Saturday, June 30, 2018

Heat Wave

The World According to Bella
Keeping Cool
The sticky heat just goes on and on. Here's how I am surviving...
Several swims a day.
Morning nap time inside with AC under the table in my doggie cave
Afternoon nap time inside with AC and a fan.

Evening rest time 
I've renovated my hole so its deeper making it a nice spot to relax, keep cool and wait for the sunset. 
Can't beat early evening boat rides.  

I was overjoyed when Mr. C and Mrs S invited me out to dine al fresco on a lake at a nearby restaurant. It was so hot when we got there I drank a whole pitcher of water while they waited for their dinner. Lucky they brought an extra bowl with them for refills for me.
So how are you keeping cool? 
Love, Bella 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Mojito

True wisdom lies in
gathering the precious things
out of each day as it goes by:
E.S. Bouton

Mojito
If the Mojito was one of Ernest Heminway's favorite drink it works for me too! Ernest Hemingway made the bar called La Bodequita del medio famous as he was  one of their regulars. He even wrote on the bar's 

 wall " Mi mojito en la Bodeguita" (My mojito at the Bodeguita) These words can still be read today on the wall in his handwriting. Note you will have to go to Havana to actually see this for yourself. 
A Mojito traditionally is made of five ingredients: white rum, sugar, lime, sparking water and mint. The original Cuban recipe uses spearmint. In the past few years the mojito has become a popular summer drink.




Cook's notes: There are a variety of Mojito recipes but an important step not to skip is making your own simple syrup ahead of time. The syrup keeps in the refrigerator several weeks covered.
Simple Syrup
Heat equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan until just before boiling. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved.




Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 oz light rum or try using mango rum which really kicks up the taste 
  • 1 lime 
  • 1 TB. simple syrup 
  • mint leaves 
  • ice 
  • club soda 

Directions:
  • Place 4 mint leaves and 1 TB. simple syrup in a glass and squish it all around with a spoon for 25 seconds till you have a good minty smell. This is called muddle
  • Cut the lime in half and squeeze juice out from both halves into the glass. 
  • Pour in rum and stir. 
  • Add ice and top mixture off with club soda. 
  • Garnish with a lime and serves. 
A French word used to express friendly feelings towards one's companions before drinking. 

Try a Mojito Fruit Salad that captures same refreshing Mojito flavors found in the drink.  
Cook's notes: Mojito Fruit Salad is a fresh fruit salad tossed with a minty sugar/lime mixture with a little rum for a kick. It's versatile using any kind of fruits such as watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, red grapes, and blueberries. You could even leave the rum out for a  a non alcoholic fruit  salad.
http://spicysouthernkitchen.com/mojito-fruit-salad/

Thursday, June 28, 2018

A Slice of Summer

Margarita Pizza  
Cook's Notes: Why order out for a pizza when you can make your own at home which can be fresher and healthier for you. Think outside the box by adding interesting  toppings. This link has 25 creative options
https://www.brit.co/unusual-pizza-toppings/
which include: Beet Pesto Pizza with Goat Cheese
Caramelized Onions with Apples and Goat Cheese
Strawberry Balsamic Pizza with Goat Cheese
My daughter went for the conventional route for her homemade pizza. It was served with an arugula vinaigrette salad topped with garlic herb cheese crumbles.  All quite delicious!
Ingredients:
  • One package prepared pizza crust
  • One package fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 container cherry tomato medley (red,yellow, orange)

  • Olive Oil or Lemon Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Torn basil leaves
  • Arugula
  • Garlic Herb Goat Cheese
Directions:
  • Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast 10 minutes. Set aside.
  • Place crust on a cookie sheet. Add slices of fresh mozzarella cheese and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Arrange halved tomatoes on the pizza, grate Parmesan cheese over tomatoes and cheese, top with torn basil leaves. Bake 3-4 minutes more.
  • Serve with an arugula salad drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing and topped with crumbles of herb goat cheese. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Summer Sides

Swarms of dragonflies rush here, there and everywhere these past June days. 
Fashionably Dressed Sides for Summertime Eating 
Cook's Notes: Dress your salad with a healthy creamy pesto yogurt dressing. It can also be recycled as  a dressing for potatoes. Chill dressing at least two hours and makes 1 cup. 
Recipe from Midwest Living April 2013

Buttermilk Pesto Dressing
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup light mayo or light Miracle Whip
  • 4 tsp. prepared pesto
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
Directions:
  • Whisk together, cover and chill at least 2 hours-whisk again before serving over mixed greens. 


Pesto Potatoes
Cook's Notes: Use same dressing recipe above but mix with cold cooked red potatoes, diced in large chunks. 
Layered Veggie Tortellini Salad
Cook's Notes: Use a glass compote for a stunning showy presentation. 
Ingredients:
  • 1 (16 oz. ) package of three cheeses or spinach cheese tortellini, cooked and drained
  • 2 cup broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 (2.4 oz.) can sliced black olives, drained
  • 1 cup diced green onions 
  • 1 cup shredded low fat Colby Jack cheese or 2 cups cubed Mozzarella cheese 
Parmesan Cheese Topping -whisk to combine
  • 3/4 cup reduced fat or no-fat mayonnaise or plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 TB. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB. lemon juice
  • 2 TB low fat cream
  • 1/2-1 tsp.dried thyme
How  about this from Alice V, a food blogger-a fashionable dressed plate :)

Monday, June 25, 2018

Summer Appetizers

  •  SUMMER APPETIZERS
  •  

Puff Pastry Mini Tomato Tarts
Cook's Notes: Fresh light and delicious these bite sized appetizers are a new twist on the classic summer pie sure to spice things up for the season. Colorful tomatoes, melty cheese, and fresh basil come together with flaky puff pastry to create this snack-sized appetizer you'll want to serve up all summer long. 
Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine and makes 18 appetizers.
Ingredients:
  • (17.3-oz.) pkg. frozen puff pastry sheets, partially thawed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 oz. sharp Cheddar cheese, finely shredded (2 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 TB. torn fresh basil leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: bacon bits
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Gently unfold both pastry sheets. Spread 1/4 cup mayonnaise on each pastry sheet, sprinkle each with parsley flakes, salt and pepper.
  • Cut each pastry sheet into 9 (3-inch) squares. Gently press squares into 2 lightly greased muffin pans. Divide cheese and tomatoes among tarts. Grate Parmesan cheese over each. 
  • Bake in preheated oven until pastry is golden brown, about 15-18 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack 5 minutes, remove with a fork. Top with torn fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.
Follow this link to more appetizer recipes posted on Ever Ready

Rhubarb Delight

Lady Slippers by the Water's Edge

Cook's notes: Dubbed the "pie plant" by author Laura Ingalls Wilder, rhubarb's most well-known preparation is rhubarb pie. But have you ever heard of Rhubarb Delight? As you know it is not uncommon for recipes to be passed down through generations of families. Perhaps you have some favorite recipes made by one of your family members. This recipe comes from a groom's family in Iowa who passed it along to his new bride in Minnesota. 

Rhubarb Delight
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 TB powdered sugar
  • 5 TB. softened butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Optional 3/4 cup toasted coconut

Crust Directions:

  • Beat ingredients and pat into a 8 x 8 glass pan.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Set aside and make filling.
Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon 
  • 2 cups diced rhubarb

Filling Directions:
  • Beat eggs, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and cinnamon until well blended.
  • Fold in diced rhubarb into egg/ sugar mixture. 
  • Pour filling over prepared crust. 
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 
Serve Rhubarb Delight with a scoop of ice cream.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

BBQ Sides

Two BBQ sides to make your weekend sizzle.
An Old Fashioned BBQ Meal 
served with a side of Slow Cooker Cheesy Bacon Ranch Potatoes
Cook's Notes: I was practically drooling smelling these potatoes cooking for 4 hours. What a fragrant aroma filling the kitchen. The recipe serves four but can easily be doubled. It was adapted from recipecritic.com It is a delicious side for any meal. 
Ingredients: 
  • 6-8 medium sized red or yellow potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 cups sweet onions, diced
  • 6 slices of bacon, halved
  • 2½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 TB. from a dry ranch seasoning packet
  • 1 T butter
  • Optional ½ cup sliced green onions
Directions: 
  • Line a cookie sheet with foil and bake bacon at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate. 
  • Line your slow cooker with aluminum foil. Leave enough to over hang so that you can wrap the potatoes on the top once in the slow cooker.
  • Spray the inside of the foil with cooking spray and layer half of the potatoes along the bottom. Next layer with half of the cooked bacon, onions, 1 TB dry ranch dressing, and top with 1 cup cheese. Repeat the layers and top with cheese and butter, reserving ½ cup cheese.
  • Bring the layers of foil together to enclose the potato mixture.  This helps them to steam and cook perfectly. Cover and cook on high for four hours in your slow cooker. Once finished, top with remaining ½ cup cheese. 
Veggie Salad with Ranch Dressing
Cook's Notes: It's not hard to understand why ranch dressing is so popular.It's creamy without being heavy, with a good herbal kick and a subtle garlic presence. A perfect summer salad for your next BBQ. Use a prepared dressing for easy preparation.
Ingredients: 
  • 1 bottle prepared Ranch Cucumber Dressing or Lite Ranch Dressing (you will need about 1/3 cup)  
  • 1 cup each diced broccoli florets, cucumbers and radishes 
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup red onions, diced
Directions:
  • Mix veggies together  with onions in a bowl. Drizzle enough dressing to coat veggies.
  • Refrigerate 30 minutes to chill.  

Friday, June 22, 2018

Texas Slaw

This week a showy display of pink Ladyslippers at my neighbor's house. 

Texas Coleslaw
Cook's Notes: I have been down South many times and enjoyed their variety of dishes and home style cooking. But it was Up North when I had my first taste of Texas Slaw. It is a tangy salad with a Tex-Mex twist. What a nice change from the traditional coleslaw and a perfect side for your next potluck, tailgate party or BBQ. The salad should sit several hours for flavors to meld before serving.
Recipe from allspice.com
Ingredients:
  • 1-16 oz. package of coleslaw mix
  • 2 cans each 7 oz. Mexicorn or 2 cups frozen fresh corn
  • 2 fresh jalapenos peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup lite Ranch dressing
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Tb. lime juice
  • 2 cups shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 of a red onion, cut in strips 
Directions:
  • Mix peppers, cilantro, Ranch dressing, spices and lime juice.
  • Blend dressing mixture with corn, coleslaw mix, onion and cheese. 
  • Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summer Solstice

This is my top rated recipe pick for the week to usher in summer solstice.
Balsamic Grilled Cherry, Blueberry, Goat Cheese, and Candied Walnuts Salad


The recipe was adapted fromtwopeasandtheirpod.com
It's festive perfect for your 4th of July celebration with red, white and blue and the sweet and savory flavors that work amazingly well together.
Cook's notes: The cherries were pitted, tossed in a prepared dressing Newman's Own Lite Balsamic Dressing or another similar dressing and place on a grill pan. They were grilled until they were juicy and slightly charred about 5 minutes. A good quality balsamic vinegar or black cherry balsamic can be substituted for the prepared dressing using 1 tablespoon. The cherries can also be roasted in oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes on a rimmed pan lined with parchment paper. Be sure to place grilled cherries on a paper towel (they are juicy) before adding to salad. The recipe serves 4 .

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted and halved or substitute frozen pitted dark cherries
  • 2 TB. Newman's Own Lite Balsamic Dressing, 1 TB. of a good quality balsamic vinegar or black cherry balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup prepackaged candied walnuts or pecans
  • 8-10 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed and patted dry on a paper towel
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
  • Additional Newman's Own Lite Balsamic Dressing or a similar prepared dressing to finish off the salad or make own own balsamic dressing
Directions:
  • Preheat grill to medium heat. Place cherries in a medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of balsamic dressing and toss well. Place cherries on a grill pan and grill until tender, about 5 minutes. Use a spatula to turn occasionally while cooking.
  • In a large bowl, add greens, grilled cherries, blueberries, goat cheese, red onion and candied walnuts. Drizzle with additional balsamic dressing and serve immediately.
A Toast to Summer with 
Limoncello Raspberry Prosecco Cooler 
or Hackensack Summer Sipper
Amazingly refreshing, bubbly, and sweet the perfect summer solstice cocktail that you can make in just 5 minutes! Recipe adapted from The Comfort of Cooking
Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Prosecco or another sparkling wine, chilled
  • 1 cup limoncello liqueur, chilled
  • 1 cup frozen raspberries
  • 6 sprigs fresh mint
Directions:
  • In a large pitcher, whisk together prosecco and limoncello.
  • Chill wine glasses.
  • Serve over raspberries, garnish with mint, if desired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Grilled Polenta Cakes

Polenta is a versatile alternative to pasta, bread or rice ,and is especially suited to meat dishes that have plenty of sauce. It is a paste or dough made from cornmeal. It can be made from scratch or packaged. I found this roll in the specialty food aisle. It is a very convenient product pre-cooked and ready to heat and serve. Polenta in northern Italy is as popular as pasta in the south. It is fat free /gluten fee.

A popular Ever Ready recipe previously posted using polenta
Harvest Sausage Veggie and Apple Dinner with Polenta
http://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2017/10/harvest-sausage-veggie-and-apple-sheet.html
Grilled Polenta Cakes
Cook's Notes: These cakes do triple duty. Use as an appetizer for your next BBQ and dazzle your guests with a creative dish or serve as a main meal with a side. The sauce was made the day before and used for a spaghetti dinner. I reserved some of the sauce to use next day for grilled corn cakes. A prepared can of tomato sauce can be substituted but not as flavorful.  
Recipe adapted twopeasandtheirpod.com and makes 6 cakes using 1/2 roll of polenta.

Ever Ready Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce 
Cook's Notes: This sauce is more flavorful on the second day. 
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 lb. ground Italian sausage 
  • 1 jar of prepared Marinara sauce 
  • 1 can Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Garlic (do not drain) 
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian herbs
Directions:
  • Cook and crumble meat, drain on a paper towel
  • In a large saucepan add sauce, canned tomatoes, herbs, and sausage. Mix well and simmer on low for an hour uncovered. 
Polenta Cakes
Ingredients: 
  • 1 tube polenta 
  • olive oil
  • 1-1/4 cups sauce 
  • Grated Parmesan cheese or use 3/4 cup from package of Mixed Italian cheeses
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Cracked pepper  

Directions:
  • Cut six slices 3/4 inch thick. Pat dry with a paper towel. Brush both sides with olive oil and set aside. 
  • Heat a grill pan until really hot. Lay polenta in one layer in pan and grill 8 minutes a side. Grill until both sides are golden, crunchy and have grill marks. 
  • Just before ready to serve preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone pad. 
  • Place a heaping tablespoon of sauce on each slice, top with cheese.
  • Bake 15 minutes. 
  • Garnish with  fresh chopped basil, salt cracked pepper and serve warm.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The World According to Bella

Fixer Upper 
As of late I certainly have heard Mrs. S talk much about her Fixer Upper trip. So much so I decided it was time to rethink my hole out front. It's a Fixer Upper project.
With all the rain it's  a mess. Weeds have grown up all around and I've really outgrown the space. While I pawed a new hole making it larger and deeper Mrs. S helped by pulling weeds out. The dirt is fresh and its a cool spot to lie in a warm day.

My yard patrol job started today when Mrs. S 's flowers showed up. I spent all afternoon watching her work. 
Now its not just the deer this year to worry about in my yard. Check out these recent photos showing our new neighbors who are out and about.

This bear is out of control I've heard taking down every bird feeder in sight all around the neighborhood. 
These foxes were napping in the sun at the end of our neighbor's driveway.    


Mrs. S thinks its a good idea not to put out our bird feeders this year.   







Big News: We are going out of town to a wedding.  We are staying at the same dog friendly hotel as Sadie and Luna. We can't go to the actual wedding in a barn which is disappointing since  I really wanted to see the groom's Bernese Mountain  dog being a ring bearer. I do worry how Luna will act. She can get really wild sometimes.   

Love, Bella

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 ...