Sunday, June 30, 2019

Another Sundae Funday with a Twist

Add some fun to your Sunday with Dessert Tacos. It's a kid-friendly treat even grownups will love with lots of options. 
LOL only problem I had with these desserts was getting my photos in quickly as warm chocolate sauce was melting everything. You might want to consider using chocolate sauce at room temperature to avoid this problem:)  
Cook's Notes: You will need a box of waffle bowls for the shells. 
and a variety of toppings. I went with a 4th of July theme so used two kinds of sprinkles and mini M &M baking chips. The shells can be made ahead and stored uncovered at room temperature. Recipe inspiration BHG
  • waffle taco shells
  • ice cream
  • toppings
  • whipped cream
  • warm chocolate or caramel sauce
  • For taco shell wrap one waffle cone in a damp paper towel and microwave 15 seconds. Unwrap and press waffle bowl slightly to form a taco shape. Hold a few seconds to cool and place on a plate and repeat steps for how many shells you will need. 
  • Use a very small teaspoon to fill shell with ice cream, Add a variety of toppings and ENJOY!  
Another option build your sundae in waffle bowl, adding in sprinkles, cherry and whip cream. 

Another option is using standard ice cream sandwiches with sprinkles or a  product called 
 an alternative to ice cream sandwiches.
Cook's Notes: These sandwiches can be made ahead and individually wrapped loosely in wax paper. Return to freezer until needed. 

  • Sprinkles
  • Ice cream sandwiches 
  • Place a large sheet of wax paper on the counter. Let sandwiches soften on wax paper for 5 minutes.
  • With one hand hold sandwich and the other with sprinkles and coat the ice cream. 
  • Wrap each one lightly in wax paper and return to freezer.   

Friday, June 28, 2019

On a Summer Salad Roll

"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; 
you need to be able to throw something back." 

-- Maya Angelou
Cook's Notes: Looking for something new to bring to your next BBQ? Try this refreshing Watermelon, Strawberry, and Tomato Salad with Basil Drizzled with Balsamic Vinaigrette. I loved the extra touch of a homemade balsamic vinaigrette over the fruits and tomatoes. I doubled the vinaigrette recipe below so I'd have enough to cover the amount of fruit used in this recipe. Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar elevates the dish to a whole new level. If possible use yellow heirloom tomatoes for a nice color contrast.
Recipe adapted from

Salad Ingredients:

  • 3 cups watermelon, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups of strawberries, halved or quartered into bite size pieces
  • 2 -1/2 cups halved, multi-colored, cherry tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup julienned fresh basil
  • Optional ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • fine grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 2 TB. good quality dark balsamic vinegar or Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar
  • ¼ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1-1/2 tsp. pure maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 2 TB. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • In a large bowl, layer in order: the watermelon, strawberries, tomatoes and basil.
  • If making in advance, cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours.
  • For the Balsamic Vinaigrette, add all ingredients in a blender and mix. Place dressing in small covered jar, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • When ready to serve, shake the balsamic vinaigrette, add salt and pepper to taste. Add dressing sparingly to salad and toss gently with fruits. Unused dressing stores well in refrigerator covered. Pairs nicely with a mixed green salad. Add in crumbled blue cheese if using.
GO GREEK it's healthier

Cook's Notes:
A classic summer salad of cucumbers and tomatoes loaded with feta cheese and olives. Perfect as a side dish or as a meal on its own and ready in just 10 minutes! fresh and bright the entire dish is. We’ve got salty, crumbly feta that marries well with our vinaigrette, juicy plump tomatoes, and tender savory olives, what more could you ask for? This may just become your new favorite. The general ingredients are listed, the amount is determined by number of servings you'll need. Optional, adding chopped Romaine. The salad was paired with grilled chicken. 
Salad Ingredients:
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved and patted dry on a paper towel
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Feta crumbles (garlic herb) 
  • Caesar croutons
  • Olives. halved
  • Red onion, slices
  • Diced mini red, yellow and orange peppers
Salad Directions:
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TB. lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1 TB. oregano dried
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper ground
  • 1- 1/2 tsp. sugar
Dressing Directions:
  • Mix all in a blender. Taste test to balance flavors. Chill until serving. 

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ithaca, NY

Last Stop Cornell University and Botanical Gardens
Ithaca is populated with a huge diverse student population that gives the city a young hip vibe. There are 23 colleges within 50 miles of Ithaca with Cornell and Ithaca being the two main ones. Cornell is a prestigious Ivy League college with  sticker shock tuition costs. Since Ithaca is hilly, the streets are narrow, steep and meander here there and everywhere. Parking is at premium. Returning the car unscratched with no accidents was a huge plus for me. 
Next door to Cornell University Campus is The Cornell Botanic Gardens, formerly known as the Cornell Plantations. It covers 4. 300 acres with an astounding 40 different nature areas. The temps were almost at 90 degrees with high humidity (it seems to rain a lot off and on in spurts) my daughter splurged on a new umbrella to keep the sun off. 
Upper state NY has a climate seems similar to a rainforest, abundance of flowers with  prolific blooms and large plant leaves. 

There were lots of interesting walking paths to explore. 
Parting Notes: Hidden Gem 
Discovering Upper State NY was a like a gift of many layers unwrapped each day for new surprises. We found ourselves surrounded by sprawling hills, lakes and gorges with a season bursting with color around every bend. We took moments to breathe it all in. This region was a hidden gem. Be sure to put on your fall bucket list. With all the hilly terrain it would be spectacular.
And thanks for following Ever Ready's journey.
Just in time for your 4th of July gatherings 
Strawberry Rhubarb Bars 
Tex-Mex Cauliflower Rice Salad
Watermelon-Strawberry Tomato Salad  

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Taughannock Falls and Mark Twain Country

The tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains is Taughannock Falls. At 215 feet, this cascade is three stories taller than Niagara Falls.  It is 8 miles north of Ithaca with an impressive gorge and hiking trails.

It was interesting to note a rockbed jutted out . It was dry and the perfect spot to take photos. 
I was happy this trek did not require 1,300 steps to get close. 
Elmira, NY a treasure trove of all things Mark Twain.
Mark Twain is its most famous resident. He married Olivia Langdon, a woman from a prominent local family. They summered in Elmira for more than 20 years at Quarry Farm on East Hill where Twain's sister and family lived. His sister, Susan had a hexagon shape study built for him on the property where he  wrote most of his famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn which overlooked the majestic Chemung Valley. After his death the study was moved to the Elmira College campus.
Inside the study student volunteers are available for visitors. Twain's study has been deemed the #1 literary attraction in America by USA Today and the college is the home to the Center for Mark Twain Studies. It also features an exhibit of Twain artifacts related to time he spent in 
Elmira. A pond nearby gives the surrounding area a very restful feel.

It's impressive to note Twain smoked 35-40 cigars  day and still lived to 75 years. 
Elmira College was the first institution in the U.S. to grant women collegiate degrees equal to those of men. It's one of the most picturesque campuses I've ever seen. 
Twain died in 1910 and is buried in Woodlyn Cemetery alongside his wife and children. To  be truthful after hearing all the tragic events that occurred in his life with 3 of his 4 children dying young and then his wife, one comes away with a feeling of sadness for all the events he faced. One can't help admire how he was able to continue being such a prolific writer in spite of all the adversity he faced. 
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

MacKenzie-Childs and Village of Seneca Falls, NY

Down the road from The Aurora Inn was the expansive property of the home goods store, MacKenzie-Childs, once owned by Pleasant Rowland. The store sits on property that used to be a dairy farm. Inside you'll discover unique collections of furniture to ceramics, enamelware, lightning and accessories. Each item is handcrafted by artisans in a studio on the property. All the whimsical merchandise was eye catching with many bearing their signature style, black and white checks.  
      Even the bathroom was a work of art. 

The grounds were stunning and adding to the charm was a small farm complete with chickens and goats nearby.

Seneca Falls.NY 
The town/village community may be small but it's rich in monumental historical events.
Women's Rights National Historical Park
Operated by the National Park Service, the Park preserves the sites associated with the 1848 First Women's Rights Convention.

National Women's Hall of Fame
Immerse yourself here in the lives of great American women while viewing artifacts and special exhibits. You will learn more about the Hall's Inductees at their research center and home to a library and archival materials.

Our exploration began at the beginning, Wesleyan Chapel, where the Seneca Falls  convention was held.   

On July 19-20, 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention triggered and ... “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal." A handful of American women called a meeting in this tiny village, Seneca Falls, to declare independence from the absolute tyranny of men. Some 300 participated in the first Women's Rights Convention debating the merits of the document Declaration of Sentiments. 

Next door at the Visitor's Center I found myself surrounded by some of the great suffragists of all time. Their voices were progressive for the time.  Under the leadership of Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and other women’s rights pioneers, suffragists circulated petitions and lobbied Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to enfranchise women.
The exhibits were thought provoking reflecting on the historical events of the time, how far we have come but still not far enough since 1848. I loved  Lucretia Mott's quote "You have pens and voices."
A dress made that commemorates the efforts of 100 famous women over the years. 

Down the street we found this special bridge featured in the movie It's A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. 
Along the railing you will find small jingle bells  

commemorating a quote from the movie...  
"Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings." (from ''It's a Wonderful Life'' 1946)

Our last stop of the day found us back to Ithaca's outskirts with accommodations at an AirBNB. It was located on a small farm complete with a pond, little barn and chickens. 
Our hosts provided us with fresh eggs and bread. What a deal. 

Taughannock Falls and Mark Twain Country

Monday, June 24, 2019

Aurora, NY

Aurora, is a village and college town in New York on the shore of Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lake Region. Wells College, an institution of higher education for women founded by Henry Wells in 1868, is located in Aurora. It became co-educational in 2005, and since then enrollment has risen. 
As I walked the streets I could envision Atticus and Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird), Tom and Huck (Tom Sawyer)  and Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby) to be somewhere in the town where stately homes sit on the bluffs of the lake with tree lined streets. 

I did tell my daughter when planning the trip I was fine with whatever and we would just split the trip costs. But never did I expect this lodging splurge at the Rowland House. What a treat! 

There is an interesting story attached to this house.
Pleasant Rowland is a former graduate of Wells College. She is an educator, philanthropist, public speaker, entrepreneur and also creator of American Girl Dolls. When she was 46, Pleasant Rowland, now 78, created the popular American Girl dolls as a way to teach children about different eras of history. A former textbook writer, her Pleasant Company not only manufactures dolls, it’s also one of the top publishers of children’s books and magazines. In 1998, Rowland sold the American Girl brand for $700 million to Mattel. In 2001 Rowland purchased bankrupt retailer MacKenzie-Childs, based in Aurora, NY. After Rowland restructured the company's management team in 2006 and MacKenzie-Childs became profitable she then sold the company. Which now brings us to 2017. Rowland is  notable for her efforts to redevelop historic properties into inns in Aurora, NY. She has created a partnership with her alma mater,  Wells College. Rowland House where we stayed is named after her. Built in 1903 with over 10,00 square feet it has been totally refurbished inside and out restoring to its original elegant state.  

I might add it's a great place to sit on the veranda with a glass of wine and enjoy lake scenery. 
The following photo below is the last piece of property being restored in Aurora as an inn.
A visit to MacKenzie-Childs, the home goods store formerly owned by Pleasant Rowland and Seneca Falls.  Trip bonus-a special bridge with a jingle bell.

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 ...