Sunday, July 31, 2016

Weekend Round up Part Two

and that we did thanks to Anne and Ruth's culinary skills. 
An opportunity to speak about cooking, writing and blogging, three of my favorite things, was an invite extended by Anne.  She belongs to a group called P.E.O.
( Philanthropic Educational Organization).  I was asked to speak about my experiences as a food writer for the local newspaper, Pilot Independent, Walker MN to her group. It was gratifying to hear that many of the ladies have been following The Seasonal Plate.  

I was asked to plan the luncheon menu based on some recipes previously posted in the paper. I did some advance prep by making the meal at home first before I sent Anne this picture below with attached  recipes.    
Cook's Notes: All the recipes selected for the luncheon have been previously published on Ever Ready blog site and The Seasonal Plate.
Mango Chutney Chicken Salad
Orange Wild Rice Muffins
Blueberry Peach Salsa
Lemon Olive Cake
Some ideas covered in the presentation were 
  • Recipe sources e.g. magazines, cooking magazines, food blogs 
  • Cooking process listing the order of  ingredients and directions
  • Challenges of food photography 
  • Use of seasonal ingredients 
  • Adding a twist and a creative touch to a recipe
  • Food blogging
  • The 'why' of recipes selected for this particular lunch
  • Suggestions on using spices in cooking including some of my favorites, Herbes de Provence and Saigon Cinnamon
  • Buttermilk can often be a secret ingredient in recipes
Each guest received a small packet of Herbes de Provence and Saigon Cinnamon plus the recipes used for the luncheon.  
I was impressed with questions from the group as well as suggestions for future columns and the fact several had cut out previous  Seasonal Plate recipes to talk about. 
 Each one seemed to enjoy the meal prepared by hosts Anne and Ruth. 
Anne and Ruth for preparing a wonderful summer lunch and the P.E. O. group for being so welcoming and attentive. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so many enthusiastic and seasoned cooks.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Weekend Round-Up Part One

Best Newly Tried Dressing of the Week
Spicy Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
Cook's notes: Add some zip to your summer garden salad with this fast and easy dressing.
Recipe source
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 TB. honey
  • 1 rounded tablespoon fig preserves
  • 1 chipotle chili peppers in adobo, chopped and drained on a paper towel
  • kosher salt + pepper
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender to mix. Taste and adjust salt + pepper to your liking.
Healthy Rainbow Potato Salad
Cook's notes: Add a bit of a twist to your regular potato salad by using rainbow potatoes. Lighten the dressing with half mayonnaise and half yogurt. Add your favorites; celery, pickles, mustard, onions and dill. Perfect for picnics and backyard parties all summer long!
Recipe was adapted from :
  • 1 ½ pounds multi-color baby potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 TB. yellow mustard
  • 1 ½ tsp. fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 TB. pickle relish
  • 1 cup diced celery 
  • 1/3 cup diced green onions
  • optional 3 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • Place potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and set aside to cool.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, dill, pickle relish, onion, celery with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • When potatoes are cool enough to handle, set aside half. Peel the other half by gently pinching the skin and pulling it away. Place peeled potatoes in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher. Dice the remaining potatoes into 1-inch cubes and add to the bowl with the mashed potatoes.
  • Toss potato mixture evenly with mayonnaise/yogurt mixture. Garnish with a sprig of dill and a sprinkle of smoked paprika. 

Peach Salad with Arugula

Recipe comes from It has only 114 calories and worth 3 Smart Points.

Last, but not least, I loved this gift packaging idea. You can be as creative as to want with what you put inside the slippers and type of slippers purchased. The image below does not show up well but tucked nicely inside  slippers were hand cream, nail polishes and a nail file.  

Check back tomorrow for Weekend Round-Up Part Two Seasonal Plate Food Presentation for a P.E.O group.
(Philanthropic Educational Organization)  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tempt Me

Can I tempt you with a bag of chips, maybe a piece of cake or how about a bowl of nuts? 
For me it's all about a book, specifically this one 
It came to me as a gift from a friend all wrapped with paper and a bow. She knows me well that I would appreciate such a fine book.  
"Tempt Me The Fine Art of Minnesota Cooking" it not just your ordinary book of recipes. It's the perfect book for people who love to read food history and enjoy learning or viewing the art of advertising. Before there was food photography — and Instagram — there was food illustration. Minnesota's food companies, with their national and even international reach, hired fine artists such as N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell to paint finished dishes and illustrate the era's kitchens to entice consumers.
In "Tempt Me," local authors and designers Kathryn Strand Koutsky and Linda Koutsky (a mother-and-daughter team) honor Minnesota's food history . The book features a comprehensive history food advertising art from the late 1800's up until the 1980's as cookbooks and other commercial literature was illustrated using graphics.Some of the other familiar ads you'll find include advertisements for both Betty Crocker, Pillsbury and Watkins. Ads that may not be as familiar include advertisements for Washburn-Crosby or Miss Parloa's New Cook Book.
Advertising changed over to photography by the 1980's leaving the era of food art behind.
If you enjoy the beauty of seed packet artwork, you'll find seed packets from companies such as Farmer Seed Co. or Northrup, King and Company.

You'll find tips on how to create dresses and other sewing projects using flour sacks. Recipes are sprinkled throughout Tempt Me and the recipes range from the 1800's onward and include tips such as how to live frugally to support the war effort.

In the late 1880's standard measurements for cooking did not exist. Recipes were written in paragraph form, ingredients were not always listed in order and methods were were not spelled out. Consider this Federal Cake recipe from "Miss Parloa's New Cookbook".
One pint of sugar, one and a half cupfuls of butter, three pints of flour, four eggs, two wine glasses of milk, two wine, two of brandy, one teaspoonful of cream of tartar, half a teaspoonful of saleratus, fruit and spice to taste. Bake in deep pans, the time depending on the quantity of fruit used.
Here are some of the recipes you can find
  • Maraschino Cherry Cake 
  • Baked Ham with Curried Fruit
  • Great Aunt Vivian's Really Good Hot Spam Sandwich
  • Never-Fail Cheese Souffle
  • Emergency Steak
  • Scrapple
  • Lazy Wife Pickles
  • Beer-Cheese Soup
  • Old Dutch Snappy Dip
  • Teatime Ribbon Sandwiches
I enjoyed this whimsical role reversal approach to advertising with So simple even a husband can do it!

The book is impressive with 250 color illustrations and 175 recipes. "Tempt Me" is a history lesson, coffee table art book and kitchen resource in one. That recipe for pineapple sticky buns using a tube of refrigerated biscuits? It's right here.
Pineapple Sticky Buns
1/2 cup crushed drained pineapple
1/2 cup soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sunflower meats
1 tsp.cinnamon
1 can refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
Mix pineapple butter, sugar, sunflower meats, and cinnamon. 
Spoon into 10 greased muffin cups
Place biscuits over mixture.
Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool in pan 5 minutes then invert to release from pan.  

Cook's notes: This book is a real winner in my estimation and you don't have to be a Minnesotan to appreciate the gorgeous illustrations sprinkled with bits of cooking history.  

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Summer Sizzle

Put some sizzle into your cooking with these easy grilled entrees.
Grilled Veggie Pasta Salad
Make use of all those fresh summer vegetables with this light and flavorful Grilled Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad with Lemon-Basil Vinaigrette. I’ve used zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and red onion, but you can pretty much use any vegetable you have in your garden or your refrigerator. Eggplant and broccoli would also work well as would some corn.
Recipe adapted from
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound corkscrew pasta or penne
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB. red wine vinegar
  • ½ TB. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup julienned fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • Cut yellow squash and zucchini in half lengthwise and then into half moon shapes. Cut red bell pepper and red onion into approximately 2-inch chunks. Place together in a medium bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. When hot add vegetables. Grill until they develop nice grill marks and then flip over and continue to cook until softened. Place in a large bowl.
  • While vegetables are grilling, bring a large pot of water with 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente. Drain pasta and rinse with water. Drain well and add to bowl with grilled vegetables.
  • In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, sugar, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and thyme. Gradually whisk in oil. Add basil.
  • Pour dressing over pasta and vegetables. Add tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour for flavors to meld. 
Brats with Cucumber Blueberry Slaw
Cook's notes: This recipe caught my interest with the unusual ingredients paired with brats. I really liked it and makes good use of summer produce for the slaw.  
Recipe adapted from BHG
  • 6 uncooked bratwurst links
  • 1- 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 3 cups shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1/3 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 tablespoons sliced green onion
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 TB. light mayonnaise
  • 1 TB. snipped fresh parsley
  • 1TB. snipped fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 6 bratwurst buns, split and toasted
  • Make Cucumber-Blueberry Slaw - in a medium bowl combine cabbage, cucumber, blueberries, and green onion. In a small bowl stir together buttermilk, mayonnaise, parsley, dill, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add buttermilk mixture to cabbage mixture; toss gently to coat. Refrigerate several hours for flavors to meld. 
  • In a large saucepan combine bratwurst and apple juice; bring to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 12 minutes, rearranging once until sausage reach 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • For a charcoal or gas grill, place bratwurst on grill rack directly over medium heat. Grill 5 to 7 minutes or until sausage is browned, turning occasionally.
  • Serve bratwurst in toasted buns. Top with slaw.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Go Greek

Add Greek flavors to your next meal with Greek Orzo Salad
Recipe serves 4.
Orzo Salad

  • 12 oz. orzo cooked and drained
  • 1 diced red and yellow pepper
  • 3/4 cup red onion slices
  • cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cucumber. diced
  • 1-cup olives (pitted)
  • ½ cup pine nuts (toasted)
  • optional ½ small bag spinach leaves (stems removed)
  • crumbled feta cheese
Prepared Greek dressing-I used one from the chain restaurant Its Greek To Me or the grocery store carries prepared Greek dressing or try this homemade dressing below it's so easy
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB.  lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon pepper
  • Mix orzo, peppers, onions, olives, feta, pine nuts, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.
  • For homemade dressing use a blender to mix ingredients. 
  • Add enough dressing to moisten the salad mixture. Refrigerate covered for several hours for flavors to meld. May need to add more dressing to salad right before serving.
Cook's notes: A recipe for a healthy vegetarian sandwich wrap inspired by the flavors of Greek cooking. It includes feta cheese and lightly marinated veggies, wrapped up in a healthy whole wheat flour tortilla. Recipe serves 4. 
  • 4- 10-inch whole wheat tortillas
  • 3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • approx 16 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 10 black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 TB. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tb. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mixed greens
  • In a medium bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the tortillas and mixed greens. Let stand for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Drain off liquid. Ads a couple of handfuls of torn mixed greens to ingredients. Divide salad mixture among the tortillas. Fold bottom of tortilla partially over filling and then roll up.
Option: Skip the dressing in the above recipe and mix wrap ingredients with some of the
Tzatziki Herb Sauce and Grilled Chicken

  • 2 cups fat-free plain yogurt
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded and diced cucumber
  • 2 TB. chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp. dried dill
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • 1 TB. white vinegar
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
  • Mix all Tzatziki ingredients and refrigerate several hours for flavors to meld.  

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Weekend Round-Up

Summer Salads
Boston Lettuce Stacks with Grilled Peaches, Feta and Pecans
Link to 16 Summer Salads from Midwest Living
Corn and Blueberry Salad
Link to 40 Summer Salads from BHG

Lemony Green Bean Pasta Salad
Link to 68 Quick and Delicious Summer Salads from Southern Living  
Yes, and I will also be thankful for 19 coffee flavored dessert recipes from Woman's Day magazine, cooler weather and no storm forecasts. 
  Ice Cream Tiramisu Cake

Friday, July 22, 2016

Up North Update

It's all in your perspective when you view other people's losses compared to yours.  What I take away from this storm is the sense of community, neighbors helping neighbors. Many in the area are still without power which I am so grateful to have. We are able to finally get out to main road as to reach our house it's really only one way in and only one way out. And we have two cars not damaged that were sitting outside in driveway when the storm occurred. Today we have neighbors coming over who have their chain saws sharpened and ready to attack the 100 feet trees toppled over in our yard.   
for your concern, care, calls and FB notes. 
The chicken salad was shared with neighbors and enjoyed by all. The recipe has been previously posted but worth repeating. 
Wild Rice Chicken Salad with Pea Pods and Cherries
Cook's notes: A great for a summertime meal. The recipe makes a large salad and keeps well for a few days.  With advance planning the assembly is made easier by making the wild rice and chicken ahead. The salad should be made a few hours in advance for flavors to meld. More dressing can be added if needed. Optional adding toasted pecans on top. This recipe serves 8-10
  • 3 cups cooked chicken or turkey, diced
  • 3/4 cup green onions,diced
  • 1 cup almonds or cashews
  • 1-1/2 cup pea pods
  • 2 cups cooked wild rice
  • 1 package (5 oz.) cran-raisins cherry or dried cranberry
  • 2 cups diced celery 
  • 2 TB. parsley flakes
  • 1 cup dry macaroni shells, cooked al dente
  • optional red grapes
  • Blanch pea pods and drain in a colander.
  • Place cran-raisins in a bowl and pour 1 cup hot water over it. Let sit 15 minutes to plump up cran-raisins, drain and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  • In a large bowl add diced chicken or turkey, wild rice, celery, parsley flakes, pea pods, cran-raisins and cooked macaroni shells. 
  • In another bowl make dressing. Moisten chicken salad ingredients with dressing. Cover and chill several hours.

2 tsp. sherry, 1/4 tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp. soy sauce and 1 cup Miracle Whip or mayonnaise. Use a whisk and mix well. 

A note on Pinterest which some of you have inquired. When I pin something from the site it goes to Facebook but instead of showing a photo of the pin it just shows a box that say pin it. Customers service is trying to resolve the problem and says others are having same issues too. Hoping soon for some resolution. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Up North Storm Devastation

Last night's storm did a significant amount of damage to our area. High winds woke us in the middle of the night when this tree fell against the house. For those from Minnesota who are reading this post THINK Brainerd June storm from last year. 
 Remember the tomato potted plants I was bragging about in yesterday's post?  What a difference a day makes.
The yard looks a bit like a war zone. 
Our neighbors have all sprung into action with their chain saws. Presently the road is impassable for a mile or two with some 20 trees down. 
All things considered we fared much better than our neighbors. Just to reach my neighbor's house to view their damage I actually climbed under and over many trees in the road to reach their house. 
 Kathleen's car was totaled 
and they have a lake view which they never had before with some 50 trees down.
Our other neighbors were hit very hard by the gusty winds that ranged between 50-70 miles an hour. I couldn't even make a guess as to how many trees they lost. 
Just think of how old these trees are that have been uprooted out of the ground. 
So needless to say there have been many frantic phone call from homeowners living in the cities or whereabouts wondering about their property. 

There is a bright side to all of this...neighbors have pulled together to help one another, clear the road and lend out chainsaws. The irony of this is my husband just dropped ours off yesterday in town to be sharpened so we don't have it. And another good thing we do have power, AC  and internet!!!!!!!!!
And so the enormity of the physical work that lies ahead is mind boggling. 
Will keep you posted. 

Know that a  lovely wild rice chicken salad was going to be posted today. I had made it for potluck lunch offering for a community event today but we will enjoy it with a few neighbors instead.       

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Taste Summer with Tomato Recipes

BHG newest special interest publication Taste Summer Tomato Recipes features  100 recipes using tomatoes in every way imaginable. 
In addition the issue includes tips on freezing, drying, roasting, and canning tomatoes.
I am ready for what I hope will be a bumper crop with 5 different pots that are thriving despite the excessive amount of moisture we've had. These three have loads of green tomatoes almost ready to turn . 
I'll be honest I did have to cheat on the following recipe by buying tomatoes at the store. Hopefully by next week I'll have some of my own to use.  

Tomato Galette
Cook's notes:  A galette is a savory rustic tart with hand-folded edges. This recipe was adapted from page 66 Taste Summer Tomato recipes and serves 4. Omit the sausage to be a vegetarian dish,
A prepackaged pie crust can be substituted for a homemade crust.

  • 1 traditional/regular pie crust rolled to a 10 inch circle (about the size of a dinner plate) 
  • 3 TB. fine dry bread crumbs mixed with 1 TB. Italian herbs (use a food processor for this step) 
  • 1-1/2 cups crumbled cooked Italian sausage
  • 3 medium tomatoes, sliced and 1/4 cup yellow cherry tomatoes, diced
  • sea salt
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 3 TB. snipped basil leaves 
  • 1/2 cup shallots, diced
  • crumbled semi-soft goat cheese
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • egg wash (whisk one egg with 1 tsp. water) 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Slice tomatoes and place on a paper towel. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and let sit 20 minutes. 
  • Line a pizza baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Roll crust out on a floured piece of wax paper. Transfer crust to parchment paper. 
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs mixed with Italian herbs, leaving a 2 inch border. 

  • Layer tomatoes, peppers, shallots and sausage if adding to galette. Grate Parmesan over the mixture.
  • Fold crust over filling, pleating as necessary and leaving some filling exposed in the center. 

  • Crumble goat cheese over the top..
  • Brush on egg wash over exposed crust. Grate Parmesan cheese over the crust. 
  • Bake 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400 degrees and bake 20 minutes. Last 5 minutes add in snipped basil leaves.
  • Let pan with galette cool on a wire rack before cutting with a serrated knife or pastry wheel.

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 ...