Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Fiesta Taco Rice Bake

Members of the Buzz Feed Community were asked to share their favorite lines of poetry in honor of National Poetry Month. Here are some of their responses. I had difficulty choosing a favorite but really liked the expressive emotion conveyed in these lines. 

From “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden:

“He was my North, my South , my East and my West
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.” 

Check it out-you might find some favorites. 
48 Of The Most Beautiful Lines Of Poetry
Official kick off- Recipe Round-Up for Cinco de Mayo
Fiesta Taco Rice Bake
Cook's Notes: Winner Winner recipe! Brings together all your favorite flavors of tacos, salsa, and a side of rice all in one easy- to- make casserole. Perfect for any busy night or when you crave a Mexican dish. Recipe adapted from parade.com and serves 6.  The dish tastes even better the second night. You may have to add some chicken broth to reheat as rice absorbs the liquid. Prep ingredients ahead for easier assembly. 
  • 1 lb. ground beef or ground Italian sausage
  • 1 TB. olive oil 
  • 1 cup each red,yellow,orange sweet mini peppers and diced onions
  • 1/2 cup your favorite chunky salsa 
  • 2 TB dry taco seasoning mixture
  • 1 small can Steamfresh Mexicorn 
  • 1/2 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles, drained and patted dry on a paper towel  
  • 1-1/4 cup long grain white rice, uncooked
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 can (14 oz.) Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Oregano  
  • 2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese, divided 
  • Grease a glass 9 x 9 dish or a 3 qt baking dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a large skillet brown meat, crumble and drain grease from pan. Set meat aside. 
  • Wipe skillet clean,add olive oil and saute onions and peppers until soft. 
  • Return meat to skillet add in rest of ingredient except cheese. Mix well and then add in 1 cup cheese. 
  • Pour meat mixture into baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 45-50 minutes or until rice is cooked.
  • Uncover, add rest of cheese and bake 5 minutes until cheese is melted.     
To serve line bowl with crushed chips and spoon filling in. A side of cornbread and fresh fruit pairs well with this dish. 

Monday, April 29, 2019

Old Fashioned Dark Cocoa Buttermilk Cake

2019 marks the 100th anniversary of Children’s Book Week. 
Our 100th Anniversary theme — Read Now ∙ Read Forever – looks to the past, present, and most important, the future of Children’s books.
Celebrate Children’s Book Week this Spring, April 29 – May 5, at bookstores, libraries, and schools across the country.
My best pick for the week-check out YA NOVEL THE BRIDGE TO HOME by Padma Venkatraman 
Book review https://sockfairies.blogspot.com/2019/04/the-bridge-home.html

A recent meeting I was at needed a bit of pizazz. Adding an Old Fashioned Dark Cocoa Buttermilk Cake to the agenda was just the perfect addition. 
Did You Know?
Dutch Process Cocoa is darker than regular unsweetened cocoa powder. It takes on a more mellow, chocolatey flavor as the powder is treated with an alkali that neutralizes its natural acidity.  
  • 2-1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened dark Dutch process cocoa powder 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda  
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups buttermilk
  • Preheat 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 pan.
  • Sift together the first five ingredients, through salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl cream butter and sugars about 2 minutes.  
  • Add eggs in one at a time beating after each addition. 
  • Beat in vanilla and mix well. 
  • Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating on low after each addition. Beat 20 seconds more. 
  • Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake 28 minutes. Cool before adding glaze. 
Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze

  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1- 4 oz bittersweet or semi- sweet chocolate bar, roughly chopped 
  • 3 TB. brewed coffee or water
  • 1 TB. light corn syrup
  • 2 TB. Kahlua
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • Half and half or milk as needed
  • Optional garnish ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Chocolate Glaze Directions:
  • Melt butter, Whisk in chopped chocolate, coffee or water and corn syrup in a saucepan on low. Stir until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in Kahlua and powdered sugar. Blend until smooth. 
  • Add in milk or cream as needed for glaze consistency. Pour glaze over cooled cake and sprinkle with nuts.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Radish and Smoked Salmon Tart

"Morning Poem"

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.
from Dream Work (1986) by Mary Oliver

Radish and Smoked Salmon Tart
Cook's Notes: A great start to your morning with this puff pastry treat. A great combination of flavors you're sure to love. Recipe adapted from Food Network April 2019.
  • 1 sheet puff pastry (half a 17 ounce package) 
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 bunch of radishes (about 1-1/2 cups) thinly sliced
  • 1-5 ounce package (container garlic herb cheese such as Boursin) at room temperature
  • 1 TB. champagne vinegar or white balsamic vinegar  
  • 2 oz. smoked salmon
  • Optional garnish fresh snipped parsley, dill or tarragon
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out puff pastry sheet on parchment paper or a silicone pad and transfer to a baking sheet. Beat the egg with a splash of heavy cream. Brush a 1 inch border of the egg wash around  the edges of the dough. Then fold in each side about 1/2 inch to make a thin border and press to seal. Prick the center of the dough all over with a fork, then brush dough all over with egg wash. 

  • Bake the dough until crisp and golden brown 22 minutes. Prick the center of the dough with a paring knife and gently press with the bottom of a measuring cup to flatten a bit. Remove to a wire rack to  cool. 
  • Meanwhile soak radishes in a large bowl of ice water until crisp about 15 minutes. Drain radishes and pat dry with a paper towel. 
  • Mix garlic herb spread with heavy cream until smooth. Spread the cheese mixture over the tart with a spatula.  
  • Crumble salmon pieces over the tart.
  • Whisk vinegar, radishes with a pinch of sea salt. 
Now we have choices , choices...
Cut in tart in fourths for a brunch item or cut in smaller pieces for an appetizer.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Friday Favorites

“The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang the best.” 

John James Audubon
The Carolina Parrot
John James Audubon was an American ornithologist, artist and naturalist known for his studies, drawings and paintings of North American birds. His birthday is April 26th. 
Nancy Plain's book This Strange Wilderness The Life and Art of John James Audubon is a work of art. The first thing you'll notice is the quality of paper used to print this book. It's  further enhanced by Audubon’s beautiful watercolor reproductions. Nancy noted that Audubon’s birds glow with life and look real enough to hop off the page and fly away. This high quality volume combined with Nancy’s mesmerizing prose elevates this book above many on the same subject.
Her book is well researched and meticulously documented with appendix, glossary, source notes, bibliography, and illustration credits included in the back of the book. Nancy effectively captures the essence of Audubon’s personal journey to uncharted places where no one had seen, drawn, or written so much about the animals and birds of this young country. In Audubon’s words, “My whole mind was ever filled with my passion for rambling.”

Healthy Southwestern Chicken Taco Wraps
Cook's notes: The wraps are an easy party appetizer or make them for a fast, fun, and healthy dinner or lunch. They’re ready in 15 minutes and sure to be a crowd favorite. Soft butter lettuce (you could also use romaine) holds taco-seasoned chicken, juicy tomatoes and corn, crisp bell peppers, and cheese. You can customize the wraps by incorporating ingredients like black beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, or your favorite taco fixings. The recipe comes from averiecooks.com and serves 4. 
Kitchen tip: To make assembly easier prep all the ingredients ahead.


  • 2 TB. olive oil
  • 1 LB. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1-2 TB. taco seasoning mix (look for a low sodium package)
  • Southwest chunky salsa
  • 1 head butter lettuce or romaine
  • 1 medium tomato, diced small (I used Roma, vine-ripened or cherry tomatoes may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1/2 cup corn (I used frozen, fresh could be substituted)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend of cheese)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup seasoned low fat tortilla chips, crushed
  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed, optional
  • 1 cup red onion diced, optional
  • 1 medium Hass avocado, peeled and diced or make into guacamole, optional
  • salsa and low fat sour cream for garnishing
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, flipping and stirring so all sides cook evenly. After the chicken has cooked through, evenly sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning and a few tablespoons of salsa. Stir to evenly coat. Cooking time will vary based on thickness of chicken breasts and sizes of pieces. Allow chicken to rest in pan off the heat while you prep the remaining ingredients.
  • Peel off the leaves of the butter lettuce from the core and stack them on a plate.
  • Place 2 leaves of butter lettuce on a separate plate (I like to double up the leaves so the wraps are sturdier) and add about 3 tablespoons chicken mixture, 1 tablespoon tomatoes, 1 tablespoon bell peppers, 1 tablespoon corn, 2 tablespoons cheese, a pinch of cilantro, and sprinkle with tortilla chips to taste. Optional items include: black beans, avocado or guacamole, salsa and lite sour cream for garnishing. Repeat until chicken and remaining ingredients are gone. Wraps are best served fresh.

A Spring Twist

"Spring Seduction"
by Sharon Harris

watch out
guard yourself against spring
or she will seep her way into your heart.
she will take you by the hand
if you are not careful
and lead you deep into awakening forests.
she will give you sweet wine to drink
that will intoxicate you.
the sunshine of her smile
will blind your eyes.
she sends joy and exultation
coursing through your veins
as melted snow rushes down valleys and gullies.
the perfume of new flowers
and pine needles
and the very clarity of the air
will make you dizzy, reeling.
she will seduce you
with centuries of experience in her eyes
with memories of hundreds of lovers in her heart
and in her warm, warm arms
she will trick you
into loving her.
she will draw all your attention
from your work and other interests
to herself
her vibrant being
her flower perfume
her moist, moist lips.

Previously published in 1999 Lake Country Journal

Creamy Chicken and Bacon with Puff Pastry 
Cook's Notes: Elevate your standard chicken pot pie filing with this creamy decadent filling topped with a puff pastry square. The addition of bacon adds a savory note to the filling. It is definitely company worthy. Look for steam- in- the bag fresh English peas as they add a lovely sweetness to the dish.  I used 1/2 of the bag and froze the rest of the peas for another time. 
Recipe serves 4 and was adapted from Southern Living March 2017.
  • 3 cups cooked chicken
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1 cup each celery, sweet onions, carrots thinly sliced
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 2-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 5 bacon slices
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. each parsley flakes and herbes de provence 
  • 1 TB. dry white wine 
  • 1/2 cup fontina cheese, shredded
  • Egg wash
  • 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
  • Fry bacon, chop and set aside.
  • Dice onions, celery and carrots.
  • In a large fry pan, melt butter and saute onion, carrots and celery about 6-8 minutes until tender crisp. 
  • Add in flour and cook stirring constantly about 1 minute. 
  • Add in chicken stock, stir in cream and whisk to mix. Add in cooked chicken, bacon bits, spices and peas. Cook on low until thickened.  Add in cheese and wine, mix well. Cook until mixture is thoroughly heated about 10 minutes. Remove pan to another burner. Cover filling and set aside. 
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut 1 pastry sheet evenly into four pieces. Whisk one egg with 1 tsp. water. Baste each square with egg wash. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake 12-14 minutes. 
  • To serve divide filling among among 4 bowls or plates and top each with a  puff pastry square.  

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Easy Weekday Cooking 
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
Cook's Notes: Shortcuts for easy meal planning with a recipe that serves 4. Consider bottled Parmesan Caesar  dressing from the produce department. It has fewer preservatives than regular dressing.  
  • 1 bag Romaine lettuce or regular romaine, chopped and mixed with fresh spinach 
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, diced (I used a rotisserie chicken)  
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups cooked pasta, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cucumbers, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • Bottled Parmesan Caesar Dressing 
  • Croutons
  • Squeeze fresh lemon
  • In a large bowl toss lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, pasta, cucumbers, 1 cup Parmesan cheese with just enough dressing to moisten the salad. 
  • Right before serving add croutons, rest of Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of fresh lemon.   
Up Your Game in the Kitchen
Put your Spices to Good Use
  • Heighten the flavor of any spice (whole or ground) by toasting it in a dry skillet for a minute or two, stirring occasionally, until fragrant. 
  • Make a new rub for meat or fish using equal parts of of the following spices
Moroccan-ground cumin, dried oregano, turmeric, kosher salt  
Southwestern-smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, kosher salt
Italian- dried basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, kosher salt

Favor Infusion Hummus Mash
Instead of adding sour cream and butter to your baked or mashed potatoes, stir in dollops of hummus. With varieties from roasted garlic to basil to pesto to roasted red pepper, it's a great way to amp up the flavor and nutrients. 

Baking Tips
  • Try baking with malt powder. It gives cookies, cakes and quick breads an indescribable, amazing rich flavor. just add a tablespoon or two to the dry ingredients. 
  • If you lightly coat chocolate chips and blueberries with flour right before you add to batter, will prevent them from sinking to the bottom. 
Freezer Idea- Before cutting raw bacon pop it in freezer for 10 minutes. It will firm up for easier chopping. This also works well for fresh mozzarella.

Roast shrimp for cocktail hour Toss shrimp with olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 475 degrees for about 8 minutes. The shrimp will have a great charred, caramelized flavor.  

Easier Handling of Butter
  • Grate the cold butter on to a plate
  • Cut the butter into small pieces. It'll soften more quickly. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Earth Day

This year's theme Earth Day 2019: Protect Our Species
Find out more about the 2019 theme for Earth Day, to protect threatened and endangered species.

The purpose of Earth Day is to let people voice their appreciation for the planet and take action to help protect the planet from pollution and other environmental poisons. Don't make Earth Day a one time endeavor. Look at some of these suggested activities for adults and kids that keep the message ongoing and alive.

While humans may be the biggest threat to endangered species, there are many ways people can help in the fight to protect them! Keep the message alive everyday not just on Earth Day.  
Here's a list of things people can do to save endangered species
  • Learn about endangered species in your area.
  • Volunteer at a local wildlife refuge, park, or other open space.
  • Make your home wildlife friendly (secure garbage in cans with locking lids, feed pets indoors, and place decals on windows to deter bird collisions).
  • Attract native insects, such as bees and butterflies, to help pollinate native plants.
  • Reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides that are hazardous pollutants that affect wildlife.
  • Slow down when driving and keep an eye out for wildlife.
  • Recycle and buy sustainable products.
  • Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species.
  • Do not harass, shoot, or trap a threatened or endangered animal. Report it to your local state wildlife enforcement office if you witness this.
  • Avoid habitat destruction and support wildlife habitat and open space protection.

"Earth, What Will You Give Me?"
by Beverly Mc Loughland

Earth, what will you give me

In summer
In summer,
Earth, what will you give me
In summer


I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies,
Of lilies,
I’ll give you my fields
Made of lilies
And green.

And what will you give me
In autumn

In autumn
And what will you give me
In autumn
So bold?

I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple,
Of maple,
I’ll give you my leaves
Made of maple
And gold.

And what will you give me
In winter,
In winter,
What will you give me
In winter
So light?

I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal,
Of crystal,
I’ll give you my stars
Made of crystal
And white.

And what will you give me
In springtime,
In springtime,
And what will you give me
In springtime
So new?

I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses,
Of grasses,
I’ll give you my nests
Made of grasses
And blue.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Brunch

Como Park Conservatory St. Paul, MN 
Eggs Benedict with Baked Asparagus
Cook's Notes: Recipe serves four.  As a timesaver use a package of Hollandaise mix following directions on the packet. 
  • 1 package English Muffins (need four muffins, sliced)
  • 1 package Canadian Bacon (need 8 pieces of Canadian Bacon) 
  • 1 package Hollandaise Sauce mix
  • 8 eggs
  • Parsley flakes
Timing is important in this recipe having it all warm at the same time to serve.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sauce according to packet directions. Keep pan warm on a back burner.
2. Wrap Canadian Bacon in foil and heat 12 minutes.
3. Cook eggs on low and keep covered.
4. Toast muffins and butter.   
5. Assemble-muffins, bacon, eggs and top with sauce. Sprinkle with parsley flakes. 
6. Serve immediately.

Baked Parmesan Asparagus
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Drizzle asparagus with lemon or regular olive oil.
Lay asparagus in a baking dish and place several cut lemon slices over the top. I like to season my Parmesan asparagus with pinches of dried thyme, dried oregano and dried basil for a fantastic herby flavor or just sprinkle with garlic salt. Grate Parmesan cheese over top. Bake uncovered 12 minutes. 

Love the flavors of Eggs Benedict? This recipe may be your next favorite brunch dish. 
Overnight Eggs Benedict Casserole with Asparagus 
You don't need a holiday to serve this dish. It's a great casserole made the night before and baked the next day. It has all the same great flavors of a traditional Eggs Benedict dish. 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The World According to Bella

My Happy Place
The day we left I didn't need much coaxing to get in the van. In fact I even skipped my breakfast to make sure I was "in" and not left behind. 

I rode to Minnesota pretty much in this position my butt on the back seat and watching Mr. C and Mrs. S 's driving. I wanted to make sure they were headed the right way. So not too many naps for me and a lot of boring looking  out the window watching. All I ever saw was cattle and more cattle and not much else.  
After New Mexico (too many rocks there ) the rest stops got better with real grass to pee on. We went through two new states for me North and South Dakota. Mr. C counted and I have been to 25 of the 50 states either to visit something or make a pee stop. 

I really liked the second hotel we stopped at. In the lobby they had two huge containers of milk bones for doggie visitors with NO LIMITS though Mr. C did not let me get too carried away. But for me I found my happy place right back at the lake.
Let me tell you my hole did need some serious renovation after the bad winter. Finally after I got it just the way I liked it, I spent a few hours just relaxing in the sun.
The lake still has a lot of ice on it, but near the shore I was able to get my first swim in of the season. 
I'm happy we're in time for Easter. I did not want to miss a bunny delivery. 
Hope your Easter is good.
Love , Bella  
P.S. Mr. C and Mrs. S said I was just the best traveler ever, never making a fuss or asking, "Are we there yet?"  Hope this means I get good stuff in my basket. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Good Friday Reflections

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."

Have you heard of Resurrection Rolls? 
It's the perfect treat for the Easter weekend. The ingredients symbolize the story of the Resurrection. A good hands on learning activity for kids.  
Directions can be found at https://mixandmatchmama.com/2016/03/resurrection-rolls/

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Poem in Your Pocket Day

"Pocket Poem"
If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I’d opened it a thousand times
to see if what I’d written here was right,
it’s all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.

by Ted Kosser

Keep A Poem in Your Pocket Day April 18, 2019

The idea is simple: select poems you love, carry them 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 winesellers in San Fransisco, 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.

Poets.org 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 to download can be found at 


Here are a few fun poems to get you started for the day 
"Lost Poems"

I wrote a bunch of poems,
stapled them together,
took them to a friend’s house.

But they somehow slipped
through the floorboards
and disappeared.

I never got those poems back.
I tried to rewrite them
But they weren’t the same.

One night two months later,
sleeping at my friend’s house,
we heard restless sounds,

strange little noises
that my friend insisted
were nothing but squirrels or mice.

But I pictured my lost poems
scurrying on little feet
between the floors.

"Squished Squirrel Poem" 

I wanted to write about
a squished squirrel
I saw on the road
near my house last week.

You can’t write a poem
about a squished squirrel,
my teacher said to me.
I mean, you just can’t do it.

Pick a sunrise or an eagle
Or a dolphin, he suggested.
Pick something noble
to lift the human spirit.

I tried. I really did. But I kept
Coming back to that squirrel.
Did his wife send him out
To fetch some food or something?

There was blood and guts
but here’s what really got me:
he had pretty dark eyes
and they glistened still.

You can’t write a poem
about a squished squirrel,
my teacher insisted,

But I don’t think that’s true.

"Hungry for Poetry"
By Ralph Fletcher

First I saw him chew
a tender Japanese haiku.

He ate a foot-long sonnet
with mustard seed spread upon it.

He downed a bag of ripe cinquains
while walking in the pouring rain.

He gulped an epic, chomped an ode,
wolfed a couplet to cure his cold.

He munched so many limericks,
they made him absolutely sick.

He tried a plate of fresh free verse;
but all that did was make things worse.

He took some onomatopoeia
to cure a case of diarrhea.

He ate a poem of sixteen lines,
and after that he felt just fine.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Torta Caprese

Torta Caprese
Cook's Notes: An early Easter treat perfect for your Sunday brunch or dinner. 
This torte, a classic dessert along the Amalfi Coast, can be a simple, elegant showstopper. When done well, it packs all the richness and depth of flourless chocolate cake. It's moist and tender. For best results use good quality bittersweet chocolate e.g. Ghirardelli  and Dutch-processed cocoa e.g. Droste Cocoa and Almond Flour. The torte can stand on its own with a dusting of powdered sugar or with Amaretto Cream and jarred Cherry Fruit Filling.
Make the dessert a day ahead as a timesaver. It keeps well for three days.  
Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated November/December 2018
  • 12 tablespoons of butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • 4 oz. bar bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon creme of tartar
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan. 
  • In a small bowl mix together almond flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.  
  • Microwave chocolate and butter at 50% power, stirring often until melted. Stir in vanilla and set aside. 
  • In a medium bowl beat egg whites, add in creme of tartar and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until egg whites are stiff. Set aside. 
  • In a large bowl mix egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar. Beat on medium high until thick and pale yellow. Add in chocolate/butter mixture and mix until incorporated about 15 seconds. 
  • Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture mix on low just until incorporated. 
  • Fold  whipped egg whites in thirds to chocolate mixture using a spatula. 
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes with just a few moist crumbs. 
  • Place torta on a wire rack to cool. Remove springform sides and wrap torta in plastic wrap until serving.  
Amaretto Cream (mix 1 teaspoon Amaretto with whip cream) 

Monday, April 15, 2019

A Spring Dinner

Baked Pork Chops with Peach Whiskey Sauce and Roasted Asparagus and Red Potatoes 
Cook's notes: When it's too cold to grill but you're still craving barbecue, turn on the oven and bake pork chops in a sweet and spicy sauce. Your taste buds might just think its spring.
I'm not a food scientist on the 'why' but the combination of flavors using whiskey, cinnamon and balsamic vinegar were amazing when put together. You just might find yourself licking the pan. A ham steak could be substituted for the pork chops.
Recipe adapted from "Southwest Comfort Foods" by Marilyn Noble

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • 1 cup peach preserves
  • 3 TB. whiskey
  • 1/4 cup good quality balsamic vinegar or Black Cherry Balsamic
  • 1 TB. lemon juice
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • optional a dash of hot sauce
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a baking dish.
  • In a small saucepan over medium heat melt peach preserves. Stir in whisky, vinegar, lemon juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat, stirring often until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste first before adding in hot sauce. It might be spicy enough for your taste buds.
  • Remove pan from heat. Set aside 1/4 cup whiskey sauce.
  • Pour remaining sauce over pork chops, and cover with foil. Bake for 40 minutes. Let meat rest covered for 5 minutes.
  • Reheat reserved sauce and spoon over pork chops. 
Roasted Red Potatoes 
  • 6 medium sized red potatoes
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive oil or Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Combination of 2 -3 TB. of spices such as rosemary and parsley flakes
  • Line a large rimmed baking pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Asparagus spears can be cooked on same baking sheet with potatoes. Since potatoes will take about 25 minutes and asparagus only 12-14 minutes, start potatoes first.
  • Scrub potatoes and cube. In a bowl combine olive oil and spices. Add in potatoes and coat well. Salt and pepper.
  • Spread out on half of the sheet and bake until fork tender. Stir once during the baking time.

  • 1 bunch of asparagus spears, woody stems removed
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Blood Orange Olive Oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • Sprinkle of sesame seeds
  • 2-3 lemon slices, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt
  • Coat asparagus spears  with olive oil and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
  • Remove baking sheet from oven with potatoes, add spears on other half of baking sheet. Arrange cloves in between the spears. Sprinkle with salt and place lemon slices on top.
  • Roast 12-15 minutes or until al dente not limp. Stir once during cooking time.
  • Optional adding shaved Asiago cheese when serving.

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 ...