Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cucumber Salad with Fresh Dill

Cucumber and Dill Salad
Cook's notes: Looking for a healthy, quick summer salad? This cucumber salad takes only a few minutes to make. It is easy and delicious. The salad pairs perfectly with any grilled meat or fish. Radishes can be substituted for celery. Adding fresh dill takes this salad to a whole new level. 
Use English or European cucumbers. These cucumbers usually come in a plastic wrapper. 
  • 4 English cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  •  1/2 cup warm water
  •  3/4 cup white sugar
  •  1/4 cup finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 TB. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced or 3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. celery seed
  • Place cucumbers slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes. Squeeze excess water without ruining the cucumber. 
  • Whisk vinegar, water, sugar and pepper in a saucepan. Bring to a boil stirring constantly, 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. 
  • Toss onion with radishes or celery. Pour dressing over the cucumbers mixture, add fresh dill and mix. 
  • Cover and chill two hours. Serve side dish cold. Use a slotted  spoon to serve. 
  • Optional add in tomato chunks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cantaloupe with Blueberries and Blackberry Peach Puree

Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eyes level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain. 

Cantaloupe with Blueberries and Blackberry Peach Puree
Cook's notes: This puree makes a terrific sauce for pancakes, French toast, waffles, scones or muffins. It can be made a day in advance and refrigerated to thicken. The recipe make one cup and comes from book "Morning Glories" by Donna Leahy.
Serves 4
Puree Ingredients:
  • 1 pint blackberries
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 2 medium ripe peaches. peeled, pitted and quartered
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. sugar
  • 2 TB. blueberry or blackberry jam
Puree Directions:
  • In a blender combine blackberries, peaches, lemon juice, sugar, and jam.
  • Process until smooth.
  • Serve in a pitcher or on a plate with cut up cantaloupe and blueberries. 
by Seamus Heaney
Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer, and the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Keeping Cool with Frozen Desserts

Looking for ideas to keep cool on warm summer days? Follow this link for several mouthwatering frozen treats that can be made into milk shakes, frozen pops or placed in plastic cups. 

Lemon Curd Raspberry Dessert
Makes 6-8. Adapted from “Malts & Milkshakes,” by Autumn Martin.
Cook's notes: This was an impressive dessert recently served at a luncheon. It requires little preparation and can be stored in the freezer until needed. The ice cream dessert was served with cookies and just the perfect sweet touch to cap a meal. It was creamy and flavorful.  
The ingredients were poured into plastic cups with lemon zest on the side and topped with 2 raspberries. Be creative and try using other fruits that would pair with lemon curd such as strawberries, blackberries or blueberries and substituting raspberry, black cherry or peach for vanilla ice cream. 
Before I knew what the ingredients were I had guessed yogurt. What a great summer treat!
• 1 cup fresh raspberries
• 1/4 c. sugar
• 1 c. lemon curd (homemade or ready-made)
• 1/4 c. milk
• 8 scoops vanilla ice cream

  • In a small bowl, combine raspberries and sugar. Macerate berries by tossing them in the sugar and allowing them to sit for a bit.
  • Blend the lemon curd, milk and ice cream until they are mostly combined. Stir in macerated raspberries.
  • Pour into molds and freeze until slushy, then insert sticks and freeze until solid, for at least 4 hours. (Or follow manufacturer’s instructions for your ice-pop kit.) 
Have you ever made a dish with cucumbers and noticed that your dish turned out watery?

This is likely due to the high water content in cucumbers. A cucumber that weighs 52 grams is approximately 96% water. No wonder!

Salted cucumber slices
Luckily there is an easy way to prevent cucumber dishes from becoming watery.
Simply slice, chop, dice (whatever the recipe calls for) your cucumber and place it in a small strainer over a bowl. Sprinkle each layer with kosher salt (I used ¼ teaspoon), cover, and refrigerate overnight. Other options are to place the cut cucumber on a paper towel or cloth, or even soak in a bowl of salt water.
The longer you allow the salted cucumber to sit, the more water will be drawn out. You can then prepare your recipe as usual, just use a little less salt than the recipe calls for.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Savor Summer with a Grilled Meal

"Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of the pieces.

-- Judith Viorst
Raspberry Balsamic Sauce 
Cook’s notes: Brush this sweet,savory sauce on heart healthy fish and poultry the last 15 minutes of grilling. Any remaining sauce can be drizzled over the dish right before serving.
The sauce can be made in advance. 

Roasted red potatoes pair well with this meal. Cubed potatoes can be drizzled with olive oil, placed in a foil tent and grilled along side of the meat.
Suggested wine pairings include: Rose, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Beaujolais.

Recipe serves 4

  • ½ cup sweet onions, chopped or minced shallots 
  • 1 TB. vegetable oil 
  • 1-cup tomato sauce 
  • 1-cup seedless raspberry jam 
  • ¼ cup each good quality balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar 
  • 2 tsp. each Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce 
  • salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste 
  • Sweat shallots or onions in vegetable oil on medium heat until softened 2-3 minutes. 
  • Whisk in tomato sauce, jam, balsamic and red wine vinegars, Dijon and Worcestershire. 
  • Simmer sauce 10 minutes, and then season with salt, black pepper and pepper flakes. 
Blood Orange and Dark Chocolate Balsamic Summer Vinaigrette Salad (a light summer salad) 

Cook’s notes: White Balsamic Vinegar and White Pomegranate Vinegar can be substituted for Dark Chocolate Balsamic. 
Winter Vinaigrette Salad: Substitute apples or pears for the oranges. Add in pomegranate seeds for the blueberries.
Ingredients Vinaigrette:
  • 6 TB. Blood Orange Olive Oil 
  • 3 TB. Dark Chocolate or White Balsamic Vinegar or White Pomegranate Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon 
Ingredients Salad:
  • Mixed greens 
  • 2 oranges, peeled, cut into segments 
  • 1-pint blueberries 
  • 1 cup sliced almonds 
  • 1 small cucumber, diced 
  • Optional ½ cup feta or goat cheese crumbles 
  • Whisk vinegar and Dijon together, add in oil and mix all ingredients in a screw top jar. 
  • Drizzle with dressing right before serving.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The World According to Bella

Paul Bryan Janeczko (July 27, 1945- ) is an American poet and anthologist. He has published 40 books in the last 30 years, including poetry compilations, non-fiction guides for young writers, and books for teachers.
This is one of my favorite poems for children by Paul Bryan Janeczko. i thought it quite sweet about a young boy wishing only the best for his mother.
Saturday night
Dad washed, I dried
the supper dishes
while Mom armed herself
for Early Bird bingo at seven
in the church basement:
her lucky piece
(a smooth quarter she'd won the first time out),
seat cushion,
and a White Owls box of pink plastic markers.

Dad read the paper
watched TV with me
until Mom returned,
announcing her triumph with a door slam
and a shout
"I was hot!"

Flinging her hat,
twirling out of her jacket,
she pulled dollar bills
from her pockets
before setting them free
to flutter like fat spring snow.

"Ninety-two dollars!" she squealed
as Dad hugged her off the floor.
"Ninety-two dollars!"

In bed I listened to
mumbled voices
planning to spend the money--
on groceries
school clothes
a leaky radiator--
and wished she'd buy
a shiny red dress
long white gloves
and clickety-click high heels.

In Janeczo, Paul, ed. The Place My Words are Looking For: What Poets Say About and Through their Work. New York: Bradbury Press, 1990.
Introduction- In the book, Janeczko describes how he came to write "Bingo." He thinks of it as a love poem, with everyone wanting the best for those they love.

Accidental Escape
My hole in the front yard gets deeper and deeper when Mrs. S isn’t watching me. It’s been a great resting place on hot days when I’m not inside getting my AC fix. What does annoy me is when rainwater fills up my hole. Then I have to wait until it dries up to start digging all over to get it just the way I like it.

One particularly hot day, Mrs. S said I could ride into town while she did some errands. I did not hesitate for a moment since I knew the van had AC. First stop was the gas station on Highway 371 to drop off recycling. Two yippy dogs outside next door to the station caught my attention with all their barking. But its what happened next that really took me by surprise. Mrs. S hit her key remote to open what she thought was the rear hatch instead she hit the button to the side door. The door opened. I sat in disbelief for a split second before realizing my good fortune. I was able to easily escape. Off I flew to investigate the barking dogs.

Now here is where I went a bit crazy but Mrs. S would say I was quite naughty. As soon as Mrs. S recovered from the shock of opening the wrong door, she started screaming and yelling my name demanding that I get back into the van. But I had better things to do than go back with so many new places to explore. The closer I got to the barking dogs the more they yipped and whined. Maybe they really wanted to play with me but I couldn’t figure out how to get over the fence. So after circling the yard a few times I took off across Highway 371 to check out Mike’s Auto Repair Shop and a nearby ravine. Mrs. S ran across Highway 371 screaming and calling my name, her voice sounded frantic. This was becoming a fun game with Mrs. S trying to catch me. I ignored her warnings, ran around the building and down toward the ravine. Mrs. S was making such a racket with all her screaming two men came out of the shop to see what was going on. I could hear them laughing off in the distance when they spotted me running down the hill towards the ravine and Mrs. S trying to catch me.

Trying to stay ahead of her I ran up the hill and back across Highway 371. I wanted to check out the barking dogs again, but they were nowhere to be seen. So I crossed back over Highway 371. I managed to make it safely across dodging all the cars and trucks zooming by. But I was worried about Mrs. S. I wasn’t sure she was watching for traffic running back across Highway 371 trying to keep up with me. She seemed out of control with all that screaming “Bella, stop! I said stop!”

The two men were still standing outside the auto shop laughing, watching all the commotion and not even making a move to catch me.

A chipmunk darted in front of me, which sent me down to the ravine trying to catch it. But I was not fast enough and the chipmunk scampered up a tree to safety. But at least Mrs. S’s voice did not seem so loud down here. All of this running back and forth was making me thirsty. The water in the ravine had dried up. I remembered Mrs. S had a supply of water in the van so I ran back across Highway 371 AGAIN. The van door was still open. I hopped in thankful my water bowl was still on the floor. Mrs. S. was right behind me and quickly locked the side door. I knew I’d better be on my best behavior if I wanted to see my water bowl filled.

For the next hour while she finished up her errands, all I heard was how bad I was, how a car could have hit me, yadda, yadda, yadda. I really didn’t understand what the big problem was. I did make it safely back to the van and even got in a day's worth of exercise. But I worry about Mrs. S. who seemed completely undone over the recent events. 

Love, Bella
Please note: There was an error in Blood Orange Brownies ingredients posted July 26th. I apologize for the confusion and have corrected the error in the original recipe.
It should read 1/2 cup cocoa powder not 1/2 cup baking powder.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blood Orange Brownies

Olive oil makes baked goods better for you by supplying a healthy fat and antioxidants. It adds incredible depth of flavor to the baked goods. 
Be sure to use less olive oil in the recipe than the amount of butter you are replacing. Conversion Chart found at end of recipe.
Generally speaking, cookies made with olive oil take slightly longer to bake than cookies made with butter or margarine. Keep an eye on your cookies.
Cookies baked with olive oil tend to be slightly lighter in color than butter cookies, so avoid over-baking the cookies.

Brownies, unfortunately, will never be considered a health food, but there are ways to minimize the amount of unhealthy trans fats in the chocolate treats. Substituting infused olive oil for use in brownie mixes is a way to add a new dimension of flavor. 
 More adventurous cooks can make olive-oil-based brownies from scratch, resulting in a savory treat free of some of the unhealthy fats found in vegetable oil based margarine.
The possibilities for olive oil uses in cooking are endless with specialty stores carrying a variety of infused olive oils.  Pairing oils with balsamic vinegars raises the recipe to a whole new level. 
Blood Orange Oil is one of the most popular oils with an incredible range of uses. It adds a hint of citrus to a dish. It can be drizzled on seafood, used with a balsamic vinegar as a vinaigrette over mixed greens, drizzled over roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, asparagus or green beans. But pair Blood Orange Oil with Dark Chocolate Balsamic and you have raised the bar. It's one incredible taste!!
Blood Orange Chocolate Brownies with Dark Chocolate Balsamic 
Cook's notes: Tangerine Balsamic can be substituted for the Dark Chocolate Balsamic. The brownies are quite moist. Brownies can be frosted or dusted with powdered sugar. Just type in Blood Olive Orange Brownies in GOOGLE and many links to recipes appear.
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 TB. Blood Orange Fused  Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh orange zest
  • 6 oz. 60% dark chocolate, chopped or 6 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar 
  • 2 TB. Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 5 large eggs, whisked
  • 1/3 cup flour   
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9  pan. Line the pan with a strip of parchment paper, cut to overhang the long sides of the pan.

  • In a saucepan on low heat melt chocolate and butter. Whisk constantly until melted completely.
  • Remove pan from heat and mix in Blood Orange Olive Oil, whisked eggs, Dark Chocolate Balsamic, orange zest and sugar. Mix until well combined with a whisk.
  • In a small bowl mix flour and cocoa powder and add to wet ingredients. Fold until there are no visible dry spots.
  • Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out with very moist crumbs adhering. 
  • Cool brownies in pan for 15 minutes and then lift parchment paper out and place on to a wire rack. Cool completely before cutting. 
Conversion Chart
Butter/MargarineOlive Oil
1 teaspoon=3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon=2 1/4 teaspoons
2 tablespoons=1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup=3 tablespoons
1/3 cup=1/4 cup
1/2 cup=1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup=1/2 cup
3/4 cup=1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup=3/4 cup

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Deep Dish Peach Pie

Deep Dish Peach Pie
Cook's notes: Summer in a dish. Deep dish peach pie is the best of both worlds. You get all the goodness of a "crumble," the flavor of juicy ripe peaches and taste of a flaky, buttery pie crust. For this dish you can make your own pie crust or use a prepared refrigerated crust.   
If using a glass or metal pie dish instead of a deep-dish ceramic pie plate, be sure to keep an eye on the pie. It may cook more quickly. 
To easily remove skins from peaches add to boiling water for 30 seconds, place in a colander with ice cubes and with fingers remove skins 
recipe adapted from
Preheat oven to 400 and place place rack at second to lowest position in oven to ensure a crisp bottom crust.  
Streusel topping:
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TB. flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 TB. chilled butter, diced into small pieces
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TB. quick cooking tapioca
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 5-6 cups diced peaches (about 8 peaches) 
  • Roll out dough on a floured surface and transfer to a 9 inch deep dish pie plate. Crimp edges. 
  • Place strips of foil around outside edges of pie plate and press into plate edges. This prevents crust from over browning. Chill crust while making filling and topping. 
For streusel topping:
  • Mix flour, oats, sugar and salt in a bowl. Add in butter, rub with fingertips until mixture holds together in moist clumps.  Using a food processor and pulse a few times is another option. Mix in pecans.
  • Stir sugar with tapioca, cinnamon, nutmeg. 
  • Mix in lemon juice, then diced peaches.
  • Let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  • Using a slotted spoon place filling in pie crust and sprinkle topping over the filling.
  • Slide foil lined baking sheet under rack to catch any drips. 
  • Bake 30 minutes and reduce oven temperature to 350. Bake about 15 minutes more. Juices should bubble thickly and topping golden.   
many egg dishes may be lowered in fat by replacing some of the whole eggs with egg whites and using milk in lieu of cream or half and half. This way the fat is lowered but the taste is not compromised.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Seasonal Plate

did not have the food photo placed with recipes. It was located at end of page so I decided to post the entire submission for easier viewing.   
Remember the blog posting in May about our neighbor who made his own maple syrup and gave us a bottle? 

Since that time I have made these wild rice blueberry pancakes so often we are now out of syrup. So I promptly returned the bottle just like he suggested making sure we will be on his 2015 list. 

People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, But people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou

Minnesota brunch recipes that are sure to please your lake guests. Pair the meal with Prosecco, an Italian sparkling wine or Mimosas. Serve a fruit compote as a side with bacon or sausage.
Wild Rice and Blueberry Pancakes
Cook's notes: Wild rice and buttermilk give these hearty pancakes a nutty texture and blueberries are a flavorful addition. Cook wild rice according to package directions using water and do not add salt. How much wild rice used is a personal preference so begin by adding 1-1/2 cups cooked wild rice to the batter, add more as needed. Cooking wild rice the day before is a time saver as it takes about 50 minutes to cook. Any leftover rice can be used in making a salad. Using cake flour makes a lighter, fluffier pancake. Makes 2 dozen pancakes

  • 3 cups flour or cake flour 
  • 3 TB. sugar 
  • 3 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda 
  • 3/4 tsp. salt 
  • 3 cups buttermilk 
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 TB. vanilla 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 5 TB. melted butter 
  • 1-2 cups cooked wild rice 
  • 2-3 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • Warm oven to 350 degrees and turn oven off. Cooked pancakes can be kept warm on a baking sheet in oven as you continue making pancakes. 
  • In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to combine, make a well in the center of the ingredients and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl beat buttermilk, 2% milk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla. 
  • Pour the wet mixture into the well of the dry ingredients and use a rubber spatula to combine. Add wild rice and blueberries and mix folding in until just blended. Do not over stir; the batter will be slightly lumpy. 
  • Heat a griddle over medium high heat (dial at 400). You can flick water across surface and when it beads up and sizzles the griddle is ready to go. 
  • Pour 1/3-cup batter on the griddle for each pancake. 
Zucchini, Tomato & Mozzarella Tart
Cook's notes: This dish is versatile because it can be served as a brunch item or as an appetizer. Also the tart makes good use of readily available summer produce. The twist in this recipe is using puff pastry for the crust rather than a traditional piecrust. Use a firm tomato like plum or Roma as it holds up better for baking. The tart can be served warm or at room temperature.
It tastes like a cross between a quiche and pizza and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
The recipe has been adapted from Pepperidge Farm
· 1 package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
· 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
· 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
· 1/3 cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves
· 1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
· 2 cups zucchini slices
· 2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
· 2 large eggs 
· 1 cup half and half
· 1/4 tsp ground pepper
· 2 tsp. dried Italian herbs

· Preheat oven to 400 degrees
· Unfold one pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface (wax paper). Roll pastry sheet to a 13 inch square removing corners to form more of a circle. Press pastry into the bottom and up sides 2 inches in a 9-inch springform pan. Note: I found one pastry sheet was not quite enough to bring sides up 2 inches. You may need to press in some of the second pastry sheet to cover the sides of the pan.
· Layer mozzarella cheese, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, basil and green onions over bottom pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. Italian herbs.
· Pat zucchini and tomatoes dry on a paper towel.
· Alternate the zucchini and tomatoes in a concentric circle over bottom layer.
· In a bowl whisk together eggs, half and half and pepper in a bowl with a whisk. Pour egg mixture over the vegetables. Sprinkle ½ cup Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp. Italian herbs on top. Fold the sides down towards the filling.
· Bake 35-40 minutes or until set. Let tart pan cool on a wire rack 20 minutes but first remove the sides of the spring form pan. Use a butter knife to loosen inside edges.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


words to ponder

It doesn't get much better than biting into a ripe, juicy, sweet peach especially one that comes from Georgia, South Carolina or Texas. The flavor is superb.

For more than 100 years, since Georgia first began shipping peaches beyond its borders, the state has claimed the fruit as its own.

An image of the peach is on the official state quarter and its license plates. In Atlanta, a giant peach drops from a downtown building each New Year's Eve and a driver can get lost among all the streets with variations on the name Peach tree. But in the last few years South Caroline's peaches are catching up in production and flavor with Georgia as well as Texas.

The peak of the Hill Country peach season in Texas continues through the end of July with great freestone varieties such as Red Globe, Dixiland, Ruston Red and forthcoming varieties Redskin, Jefferson, Elberta, and Jersey Queen. 
Take advantage of the summer months to buy peaches and try some of these recipes. 
Hill Country Peach Glaze
Glazed Peach Chicken Wings
Peach Glaze
serve over grilled ribs, pork roast, pork tenderloin, chicken breasts or chicken wings
  • 1 TB. peanut oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 TB. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup peach jam
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup finely diced peaches
  • Heat oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently about 5 minutes.
  • Whisk in remaining ingredients except diced peaches. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2-5 minutes until thick and syrupy. 
  • Set aside and add in diced peaches. Glaze can be made ahead one week in advance but keep refrigerated. Reheat before using and use a little orange juice to thin. 
  • Reserve 1/2 cup glaze for serving and set aside. Add rest of glaze (basting) the last 5 minutes of grilling time.  

Peach Upside-Down Cake
adapted from Virginia Willis Southern Living Magazine 

  • 1 cup cake flour* 
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1- 1/4 cups sugar, divided 
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened, divided 
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 cans peach halves, drained and cut into wedges (or 4 whole fresh peaches) 
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream 
  • pecans
Note: If you don’t have cake flour, measure 1 cup of all purpose flour. Remove 2 tablespoons of flour and add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. 
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  • In a small bowl combine cake flour (or all purpose flour and cornstarch), baking powder and baking soda. Whisk together and set aside. 
  • Place a 10 inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar, stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. Cook until sugar is melted and turns dark amber in color. Remove from heat and quickly stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Spread evenly and sprinkle brown sugar over the caramelized sugar. 
  • Place peaches over brown sugar and sprinkle with a handful of peacans. Set aside. 
  • Add 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar and vanilla into bowl of electric mixer and beat until creamy. 
  • Add eggs beating until well combined. Add sour cream beating just until incorporated. 
  • Add flour mixture slowly mixing until all combined. 
  • Spoon batter over peaches and spread evenly. 
  • Place skillet on a foil lined baking sheet. 
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 
  • Cool for 10 minutes in skillet. Loosen edges with a sharp knife. Invert cake onto a serving plate. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. 
  • Great with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. 
Follow this link to 61 recipes from Southern Living that showcase one of your favorite seasonal fruits peaches. 

To freshen plastic storage containers and remove the residue left by oily salad dressings and tomato based sauces, scrub with a paste of baking soda and water. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homemade Dressings

Why use store bought dressing when it's so easy to make something good at home that doesn't include all those stabilizers, preservatives and sweeteners. The following recipes are creamy dressings without the cream. 
Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Cook's notes:You can use the dressing warm or place in a jar and refrigerate up to one week and serve it cold.  Recipe  adapted from
  • about 2 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled
  • 1/4 cup high-quality balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • about 1 tablespoon strawberry jam (or honey), optional (taste for sweetness)
  • good pinch of sea salt
  • a couple grinds of fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the strawberries on the parchment paper. Roast for about 15 minutes or until the strawberries are softened and very juicy (you can also use the broiler, but cut down the time to about 8-10 minutes).
  • While the strawberries are roasting, place the balsamic, olive oil, jam/honey, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. When the strawberries are finished, let them cool slightly and then add them and all their juices to the food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add the mustard and pulse once or twice, just so it mixes through.

Tomato Basil Vinaigrette

adapted from Bobby Flay

  • 1 - 14.5oz. can Diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 TB. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 cup high quality extra light virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • In a food processor or blender, combine the tomatoes, vinegar, garlic, basil and olive oil; blend well. 
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.
Raspberry White Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
recipe adapted from
  • 1 cup raspberries fresh
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Mash the raspberries and mix everything in a blender.
Lemon Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
recipe from adapted from
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tsp.balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 clove garlic, grated (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • Mix everything in a blender except oil and then add it in a steady stream.


Perhaps the most perfect marriage of kitchen staples is that of vinegar and oil,called vinaigrette. The classic ratio is 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil. But it can be adjusted to personal preference. Less vinegar yields a gentler result. The keys are quality ingredients and thorough emulsification. 
A splash (about a half a teaspoon) vinegar can enliven almost any dish. Try these different ideas:
  • balsamic vinegar on slices of melon
  • rice vinegar over grilled vegetables
  • toss cucumbers with a slash of red wine vinegar
  • apple cider vinegar over cooked squash
  • white wine vinegar  on any bean dish
  • sherry vinegar over shrimp before grilling
  • apple cider vinegar in coleslaw

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis, MN
In June a surge of water cascading from Minnehaha Falls captivated the attention of those living in the Twin Cities area. Remember we had copious amounts of rainfall that month. A daring kayaker rode the water surge of 53 feet and lived to tell about it. Here is a link to a youtube video recording the event in case you missed seeing it.  
A recent visit showed the falls had been noticeably tamed.  

Chicken Tortilla Soup
Cook's notes: This recipe can be prepared in a slow cooker or on a stove top. If using a slow cooker HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW 6-8 hours. If using stove top LOW for 50-60 minutes. The traditional recipe does not call for rice but I added 3/4 cup uncooked rice to give the soup more substance. I used prepared tortilla chips (strips) rather than making my own.
The soup turns up the heat with a bit of a kick to it with loads of flavor using Mexican salsa, cumin and chili powder. 
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into large pieces
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chunky tomatoes (basil, garlic, onion)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 banana pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 2 (14.24 oz.) cans of low sodium chicken broth  
  • 1 (7.76 oz.) Mexican salsa
  • 1/4 tsp.each  cumin, chili powder and salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 TB.fresh cilantro,minced
  • In a non-stick skillet saute garlic and onion in 1 TB olive oil
  • Add in chicken pieces and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
  • In a slow cooker or large pan add in precooked chicken, onion, garlic and rest of ingredients.
  • Cook stove top 50-60 minutes on low or slow cooker  on HIGH 3-4 hours or LOW 6 hours.
Optional Homemade Corn Tortillas Strips
  • 7 small corn tortillas
  • vegetable oil
  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with oil.
  • Cut into strips and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Bake until crisp about 10 minutes.
  • To serve, sprinkle tortilla strips over soup.   

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake and a Lake Art Fair

A great way to spend a summer day is strolling among the lush gardens of lake neighbors, viewing art and crafts, enjoying a slice of pizza from Linnea's outdoor woodfire oven and buying a loaf of her homemade organic woodfire oven bread.

This is the second year Man Lake neighbors have hosted an art and garden fair. There was something for everyone. 
Original art work to purchase. 
A chance to visit with local artists.

And many handmade craft items for purchase including pottery, baskets, jewelry and wooden bowls made by a 12 year old that were phenomenal.

Each bowl was made with a variety of woods to give it a unique design.

The intensity and range of colors and textures that showcased the work of local artists was certainly inspiring for this art and craft fair. 

I marveled at how healthy all the plants and flowers looked but wondered how the owners managed to successfully elude the deer. 

Today is the birthday of  French artist Edgar Degas (July 19, 1834-Sept. 27, 1917). He is considered the founder of Impressionism. More than half of his works depict the movement of dancers. Degas was fascinated with the movement of ballet dancers.   
 Ballet Dancers in the Wings is one of his more well known works.
Strawberry Shortcake
Cook's notes: Savor the flavors of summer with this light dessert. I made my own shortcakes but something from the bakery like sponge cake works just as well. 
Strawberry Filling 
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen halved strawberries in syrup, thawed
  • 1/4 cup currant jelly
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 cups fresh quartered strawberries
  • 2 TB. cornstarch
  • 1 TB. orange Cointreau (liqueur
  • Drain berries in a glass measuring cup.
  • On stove in a saucepan add drained juice, currant jelly, water, orange juice and strawberries from the box.
  • Add in cornstarch, whisk to blend.
  • On low heat thicken sauce and add in fresh strawberries.
  • Remove pan from stove and stir in Cointreau.
  • Place strawberry mixture in a bowl, cool, cover and refrigerate.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Crockpot or Slow Cooker Meals

Slow Cooker Chili
serves 6 recipe adapted from
  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1 pound London broil or top round steak, trimmed of fat and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1- 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably Mexican style), with liquid
  • 1 cup light or nonalcoholic beer, water or chicken broth
  • 1/3 to 1/2 jalapeno chili, halved, seeded,and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2-15-ounce can kidney beans (or pinto beans), drained and rinsed
  • Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, nonstick frying pan or skillet. Add the beef, onion, and garlic and cook until browned, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes).
  • Spoon the beef mixture into the slow cooker. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or high 3 hours.

Best Ever Beef Stew
Serves 6 recipe adapted from
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1 to 1- 1/2 cups peeled and diced rutabaga or turnips or sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1 pound beef stew-meat chunks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (oregano, basil, garlic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • Pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • Put everything but the flour and the tomato paste in a slow cooker; stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on the low setting for 8 hours or on high for 4  hours or until the beef is tender and the potatoes are just fork tender.
  • Stir the stew once or twice as it cooks, if possible. About 30 minutes before serving, transfer 1/2 cup of the broth to a small mixing bowl.
  • Add the flour and tomato paste and whisk until smooth. Stir the mixture into the stew and cook for the remaining half hour.
Pork on a Bun
Serves 8 recipe from
  • 3- to 4-pound pork-butt roast or beef brisket
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1-16-ounce jar barbecue sauce
  • Soft rolls
  • Carefully trim the meat of visible fat and season it with salt and pepper. Place the onions in the bottom of the crock, then lay the meat on top of them. (You may have to cut the brisket in half and stack the pieces.)
  • Pour about a half cup of the barbecue sauce over the meat and flip it around to coat it. Cover and let it cook for 9 to 10 hours on low.
  • Carefully remove the cooked meat from the crock and pour out the fat and juices, retaining the onions. For the pork: Using two forks, shred the meat into stringy chunks, discarding any fat.
  • Put the meat back in the crock, mix in the remaining barbecue sauce, and let it cook another half hour or so. 
  • For the beef: Slice the brisket across the grain and place it on a platter, discarding any fat. Cover it with sauce and let it sit for 10 minutes or so if you can bear it! Serve on soft rolls, onions on the side.  
Chicken Corn Chowder 
Recipe adapted from Fix It and Forget It Cookbook Slow Cooker by Dawn Ranck and Phyllis Pellman Goud
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts or one rotisserie cooked chicken from the deli 
  • 2 large sliced carrots 
  • 2 celery ribs 
  • 2 medium potatoes peeled and diced 
  • 1 tsp. mixed herbs (1/2 tsp. thyme and ½ tsp. basil) 
  • 12 oz. can cream style corn 
  • 12 oz. can regular corn drained 
  • 1 onion sliced and diced 
  • 1 small box white mushrooms 
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic 
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley or 1 TB. dried parsley 
  • 3 cups chicken stock 
  • optional diced red peppers
  • Saute in 2 TB. butter garlic, mushrooms and onion 
  • Combine all ingredients and place in slow cooker or crock-pot 
  • If chicken is cooked cook chowder on high 4-5 hours 
  • If chicken is raw cook on low heat 8 hours 
Alternatives to the above recipe: 

  • Add 1 cup light cream that has been mixed with 2 TB. flour in the last 30 minutes of cooking time for a thicker creamier version. 
  • Cook 5 bacon strips till very browned , crumble and set aside. 
that you can clean the bottom of an iron that has sticky residue by using salt.

Remove scorch marks on your iron by turning off the steam setting and place several heaping tablespoons table salt on a soft cloth. Next, place the cloth on an ironing board and turn the iron on to the cotton setting. Once the iron heats up, place it on the salt and rub back and forth until the scorch marks disappear. Turn off the iron, allow it to cool completely, and then wipe the sole plate with a damp cloth.

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 ...