Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Game Day Snacking Part One

Crock Pot Cheesy Beef and Bean Enchilada Dip is a delectable gluten-free dip that's cheesy and savory. Perfect for game day or parties! Recipe adapted from iowagirleats.com

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 cup sweet onion, diced
  • 2-1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup corn canned or frozen, drained
  • 15 oz. pinto beans, drained and rinsed or black beans 
  • 2 TB. taco seasoning
  • 8 oz. Sargento Shredded Mexican 4 Cheese Blends ( I checked it's a gluten free product) or 4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese with 4 oz. freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 6 oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • tortilla chips and avocado chunks

  • Brown ground beef with onions, seasoning with salt and pepper, then drain if necessary and add to the bottom of a 5 qt. crock pot.  Add enchilada sauce, beans, corn, taco seasoning, and shredded cheeses. Stir to combine. Cut cream cheese into hunks then nestle on top. Cook on low for 1-1/2 - 2 hours or until dip is hot and bubbly. Stir to completely incorporate the cream cheese then serve with tortilla chips or gluten-free tortilla chips .
Optional Homemade Gluten Free Enchilada Sauce
  • 3 TB. grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • 2 TB. Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Sweet Rice Flour or all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
  • 3 TB. mild chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. each salt, dried oregano, onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp. each garlic powder, cumin
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat then add flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Add seasonings, chili powder through cumin, then whisk for another 30 seconds. 
  • Add tomato paste then whisk until combined, and slowly stream in chicken broth while whisking to create a smooth sauce. Cook for 1-2 more minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • Remove pan from heat and cool slightly (can be done ahead of time.)
Raspberry Chipotle Meatballs 
Cook's notes: Meatballs are a must for game day snacking. Take it up a notch with these these  juicy and delicious slow cooker little meatballs. 
  • 2 lbs. frozen meatballs
  • 1 large bottle prepared Raspberry Chipotle Sauce (this product is from Costco but any similar product works).  
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • Mix 1 bottle chipolte sauce, juice and zest. Place frozen meatballs in a slow cooker. Pour the sauce over frozen meatballs and simmer until thoroughly cooked for an appetizer. You may need to add some water to make sure meatballs are covered. 
  • Optional idea place cooked sauced meatballs on a toasted sub bun with melted pepper jack cheese for a hearty sandwich.
Be ready Feb 1 for Random Acts of Kindness Challenge
I'm starting with a surprise birthday gift for my neighbor's 80th birthday.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Weekend Round-Up and Random Acts of Kindness Challenge

You don't have to be Valentine DIY genius for these easy children's crafts from Huffington Post
25 Valentine Breakfast Ideas-I'm starting with #3 looks quite easy and very festive!
How about an easy Valentine Trifle that will wow your family!
35 Valentine ideas that aren't candy 
Mini Cherry Heart Pies
Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
Cook's notes: Only 100 calories-note this recipe is at end of the wellplated.com blog so be sure to scroll down to find it. 
Join me in February for Pay It Forward Challenge with Random Acts of Kindness
Here's how it works...
Each day during the month of February I will post an idea on my blog for a random act of kindness (of course you may have your own ideas) starting February 1, 2017. 
At the bottom of Ever Ready blog is a comment box for you to post your idea or perhaps some unexpected thing that happened along the way to you. I look forward to reading your comments. I will also be commenting on my own random act of kindness journey. Look for this icon each day on my blog.
Perhaps these random acts of kindness may even become some kind of life long habit. Here are some ideas to get you started.   

This site Random Acts of Kindness  was quite helpful for ideas divided into the following categories:
school, family, cooking, baking, family, environment, sports, crafts, senior citizens, parking, strangers, community, holiday, literacy and many others

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Chinese New Year 2017

Chinese New Year, also known as the "Spring Festival" is an important Chinese festival celebrated at the turn of the traditional Chinese calendar. The first day of the Chinese New Year is Saturday, January 28, initiating the year of the Rooster. Celebrate the New Year with a rich soup, which is chock-full of flavorful early spring produce.
Chinese New Year Soup
  • ¾ lb pork tenderloin or chicken cut into ½-inch chunks
  • 1/2 flour
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1- 32 oz. carton of chicken broth-low-sodium
  • 4 oz. whole-grain spaghetti or fettuccine pasta
  • 1 lb bok choy, root end removed, leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup shredded green cabbage
  • 1 TB. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TB. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. parsley flakes
  • 4 green onions
  • In a zip loc bag place flour and add pork or chicken chunks. Coat well.
  • In a large stockpot heat oil and sear meat until brown on all sides. Set aside. Bring broth and 2 cups water to a boil. Add pasta, reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Stir in bok choy, carrots, celery, meat cubes, cabbage, parsley flakes, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and simmer on low for 30 minutes or until veggies are al dente. Remove from heat and stir in green onions.

Garlic Snow Peas

  • 2 cups snow peas, trimmed
  • 1/2 TB. cooking oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • pinch of salt
  • Sesame seeds for garnishing (optional)
  • Bring water to boil in a medium pot, add several drops of oil and a really small pinch of salt. Place the snow peas to cook for around 1 minute. Drain and add to an ice bath for 30 seconds Click and drain again.
  • Heat up oil in wok over medium heat and stir fry the minced garlic for 1 minute.  Add snow peas in, followed with salt, sesame seeds and sesame oil. Give a quick stir-fry to mix everything together about 2 minutes and serve immediately.
Click on this link for 
Foods to Celebrate the Chinese New Year
Sesame and Beef Stir Fry
10 Asian soup recipes to help you eat healthy and get lean
Our Diverse World: China
the following resources are from pragmaticmom.com

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Multicultural Children's Book Day

Enjoy the 200 some MCCBD Book Reviews
The MCBD ebook is LIVE on Amazon!! This ebook will be FREE to everyone January 26th-January 30th. For people who have KindleUnlimited it's free for them all of the time. PLEASE pass the word and grab a copy! This is a huge accomplishment for us :) Paste this link on your browser for more information https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NCWUGD3 

Check out this link below to over 200 Children's Multicultural Book Titles and Reviews 
Ever Ready has two reviews posted #118 and #115
Multicultural Children's Book Reviews
Posting Saturday 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ever Ready Revisiting and Updating Recipes

M & M Monster Cookie Bars
Cook's Notes:Monster cookies baked into bar cookies - peanut butter dough loaded with oats, chocolate chips and M & M's. Need I say more-absolutely delicious!!! Recipe adapted from browneyedbaker.com and previously posted at 
This go around I added holiday M & M's and updated the ingredients-the recipe is as follows

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp.vanilla extract
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup M & M's + additional for top of bars
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 9 glass baking dish and line with parchment paper so that it hangs over two sides.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the oats, chocolate chips and M & M's by hand.
  • Turn the dough out into the prepared baking sheet and press/spread into an even layer (use a floured sheet of wax paper for this step). 
  • Press additional M & M's onto the top of the dough. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until the edges are set and lightly browned and the top still looks slightly under cooked. Remove from the oven.
  • Cool in pan 30 minutes. Lift bars still on parchment paper to a wire rack for cooling. 
Puff Pastry Hearts
Cook's Notes: The recipe for Puff Pastry Hearts is so simple with lots of possibilities. Who would have ever guessed one heart shaped cookie cutter could create these savory snacks. They make a wonderful garnish for soups and stews with a few modifications. I added sesame seeds, finely grated Parmesan cheese and herbs. The size of these snacks depends on size of cookie cutter used. Original recipe link below
Updated: I experimented with a variety of cookie cutter shapes to create these savory treats. I made hearts, shamrocks and in case you're not from Minnesota I used a state shape for some of the pastry shapes. 
One of my to go spices which worked well for this pastry recipe. 
  • 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed (but still cold to the touch) 
  • sesame seeds
  • egg wash
  • finely grated Parmesan cheese, Gruyere cheese or sharp white cheddar 
  • optional mixed herbs (e.g. dried parsley, basil, herbes de Provence) 
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2-inch heart shaped cookie cutter or small knife, cut out 6-7 hearts from the pastry. Place on parchment paper.
  • Whisk one egg with 1/4 tsp. water.
  • Brush each pastry shape with the beaten egg wash , sprinkle with sesame seeds, generous amount of Parmesan cheese or a sharp white  cheese and sprinkle with herbs if using.
  • Place cookie sheet in freezer and freeze pastry until firm, about 5 minutes.
  • Bake until puffed and golden about 9-10 minutes. Serve warm.
Put it all together and you have one very fine meal. 
Slow Cooker Chicken Quinoa Chili Soup (previously posed) 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Low Calorie Raspberry Chocolate Trifle with Amaretto

Raspberry Chocolate Trifle with Amaretto
Cook's notes: A Valentine treat sure to win you over with lots of options, great flavor combinations and it's easy on the waistline. A second option listed in ingredients has more calories for those who might want to splurge for a special occasion. Depending on the size of the glass recipe serves 4-6. I used small wine glasses and had 5 servings.  Recipe can be easily doubled.
  • 1 loaf size angel food cake (store-bought)
  • 1 regular size box of sugar free chocolate pudding or regular chcolate pudding mix
  • skim milk or 2% milk
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 container lite whipped topping or 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 tsp. almond extract or 2 TB amaretto 
  • optional shaved semisweet baking chocolate or a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips
  • Remove whipped topping from freezer to soften or whip cream.  
  • Make chocolate pudding with milk according to package directions. Whisk in almond extract or amaretto. Set aside to cool.
  • Rinse raspberries and drain on a paper towel.
  • Tear angel food cake into small chunks.
  • Steps to assemble:Line bottom of glass with a few cake chunks, add a heaping tablespoon of pudding, top with a tablespoon of whip cream and a few berries. Repeat the layers again in same order ending with whipped topping. Top with a raspberry. Optional grating chocolate shaving on top of whip cream layer.  
  • Refrigerate at least four hours for best flavor. 
  • If you care to splurge even more-sprinkle a few candies around the serving dish for garnish.   
Raspberry Chocolate Trifle with  Amaretto is the perfect piece de resistance for a Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Rollatini meal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bronze and Sunflower

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2017 (1/27/17) is in its fourth year and was founded by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from PragmaticMom. Their mission is to raise awareness on the ongoing need to include kid’s books that celebrate diversity in home and school bookshelves while also working diligently to get more of these types of books into the hands of young readers, parents and educators. 
I am honored to participate again in this wonderful event as a book reviewer for "Bronze and Sunflower" by Cao Wenxuan. Thanks to Raquel Stecher from Candlewick Press for sending me this lovely book to review. http://www.candlewick.com/
"Bronze and Sunflower" is a well written, timeless tale by Cao Wenxuan, best-selling Chinese author and 2016 recipient of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. Wenxuan is a Chinese novelist who is best known for writing children's literature. He is the vice president of Beijing Writers Association, professor and doctoral tutor at the Peking University.
"Bronze and Sunflower" has a folk-like quality that illustrates a poor but honest family as they suffer to send their adopted daughter to school in rural China. The book is made up of a series of short stories about Sunflower and her family over the space of roughly three years. 
It focuses on simple everyday events and challenges. Although not without times of grief and real hardship Bronze and Sunflower’s lives are full of happiness, gratitude and kindness making this story resound with hope. It is also a reminder that warmth and generosity can make for powerful storytelling no matter what the language.

The story takes place during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s and 70’s rural China although this event is only relevant at the beginning of the story when Sunflower's father, a city artist is "sent down" to the farms. The Chinese Cultural Revolution is not a familiar period in history so this is an ideal introduction to a historical event for discussion with young readers.

The government during this time sent many people to what they called "Cadre Schools" in the country side (which were labor camps). There was no regard to the fact that these people were educated, and were originally working in universities, schools and even as government officials. Many had never been to the countryside before, and found living there extremely hard. Like Sunflower’s father, they spent all day doing physical labor and then had to attend political meetings in the evening. It was exhausting and children often were left alone in the evenings. Her father who had once been a successful artist with his bronze sunflower statues being the talk of their old city, dies and Sunflower is adopted by a village family across the river. Despite the fact that Sunflower’s newly adopted family has very little, they did have their pride making sure they provided for their children as best as they could. Schooling was important and many families made sacrifices so their children could get an education. I loved how Sunflower's family demonstrated team work to overcome the every day challenges of life.

Sunflower and her new stepbrother Bronze, who is mute, become inseparable friends, passing time mostly in the fields and rice paddies, trying to help their family. Bronze is devoted to Sunflower and is always on the lookout for her safety. Throughout the story readers get images of school, rural life, and unfortunate disasters. Readers meet several characters in the book, including their matriarch grandmother and the family's buffalo, which is a character unto itself. The buffalo represents strength and nurturing.  Along the way there are many lovely descriptions about natural history, farming practices, and village life.

The book flows easily and was written for middle grade readers 9-12. As a former classroom teacher this book would make a great read aloud for third and fourth graders. The main characters were well developed, had their ups and downs and were relatable even though they are from a different culture and time period. Sunflower was sweet and innocent in the way only small children can be. And there is much to be admired how dedicated Bronze was to each family member particularly to Sunflower and his work ethic.  
Helen Wang was the translator for "Bronze and Sunflower". She is the Curator of East Asian Money at the British Museum, and author of non-fiction books such as Money on the Silk Road: The Evidence from Eastern Central Asia to c. AD 800 to Chairman Mao Badges: Symbols and Slogans of the Cultural Revolution. She’s also a translator of Chinese literature and a contributor to the Paper Republic website,.

It seems like it would be a monumental task translating the story Bronze and Sunflower from Chinese to English but under Wang’s deft hands it appears to be a smooth transition. Keeping in mind the language and the culture of Chinese and English when translating for storytelling is so important.It certainly is a skill to be admired. The translator needs to be precise in tension, suspense, length, rhythm, humor and dialogue maintaining the crucial elements of a story originally intended by the author.

One of my favorite quotes from the story from the grandmother illustrates how giving and caring the characters were deciding about adopting Sunflower. "We might be poor,” said Nainai, “but we’re not so poor that we can’t feed that little girl. If we all ate a little less, we could manage it. I’ve always wanted a granddaughter!”

I highly recommend reading this book which gives insight into a different culture and a story line that presents many teachable moments appropriate for discussions.
Enrichment Activities:
Our Diverse World Book Lists for Kids (this is a general book list) But it’s also broken out by country/geographic area: I found the following resources on China superb.
Buffaloes https://kidskonnect.com/animals/buffalo/
Art and Art History
van Gogh-http://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/sunflowerindex.html

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day holiday, the MCBD Team are on a mission to change all of that.
Current Sponsors: MCBD 2017 is honored to have some amazing Sponsors on board. Platinum Sponsors include Scholastic, Barefoot Books and Broccoli. Other Medallion Level Sponsors include heavy-hitters like Author Carole P. Roman, Audrey Press, Candlewick Press, Fathers Incorporated, KidLitTV, Capstone Young Readers, ChildsPlayUsa, Author Gayle Swift, Wisdom Tales Press, Lee& Low Books, The Pack-n-Go Girls, Live Oak Media, Author Charlotte Riggle, Chronicle Books and Pomelo Books

Author Sponsors include: Karen Leggett Abouraya, Veronica Appleton, Susan Bernardo, Kathleen Burkinshaw, Maria Dismondy, D.G. Driver, Geoff Griffin, Savannah Hendricks, Stephen Hodges, Carmen Bernier-Grand,Vahid Imani, Gwen Jackson, Hena, Kahn, David Kelly, Mariana Llanos, Natasha Moulton-Levy, Teddy O'Malley, Stacy McAnulty, Cerece Murphy, Miranda Paul, Annette Pimentel, Greg Ransom, Sandra Richards, Elsa Takaoka, Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, Sarah Stevenson, Monica Mathis-Stowe SmartChoiceNation, Andrea Y. Wang

We’d like to also give a shout-out to MCBD’s impressive CoHost Team who not only hosts the book review link-up on celebration day, but who also work tirelessly to spread the word of this event. View our CoHosts HERE.

MCBD Links to remember:
MCBD site: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/
Free Multicultural Books for Teachers: http://bit.ly/1kGZrta
Free Kindness Classroom Kit for Homeschoolers, Organizations, Librarians and Educators: http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/teachers-classroom-kindness-kit/
Free Diversity Book Lists and Activities for Teachers and Parents: http://bit.ly/1sZ5s8i

Monday, January 23, 2017

Sun Dried Tomato and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Roasted Pears and Brussels Sprouts

Today is
I was unable to bake a pie so I am sending you two Ever Ready links to some favorite ones I have made. 
Apple Pie
Chocolate Pecan Bourbon Pie  

Sun Dried Tomato Cheese Stuffed Chicken Rollatini with Couscous and Roasted Pears and Brussels Sprouts.
Cook's notes: 
Couscous is a Mediterranean side dish that can be part of a healthy eating plan. It's considered a pasta which is made of small granules of semolina flour, and is traditional in North African cuisine. Note couscous is not gluten free.

Sun Dried Tomato Cheese Stuffed Chicken Rollatini
Cook's notes: A healthy chicken dish under 300 calories per serving. Chicken breasts are stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, cheese and spinach, rolled in a Parmesan cheese crumb crust and baked in the oven. Assembly made easy by prepping all the ingredients ahead. Recipe adapted from skinnytaste.com    
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (I used Panko product) 
  • 1/3 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmesan)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TB. olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • dash of pepper
  • 3/4 cup sun Dried Julienne Cut Tomatoes with Italian Herbs
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken fillets about 14 oz.
  • 1/2 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella 
  • 1/4 cup shredded Italian cheeses 
  • 1 cup chopped baby spinach, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup red onions, finely diced
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken fillets about 14 oz.
  • olive oil non-stick spray
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 3 qt. baking dish 
  • Combine breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese in a pie pan and set aside.
  • Combine olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper in another bowl.  Set aside.
  • Drain sun dried tomatoes on a double thickness paper towel. 
  • Mix mozzarella cheese and shredded Italian cheeses together. 
  • Place each cutlet on a work surface such as a cutting board. Pound meat if too thick so it's easier to roll. Keep the following mixture towards the center of the fillet: 1 heaping tablespooon each sun-dried tomatoes, mixed cheeses, spinach leaves and diced red onions. 
  • Roll chicken fillet carefully keeping the filling tucked inside. Place seam side down on a work surface. Use a non-colored toothpick to secure. Repeat steps with the remaining chicken fillets. 
  • When finished, dip rolled chicken into the lemon oil mixture, then into the Parmesan crumb mixture and transfer to a baking sheet. Place chicken seam side down secured with a toothpick. 
  • Spray foil so it does not stick to chicken. Cover lightly and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10- 15 minutes more. Note; baking time will vary depending on thickness of chicken when rolled. 
Roasted Pears and Brussels Sprouts
Cook's notes: Though Brussels sprouts can be an acquired taste this recipe brings out the sweeter side of Brussels sprouts with the added roasted pears and cranberries. A wonderful side dish for any meal. To mix it up you can add nuts like almonds or walnuts, or swap the pear for an apple. Make sure you use pears a little on the underripe side so they don't turn to mush on you. Anjou or Bosc pears work the best for this recipe. Recipe serves 3-4
  • 2-3 cups Brussels sprouts– cut the stem off and halve lengthwise. 
  • 2 medium pears, cut into large chunks 
  • 1 tsp olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. pure maple syrup 
  • Dash of Saigon cinnamon
  • Dash of salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1.3 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • In a bowl add maple syrup and olive oil and add cut Brussels sprouts and pears into bowl and mix well. Salt and pepper and sprinkle with cinnamon to coat pears and Brussels sprouts.   
  • Spread mixture on baking sheet and roast 20 minutes, stir after 10 minutes. 
  • Add cranberries and nuts and cook 5 minutes longer.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

Strong resounding words still today...
“When we think of liberty in 1961, let us not be content with the stately periods of the Fourth of July orations. Let us not just talk of liberty: let us act for it. Let us translate our devotion into deeds.”
-John F. Kennedy

The numbers were staggering Saturday in a global exclamation of solidarity as more than 1 million people rallied at women's marches in the nation's capital and in cities around the world to send an emphatic message to the President on his first full day in office they won't let his agenda go unchallenged. More than 600 "sister marches" were planned world-wide. Crowd estimates from police and and organizers around the globe added up to well over 1 million.  I marched in spirit with a niece in New York, another niece in Washington D. C, two nieces and a sister in St. Paul and many, many friends.  
The Washington rally alone attracted over 500,000 people, more than Trump's inauguration drew on Friday. And as night fell in the city not a single arrest was reported.  
Here in St. Paul, the state's capital, a crowd estimated between 90,000 to 100,00 formed a blocks long protest from the Cathedral to the State Capitol. They all marched for the moral core of the nation to take a firm stand of human rights and the need to overcome the platform of hate and division that exists today. Women carried signs with slogans that decried Trump's stand on issues such as abortion, health care, diversity and climate changes. 
These photos above were taken by my sister, Nancy. Her friend, Lois on the left knit many pink kitty hats for friends and was handing out extras during the march. Kudos to her for the extra effort knitting hats and many thanks to both of them for being active participants. 

The following poem was passed out to the crowd.  
Postscript: Check out this link for 10 Actions/100 Days https://www.womensmarch.com/100/
On January 21, over 5 Million of us worldwide and over 1 Million in D.C., came to march, speak and make our  voices heard. But it doesn’t end here - now is not the time to hang up marching shoes - it’s time to get our friends, family and community together and make history. That’s why a new campaign has been launched: 10 Actions for the first 100 Days.
Every 10 days we will take action on an issue we all care about, starting today

In honor of women's solidarity and my daughter's birthday yesterday I baked a celebratory cake. It was easy, moist and will definitely satisfy your chocolate ravings. Chocolate-Pecan Torte

Cook's notes: The simplicity of this cake with pecans, bittersweet chocolate and a splash of rum make it an irresistible dessert. Recipe adapted from cook'scountry.com   
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1-1/2 cups pecan halves, plus 20 or so for decorating outside rim of cake. 
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. creme of tartar
  • 4 large eggs separated
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar, divided     
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup rum 
  • 1-1/2 cups chocolate glaze (recipe follows) 

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.
  • Microwave chocolate and butter in a bowl at 50% power stirring occasionally until melted.
  • Process 1-1/2 cups pecans, flour, cinnamon and salt in food processor until finely ground. 
  • Whip egg whites with 1/4 tsp. creme of tartar until soft and billowy. Gradually add in 1/4 cup sugar until soft peaks form about 2 minutes. 
  • Whisk egg yolks,  vanilla and 3/4 cup brown sugar. Slowly whisk in chocolate mixture until combined. Then whisk in rum. 
  • Using a rubber spatula fold half egg white mixture into half of flour pecan mixture. Repeat step until all is incorporated. 
  • Transfer batter to prepared pan and bake 35 minutes. Rotate pan once during the baking time. Let cake cool completely in pan on wire rack. 
  • Remove sides from pan and invert cake onto a wire rack. Place wax paper underneath and pour glaze over the top. Carefully slide cake to a serving dish. Arrange pecan halves along the bottom edge and crushed pecans on top. Refrigerate until set about 45 minutes. 

Chocolate Glaze Ingredients:
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TB. corn syrup
  • pinch of salt 
Chocolate Glaze Directions:
Cooking tip: Plan to use the glaze right after making it.
Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream until it almost simmers and pour over chocolate. Let set about 3 minutes and whisk in all other ingredients and blend until smooth.   

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 ...