Saturday, April 29, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

A Floral Show
Art in Bloom 2017
This floral design, a kaleidoscope of flowers, greeted guests at the entrance of the Minneapolis Institute Of Arts. Take a peek inside to see an array of flowers. 
Spring is often a trickster tempting us one day with lovely warm weather and the next a wintry mix. So an invitation to enter a world of timeless art and fresh flowers during the 34th annual Art in Bloom was one not to pass up. Art in Bloom is a four-day festival of fresh floral arrangements and fine art, presented by Friends of the Institute at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It is a a Twin Cities rite of spring. 165 floral designs that interpret objects from Mia’s collection definitely has a wow factor drawing large crowds. 
Art in Bloom raises funds to support MIA's projects of Friends of the Institute, including education and transportation for school children, exhibitions, art acquisition, education, and programs throughout the community.
Creativity knew no bounds with these floral arrangements. Many artists/designers were very attentive to detail creating original containers to compliment the art piece.   
Note the lines, texture and color in this floral arrangement compliment the art piece. 

The colors replicated in this floral arrangement were just stunning!
The creativity in the following pieces caught my attention- a floral shoe  
a silhouette of flowers and moss and   

whimsical repurposing. 
An escape from the cold surrounded by flowers, pops of color and creativity is a day well spent!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Healthy Friday

As National Poetry month winds down I thought Lea Johnstone's poem titled Poems Wander Shyly seemed like a fitting tribute to the joy of reading a poem and passing it along. This poem comes from her book "Autumn Drew Its Bedtime Bath."
Check out Amazon for purchase.
Lea has participated in the Northwoods Art and Book Festival several times. She is from Backus, MN near Hackensack. Not only does Lea write beautiful words but all the illustrations in her book are original paintings.  
Poems Wander Shyly
by Lea Johnstone

Poems wander shyly, like a stream
Meandering here and there
Their journey, forever unfolding
Some know their place and tell their story
Others drift without a care

Words, aligned in fluid rhythm,
Make the rivers flow
But while sumac can only look with wonder
Go, be a sojourner along that stream
For poetry is the vessel that holds one's soul

Asian-Style Cobb Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
Cook's notes: I was inspired by a photo on for this Asian-Style Cobb Salad. I put my own spin on it by adding an extra crunch with tortilla strips and drizzled the salad with a tangy citrus vinaigrette. A sesame vinaigrette was suggested in original recipe. I did find a prepared one, Light Asian Toasted Sesame Salad Dressing by Kraft.  I was pleasantly surprised there were only 45 calories in 2 TB. 

This salad serves as the perfect light meal, full of protein and veggies. I will list the ingredients and it's the cook's decision how many servings are needed. The photo above made two generous servings. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • chopped romaine
  • slices of cooked chicken 
  • diced hard boiled eggs
  • diced avocado slices
  • drained Mandarin oranges
  • diced carrots or matchstick carrots
  • diced green onions
  • sesame seeds
  • diced almonds or cashew pieces
  • Tortilla Strips (found in produce section) 
Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients:
  • 3 TB. good quality white balsamic vinaigrette or Honey Ginger Balsamic 
  • 3 TB. extra virgin olive oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 minced garlic clove 
Salad Directions:
  • Arrange ingredients on a platter and serve dressing on the side in a bowl. 
Vinaigrette Directions:  
  • Use a blender and mix all ingredients. Refrigerate one hour before serving for flavors to meld. 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Celebrate Poetry

Keep A Poem in Your Pocket Day April 27, 2017
The idea is simple: select a poem you love, carry it with you, then share it with co-workers, family, and friends. This event was created by the City of New York in 2002, and became a nationwide festivity in 2009.

In the past, librarians have distributed poems to local hospitals in Charlottesville, Virginia, and wine sellers in San Francisco, California handed out books of short poems to shoppers.
According to NPR,people across the country are celebrating in unique ways this year. A sandwich vendor in Charlottesville, Virginia is putting poems in the sack lunches, rather than the customary chocolate chip cookie. A third-grade teacher in Pennsylvania had her students sew pockets on their shirts since many have no easily accessible pockets. recommends handwriting "some lines on the back of your business cards" or distributing "bookmarks with your favorite immortal lines."

If you're at a loss for which lines you'd like to share, printable poems can be found at

Keep A Poem In Your Pocket
by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

Keep a poem in your pocket
and a picture in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

The little poem will sing to you
the little picture bring to you
a dozen dreams to dance to you
at night when you’re in bed.

Keep a picture in your pocket
and a poem in your head
and you’ll never feel lonely
at night when you’re in bed.

I am one of Ralph Fletcher’s biggest fans. Over the years I have enjoyed reading his novels, picture and poetry books and books on the writing process. “Twilight Comes Twice” is a children’s poetry picture book. It is written in evocative prose that describes the transition from day to night and back from night to day. Fletcher is a master at creating vivid images using personification and metaphors to explain twilight, dawn and dusk. The illustrations enhance the text.
This book is a great teaching tool for helping those who want to improve their descriptive writing by using metaphors, similes and personification.
The following stanzas are the first four found in the book “Twilight Comes Twice”
Twice a day
a crack opens
between night and day.
Twice twilight
slips through that crack.

It stays only a short time
while night and day
stand whispering secrets
before they go their
separate ways.

Dusk is the name
for evening twilight.
Dusk gives the signal
for night to be born.

Dusk deepens the colors
Of ordinary things.
Even the common grass
faces on a luster
that makes you
stop to look.

Enjoy Your Thursday

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Baked Chicken Taquitos

Need a poem? Over 7, 000 poems available online at

Taquito is a Mexican food dish most often consisting of a small rolled-up tortilla and some type of filling, including beef, cheese or chicken. The filled tortilla is crisp-fried or baked.

This is a family friendly supper with a whole lot less calories than your typical deep fried taquitos. Pair with your favorite Mexican condiments (sour cream, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese) and a dish of sorbet for a satisfying meal.  Taquitos are the perfect appetizer for a Cinco de Mayo party.  
The filling can be made the night before for easy assembly.  
Baked Chicken Taquitos
  • 3 cups shredded chicken (use rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/4 tsp. each ground cumin, chili powder, paprika
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat Mexican 4 Cheeses or shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 3 TB. green onions
  • 1/3 cup sweet mini red and yellow peppers, diced 
  • 3/4 cup Salsa Verde (Green and I used mild) 
  • 12 corn tortillas 6 inch
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or use a baking pan 8 x 8 and spray with cooking spray. 
  • Microwave cream cheese to soften (20 seconds)
  • In a bowl combine, shredded chicken, spices, salsa, lime juice, diced peppers, onions, cheese and softened cream cheese. Stir until chicken is well coated.
  • Dampen two paper towels and place two tortillas at a time between paper towels. Place in microwave for 20 seconds. This step helps for easier rolling (I used the same paper towels for warming all tortillas). Remove from microwave and spread 2 heaping tablespoons of filling down the center of each tortilla. Roll tightly and place on baking sheet or in baking dish. 
  • Lightly brush each taquito with olive oil and bake 15-18 minutes until taquitos are golden brown. Serve with a bowl of salsa and desired toppings. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Moroccan Chicken with Roasted Vegetables, Chick Peas and Almonds

Hope you've  been squirreling away poems to be ready for  
April 27th 
Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

ere's a poem to get you started 
The Squirrel

Wisky, frisky
hippity, hop,
up he climbs to the tree top.
Whirly, twirly
round and round 
down he scampers to the ground.
Where's his supper?
In a shell.
snappy, cracky, out it fell.   

author unknown
Grilled Moroccan Chicken with Brown Rice, Roasted Vegetables, Chickpeas and Almonds 

Cook's notes:  I love the blend of Moroccan flavors here and the variety of textures going on with soft roasted veggies, crunchy almonds, chewy raisins and tender protein packed chick peas. There are lots of options for this recipe. It called for couscous which I did not have but substituted brown rice. Quinoa is another good alternative.  You can also prepare the chicken using your own recipe. 
Recipe serves four and was adapted from and comes in two parts:
Grilled Moroccan or Moroccan Baked Chicken 
Couscous,Quinoa or Brown Rice with Moroccan Roasted Vegetables, Chick Peas and Almonds

  • Quinoa is a complete protein, can be part of a gluten-free diet, has more nutrients and double the fiber of couscous. 
  • Quinoa is an ideal alternative for couscous but it does not preserve as well.  You can preserve it in a fridge for 2 days in an airtight container quite safely. Soon after that it can change in texture. 
  • 1 cup of prepared regular couscous has 176 calories, compared to 227 calories in whole-grain couscous and about 210 calories in brown rice.
  • Brown rice is a whole grain high in fiber and healthier than white rice. 
  • One cup of quinoa is about  220 calories with a whopping 8 grams of protein.
Grilled Moroccan or Baked Moroccan Chicken 
1-1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breast or thighs
Marinade Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • 2 TB. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TB. peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp.ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
Chicken Directions:
  • Mix ingredients except chicken and place in a large ziploc bag. Season chicken with salt and pepper, add to zip loc bag. Seal bag while pressing out excess air. Make sure marinade covers chicken. Place bag in a bowl and refrigerate up to 4 hours. Drain chicken marinade and grill until center registers 165 degrees or bake in oven 350 degrees for 40 minutes.  
Couscous,Quinoa or Brown Rice with Moroccan Roasted Vegetables Chick Peas and Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. each cumin, ground coriander, paprika, Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 cup combination of red and yellow mini peppers, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 cup red onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TB. olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil 
  • 4 cups prepared couscous, quinoa or brown rice
  • 1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup raisins 
  • 3/4 cup dried apricots. diced 
  • 2 Tb. fresh lemon juice 
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a bowl mix seasonings and oil, Add in veggies, minced garlic and coat well. 
  • Spread out on baking sheet and roast for 15 minuted or until veggies are tender.  
  • Prepare couscous, quinoa or rice according to manufactures directions. Add in lemon juice, roasted veggies, chickpeas, almonds raisins and apricots, roasted veggies and serve immediately.  

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekend Round-Up Part Two

Westbound travelers can't miss 'Geese in Flight,' which looms above exit 72 on Interstate 94. It has been deemed the world's largest scrap-metal sculpture by 'Guinness Book of World Records.' 
The sun burst is made of over 300 lengths of well pipe and there is more than 4.4 miles of weld holding the sculpture together. The geese and the fake hills below the sunburst were made from 12 oil well tanks that were taken apart and welded back together to form the shapes. 
Geese in Flight stands 110 ft (33.5m) tall, is 154 ft (46.9m) wide and weighs 157,659 lb (71,512.91 kg). The sculpture resembles Canadian geese flying against a backdrop of sky and prairie and is the fifth in a series of seven metal sculptures located along the Enchanted Highway between Gladstone and Regent, North Dakota.

Candace Simar, local author and author from Peqout Lake MN  found poetic inspiration from this metal sculpture.

Dream with me
I dreamed the colors of the western sky
I dreamed the pathways where the geese would fly
I dreamed a dream for you 

Rise with me
Stretch wingtips to the skies with me.

My angels hide in prairie winds
Lifting you still higher
My servants flames of fire 
My will their one desire

Come dream this dream with me!

by Candace Simar
(permission granted for reposting)
Candace Simar is a writer and poet from Pequot Lakes, Minnesota, in the heart of Lake Country. As a life-long Minnesotan, the grandchild of immigrants, Candace nurtures a passion for Minnesota History. She is the author of the Spur Award-winning Abercrombie Trail Series which combines Candace's love of history intertwined with stories of her Scandinavian heritage.
"Birdie", part of the Abercrombie Series, received the 2012 Spur Award for best juvenile fiction and is set in the west. "Blooming Prairie", also part of the series, was honored as a finalist for the 2013 Spur Award.
"Farm Girls" was co-written with her sister, Angela F. Foster. This memoir written in poetry and prose celebrates growing up on a Minnesota dairy farm.

Candace's books are also available in audio, e-book, and large print. She is a member of the Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, the Loft Literary Center and The Crossing Arts Alliance.

Candace (front left) was our recent guest at our Hackensack book club. We met at a restaurant to discuss her award winning "Shelterbelts" and to learn more about the writing process and her life as an  author. 

"Shelterbelts" is a historical fiction novel  that offers all the best of Candace's talents with a mesmerizing read. Her story chronicles Minnesota farming life during a tumultuous time period of World War II.  Candace draws on her Norwegian culture and crafts a compelling story whose characters' stories stay with you long after the book is closed. Grants from Five Wings, a non-profit organization, workshops, along with family and community support helped make "Shelterbelts" become a reality.  

"Shelterbelts" was a finalist for the esteemed 2016 Willa Cather Literary Award and a 2016 Finalist for Midwest Book Award for Contemporary Fiction. 

For more details about the book storyline check out a previous posting on Ever Ready. 

To learn more about Candace, her books and scheduled events go to

It was fun catching up with Candace to learn more about her newest writing ventures. 
Five Star Cengage will be publishing "Escape to Ft. Abercrombie" in 2018.  The novel is labeled New Adult about three children whose family was massacred  during the Sioux Uprising in 1862. Readers follow the harrowing journey of these children through ten miles of tall prairie grasses to reach the safety of Ft. Abercrombie. 
A collection of short stories called "Dear Homefolks" will be published by Evergreen Press summer of 2017. 
Candace's latest historical research project includes the frontier life in the great north woods logging camps. 
Candace for coming to our book group discussion  

Next up for our book group 
"Book Thief" is a well-written book that should be breathed in slowly and appreciated, A masterpiece! 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Weekend Round-Up Part One

Can you believe it? 

Perhaps this is Mother;s nature's idea of an April Fool Day's joke well into the month. And to think yesterday we were enjoying our first margarita of the season watching the dock go in. And today was going to be a boat launching day. Well, maybe not with a frigid day in the forecast.

Cook's Notes: When I got the invite for a themed birthday party for 5 ladies I knew Ina Garten's Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake was the perfect celebratory cake to mark the occasion.   I've had the recipe from Food Network since September 2016  waiting for the chance to make it.  It's a no bake cake and considered one of Ina's most popular recipes labeled Overnight Sensation.  Well it did not disappoint. Every mouthful was decadent and sinfully delicious. It does require a special type of cookie ingredient which I had no trouble finding in larger grocery stores, Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies. 
I did note online they advertised a gluten free product. These cookies are uniform in shape and thin perfect for layering with a yummy mocha whipped cream topping.   
Remember the old-fashioned chocolate wafer and whipped cream icebox cake your mother made?
A recipe for this icebox cake was previously posted

Well this is Ina's updated version of old-fashioned icebox cake. It took only 20 minutes to assemble plus the overnight refrigerating. The recipe serves 8.  But do note I did make a BOLD move and adapted her recipe. 
Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
  • 2-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 oz. Italian mascarpone cheese. room temeprature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur 
  • 2 TB. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages of Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies 
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate or choclate covered coffee beans for garnish  
  • Ahead of assembly place bowl and beater in freezer to chill about 20 minutes.
  • Grease the bottom of a 8-inch springform pan. 
  • In a chilled bowl combine heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder  and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then raise speed until mixture forms firm peaks. 
  • To assemble cake note there will be three layers each of cookies and mocha whipped cream filling ending with filling on top. . 
  • Arrange a single layer of whole chocolate chip cookies on the bottom and break a cookie or two to fill in spaces along the sides for each layer. Divide filling into thirds and spread 1/3 of the filling over cookies. Repeat this layering two more times. Smooth top layer of filling and cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 
  • To serve run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake inner rim. Remove the sides of the pan.  Use a metal spatula to loosen cake from the bottom and slide into a cake stand. or just cut cake while bottom is still attached. Serve cold with a garnish.
Creativity knew no bounds with the two ladies who hosted the party for 5 ladies who were celebrating birthday milestones. The theme: Mary Poppins.
    There were hats 


and each birthday guest got a bag.

Adding to the festive occasion we all I say attempted to sing a Mary Poppins's tune with specially crafted musical words to fit each of the birthday guests. 
 And indeed we did!

Last but not least, this link has some of the most amazing gluten free desserts to tempt you.

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 ...