Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hearty Beef and Vegetable Soup

How beautiful leaves grow old. How full of colors are their last days.

Crisp cool evenings are the perfect time to savor a bowl of warm soup. 
Hearty Beef and Vegetable Soup
Cook's notes: Be creative choosing your veggies for this soup. Some suggestions include: turnips, potatoes, parsnips, butternut squash and green beans. If you use butternut squash I would recommend roasting in the oven small pieces of the squash sprinkled with olive oil. Roasting brings out their sweetness. Recipe adapted from gimmesomeoven and serves 6. One of the best parts is this is a one pot meal. 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound sirloin steak, or beef stew meat (or whatever lean steaks are on sale!), cut into about 1" cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup each diced carrots, celery and mushrooms
  • 1 lb. potatoes (I like Yukon Gold), diced and (if desired) peeled
  • 4 cups beef stock and 4 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. each thyme and rosemary
  • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 TB. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 TB.Italian seasoning, 
  • 1 tsp. salt, or more/less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • (optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley)

Stove top Directions:
1. Place flour in a large zip loc bag and dredge meat cubes in it. In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add cubes and sear meat until well browned, about 2 minutes. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon and transfer to a separate plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and potatoes, and continue sauteing for another 3 minutes.
3. Add the remaining ingredients along with the cooked steak to the pot, and stir to combine. Bring to a slow boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover pot, and simmer for at least 4o minutes or until the steak and vegetables are all tender. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
4. Remove the bay leaves when ready to serve. Serve the soup warm, garnished with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
Slow Cooker Directions:
1. Follow step one in stove top directions. Remove the steak with a slotted spoon and transfer to the bowl of a large slow cooker.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker, and stir to combine.
3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours until the steak and vegetables are all tender. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed. Remove the bay leaves when ready to serve. Serve the soup warm, garnished with chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drum Roll Please-Big News and a Fall Cake

The World According to Bella has been moved to a new site: wordpress. Check out this link Be sure to save the blog address on your bookmark page. Mrs. S will send you a link too on her blogsite when I post.  
Today was a very fine day for us to take a walk to the mailbox and check out some leaf colors.  
Mrs. S thought it was a perfect day to bake a Pumpkin, Gingerbread, Cranberry Coffee Cake. The smells coming from the kitchen left me hoping I'd get a piece but instead I got a healthy but a very tasty treat Peanut Butter Dental Twists. 
Pumpkin, Gingerbread, Cranberry Coffee Cake 
Cook's notes: A coffee cake filled with fall flavors, pumpkin, cranberries and cinnamon. The unusual mix of ingredients intrigued me on this recipe. The cake is dense, flavorful and goes perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. The tart yet sweetness of the cranberries adds the perfect touch to this cake. 
Recipe adapted from BHG Fall Baking 2015.
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat 
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground Saigon/Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. apple pie spice mix  
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • dash freshly ground pepper
  • 3/4 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1-15 oz. can pumpkin NOT pumpkin pie filling
  • 2 large eggs
  •  1/3 cup mild flavored molasses
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.
  • In a large bowl stir together the first 9 ingredients through pepper.
  • Use a pastry blender to cut in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Remove 3/4 cup of the crumb mixture and set aside for topping.
  • In another bowl whisk next 5 ingredients through baking soda and mix well. Add pumpkin mixture and cranberries to remaining crumb mixture.  Stir until just moistened. Spread batter in pan.
  • Sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture and bake 45-50 minutes or until a long skewer comes out clean. 
  • Cool gingerbread in pan on a wire rack, cool 30 minutes.
  • Remove sides of pan and frost cake or drizzle with icing.
  • Refrigerate to set frosting 15 minutes.
  • Beat 3 oz. softened cream cheese, 1 TB softened butter, a few sprinkles of cinnamon and 1-3/4 cups powdered sugar. Add enough milk to get the right icing consistency. Optional adding crushed walnuts.  
Bon Appetit!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Chainsaw Carving Event and Another Stargazer Treat

Chainsaw Carving Event
12 carvers turned logs into works of art at the 11th Annual Chainsaw Carving Event September 23-25, Hackensack, MN. Three days were jam packed with sculpting, quick carves, lumberjack shows, chainsaw carvings auction, plus food, games and raffle prizes.
I was able to make one event:the auction. And what an amazing array of art works that were made from logs-so creative. I left my checkbook behind to ward off temptation but it was really really hard as I could see many of the carved items sitting in my yard to welcome visitors like

or this bear holding a rain gauge which made the carving seem quite practical. 

Then there was a super cute gnome that would look perfect near my garden

and I could see myself sitting on the bench gazing at the lake, listening to the loons and watching a sunset.
The stamina and non-stop patter raising the bidding up and up by this auctioneer was much to be admired. We were amazed how the price soared quickly with most pieces going between $500.00 -$1,500.
Well, you'll be happy to know I was able to stick with the plan passing on purchases. But I really enjoyed all the creative carved works of art.

Supermoon Update We were ready waiting at the dock for the clouds to disappear. 
As dusk settled in some clouds thinned out some and we occasionally got a glimpse of the supermoon. 
But the viewing in the Twin Cities I understand was spectacular with much more clearer skies.  And this was their supermoon view. 
But we still had our stargazer treats; apple crisp and a plum (not peach as I had thought) crumble cake. 
Cook's notes: The crumble cake was tasty and recipe looks easy. It was adapted  from Kraft Foods.
Plum Crumble Cake
  • 1-1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding 
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened, divided 
  • 1 cup granulated sugar 
  • 2 eggs 
  • 1/2 cup milk 
  • 3 cups sliced plums 
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg 
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. grease a 13 x 9 pan. 
  • Combine flour, dry pudding mix, cinnamon and baking powder. 
  • Beat 1/4 cup butter and granulated sugar in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add eggs; mix well. Add flour mixture alternately with milk, mixing well after each addition. 
  • Spread onto bottom of pan and top with rows of plum slices. 
  • Mix remaining butter, brown sugar and nutmeg until blended; crumble over plums. 
  • Bake 35 to 40 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tonight Several Special Treats for Stargazers

Stargazers are in for a treat today September 27th when a supermoon combines with a lunar eclipse for the first time since 1982.

The supermoon eclipse will last 1 hour and 11 minutes, and will be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific, according to NASA. Weather permitting, the supermoon will be visible after nightfall, and the eclipse will cast it into shadow beginning at 8:11 p.m. ET. The total eclipse starts at 10:11 p.m. ET, peaking at 10:47 p.m. ET.

A rare phenomenon, there have only been five supermoon eclipses since 1900 (in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982). After Sunday, the next supermoon eclipse will occur in 2033.

A supermoon occurs when a new or full moon is at its closest to the Earth. "Because the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle, the moon is sometimes closer to the Earth than at other times during its orbit," said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a statement. "When the moon is farthest away it’s known as apogee, and when it’s closest it’s known as perigee. On Sept. 27, we’re going to have a perigee full moon—the closest full moon of the year."

I hope to be enjoying this rare occurrence (weather permitting with a clear night) with our neighbors sampling two desserts; warm apple crisp and my neighbor's Peach Cobbler. The cobbler recipe will be posted Monday. 
Cook's notes: I have updated my apple crisp recipe by making the topping first and placing the bowl in the freezer until needed to crumble over the diced apples. 
The dish went to a whole new level by using Saigon/Vietnamese Cinnamon which intensifies the cinnamon flavor. It is a bit stronger than regular cinnamon but trust me it is good. The spice is readily available in stores and local co-ops. Use a 2 qt. baking dish or a 9 x 9 glass baking dish.

Apple Crisp
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups of quick cooking dry oats
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1-2 TB. Saigon cinnamon
  • ¾ stick of cold butter (6 TB.) diced into small pieces
  • 5 large apples (tart baking apples) diced 
  • 1-¼ cup of sugar
  • 2-1/2 TB. flour
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 TB. Saigon Cinnamon 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a large bowl mix topping ingredients. Add in topping ingredients one cup at a time in food processor. Pulse just until large clumps are still visible. Place bowl if freezer while making apple filling. 
  • Dice apples and mix with rest of filling ingredients. Crumble topping over apples and bake uncovered for 50 -55 minutes or until apples are tender.
  • Serve warm with ice cream-try maple nut or cinnamon instead of vanilla
Bon Appetit!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Weekend Round-Up

Weekend Round-Up 
Some of the week's best  
Upcoming documentary:He Named Me Malala
October 9th in theatres
"One child, one teacher. one book, one pen can change the world."

National Geographic Channel will air Fox Searchlight Pictures’ and Davis Guggenheim’s upcoming feature documentary He Named Me Malala about Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai in 171 countries in 45 languages, joining the global launch for the film. In 2012, Malala was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. FSL will release the film October 2. 2015.

Best Game Day Snacks

Friday, September 25, 2015

The World According to Bella

Its Healthy Friday
Mrs. S is still on her quest for healthy foods. Today she saw this picture in a magazine. She is sure she can recreate a bowl just like this for me.  
Especially when she found this long list of acceptable people foods for me. 
Apples - without seeds or core (apple seeds contain chemical compounds that are poisonous to animals)
Watermelon - without seeds
Frozen bananas
Green beans
Carrots - raw or cooked

Sweet potato – cooked, cubed or mashed without butter or seasoning; regular potatoes are also good, but in limited amounts since they are high in sugar and can increase weight
Squash, zucchini
Popcorn - unsalted and unbuttered
Catnip or cat grass

Well I've tried lettuce and spinach and ugh! And catnip?? not sure on that one. Wonder why sugar snap peas are not on list since they really are my favorite. Oh, and did I forgot to mention I love rice? 
Mrs. S thought these recipes below looked yummy. All three are low in calories. I know I'd like the beef one the best. 
Love, Bella  
P.S. Next week is my weigh-in. Wish me luck. 
Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Tomatoes

Only 275 colories per serving
Arugula Pesto with Spaghetti Squash
Under 200 calories per serving
Sheldon Allan "Shel" Silverstein (September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999 was an American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, screenwriter, and author of children's books.
One of his most popular books is "Where The Sidewalk Ends" based on the poem 
Where the Sidewalk Ends 
by Shel Silverstein
There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Autumn Poetry and New Beginnings

Poetry opens a new season this week with Sharon Harris's beautiful imagery in the poem "Autumn". The scene is set with brushstroked hues of autumn along the mighty Mississippi. 
by Sharon Harris
reprinted with permission from the author

is a shy lady,
gentle and cool,
a bit aloof in her ways,
sharp sometimes
but beautiful too.
she dresses in robes of brilliant color,
from rust to gold,
from amber to shimmering red.
she is flamboyant in her dress
but quiet otherwise.
there is a deep secrecy in her voice,
frost on her breath
and the look of death in her eyes.

"Autumn" from "Four Seasons Women"
previously published in "Unspoken" 2011
"Unspoken" is her third published poetry book. it contains poems of raw feelings that have lived through two broken hearts, loss of a parent, etc. Sharon feels as we all learn, grow and age, it is important to find a way to leave our fingerprints on the world recording one's life's passions and yearnings so they will be remembered. Don't let them disappear unwritten or unspoken. Follow this link to purchase the book for $10.00
Sharon Harris is a poet and a writer. She has had over 170 poems published in various anthologies and magazines. Her hobbies include photography and reading. She has published several poetry books;"Timeless Tracks", "Life Savors" and "Unspoken." Sharon has been the co-editor for the Talking Stick, a Minnesota literary journal published by the Jackpine Writers' Bloc. It is produced entirely by Minnesota writers for Minnesota writers since the beginning in 1995. Sharon does proofing and editing and is on the Board of directors for the Jack Pine Writers' Bloc. 
Catching Up With A New Kindergarten Class
Notes from the Volunteer/Helper:
Another new school year with the kindergartners in Room 106.
Week Three: School is busy with 5 year olds learning lots of new things. Gone are the days of just playing and nap time. School is all day event and for many a whole new experience not having been to preschool. Check this schedule out. In a 3 hour time period they practiced writing numbers

counting numbers 1-5.

They practiced writing their name and identified the letters in their name
sang songs with their teacher, listened to stories and helped make classroom rules.  
One of my assignments for the day was to take photos of each student. 
No this is not a student sleeping but one only pretending to sleep. Each student is making a poster on their hopes and dreams. The "staged photo" is to show them dreaming. I spent a lot of time on the floor arranging each student in a dreaming pose.  
  But some things never change. Many still can't tie their shoes. 
So as I was tying laces I did notice a lot of fancy footwear-smart moves to buy Mary Janes with Velcro. 

Good for me to know upcoming letter for the week is 
and color for the week
to be ready (no pun intended).
Kindergartners favorite book this week was "Mix It Up." It's a delightful interactive read on colors. 
Stay tuned for more kindergartner happenings.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Easy Baked Sausage Pesto Dinner

Easy Sausage Pesto Ring
Cook’s notes: Welcome fall today with this hearty sausage pesto ring dish. It's a great way to use up fresh basil from the garden. The dish can be served as a brunch or main meal. Try chorizo sausage which adds a bit of a kick to the dish. Recipe from BHG and serves 8-10.

  • 4 TB. melted butter
  • 2-16 oz. cans refrigerated Grands Buttermilk biscuits (16 total)
  • 3/4 purchased basil pesto or homemade pesto
  • 3 cups cooked, crumbled Italian or Chorizo sausage 
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 TB. sesame seeds
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10 inch fluted tube pan with 2 TB. melted butter or oil cooking spray.
  • Lightly flour a sheet of wax paper. Place 8 biscuits on a floured piece of wax paper. 
  • Top each biscuit with 1 TB. pesto, 2 TB. sausage and 2 TB. Italian cheeses.
  • Stack 4 biscuits together filling sides up. Press gently together. Turn stack on its side and place in pan.
  • Repeat with remaining biscuits. Squeeze all the stacks of biscuits into the pan, end to end to make a circle or a ring. 
  • Drizzle biscuit ring with 2 TB. melted butter, grated Parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
  • Bake 30 minutes. Use a wooden skewer to test center. Cool in pan 10 minutes, remove and serve warm.

After Apple-Picking
by Robert Frost

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

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 ...