Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Holiday Greetings

If I could pass out treats one of these bags would be just for you!
The World According to Bella
Yesterday I scored big at the dog park. Leo was passing out Halloween bags. Lucky me got this bag of doggie treats. My boot camp has finally ended and I am celebrating :) A week of added exercise has left me sore and stiff. Each night I seem to be going to bed earlier and earlier. 
Today I got weighed. Mr. C complimented me on my weight loss. He declared I am now in good shape. I will be able to keep up with the pack at the park. My restricted diet has been lifted, Now I can have some of the treats from my Halloween bag.
Mr. C sure has a lot of instructions for my new dog sitter. I just hope he and  Mrs.S don't forget to pick me up. Wish me luck.
Love, Bella 

Mummy Dogs
This recipe is from BHG
Using one package of refrigerated bread sticks stretch each dough strip to 12 inches and wrap around a jumbo frank or polish sausage. Use capers or olives for eyes. Bake at 375 till browned about 15 minutes.
Optional idea: brushing dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve with mustard and ketchup. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

The World According to Bella

Boot Camp
I changed locations and have been at boot camp the past week. I'm exhausted. Perhaps  I am not in as good shape as I thought after a relaxing summer at the lake. Now twice a day I get walked to the dog park. It is a mile there and back. At the dog park I go many, many laps chasing balls, digging holes, running with the pack, exploring and just hanging out with my buddies. So now add on 2-3 more miles. Now you can understand why due to my exhausted state I have missed the signs. 
Mrs S's newest book

Invite to a French themed dinner
I am about to be under new management for two weeks. 
Today I got the bad news. I am being left behind while Mr. C and Mrs. S go on a trip to a place called France. This will be the first time I have ever been away from them. And to make me feel even worse Mrs. S tells me she is going to blog during the trip and post pictures. I have always done the blogging for our trips and I think she needs my help. But my sad puppy eyes and whimpering does not seem to change their minds. Its a done deal. I am being shipped off. What really worries me is they will have all this fun without me. Mrs. S says I will like my new home away from home. They have a dog to keep me company. I can bring all my toys, my bed and I have even been promised a Skype time. But none of this makes me feel any better. I do not like being left behind and missing out on all the fun of going to a new place. I just hope they don't forget to pick me up. Maybe two weeks will go by fast.
Love, Bella
French Dinner
French Beef Stew, Bourguignonne
follow this link to Julia Child's recipe. She brought French cooking into the American homes. No one does it better than her. This link comes with a video to watch Julia on her cooking shows. She was the first food network star.
Fennel Salad On the photo posted French themed dinner above we enjoyed a fennel salad with cranberries. This is the link to the recipe with added chopped Romaine lettuce.
Shortcut Chocolate Profiteroles
Substitute eclairs with Frozen Pepperidge Farms Patty Shells that have been baked and cooked. Fill each with ice cream and drizzle warm Chocolate Espresso Sauce over top.   
 Espresso Chocolate Sauce
  • 6 oz.bittersweet chocolate
  • 1-cup heavy cream (1/2 pint)
  • 2 TB. Kailua
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup strong coffee mixed with 1 tsp. dried espresso mix

  • Heat cream till almost boiling
  • Remove from stove and add pieces of bittersweet chocolate
  • Stir until smooth
  • Add Kailua, vanilla and coffee-stir till mixed in
  • Refrigerate

Serving: To serve heat in microwave to soften before pouring over ice cream
Make your own cream puff shells or use Pepperidge Farms Patty Shells
Bon Appetit!


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Harvest Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes

When rungs were missing,
I learned to jump.
William Warfield
American concert baritone singer and actor
Harvest Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes
Cook's Notes: So I leaped into the pumpkin cupcake recipe not realizing my bag of leftover candy pumpkins had gone missing!
Well, it never occurred to me to mention the bag was off limits and needed for decorating. I can't entirely rule out Bella but there are others around who also might have been tempted to indulge.
It was lucky that I had back-up sprinkles from last year.
This recipe comes from with several adaptations.  I decreased the sugar amount from 2 cups which seemed too much. I added grated orange zest, more spices, raisins and nuts. 
The recipe makes 30 cupcakes. Store cupcakes in refrigerator since the frosting is made with cream cheese.  
  • 4 eggs slightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar (this amount could even be reduced to 1-1/2 cups since frosting is made with powdered sugar)
  • 1-15 oz. can plain pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1-3/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice mix
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 TB. orange zest
  • Beat eggs, oil, spices and sugar and set aside
  • In another bowl add flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and baking powder
  • Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture, beat till blended, fold in raisins and nuts
  • Pour batter into cupcake liners placed in muffin pans, about 2/3 full for each
  • Bake for 28 minutes @ 350
  • 1- 3 oz. package of softened cream cheese
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 2-3 TB. orange juice
  • 2 TB. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3-1/2 cups powdered sugar
Beat cream cheese and butter, add rest of ingredients and beat till smooth
Frost cooled cupcakes and add sprinkles right away
These moist cupcakes were a tasty treat to snack as I watched the almost full moon make an appearance above the treetops.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Peeps on Parade

I knew I was hooked when I saw these peep products.

It is so easy to be creative and imaginative with fun peep products like these available for  holiday decorating. I wanted to bring cupcakes for a kindergarten class being mindful only store bought treats are acceptable. So I purchased frosted cupcakes and searched the Internet for ideas. 

This is a simple clever idea. Fill a pail with candy corn. Push a stick in each peep ghost and place into the candy corn.

I decided on these ghost pumpkins. I added green sprinkles over the vanilla frosting, a pumpkin candy (Bach's product) and stuck a peep ghost on side of cupcake.
Since I had enough candy pumpkins left over this photo shows my next baking project for the weekend. Check back later for pumpkin spice cupcakes.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Orange and Black

quote by Holly Mathers-Shuemaker
As colors fade and slip away from the landscape, trees stand bare.
We rely on words to keep the memory alive.  

The Colors live
Between back and white
In a land that we
Know best by sight.
But knowing best 
Isn't everything,
For colors dance
And colors sing,
And colors laugh
And colors cry-
Turn off the light
And colors die,
And they make you feel;
Every feeling there is
From the grumpiest grump
to the fizziest fizz.
And you and you and I
Know well
Each has a taste
And each has a smell
And each has a wonderful 
Story to tell... 

ending page from Hailstones and Halibut Bones by Mary O"Neill

Halloween Blondies
follow this link for an easy orange and black recipe

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cheesy Hash Browns

Cheesy Hash Brown Potatoes
  • 1 bag frozen shredded hash browns potatoes (2 LBS.) or can use frozen chunk potatoes thawed
  • 1 small carton light sour cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (fat free/low fat)
  • 3 cups grated cheddar cheese or Swiss cheese or Colby Jack and Swiss combination
  • 1 onion chopped
  • ½ tsp. prepared garlic (comes in a jar)
  • 1 cup 2 % milk
  • 3 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried Rosemary
  • 1 tsp. salt and dash pepper
  • 2 cups crushed cornflakes
  • 2 TB. butter

  • Grease a 13 x 9 pan and preheat oven @ 350
  • Mix potatoes, 2 TB parsley, salt, pepper, Rosemary and onion
  • Mix milk, soup, sour cream, garlic and combine with potato ingredients-place in greased pan
  • Mix 1-1/2 cups crushed cornflakes with 2 TB. butter and 1 TB. parsley flakes  sprinkle on top of potato mixture- optional sprinkle paprika
  • Bake covered 30 minutes, uncover and continue baking about 25 minutes
 The World According to Bella
Sadie's weekend visit left me exhausted. Here I am still sleeping and snoring some 16 hours later.  I guess I had some trouble keeping up with her. She has lots of energy.  

I did my best to be nice. I shared
my toys
my water bowl
my tether line
my lake views
my favorite resting spot under the table
my food
And I even lent her my orange bandanna for a walk in the woods. But then I had to draw the line. When she moved in on my raw hide bone snack I had to get tough. There was no messing with me.
But  all was forgiven with Sadie's thank you gift. It even lights up!!! 

 Have A Yappy Holiday Season

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autumn Fare

Still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate. 
by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bisque is a thick creamy soup that is pureed to get an even texture. The soup had its origins in France. Chowder is similar to bisque but generally has thick chunks of ingredients in a rich creamy base.  

Butternut Squash Bisque
Serves 4
Advance preparation
Place butternut squash on a cookie sheet. Prick holes in squash with a sharp knife. Bake at 400 for 1 hour. Cool and slice lengthwise and scoop out squash. Place in a zip loc bag refrigerate till needed.
  • 3 cups baked squash
  • 3 -1/2 cups chicken broth or chicken stock (low salt, low sodium) or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. Saigon roasted cinnamon or plain ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. curry
  • 1/2 tsp. celery seeds
  • 2 garlic cloves minced 
  • 3/4 cup chopped finely carrots
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 1 TB. orange zest
  • In a fry pan melt 2 TB. Butter or olive oil and sauté onions, garlic, and carrots
  • Add broth, prepared cooked squash, orange zest, spices and bring to boil, reduce heat cover and cook 20 minutes
  • In a blender add this mixture 1 cup at a time and puree
  • In a saucepan add the mixture from the blender and half and half
  • Cook on low heat but do not bring to a boil –serve with croutons in small bowls
Cook's note: If bisque is too thick add more broth

Friday, October 19, 2012

Books to Capture Your Interest

I was born in a forest even darker and more tangled than this one -in the Schwarzwald with its valleys deep as scars. My valley was so steep and narrow we called it the Hollental, valley of hell. Enclosed by precipitous hills, it got very little sunlight. Bruised clouds shrouded the sun in the morning of November,1911,when I closed the coffin lid on my mother's face. I had just turned sixteen.
page 1 from the book Summit Avenue  by Mary Sharratt
What makes good writing and compels you to read? Each one of us has different reasons for our book choices. 
My interest was piqued with the title Summit Avenue  and author Mary Sharratt for several reasons. The author recently was in the Twin Cities to promote her newest book Illuminations.  It is a story about Hilldegarrd of Bingen, a 12th century nun. She was considered an early feminist for her time and was officially canonized this year by Pope Benedict. Canonization is Catholicism's highest honor. It came as a surprise announcement since Pope Benedict XVI is quite conservative and a non-feminist. Mary Sharratt is a former Minnesota native who lives in Germany. 
Summit Avenue was Sharratt's debut novel in 2000. The title refers to a street in the historical section of St. Paul, Minnesota where homes are mansions of grand splendor. The story is compelling, moving and written in lyrical prose. The novel begins shortly before Word War I. Kathrin, a sixteen year old girl, immigrates to St. Paul Minnesota to live with her cousin Lotte. She gets a job in a flour mill in Minneapolis. The story is told in the 1st person and gives insight into America's shift from Old World to New World values and people's attitudes toward World War I.
Kathrin comes from a region noted for its fairy tales. And these type of tales become a  subtext for the story. Kathrin faces daunting challenges throughout the story. She is befriended by Violet, a wealthy lady who invites Kathrin to live in her mansion on Summit Avenue. Her job is to translate German fairy tales to English. It is a unique story of self-fullment, soul searching and about women loving women, a topic rarely addressed at that particular time period. 
I really enjoyed Sharratt's writing style and looking forward to reading her new book.  
An added note: You do not need to be a Minnesotan to enjoy the story from Summit Avenue. 
On a totally different plane of reading is The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March.
How could I resist such a title when I so admire the work of Meryl Streep in the movies. Plus the back book cover advertised if you like The Jane Austen Book Club Series and The Friday Night Knitting Club Series this would be a book you'd enjoy. Reading this novel certainly was a departure from the Sharratt books which were more heavy-weight reading.  But sometimes light-weight beachy type books like this fill a niche in our reading.
March crafted an enjoyable story that centered around three cousins who reunite at their aunt/mother's Inn in coastal Maine. The story deals with some serious issues of single parenthood, terminal illness and infidelity. As the summer progresses the women converge at the Inn to watch Meryl Steep movies. The movies exist mostly as a framework for the  women's discussions showing the parallels between their lives and the movies.  
With all this reading I worked up an appetite. How can one resist a holiday cupcake?
  Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Halloween Sprinkles
Chocolate Cupcake or Cake Batter (13 x 9) 
makes 2-1/2 dozen
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp. soda 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp.salt
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  •  optional; chopped nuts and 2 TB. Kahlua
  • Preheat oven 350
  • Combine sugar, oil, eggs and beat till fluffy texture
  • Add in rest of ingredients
  • In each cupcake holder add 1/2  cup batter
  • Bake 15 minutes
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 TB. butter (softened)
  • 1- 3 oz. package cream cheese softened
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • milk-2 %
  • Start out with adding 1/3 cup milk to frosting ingredients
  • Beat till correct frosting consistency-only add extra milk drops at a time 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The World According to Bella

Guilty Pleasure
The mistakes Mr. C and Mrs. S made recently were leaving me home alone, inside and unattended. The long hours of boredom set in. I just couldn't help myself. As I was sniffing around candy smells wafted my direction. It was then I spied this bowl of candy treats on a shelf just begging to be taken. What was Mrs. S thinking leaving such temptation out!! But wait, what was that other smell? Something even better than candy, raw hide bones. 
Now these are my favorite treats and very hard to resist. I knew then which bag I had to pick. I pawed my way into the bowl, helped myself spilling all the other bags out on the floor. 
Just as Mr. C and Mrs. S returned I was finishing off the remains of two raw hide bones in one of the bags. It was hard to ignore Mrs.S's scolding. I decided to hide under the table. I knew I was bad. 
But how was I supposed to know that one of the bags was for Sadie, my cousin, who is visiting me this weekend.  Really, I think Mrs. S should be happy. I didn't even touch the other bags filled with candy. Besides I am always starving since Mr. C put me on this  restricted diet to lose extra pounds. 
Hopefully, Mrs. S can come up with two raw hide bones for Sadie's visit so I can get out of the doghouse.
Mississippi Mudslides
Now if I were to pick a guilty pleasure it would be this ice cream milk shake from Southern Living  October 2012. Never mind the fact it is a calorie buster but with chocolate, coffee and Kahlua how can one resist.
Cook's note this recipe can be non-alcoholic: omit the bourbon or Kahlua
I adapted the recipe substituting Kahlua for bourbon.
1 pt. coffee ice cream
1 pt. chocolate ice cream 
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bourbon/Kahlua 
Add to a blender-mix till smooth 
Suggested toppings:
whip cream, chocolate syrup,marshmallows (torched using a kitchen tool) or crushed oreos
"There's no limit to how much you'll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go."

by Dr. Seuss   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Raise Your Spirits

Enter inside for some Halloween recipes to 
Raise Your Spirits
Warm Cider
  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 4 cups cran/raspberry drink
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. cloves (not ground)
  • 2 large cinnamon sticks

  • Place all ingredients in a large pot
  • Heat on low till almost boiling about an hour
  • Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves with a slotted spoon before serving

Spicy Mulled Wine
recipe from December 2, 2008
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine like Merlot or Burgundy
  • 1 cup apricot brandy
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • orange, lemon, lime slices

  • Heat just will warm
  • Serve with fruit slices and a cinnamon stick in a mug 
the following are some links to party drinks
I really liked this Kraft link because their recipes ranged from Halloween kid-friendly punch recipes to grown-up inspired Halloween cocktails   

This link had some very imaginative names for the drinks. 
The World According to Bella
Bad News

Follow this link to
 for my next story that was posted in the WWN newsletter:The World According to Bella: Bad News. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Cornbread Recipe Clarification

Cornbread Sticks Pan
The recipe posted on October 15th was called Cornbread Sticks from Country Living magazine. I kept the same recipe title but used an iron skillet to bake the cornbread in the photo posted Oct. 15th. But I must say this unique pan featured above certainly would be a great addition to my culinary tools. Will definitely put it on my wish list.  
If you are lucky to have this type of pan your baking time would be reduced to 12 minutes. In this photo is pictured a vintage cast iron Griswald 7 stick corn stick mold with detailed kernels. 
I came across this blog called southern hospitality where a true southerner defines the difference between cornbread recipes from the North and those from the South.

This link will take you to several authentic cornbread recipes made from scratch.

Monday, October 15, 2012

And so it all ends...

With a final wave to the statuesque majestic Tamarack trees so ended the boating season. 
Now there are only three juvenile loons left behind. Perhaps these three were discussing the quickest route to catch up with the others. 
Pepper-Jack Cornbread Sticks
The promise of only needing 5 ingredients for this recipe caught my attention.  Plus another chance to use my cast iron skillet.
The recipe was found in Country Living October 2012
I added two spices listed under options to give the recipe a southwestern flair.
  • 1 package of Betty Crocker cornbread/muffin mix (6.5 oz)
  • 3/4 cup canned creamed corn
  • 3/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TB. melted butter
  • Preheat oven 400
  • Place a very lightly greased skillet in top third of the oven for 12 minutes
  • In a bowl lightly whisk two eggs, add cornbread mix, creamed corn and cheese
  • Mix only till batter just comes together
  • Pour batter into skillet and bake 13-14 minutes or until center comes clean with a toothpick
  • Melt butter and brush over the top of the cornbread before serving and while warm

Add 2 TB. parsley flakes and a sprinkle of dried pepper flakes to the batter

Sunday, October 14, 2012

e.e. cummings

A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away,
and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.
e.e. cummings
Did you know that by the end of the 1950's e.e. cummings, otherwise known as Edward Estlin Cummings, was the second most widely read poet in the United States, after Robert Frost? 
October 14th is e.e. cummings birthday. He was a poet with an unusual style and took a lot of liberties with his writing. His poems fall, flow, jump and dance with their patterns and use of punctuation  He wrote them in lower case letters, never capitalized the word i, made up words and seemed to have no set of rules. e.e. cummings wrote romantic and sensual poems. When he died he left behind a rich legacy of 25 books of prose, poetry charcoal and pencil drawings, plays and stories.

In reading about his poems, in just and  i carry your heart with me, are noted to be his best. Check out this link to read them

I picked a relatively unknown poem from my children's collection because it seemed to fit the season. It is a devilish poem a perfect ode to the magical night of Halloween. The spacing and words running together are not mistakes on my part :) I copied words as they were in the book:) 
From Chansons Innocentes, II
hist    whist

little twitchy
witches and tingling
hob-a-nob    hob-a-nob

little hoppy happy
toad in tweeds
little itchy mousies

with scuttling
eyes    rustle and run    and

whisk    look out for the old woman
with the wart on her nose
what she'll do to yer
nobody knows  

for she knows the devil    ooch
the devil    ouch
the devil
ach     the great

The World According to Bella
The past few weeks I have been ablaze decked out in orange and it is not even my best color. It is not easy these days trying to stay alive. I have been busy keeping myself visible and dodging arrows from bow hunters in the nearby woods. I am so worn out some days I just have to rest on my porch rug. It seems to be the only safe place for me.
Love, Bella


Friday, October 12, 2012

A Writer's Journey

It was quite exciting to get an article I wrote published in the Fergus Falls Daily Journal. It was about my experience attending a writer's conference October 6th in Fergus Falls. Please follow the link to read the article.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Creative Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

This past weekend I went to a writers' conference. I was quite taken with the imaginative table decorations. Each table had a white pumpkin with a handwritten quote from a famous writer. Next to the pumpkin was a small card with a short bio of the writer. There are lots of possibilities with this idea for Halloween decorating. I was motivated me to do some research. Buying an artificial pumpkin at a craft store turned out to be too expensive. So it is more economical to spray paint the pumpkin white like photo above and then with a black felt tip pen write the message. 
I found these ideas on the link below to help get your creative juices flowing :)

One more pumpkin idea for your consideration from Country Living magazine using your house number with stencils or state.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the LRWN writers' conference in Fergus Falls MN was impressive with the line up of presenters and available resources for the participants.  

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 ...