photo of the book and the library. Also posted a photo of a dinner menu idea using fresh berries.
Pork Tenderloins with Blackberry Sauce
Pork Tenderloin (I used a Hormel brand)
In saucepan
  • Mix 2TB. cornstarch with 1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
  • Add !/2 cup Merlot
  • 6 TB. Blackberry Preserves
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 cup blackberries
  • On low heat till thick and bubbling
  • On foil place pork tenderloin spreading chopped green onions on top-spoon some of the sauce on top
  • Grill for about 55 minutes (or till 160 degrees on a meat thermometer) add sauce as needed during the cooking time
  • To serve spoon sauce over it
Serve with wild/ long grain rice
Marinated Berries
  • In a bowl slice strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Sprinkle 2-3 TB Grand Marnier (depends on how much fruit you are using) over berries
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for one hour-stir occasionally

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Star Fruit-Peaches

Life is a bag of peaches.
Be the juicy one.
This food for thought quote comes from Life's Little Instruction Calendar by H. Jackson. Perhaps think how might you apply this principle to your life.

Summertime eating just gets better with the appearance of peaches in the stores. I did not realize peaches were first grown in China and then spread from their homeland to the western world via India and Persia. I must go on record saying once you have tasted a Georgia or Western Colorado peach you are in danger of becoming addicted. If only these peaches were available all year long since their star quality enhances a multitude of recipes. See the July issue of Southern Living for their feature story Peach and several recipes
Although Georgia is called the peach state South Carolina and California also rank high in peach production. The following recipes I have collected over the years and they make the "peach shine" as the main attraction.
Peach Melba Sauce
  • 1- 10 oz. package of thawed raspberries with juice
  • 1/3 cup red currant jelly
  • sliced pitted peaches
  • 1-2 TB. Kirsch or Grand Marnier
  • Drain berries and reserve juice
  • Add water to juice to make 2/3 cup and add 2 TB. cornstarch
  • In a pan whisk juice, water and cornstarch
  • Add jelly and cook on low heat till thick
  • Remove from heat and add 1-2 TB Kirsch or Grand Marnier
  • Spoon over sliced peaches
  • AND even better... serve with a scoop of ice cream
  • This sauce could also be served over chicken or pork with peaches
Peachy Mimosas
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 2 cups peach nectar
  • champagne
  • Mix juice and nectar
  • Fill each glass half full with juice mixture
  • Top off with Champagne
Peach-Riesling Sangria
Make this a day ahead for flavors to intensify
  • 1 bottle of dry Riesling
  • 1- 1/2 cups white cranberry peach drink
  • 1/2 cup peach schnapps
  • 3 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean split lengthwise
  • 2 -1/2 inch thick lemon slices
  • 2 peaches cut in wedges
  • 10 fresh raspberries
  • Mix first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher
  • Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add bean and stir to blend
  • Add in fruit
  • Cover and chill overnight
  • Mix in ice and serve
Grilled Peach and Mozzarella Salad
  • 5 peaches (do not use white since they have more sugar and water in them and do not hold up as well on the grill)
  • 3 green onions sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 TB. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 TB. tequila
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-6 oz. package of watercress or baby arugula
  • 3/4 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese cut in 16 1/4 inch slices or feta cheese
  • toasted pecans
  • Peel and chop one peach
  • Cut remaining 4 peaches into 28 rounds (1/4 inch thick) cut peaches inward from sides cutting just as you reach pit-discard pit
  • Process chopped peach, green onion and next 7 ingredients in food processor10-15 seconds till smooth-add oil and pulse 3-4 more times
  • Coat cold grill grate with cooking spray-preheat grill 350-400
  • Arrange peach slices on grill and use a pastry brush to put on dressing mixture on one side grill 3-5 minutes turn over and repeat with brushing of dressing
  • Arrange on plate watercress or arugula and top with 2 grilled peach rounds, a slice of mozzarella cheese or crumbled feta cheese and toasted pecans
  • Drizzle each plate with remaining dressing
Please check blog this week for more berry recipes, a twist on Strawberry Spinach Salad and two book recommends

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blueberries! Blueberries!

Blueberries! Blueberries!
They bounce in my bowl,
Blue little blueberries,
I love each jolly blue soul.
Blueberries! Blueberries!
Once I see them, I can't stop.
Into my mouth, they go plop, plop, plop.
Blueberries! Blueberries!
I could eat them all day.
So sweet and so juicy, in a lip-smacking way.
Blueberries! Blueberries!
Glowing in a beautiful bright hue.
I wish I could color all my
pictures in blueberry blue.
Blueberries! Blueberries!
My mom has such a great fright,
when she peeks in the kitchen to see such a sight...
Blueberries! Blueberries!
On my fingertips and nose,
I'm covered in blueberries, from my head to my toes.
But mom doesn't mind, she just giggles from the door,
As one more blueberry blueberry
bounces down along the floor.
by Kathy Patalsky

Here's the berry scoop...

Over 200 million pounds are grown every year with Michigan and New Jersey producing 66% of all blueberries in the US. Did you know that blueberries are the second most popular berry in US and strawberries are number one? It was interesting to note that Blueberry muffins are the official muffin of Minnesota and blueberries are the official state fruit of New Jersey. Talk about healthy...a cup of blueberries is only 80 calories and it has virtually no fat! This fruit offers noteworthy nutritionally benefits with one serving get 14 mg of vitamin C and it rates near the top for antioxidant activity per serving. So enjoy the following recipes that feature "the blueberry" as the star!

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Crust: 2 cups flour, 1 cup regular oats, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup almonds, 1/2 tsp. salt, 3/4 stick of butter and 3/4 stick of margarine, 2 TB. cinnamon

Directions for crust: Grease a 8 x8 glass pan preheat oven to 375

Whisk flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt, cut butter and margarine into small pieces and work into flour mixture. May have to use fingers to thoroughly mix. Add almonds and press 2 cups of flour mixture into pan (save rest for topping) and bake 20 minutes-cool

Filling: Mix in a bowl 3 cups blueberries, 1 cup blueberry preserves, 1 TB. flour, 3 tsp. grated lemon zest

Pour over crust and sprinkle rest of topping mixture on top bake 27 minutes. Let set 15 minutes before serving

Blueberry Pie

Crust: Make your own crust or use prepared crust ( I have used Pappy's brand with success. Use two of the four pie crust pieces for bottom crust and two pieces for top crust. Roll thin and there will be some extra left over and can refreeze.

Filling: 6 cups fresh blueberries, 2 tsp. lemon zest and 2 tsp. juice from one lemon, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 2 TB. tapioca, 2 TB. butter

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 and adjust oven rack to lowest setting

In saucepan place 3 cups blueberries and mash with a potato masher, cook stirring frequently till thickened, and mixture reduced to 1-1/2 cup about 7 minutes-cool slightly

Add to rest of blueberries, lemon zest, cinnamon. juice sugar, tapioca, pinch of salt to cooked blueberries

Pour into bottom pie crust, scatter butter on top few in little pieces

Top mixture with rolled crust, crimp strips of foil around edges to prevent over browning

Mix a little sugar and cinnamon, moisten crust with a little milk using a pastry brush and sprinkle cinnamon/sugar mixture. Make 5 large slits.

Bake 30 minutes @ 400 then reduce temperature to 350 and bake about 20 to 30 minutes more until juices bubble and crust is brown. Let pie set several hours before cutting.

Blueberry French Toast

Ingredients: 1 loaf of french bread sliced into 1 inch slices, set aside on a cookie sheet

Egg mixture: 6 eggs well beaten, 1-1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla- beat well and pour over bread slices to soak them

Directions: Spray with PAM a 9 x 13 pan

Mix 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. cornstarch into 2- 1/2 cups blueberries

In pan start with blueberry mixture on bottom, layer wet bread/egg mixture on top of blueberries

Drizzle 1 Tb. melted butter on top of egg mixture

Cover and refrigerate overnight

Bake uncovered @ 400 for 25-30 minutes

Let sit 5 minutes, cut pieces and invert on plates,sprinkle with powdered sugar

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Light Another Candle: 2 Celebrations

If you have been following my blog recently you have figured out I am 'in" to celebrations and today is such a day.
The first observance of Father's Day took place in Fairmount, West Virginia July 5, 1908. Mrs. Grace Clayton wanted to celebrate the lives of 210 fathers whose lives had been lost in Monogah, West Virginia's mining disaster. For the next 40 years several presidents recommended national observances but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation for Father's Day. In 1966 President Lydon Johnson issued first presidential proclamation designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. In 1972 Richard Nixon signed this proclamation into law making it an official national holiday. Follow this link to see what date other countries celebrate fathers and honor fatherhood.
Take time today to say "thanks" to someone who is a father or a father figure making a difference in a child's life.

June 19 is Juneteenth Day and another day to pause-remember and celebrate! It is also called Freedom or Emancipation Day. It is a holiday in the United States honoring African American heritage by commemorating the announcement of the abolition of slavery in the U.S. state of Texas in 1865. It is recognized as a state holiday in 37 states of the United Sates. The state of Texas is widely considered the first U.S. state to begin Juneteenth celebrations. Today many states observe this holiday with barbecues, picnics, parades, family gatherings, public speeches, prayer, music and dance.
Juneteenth is a day that stands for the dignity and equality of all citizens, regardless of race, so that all may share in the blessings of freedom that America provides.
George W. Bush, 2005
Jelly Cake is a very popular dessert in the south often served at picnics and barbecues. This is my version of it in a cupcake form.
Lemon-Raspberry Cupcakes
  • 3/4 stick of margarine and 3/4 stick of butter(softened)
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar divided
  • 4-1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups flour
  • 4 TB. fresh lemon juice divided
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • about 13 tsp. raspberry jam
  • fresh raspberries for garnish
  • Preheat oven @ 350
  • Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners
  • Beat margarine and butter, 1-1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla and 3 tsp. lemon peel till blended
  • Beat until fluffy and pale yellow
  • Add eggs one at a time-beat after each addition
  • Beat in half the flour then add buttermilk and 2 TB. lemon juice
  • Beat to blend and add remaining flour
  • Drop I large tablespoon of batter in each muffin tin- spoon 1 tsp. raspberry jam into batter
  • Cover with remaining batter equally
  • Bake about 23 minutes cook on a wire rack
Beat:1-1/2 remaining powdered sugar, 2 TB. lemon juice and 1-1/2 tsp lemon peel
Might have to add some milk for better frosting consistency
Option: adding 1 TB. raspberry jam to some of the frosting so six cupcakes pale lemon and 6 raspberry colored frosting

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Literary Adventure with Billy and Winning Prize Recipe

A Dog on His master
by Billy Collins
Ballistics 2008

As young as I look,
I am growing older faster than he,
seven to one
is the ratio they tend to say.

Whatever the number,
I will pass him one day
and take the lead
the way I do on our walks in the woods.

And if this ever manages
to cross his mind
it would be the sweetest
shadow I have ever cast on snow or grass.

Recently I had the opportunity to go on a literary journey to a nearby small town in Minnesota. I met with a group of women who come together monthly to discuss poets and read a selected book of poems. Yesterday they were discussing Billy Collins's book of poems titled Ballistics. Just in case you are not familiar with this poet (which I was not) he was the US poet laureate for two terms 2001-2004 and New York state poet 2004-2006. He has an impressive list of awards and honors to his credit. Mr. Collins has published 12 books of poetry and has edited three others. He is famous for a conversational style in his writing. He welcomes readers into his poems using humor and wit as he makes profound observations on everyday life happenings, the art of reading and poetry.
check this link if you would like to read more of his poems.
Marvelous Mediterranean Vegetables
This recipe by Cathy Godberson was Taste of Home June/July 2011 Grand Prize Grilling Winner
It was easy to prepare and has lots of possibilities as a side dish for summer grilling.
serves 8
  • 3 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 each medium sweet red, yellow and orange pepper
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 10 fresh asparagus spears cut in 2 inch lengths
  • 1 small red onion sliced and separated into rings
  • 1 small container of grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 cup fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup pitted Greek olives
  • 1 bottle 12 oz. Greek Feta Vinaigrette (Girard's brand)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Slice mushrooms, peppers and zucchini and place in a large resealable plastic bag
  • Add rest of vegetables and onions in bag
  • Pour vinaigrette into bag and seal-turn to coat
  • Refrigerate at least 20 minutes
  • Drain vegetables and discard marinade-transfer vegetable mixture to a grill wok or basket
  • Grill uncovered 8-12 minutes or until vegetables tender-stir frequently
  • Place on a serving plate and sprinkle with cheese
Note: if you do not have a grill wok or basket can use a disposable foil pan. Poke holes in bottom of pan with a meat fork to allow liquid to drain before grilling

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Celebrating with Blueberry Cupcakes

Patti Digh's book Life is a Verb is still on my mind. See previously written blog review of the book. The author 's guide book hopes to motivate the reader by throwing out some challenges to try within 37 days. I particularly liked her idea for finding ways to celebrate on non-holiday/non-birthday days. She suggested that one should always have on hand a box of birthday candles and matches for just the right occasion to turn an ordinary day into a great one.
In the author's own words: Go to the grocery store today. Buy five packages of birthday candles. Use them with wild abandon. Find a cause for a birthday celebration every day for the next 37 days. It doesn't have to be a big thing-the little things are even more fun to celebrate because they are unexpected. Never be without your candles. I travel with a pack because you just never know when a celebration will break out -and you know what the Girl Scouts say:Be Prepared. p.33
So I decided this was a worthy goal found matches and purchased several packs of candles. Recently while at a restaurant with friends celebrating a birthday I gave each person in the group a pack of birthday candles and a small box of matches. I suggested they look for a reason in the next few weeks to celebrate with a friend or family member and light a candle to mark the occasion.
I think serving a cupcake would be a good way to add to the celebratory mood! Be sure to light the candle.
Blueberry Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 3-1/4 cups flour
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 TB. butter melted
  • 1/4 cup oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 TB. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1-1/4 cup fresh blueberries that have been frozen for 4 hours-freezing the berries before adding to batter prevents them from sinking to bottom or discoloring batter
  • 2-1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp. vanilla
  • about 3-4 TB milk
  • 1- 3 oz. package softened cream cheese
  • 2-3 TB. lemon zest
  • 5 TB. softened butter
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Line muffin pans with 24 cupcake liners
  • Sift dry ingredients
  • Whisk melted butter and oil in bowl
  • Add eggs and whisk in buttermilk, milk,vanilla and lemon zest
  • Add buttermilk to dry ingredients whisk just to blend
  • Stir in frozen berries
  • Bake 20-23 minutes
  • Frost when cooled

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Savor Lemon Cookies and Tea With A Few Good Books

Every path has puddles-
jump in
Edgy book titles always pique my interest to delve in and find out more what's behind the cover. It is somewhat like the urge to jump into a puddle sometimes just to have a little fun. Life Is A Verb 37 Days To Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally by Patti Digh is just the book that warrants a closer look. I will start out by saying it is a self-help book but it distinctively stands out from other books in this genre. The time frame of 37 days made an impression on the author as she was experiencing in a rather short time her stepfather's initial diagnosis of lung cancer and subsequent death 37 days later. Trying to make sense out of something so awful the author contemplated the question What would I do today if I only had 37 days to live? Her three year exploration of this question resulted in a guidebook for living. Six "I" practices emerged as action plans for the reader to consider as part of their daily life.
Intensity-Say yes
Inclusion-Be generous
Integrity-Speak up
Intimacy-Love more
Intuition Trust yourself
Intention-Slow down
From an illustrator's point of view the collage type pictures scattered throughout the book are a fun addition. While writing the book she asked readers on her blog if any would like to submit art work. She was able to incorporate 37 submitted drawings.
Patti Digh wears many hats: a mother, wife, writer, motivational speaker, blogger and author. Follow this link to learn more about her
Lastly, if you are a person who collects or just enjoys quotes this book incorporates a wealth of them.

Magic Bullet by Larry Millet is a Minnesota mystery totally on the opposite spectrum of a self help guide. This is the author's 6th book writing mystery stories featuring the collaboration of two detectives Shadwell Rafferty and Sherlock Holmes. All the mystery books he has written are works of fiction set in Minnesota during the turn of the century. The author is quite clever to weave a story with Sherlock Holmes character and prominent Minnesota figures. For those who are not native to Minnesota is a just a really engaging mystery with a lot of twists.

Lost in Shangri -La by Mitchell Zuckoff is a non-fiction story about about 24 American servicemen and WAC's who boarded a transport plane in 1945 for a sightseeing trip over Shangri-La in the mountains of Dutch New Guinea. The plane crashes and miraculously three passengers survive. John McCollom is one of the survivors stricken with grief over the death of his twin brother Robert who also was on the plane. The surviving passengers endure a harrowing hike down the mountainside and encounter a primitive tribe who had never seen a white woman or man before. Mitchell Zuckoff recounts this incredible true-life adventure as this trio is determined to get out of the jungle, find help and how a brave group of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors.
I was drawn to this book with a personal connection. A high school/college friend's father was Robert McCollum, John McCollum's twin brother who died in the plane crash on May 13,1945. My friend never knew her father since her mother was four months pregnant at the time of the crash. The book has personal photos, mementos, a survivor and rescuer's diary, and photos of original film footage to accompany the story.
Lemon Cookies
adapted from Cook's Illustrated 2007 Holiday Baking
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TB. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup-1/3 cup fresh lemon juice about 2 large lemons
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 stick of butter and 1/2 stick of margarine cut into into 1/2 inch cubes (chilled)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • In food processor, process sugar and zest about 30 seconds
  • Add flour, salt and baking powder-pulse 10- 1 second pulses
  • Scatter butter/margarine chunks over flour mixture and pulse till mixture is coarse like corn meal crumbs
  • In small bowl beat lemon juice, yolk and vanilla
  • With machine running add juice-yolk mixture add in slow stream to form a ball about 10-15 seconds
  • Work dough and gently knead dry bits in and then shape into a log about 10 inches long-note: depending on how much juice you have a little flour may be needed while kneading the batter into a log
  • Roll dough tightly into parchment paper
  • Place log for 45 minutes in freezer or 2 hours in refrigerator
  • Slice cookie log and place cookies on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Bake @ 375 for about 11 minutes till edges start to brown
  • Cool on a wire rack before adding glaze
  • juice from 1-2 lemons about 1/4 cup
  • 1 TB. cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
whisk cream cheese with juice and beat into confectioners' sugar

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Good Luck Charm

Our good luck charm these past two weeks have been dragonflies. These aerial acrobats dart about scooping up mosquitoes for a tasty meal. They hover airborne moving up and down, side to side and even fly backwards like a hummingbird. It is a harmless insect that does not bite and moves at an amazing speed of 45 miles an hour. It flaps its wings a mere 30 times a minute. Since we have an overabundance of pesky bugs this spring I more than welcome these speed demons on the scene.
In China people associate the dragonfly with prosperity and harmony. Among Native Americans, it is a sign of happiness, speed and purity.
I am no stranger to dragonflies since at last count I had some 60 dragonfly objects around the house in many different shapes and forms. One of my favorite items is a dragonfly door knocker. Today my photo lens captured a resting dragonfly on the outside of the house.
Smoked Mozzarella Pasta Salad
  • 1 (6 oz.) jar of marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 (8 oz.) package of rotini pasta cooked
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red peppers drained and cut into strips
  • 1/2 lb. smoked mozzarella cheese or smoked Gouda cheese cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 small bag of spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise and Miracle Whip works fine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • Drain artichokes, reserve marinade-Cut artichokes into strips and place in a large bowl
  • Add peppers, cheese, spinach with pasta and toss together
  • Stir marinade, mayonnaise/Miracle Whip Parmesan cheese, pine nuts and garlic together
  • Add to pasta mixture
  • Cover and chill
optional: 1/2 (4.5 oz.) chopped green chiles drained

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lighter Fare

Minnesota's Lady Slipper

Thought for the day...the more you recognize and express gratitude
for the things you have, the more things you will have
to express gratitude for.
by Zig Ziglar

As the days turn warmer a "lighter fare" of food is in order. Grilling and cold foods seem so much more palatable than heavy comfort type foods. Maybe some of these easy recipes are just what you need to survive a hot day.
Both recipes adapted from Southern Living June 2011
Summer Fruit Salad
  • 1/2 cup prepared poppy seed dressing
  • 2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced
  • 4-5 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 cup red grapes halved
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 1 mango, julienned
  • 1 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup green onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • optional items: kiwi-pineapple-toasted almonds
  • Whisk dressing and ginger
  • Mix fruit, onions, cilantro, arugula
  • Toss this mixture with dressing
  • Serve immediately
Chicken and Tortellini Salad
  • 2- 9 oz. packages refrigerated cheese filled tortellini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (use jar found in produce dept)
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken
  • 1 cup frozen peas thawed or snap sugar peas (blanched)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • In blender process olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice and parsley flakes
  • Cook tortellini according to package directions, drain
  • Mix chicken, basil, onions, pine nuts, peas
  • Mix in dressing and chill several hours before serving

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Celebrate A Spring Harvest

Some men see things as they are and ask why.
Others dream things that never were
and ask why not.
by George Bernard Shaw
All my years of accumulated knowledge and schooling seemed to have taken a bit of a hit recently when I read the list of some of the words given out towards the end of the 84th Scripps National Spelling Bee! Some words I had not even heard let alone know how to spell correctly. Certainly it was a hairy finish for the winner Sukanya Roy, a 14 year old who spelled "cymotrichous" correctly to win. In case this word is not in your repertoire: cymotrichous is an adjective used to describe something having wavy hair. How about weltschmerz and pavonazzo? These were the words missed by the last two contestants.
Akeelah and the Bee, a 2006 movie, is about an 11 year old girl Akeelah who has an amazing talent for memorizing and spelling words. Her environment and lack of family support threatens her quest for success. Realizing that Akeelah has a rare talent, her principal steps in and provides her with a coach. The movie gives a lot of interesting background to the Scripps Spelling Bee. It was impressive watching the diligence these contestants display as they put in daily long hours of practice trying to reach their goal of winning.
Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
  • pie crust (I have used Pappy's -frozen pie dough thawed with a lot of success-use two dough circles for bottom crust rolled thin and 2 dough circles for top crust-there will be some excess-I have found one circle for each crust is not enough )
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 TB. tapioca
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2- 1/2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
  • 3 cups of diced strawberries
  • Mix all ingredients except pie crust
  • Let ingredients sit in a bowl for about 20 minutes
  • Drain juices out of mixture using a slotted spoon and spoon fruit mixture into bottom crust
  • Dot with 1/2 tsp. butter place on fruit
  • Top with crust
  • Mix a little cinnamon and sugar together
  • Brush top crust lightly with milk-if get too much milk dab with paper towel
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture on top and make 5 slits on top as vent
  • Crimp strips of foil around outside edge of crust to prevent over browning
  • Bake 400 @ 35-40 minutes till filling is bubbling through crust vents
  • Let pie cool 2 hours to set will be easier to cut (only if you can wait that long!)
  • additional note...I found a metal pie pan for this recipe works better than a glass one

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A juicy, fragrant berry

Lettuce is like conversations:
It must be fresh and crisp and so sparkling
that you scarcely notice any bitter in it.
Charles Dudley Warner, novelist

Note: a spelling mistake was made in the French classic dessert recently posted. It is spelled Clafoutis. See the blog: Cooking with a French Flair. Also I added the pronunciation.

June is synonymous with strawberries and nothing is better than a just picked berry. There is an abundance of u-pick farms in our area. Do-it-yourselfers always benefit budget-wise picking their own plus its a fun outing. Look for strawberry rhubarb pie on the next posting.
I did read an interesting tip bring out the flavor of a lackluster berries put them in a bowl after they have been hulled and sliced. Sprinkle a little sugar on them a tablespoon or two for every pint of berries. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. The sugar draws the moisture from the berries to make a sweet natural syrup. My personal preference is to make a fruit compote using strawberries and sprinkle 2 TB Grand Marnier over the mixture then cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for several hours. It gives the berries a great taste.
Strawberry Salsa with Cinnamon Tortillas
Salsa Ingredients:
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 yellow pepper stemmed and seeded
  • 1/2 cup kiwi
  • 1/2 cup cucumber
  • 4 plum tomatoes-chopped
  • 2 cups strawberries sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 TB. fresh lime juice
  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 TB. honey salt -pepper to taste
  • 1 Tb honey
  • Mix all the fruits, onions, pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro
  • In a blender add all juices, honey and oil
  • Pour over fruits, vegetables, onion and cilantro
  • Cover and refrigerate 2-4 hours
Serve over chicken, pork, fish or with cinnamon tortilla chips
Cinnamon Tortilla Chips
  • 3 TB. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 6- 6 inch tortillas
  • Mix sugar and cinnamon
  • Lightly brush the tortillas with olive oil
  • Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges
  • Sprinkle with cinnamon- sugar mixture
  • Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes on a cookie sheet

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 ...