Sunday, March 31, 2019

Avocado Toast with Hummus and Radishes

Like Emily Dickinson I too "dwell in the possibilities" with food options. Recently we were on a Tucson Food Tour exploring the 4th Avenue culinary scene in downtown Tucson. More info in another posting. This appetizer caught my attention. After briefly discussing with chef on how he created it I decided looked easy enough to replicate. I could see several possibilities with this recipe. Below is a photo of shared group plate on Food Tour. 
This is Ever Ready's duplication below. So easy try it for yourself. It can be a appetizer or breakfast item large or small depending on toast size. 

Cook's Notes: The original recipe called for pickled radishes. After checking with several stores I came to the conclusion the chef made his own pickled radish recipe. So I used plain sliced radishes. The dish is healthy and so delicious.   
Ingredients:
  • Artisan bread slices
  • Olive oil
  • Hummus-recommend one a store bought Lemon Hummus though any flavor that suits your preference works 
  • Avocado slices
  • Sliced radishes or sliced hard boiled eggs 
  • Grinds of fresh black pepper 
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Slice bread and brush olive oil on each side.
  • Toast on a baking sheet 4 minutes per side.
  • Spread hummus on toast. Arrange avocado slices and radishes as shown in photo.
  • Sprinkle with a few grinds of black pepper. 
Another possibility as a Brunch item served with Scrambled Egg Muffin Cups
Spinach and Peppers Scrambled Egg Muffin Cups (Vegetarian Style) 
Cook's Notes: These muffins are naturally gluten free and protein rich with some low fat options.  Prep the veggie mixture ahead and place in a covered container. Prep egg mixture ahead and refrigerate in blender overnight. Next morning just put together following directions and enjoy. Reheat in microwave.
Recipe inspiration from aspicyperspective.com makes 12 muffin cups. 
Ingredients:
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened (low fat)
  • 2 TB. plain Greek yogurt (low fat)
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 tsp. (each) basil and parsley flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Dash or two of Sriracha sauce
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 3 handfuls of spinach (stems removed)
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese (low fat), divided
  • 3/4 cup diced mini sweet peppers yellow and red
  • 3/4 cup diced sweet onions
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees and generously grease muffin pans (regular size).  
  • In a blender mix well eggs, cream cheese, yogurt, milk, seasonings, and Sriracha. Add in 1 cup cheese and set aside.
  • Heat oil and saute in a fry pan onions and peppers 2 minutes. Add in torn spinach leaves and saute until wilted. 
  • In a large bowl add egg mixture to sauteed veggie mixture. Use a 1/4 cup scoop size and fill up muffin tins almost to top. sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese among the muffin tops.   
  • Bake 15 minutes until centers are puffy and set. Use a butter knife to loosen edges. They will deflate some. Serve warm. 
Other Optional Add Ins include:
Jalapeno peppers
Ham and Cheddar
Broccoli and Cheddar
Mushroom, Spinach and Pepper
Tomato, Spinach and Peppers
Sundried  Tomatoes and Asparagus 

Friday, March 29, 2019

Mad Hatter Tea Party

Afternoon Tea

My copper kettle
whistles merrily
and signals that
it is time for tea.
The fine china cups
are filled with the brew.

There's lemon and sugar
and sweet cream, too.
But, best of all
there's friendship, between you and me.
As we lovingly share
our afternoon tea.

by Marianna Arolin

The Hatter (also called the Mad Hatter or Hatta) is a fictional character in Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its sequel "Through the Looking-Glass". He is often referred to as the Mad Hatter, though this term was never used by Carroll. The phrase "mad as a hatter" pre-dates Carroll's works and the characters the Hatter and the March Hare are initially referred to as "both mad" by the Cheshire Cat, with both first appearing in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, in the seventh chapter titled "A Mad Tea-Party".

Lucky for me I didn't have travel down a rabbit hole last year to find a tea party with The Mad Hatter Restaurant-Tea Room in Anoka close by. 
But hosting your own tea party is another great option. The following links are some previous postings to get you started-so grab a hat 

and get started with your planning.  Set your table you already have a theme. 
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2010/10/anytime-is-tea-time.html

Tea Sandwiches
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2012/04/tea-time.html

More food ideas
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2014/05/time-for-tea.html

Continuing Tea Conversations with DIY Decorating Ideas
https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2015/08/diy-mad-hatter-tea-party-ideas.html

For more ideas go to search box on HOME PAGE  and type in tea time there are several more tea times DIY ideas and foods.

While you are thinking and planning your tea party start with a slice of fresh lemon bread studded with juicy, plump blueberries and a hint of lemon zest. It's moist and the glaze with toasted coconut is really just an excuse to eat cake for breakfast! The bread is freezer friendly. 
Glazed Lemon Blueberry Loaf  with Toasted Coconut 
Cooking Tip: Toast more coconut than you need for the recipe and store in zip loc in the refrig for future baking. Small blueberries work the best for this recipe.
Bread Ingredients:

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar  
  • Grated lemon peel from 2 large lemons  
  • 1 TB. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Juice of 2 large lemons, about 1/4 cup 
  • 1/2 tsp. each vanilla and almond extract 
  • 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried on a paper towel 
Directions: 
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • Whisk flour, salt, sugar, graded lemon and baking powder set aside. 
  • In a bowl beat eggs with milk, butter, lemon juice and extracts, 
  • Add eggs to the dry ingredients and combine only until mixed. 
  • Fold in blueberries. 
  • Grease well a loaf pan and pour mixture into a prepared pan. 
  • Bake @ 350 for about 45 minutes. 
  • Cool bread in pan 15 minutes and invert onto a cooling rack. With a long skewer poke holes in top of bread. Slowly drizzle glaze and baste top several times. Sprinkle with toasted  coconut. 
Lemon Glaze
Combine 1 cup confectioners sugar with 2-3 TB lemon juice. 





Thursday, March 28, 2019

Taste of Spring

Cinnamon Honey Roasted Carrot Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette 
It's a fresh healthy spring salad made with roasted caramelized carrots, sliced radishes, crunchy almonds, mixed greens and a few dried cranberries to add a pop of color. A delicious side for your Easter gathering. Recipe serves 4 and ingredients can be easily increased depending on servings needed.  
Salad Ingredients:
  • 2 cups diagonally diced carrots 
  • 1 cup red onion strips
  • 1-1/2 TB. each olive oil and honey 
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup sliced radishes 
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup cranberries
  • Mixed greens or arugula
Salad Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone pad.
  • In a bowl toss carrots and red onions with olive oil, honey, and cinnamon.   
  • Spread carrot mixture evenly out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast carrots and onions stirring occasionally, 25 minutes. Last 5 minutes add in almonds and cranberries to the side of the pan to roast. Carrots should be cooked al dente and almonds lightly browned. Let almonds, onions and carrots cool completely before adding to the salad bowl or plate. 
  • Assemble salad with mixed greens or arugula, red onions, radishes, almonds and cranberries. Drizzle with Apple Cider Vinaigrette or Citrus Vinaigrette.
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup apple juice
  • 2 TB. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 TB. honey
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Scant ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 TB. olive oil or Lemon Olive Oil
Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate for one hour for flavors to meld. 
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 

Directions:
  • Mix all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate for one hour for flavors to meld.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Penny for Your Thoughts

Rosemary Vaughn, pen name of Shirley Greves, an award winning author, was raised on the Canadian prairies.
She immigrated with her family to the northern plains of the United States in the mid 1970’s. She is a former English teacher and Professor of Teacher Education. Vaughn's unique experience living on the semi-remote Queen Charlotte Islands, now officially known as Haida Gwaii off the northwest coast of Canada, provided fertile ground for her debut novel Love on the Misty Isles. This book has garnered three recognitions: 
2017 Mill City Press Author Independent Author Awards First Place Winner in the Romance Category
2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in two Categories: Regional and Romance
2019 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program Silver Award in the Romance Category


At the end of Vaughn's first novel Love on the Misty Isles, three characters, Sheryl, Libby and her brother Corbin, realize they all came from the same fictional town of Crocus Plains on the Canadian prairies but hadn't known one another. Penny for Your Thoughts,  published by Mill City Press, Inc. is Vaughn's second and newest novel. Its title evolved from readers who urged her to write a sequel. Vaughn purposely left out the a in the old phrase “a penny for your thoughts” as she was giving the new character Penny and her life story for your thoughts, the reader. This story returns readers back to the Crocus Plains area by giving the characters' backstories making Vaughn's sequel also a prequel. With the introduction of Penny, a new character, the stories in both books become interwoven and intergenerational coming full circle over several decades. Vaughn skillfully pulls together the stories in the first and second novel. Note that Penny for Your Thoughts is a novel that can stand on its own but readers who have read the first one will really appreciate getting the background of the characters they liked. 

Penny's life journey begins with her father William's story and the secrets it holds throughout the 1930s Depression years and World War II. Penny shares her growing-up years with Sheryl Leigh in Crocus Plains. They go their separate ways during college and eventually lose contact with one another. In the meantime, Penny becomes the summer nanny for the Campbells, a new family in town. Siblings Libby and Corbin Campbell capture Penny's heart. Penny pursues her career as a math teacher and then principal of the high school in Crocus Plains keeping contact with the family. Over the years Penny encounters many opportunities for love, but wonders if she will ever find her special and enduring love that will capture her heart?

Strengths of Vaughn's writing include giving the readers a sense of place to an area in her sequel focusing on the Canadian prairies, a region she is familiar with. With her description of the landscape and everyday life in this region readers will feel what it's like to live in such a unique area. Readers may even find that life growing up in the 50's and 60's was quite a similar experience for both Americans and Canadians. It was particularly interesting learning about the role of Canadians during World War II. Vaughn purposely included information in the story to highlight the differences between the US and Canada during this time period appealing to  readers interest  from each country. Any novel that covers a wide range of decades is a challenge for authors. 
It's obvious Vaughn strove for accuracy in Penny for Your Thoughts. She was able to effectively capture the area's culture and way of life covering an extensive time period by fact checking using primary sources and online research.  Vaughn found friends and family were helpful consultants. 

Vaughn creates authentic and relatable characters through their dialogue and interactions as a variety of events unfold. Your interest will be piqued by a scene from the Prologue which will be repeated again towards the end of the book revealing its significance. 


Two years ago Vaughn had the pleasure of returning to Misty Isles (Haida Gwaii) the setting of her first book. She discovered there had been many changes in the forty years since she had lived there. The visit provided an opportunity to meet up with book consultants from her first book she had never met, view local art in shop and museums and take photographs for use in her book presentations. These experiences enriched her writing for Penny for Your Thoughts. 
Haida Art of Eagle and Raven symbols resembling Haida moieties

Check out Vaughn's website www.rosemaryvaughn.com and her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/authorrosemaryvaughn/ for more information about the author, availability for speaking presentations and book clubs, book discussion questions for Love on the Misty Isles and book launch for Penny for Your Thoughts. Books are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and locally in Minnesota this spring at Turtle Town Book Store in Nisswa, Timeless Appeal, Lakes Latte in Pequot Lakes and Encompassing Beauty in Crosslake.


Author input was available for some of this review. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The World According to Bella

On the Bright Side 


It's a good week when you can manage to avoid a few javelinas we saw crossing the street, didn't see any scary spiders or scorpions out on the back patio though I was napping a bit and may have missed them 
and haven't seen one rattlesnake on our walks. Another good thing was getting a party invite to Lucy's house. 

 




Mrs S. said we had to dress for the occasion. And so I did.






I really liked Lucy's new scarf. She looked so festive.
I did my best to remember my manners and only messed up a few times.  
I polished off the water in Lucy's bowl, helped myself to a few snacks when no one was looking and then I got so sleepy with all the activity took a nap in her bed.
But I couldn't have been too bad as Lucy's mom said I was welcome any time as we left that night. 

I did think of Mulligan this week when we got this picture. It will seem strange to go home not to see him anymore. I hope I will like Lulu. Mulligan's mom sent us a picture of her. She looks like a small Mulligan. And I see LuLu has one of Mulligan's tennis balls and lots of other toys to play with. I heard she is real happy there.  
One big disappointment this week was missing Sadie's 10th birthday party. She and Luna were treated  to these dog friendly cupcakes with a dog bone on top. I heard they did not know what to do with a cupcake treat. If I had been there I would have dug in quickly.   
But once Sadie and Luna got a little coaxing they were gone quickly.
 They sure looked good to me.

It's getting hot here and I'm ready to leave. But looks like Mr. C and Mrs. S are not. Our neighbor called and told us to stay. Roads are real bad. Hopefully next month.
Love, Bella 


Monday, March 25, 2019

Chocolate Mousse Pie

Desert Blooms
The flowers in Desert Meadow Park were spectacular. Love having plantsnap app available to identify plants I don't usually see in the Midwest.
A welcoming sign entering the park. 
 Brilliant colored California Poppies  made an eye catching scene.   
Jenny (on school break visit) and Charley seemed dwarfed by the cactus.
Palo Verde almost ready for yellow leaves to make their spring entrance. Palo Verde in Spanish mean green stick which refers to the color of tree bark. 







Gorgeous Texas Mountain Laurel captured my attention. The fragrance-like grapes.
As the temps soared near 85, it seemed blistering hot for us in the sun with no shade. We sought refuge in a shaded patio for a pie break with a refreshing glass of iced tea.  
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse Pie
Cook's Notes: A decadent pie where it took a lot of will power to pass on a second slice.  It was one of the easiest pies I've  ever made. Lots of ways to customize your pie that include:  Oreo Cookie or graham cracker crust, semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, Amaretto or Bailey's Irish Cream, adding mint flavoring and topping pie with crushed cookie crumbs or chocolate sprinkles. Great addition to your holiday cooking as can be made a day before a get together. Be sure to use a good quality chips e.g. Ghirardelli.
Recipe from cooks.com  Recipe below is my customization and note the ingredient list in not lengthy.
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 TB. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch  
  • 3/4 of one 10 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1-1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TB. confectioners sugar
  • 3 TB. Baileys Irish Cream
Oreo Pie Crust
  •  2 rows of cookies from a regular package of Oreo cookies
  • 2-1/2 TB. melted butter
Directions:
  • Use a food processor and crush cookies. Place crumbs in a bowl and mix in melted butter. Press crumbs into a glass pie pan and pat firmly into dish. 
  • Chill in freezer.
  • In a medium saucepan combine 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and chips. Gradually whisk milk into chocolate mixture over medium heat until mixture boils, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute add in Baileys. Whisk to mix and transfer mixture to a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Cool to room temperature. 
  • In a small bowl whip cream, adding in confectioners sugar, beat until stiff. 
  • Fold whip cream into chocolate mixture. Spoon into prepared crust. Refrigerate several hours.

  


Friday, March 22, 2019

Oven Baked Garlic Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus



     Baked Garlic Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus
    Cook's Notes: Risotto is unbelievably creamy, velvety, buttery, savory, salty and pure addicting – just try to stop at one spoonful! It's a northern Italian rice dish slow cooked in a broth until a delectable creamy consistency. Never fails to impress and a perfect spring side dish, The oven version is 100% foolproof and doesn’t require constant stirring. Do not rinse Arborio as it's important to retain the starch for the dish. One cup frozen petite peas thawed could be substituted for asparagus pieces. The recipe could serve 6 but since its so addicting maybe just four. Recipe adapted from carlsbadcravings.com and it's gluten free!

    Ingredients

    • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
    • 2 Tablespoons butter, divided
    • 1/4 cup shallots finely chopped
    • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1- 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
    • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed
    • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, remove woody ends and cut asparagus into 1-1/2 inch pieces
    • 1-1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 teaspoon each dried basil and parsley flakes
    • 3 Tablespoons dry white wine
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • Optional adding in 1 cup diced ham or bacon
    Directions:
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    • Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Increase heat to medium high and saute shallots 3 minutes.
    • Add the rice and stir until well coated with butter and edges begin to look translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté an additional 30 seconds.
    • Add 4 cups warm chicken broth and seasonings to rice mixture. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid and transfer to oven. Bake for 16 minutes or until rice is the softer side of al dente.
    • Blanch asparagus pieces for 1 minute, drain to an ice bath and drain again.
    • When rice is tender, remove from oven and stir in remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream, 1 Tablespoon butter 3 TB dry white wine, blanched asparagus pieces and 1 cup Parmesan Cheese. Stir vigorously until smooth. Place back in oven uncovered and cook 5 minutes more. Add more Parmesan cheese right before serving. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
    • To reheat use a little more chicken broth.
    RISOTTO VARIATIONS
    • Fennel and lemon risotto
    • Garlic, sage mushroom risotto
    • Tomatoes and basil risotto
    • Bacon and cheddar risotto
    • Spinach and pea risotto
    • Peas and mint risotto
    • Swiss chard and shrimp risotto
    • Gorgonzola and radicchio risotto
    • Asparagus, spinach and lemon risotto
    • Olives and feta risotto (like my Greek risotto)
    • Sun-dried tomato, spinach and feta risotto
    • Vegetable risotto with zucchini, bell peppers, peas and spinach
    • Scallops with arugula risotto
    • Chicken, lemon, parsley risotto
    • Shrimp, lemon, herb risotto
    • Lobster risotto
    • Ground beef, turkey or sausage risotto

    Thursday, March 21, 2019

    World Poetry Day

    Share and Read a Poem Today
    What are your some of your favorite lines of poetry ?

    Here's what Winnie the Pooh has to say in poetic form about a spring morning.
    Spring Morning
    by A.A. Milne
    Where am I going? I don't quite know.
    Down to the stream where the king-cups grow-
    Up on the hill where the pine-trees blow-
    Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.

    Where am I going? The clouds sail by,
    Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.
    Where am I going? The shadows pass,
    Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

    If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,
    You'd sail on water as blue as air,
    And you'd see me here in the fields and say:
    "Doesn't the sky look green today?"

    Where am I going? The high rooks call:
    "It's awful fun to be born at all."
    Where am I going? The ring-doves coo:
    "We do have beautiful things to do."

    If you were a bird, and lived on high,
    You'd lean on the wind when the wind came by,
    You'd say to the wind when it took you away:
    "That's where I wanted to go today!"

    Where am I going? I don't quite know.
    What does it matter where people go?
    Down to the wood where the blue-bells grow-
    Anywhere, anywhere. I don't know.


    Milne genius as a wordsmith and his boundless imagination inspires a first generation that grew up on Winnie the Pooh.

    There is an app you can download for FREE on your phone called PlantSnap.com
    It comes in handy when you see a plant, tree or bush you want to identify. You can either snap the picture and get instant verification or choose one from your photo gallery and get help. The tutorial directions are real simple to follow.  
    Since there are so many unfamiliar plants here in Arizona I can't identify I really like having this app. I was quite taken with this foliage thinking maybe a type of lilac but I learned it was called Mountain Laurel. So lovely. 

    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 ...