Saturday, March 31, 2018

Legend of the Dogwood

It’s Easter Weekend and right on cue, the dogwoods are blooming across the South. It’s a natural symbol of rebirth and renewal.There is a beautiful story about the Dogwood Tree being the wood used for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The story, generally told at Easter when the dogwoods flower, that Christ caused the flowers of the dogwood to be a reminder of the cross on which He died. He allegedly did this by giving the flower two long and two short petals, and to have what look like nail prints on the petals to remind us that Christ suffered on the cross with nails through His hands. The story is remarkable, but unfortunately the legend is not true. And there is no biblical basis to it but it's a nice poem and suitable for Easter weekend reflections. 
"In Jesus' time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
'Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
"Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom's center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony."

My friend JoAnne was the inspiration for this posting Legend of the Dogwood Tree.

Friday, March 30, 2018

The World According to Bella

Leaving Arizona on a high note. 
Mr.C couldn't walk fast enough for us to be on time. I did not and I repeat did not want to miss the 9:00 AM start of PET EGG HUNT EXTRAVAGANZA sponsored by Green Valley Village.  

Lucky for me Mrs. S heard about this pet event from a friend. I was beside myself with excitement thinking about doggie treats galore scattered all around in plastic eggs. In fact I had a hard time sleeping the night before thinking about it and worrying we might not go. Mr. C was not too enthused. He seemed concerned that I'd go crazy being on a leash with a lot of other dogs around all wanting treats at the same time. But Mrs S said it would be all right. 

We were on time and so was Lucy. She was dressed in  a festive scarf. I wish I had thought to wear my new red scarf. 
Martha and Chris brought Lucy as their owners were busy and Lucy did not want to miss all the fun. Martha had a map where all the plastic eggs were hidden. 
She showed us what to look for 
and Lucy and I were quick learners. We did not need a map as we're both good sniffers.  As soon as they yelled Start both of us were off and running but in opposite directions. I was dragging Mr. C along. He was moving too slow and kept yelling. "Don't eat the plastic!" 

I found 7 and could have done way more but Mr.C thought that was enough treats for the morning.  Gosh it was just a feast. I wonder how many Lucy found? Mr.C and Mrs. S thought I was well behaved. 
For sure this event is on my calendar for next year. One not to miss. 

Love, Bella
P.S. Hope you get lots of treats in your basket. 

Friday Favorites

It's A Wrap for Women's History Month 

In 1987 the US Congress designated March as National Women’s History Month. This creates a special opportunity in our schools, our workplaces, and our communities to recognize and celebrate the often-overlooked achievements of American women. Each year there is a special theme and women whose lives exemplify that theme are selected as National Honorees.
Honoring Women Who Fight All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women

A link to a profile list of amazing women who embody the 2018 theme Nevertheless She Persisted

and more titles in the following link to keep your March reading going well into April.

and a few other random noteworthy book titles below

Celebrate Easter Weekend with a Daffodil Cake 

Daffodil Cake
  • 1 box of white angel food cake mix (Betty Crocker product recommened)
  • yellow food coloring
  • 5 TB. softened butter
  • 1-3 oz. package softened cream cheese
  • 4 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/3-1/2 cup fresh lemon juice –use 4 large lemons
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 5 cups powdered sugar 
  • Milk as needed
  • 2 cups toasted coconut
  • Prepare cake mix as directed on box using a tube pan for this recipe.
  • Divide batter into 2 batches add 3 drops of yellow food coloring to one batch.
  • Pour white batter in pan and then add yellow batter and use a butter knife to swirl.
  • When cake is done cool in pan upside down on a bottle for an hour. Use a knife to go around the inside and center to remove from pan-invert on a plate.
  • Place cooled cake in refrigerator until chilled which will make spreading frosting easier.
  • Beat softened butter, cream cheese, zest, lemon juice, vanilla till blended
  • Beat in powdered sugar and adding in milk starting with 1/4 cup and then add more as needed until right frosting consistency
  • Frost cake and sprinkle toasted coconut on sides and top of cake
  • Refrigerate until serving
  • Optional: Adding crushed Macadamia nuts on top or pecans

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Easter Brunch

Need some ideas? Check out these recipes from Ever Ready.
Puff Pastry Egg Brunch Cups
Cook's Notes: A puff pastry cup topped with ham, cheese sauce and an egg make brunch entertaining look effortless. The cheese sauce can be made early in the day as well as dicing the ham for an easy prep. I recommended using small or medium eggs as large ones spill over in the muffin tin. The recipe makes 9 brunch cups with 1 sheet of puff pastry.
Recipe adapted from
  • 1 thawed puff pastry sheet 
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 1 TB. flour
  • 1/2 cup milk or half and half
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese
  • 9 small or medium eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups -2 cups diced deli ham
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes 
  • Chopped fresh chives or dill 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • Dice ham and set aside. 
  • Cheese sauce: Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and combine. Add in milk and mustard whisk to make smooth. Bring to a simmer, whisking until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, blend until smooth. Cover and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Lay out pastry sheet on a large sheet of wax paper. Roll out gently to merge perforations.  Cut pastry with a pizza cutter into 9 equal squares. 
  • Line each well of a muffin tin with one puff pastry square, pressing it firmly to the bottom and the side. The edges should come just over the top of the muffin tin. 
  • Fill each cup with a spoonful of cheese sauce. Sprinkle diced ham over the cheese sauce.
  • Crack one egg into each cup. 
  • Sprinkle with dried parsley flakes. 
  • Bake 12-14 minutes or until egg is set. Top with fresh chives or dill. Salt and pepper to taste.  
  • Serve warm.   

The following photos came from my daughter who found a little Minnesota spring at the Como Park Conservatory annual spring show. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Shrimp Tostadas for Two

The best way to store asparagus is to not. Its flavor dramatically diminishes over time, so the sooner you get it in the pan or oven the better.
If you absolutely must store asparagus, treat it like you would a bunch of flowers. Place the trimmed ends into a cup of water with the stalks standing straight up, then loosely cover the tips with a plastic bag to prevent evaporation. Set the whole thing in the fridge.
Creative use of an egg carton-a tote to carry cupcakes or store them.. 
Use a lint roller to remove crumbs from a tablecloth.
Shrimp Tostadas
Cook's Notes: The recipe you've all been waiting for-one that's just for TWO!! It's easy with a few shortcuts to speed up preparation. I bought prepared coleslaw from the deli and purchased fresh cooked shrimp.  Corn tortillas were used as they have more flavor. Ingredients can easily be increased to serve more. See what you think.
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 TB. butter
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 10 large shrimp, tails removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 small container prepared coleslaw from the deli
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 3/4  cup grape tomatoes, diced 
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow sweet mini- peppers, diced  
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Optional; Tabasco sauce to taste or Sriracha

  • In a non stick fry pan heat olive oil. Fry tortillas until crisp , flipping halfway through about 1 minutes. drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season with salt. 
  • In same fry pan melt butter, add in shrimp and garlic. Stir fry about 2-3 minutes. Squirt on lime juice. If using season with Tabasco or Sriracha. Stir in avocado pieces, diced tomatoes, peppers and onions 
  • Top each tostadas with coleslaw and shrimp mixture. 

Easter Brunch
Puff Pastry Egg Brunch Cups


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Easter Treats

Easter Egg Blondies
Take one bag of 

add your favorite blondie recipe and VOILA! you have a scrumptious Easter treat.
Cook's Notes: I found the very best tasting is straight right out of the oven when candies are still warm and just melt in your mouth with their glorious chocolaty taste. 
Easter Blondies

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1- 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup speckled M & M Chocolate Eggs 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass 8 x 8 pan with cooking spray. 
  • Place butter and brown sugar in a medium sized saucepan and heat. 
  • Whisk constantly until sugar and butter are mixed and smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. 
  • Pour mixture into mixing bowl, adding in eggs one at a time. Stir until incorporated and add in vanilla. 
  • Add in flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, beat just until combined. Batter will be thick. Spread out evenly in pan. 
  • Distribute candies in batter and press down into the batter. 
  • Bake 18 minutes or until a toothpick comes clean from the center. Do not overbake or will become too dry. 

ATTENTION:This is an inspirational link for those moms who have young adults and older teens and want to still give them an Easter basket.  Several creative non traditional basket ideas are featured.

More off the wall egg humor 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad

Simple ingredients with fresh vegetables and feta tossed with orzo bring the sun-soaked taste of Mediterranean flavors to your table. Start your week with a healthy dish.
Orzo pasta is a type of pasta made in the shape of a rice grain and often rice sized as well. 
This pasta is very versatile because of its size and shape. It can be used in a fairly wide range of dishes both hot and cold sides, soups and salads.  1 cup dry = 3 cups volume cooked. Orzo is usually found in the pasta section of the store rather than the rice section but check both places.  

Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad
Cook's Notes: The following recipe ingredients were doubled for this photo below.  
Basic recipe serves four.
  • 1-1/2 cups dry orzo
  • 1 medium English cucumber, diced and patted dry on a paper towel
  • 1 (10.5 oz. ) package grape tomatoes, halved and patted dry on a paper towel  
  • 1/2 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow/orange sweet mini peppers, diced 
  • 1/2 tsp. each oregano, basil, parsley   
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • Bottled Light Greek Vinaigrette e.g. Cardini's

  • Prepare orzo according to directions listed on package/box. Drain and let cool.
  • In a large bowl mix cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, peppers and spices. Add in orzo, the dressing 1/4 cup at a time and taste. You do not want to overly saturate the salad ingredients with dressing. Refrigerate a few hours. Just before serving add crumbled feta cheese.   
Some off the wall egg humor

    A creative use of speckled eggs in an Easter treat.  

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 ...