Wednesday, July 31, 2019

National Avocado Day

Looking to add some zip to your healthful diet? Avocados add a creamy and delicious flavor to all types of recipes. Beyond its flavor, this fruit also has many nutritional properties that can be part of a healthful diet. In fact, avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Avocados are a good source of healthy fats, the monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats are healthy additions to the diet because they help to nourish your body, sustain your energy, aid in healing processes and promote a healthy cellular environment.

Avocados were first cultivated in South America and migrated to the United States in the 1800s. California is the largest producer of avocados in the United States.

Florida Avocado Summer Wrap
Blackened Salmon with Cucumber Avocado Salsa
Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa
Avocado Toast
Avocado and Grilled Chicken Avocado Chopped Salad

Stop by your local Chipotle today free Guacamole with your chips
Oh Happy Day!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Celebrating July Birthdays

A "shout out" to some July birthdays (there are many more) that may have been overlooked on Ever Ready the past month.
  • July 4, 1804 Nathaniel Hawthorn was an American novelist and short story writer. He was born in Salem, Massachusetts,
  • July 18, 1918 Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999.
  • July 19, 1834 Edgar Degas was a French artist famous for his paintings, sculptures, prints, and drawings. He is especially identified with the subject of dance as more than half of his works depict dancers.
  • July 21,1899 Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations.
  • July 28, 1866 Helen Beatrix Potter was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her imaginative children's books featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
  • July 29 Ever Ready, blogger and writer
  • July 30, 1834 Emily Jane Brontë was an English novelist and poet who is best known for her only novel, Wuthering Heights, now considered a classic of English literature.
  • July 31, 1965 J.K. Rowling Joanne "Jo" Rowling, OBE FRSL, pen names J. K. Rowling and Robert Galbraith, is a British novelist best known as the author of the Harry Potter fantasy series.
so in honor of this esteemed list I want to share a photo of my birthday cake and a recipe for another one. Some friends from the city came up north to help me celebrate. This key lime cake was one of the most creative decorated cakes I have ever had. Mini limes and pieces of white chocolate garnished the cake plus crushed graham crackers along the bottom. 

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake is the perfect celebratory cake to mark any occasion. I've had the recipe from Food Network since September 2016 waiting for the chance to make it. It's a no bake cake and considered one of Ina Garten's most popular recipes labeled Overnight Sensation. Well it did not disappoint. Every mouthful was decadent and sinfully delicious. It does require a special type of cookie ingredient which I had no trouble finding in larger grocery stores, Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
  • 2-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
  • 12 oz. Italian mascarpone cheese. room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Kahlua liqueur
  • 2 TB. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages of Tate's Bake Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Shaved semisweet chocolate or chocolate covered coffee beans for garnish 

  • Ahead of assembly place bowl and beater in freezer to chill about 20 minutes.
  • Grease the bottom of a 8-inch springform pan.
  • In a chilled bowl combine heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then raise speed until mixture forms firm peaks.
  • To assemble cake note there will be three layers each of cookies and mocha whipped cream filling ending with filling on top. 
  • Arrange a single layer of whole chocolate chip cookies on the bottom and break a cookie or two to fill in spaces along the sides for each layer. Divide filling into thirds and spread 1/3 of the filling over cookies. Repeat this layering two more times. Smooth top layer of filling and cover pan with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
  • To serve run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake inner rim. Remove the sides of the pan. Use a metal spatula to loosen cake from the bottom and slide into a cake stand. or just cut cake while bottom is still attached. Serve cold with a garnish.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Cheers to the Weekend

Ideas for your weekend entertaining 
Spinach and Artichoke Quiche with Tomatoes and Peppers
Cook's Notes: Prep all ingredients ahead for easier assembly.
  • one pie crust (I used a Pillsbury product)  
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/4 tsp. each parsley flakes, dry mustard and Italian seasoning
  • Dash salt and pepper
  • 1 TB. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced mini sweet red peppers
  • 1 small jar marinated artichokes, drained, diced and patted dry 
  • 3/4 of a small bag of baby spinach leaves, torn with stems removed  
  • 1/3 cup crumbled garlic herb goat cheese
  • 10 each grape red tomatoes and yellow (Comets) halved and patted dry on a paper towel 
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a blender add eggs, half and half, spices. salt and pepper.
  • In a fry pan (medium size) heat oil and stir fry spinach leaves until wilted with peppers and artichokes., about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate paper lined to cool slightly and top with another paper towel to remove extra moisture. 
  • Scatter small crumbles of goat cheese on bottom of pie crust. Pour in egg mixture. Arrange tomatoes cut side up on top. 
  • Add foil strips around edge of pie pan to prevent over browning.  
  • Bake until set 22 minutes.  Test with a toothpick.
  • Cool slightly before serving. 

Hawaiian Banana Bread
Cook’s note: Be sure to toast the nuts and coconut for best flavor. Toast on a cookie sheet @ 350 degrees but watch carefully so they do not burn. Use a spatula to turn over a few times in the toasting process. Banana bread is quite a popular sweet treat on the Hawaiian islands. Several roadside stands sell it and this recipe below is based on one included with the banana bread bought in Maui.

  • 2-1/2 cups flour or 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 sticks softened butter (3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TB. Saigon cinnamon
  • ½ white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 TB. lemon zest
  • 4 large very ripe bananas mashed (use a Cuisinart)
  • 3 TB. sour cream
  • ¾ cup chopped macadamia or walnuts nuts-lightly toasted and cooled
  • 1 cup coconut-lightly toasted and cooled
  • Grease and flour one loaf pan or 2 smaller loaf pans
  • Sift dry ingredients.
  • Cream butter and sugar until fluffy-add in vanilla and eggs one at a time-blend well
  • Add in zest, sour cream and creamed bananas-mix well but do not over beat.
  • Fold creamed mixture into dry ingredients but blend only until combined.
  • Stir in nuts and coconut.
  • Bake at 350 check at 30  minutes.
Blueberry Banana Smoothie
Cook's notes:
Cooking tip for smoothies:  
I always have a tub of frozen banana chunks and other fruit odds and ends like mangoes, mixed berries or blueberries in the freezer. Plan ahead and buy whatever fruit is on sale that week at the grocery store. Before it gets too ripe, slice it and throw it in a baggie into the freezer and it’s perfect for smoothies. Recipe makes approximately two six-ounce smoothies.
  • 1 large banana (previously frozen in chunks is recommended but not necessary)
  • 1 c blueberries (I used frozen)
  • 1 c milk or almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Sweetener to taste (honey, sugar, stevia, agave, etc.)
  • Ice cubes (I used 1 c but use more or less, or none, based on preference)
  • Optional: protein powder,  chia  or flax seeds, cocoa powder, nuts, dried fruit such as dates, raisins, figs.
  • Directions:
  • Blend all ingredients in Vita or blender and serve.
Roxie is all set for some weekend fun. She just needs to get her boat across the street and into the lake.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Spicy Beef Fried Rice

Roxie's attire for today's lake outing. Looks like she didn't catch any fish as her stringer only had an assortment of empty beer cans.

No need to go for takeout when you can serve up a restaurant quality meal right at home.  A bowl of Spicy Beef Rice is packed with loads of flavor, layers of textures and fresh veggies. I found a prepared stir-fry sauce (Kung Pao Stir Fry Sauce) that streamlines the cooking preparation. Recipe serves 2 and was adapted from October 2018
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TB. olive oil, divided
  • 1 piece of sirloin or flank steak for 2, cut into thin strips across the grain 
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onions
  • 1 TB. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup red mini peppers, diced  
  • 1/2 cup thinly diced carrots
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets 
  • 1/3 cup sweet frozen peas (do not thaw) 
  • 3 cups cooked long grain rice 
  • Stir-fry sauce 
  • In a screw type jar with a lid shake 2 eggs until well mixed.
  • In a wok or large fry pan scramble eggs in hot 1 TB. olive oil. Set aside on a plate. 
  • Wipe pan clean and heat 1 TB. olive oil. Stir fry onions, garlic, peppers and carrots 3-4  minutes. Add in meat and cook until browned on both sides. Add in broccoli and peas, cover for 2 minutes to steam. 
  • Uncover, stir in cooked rice and scrambled egg bits.  Add in 3 TB stir fry sauce. Mix well and serve immediately. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Homemade Buster Bars

Buster Bars
A Dairy Queen-inspired frozen treat that has proven timeless over decades. It's a frozen dessert that keeps well in the freezer covered in foil-perfect for a summer evening treat. It’s salty & sweet, rich, chocolaty, frozen goodness. And thankfully, because it is rich, a 9×13 pan goes a long way! Perfect for parties, group events, deliciously good!
Note it does require a certain amount of will power knowing the pan sits in the freezer just an arm's length away:) Cook's Notes: Use a 13 x 9 glass pan. There are several steps to this recipe but well worth your time. 
  • 1 package of regular Oreo cookies
  • 4 TB. butter, melted 
  • 1/2 gallon French vanilla ice cream
  • 1 can (10 oz) Spanish peanuts about 3 cups
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 1 stick of butter, cut in fourths   
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 (6 oz.) package of chocolate chips
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Optional 2 TB. Kahlua
  • Prepared caramel ice cream topping sauce 
  • Let 1/2 gallon ice cream sit out to soften while making crumbs.
  • Use a Cuisinart to make cookie crumbs. Break cookies before placing in Cuisinart. Do only one row of cookies at a time to ensure fine crumbs. Place crumbs in a large bowl and stir in melted 4 TB. of butter. Mix well and reserve 1/4 cup crumbs for topping individual servings.  
  • Lightly grease 13 x 9 pan and pat crumbs firmly in pan. Place in freezer one hour to firm up. 
  • Spread softened ice cream over crumbs. Press Spanish peanuts into ice cream. Return to freezer while making chocolate sauce.
  • Sauce: In a saucepan add evaporated milk, chocolate chips, 1 stick butter and powdered sugar.
  • On medium heat stir and bring to a boil using a whisk for blending. Turn heat down to low and simmer 8 minutes stirring constantly.
  • Remove pan from stove pour into a large bowl.  Add 1 TB vanilla  and 2 TB Kahlua if using to chocolate mixture. Cool to thicken about 45-60 minutes. 
  •  Remove pan from freezer and pour cooled chocolate sauce evenly over ice-cream/peanut mixture. Return to freezer for 1-2 hours before covering with foil. 
  • To serve, cut each piece in a square, drizzle with caramel sauce and sprinkle with cookie crumbs.  

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Asian BBQ Salmon Dinner

"I had planted them for the pleasure of it; 
I grew them without ever thinking of painting them. ”
-Claude Monet

A canoe ride from one lake to another underneath a bridge brought several summer discoveries. Water lilies are spring and summer bloomers that bloom in a single elaborate and beautiful flower. Shades of water lily flower range from white and yellow to blue, purple and red with several species changing from a light to darker color as the flowering season comes to a close. The flower sometimes has as many as 24 petals and remains in bloom for only part of the day.
Depending on the light and angle, the color contrasts were amazing with the ever changing hues of greens and blues. Though water lilies look as if they are sprouting from the water,  they are actually floating on top of the water, with their roots tethered deep into the water-logged soil at the bottom of the lake or pond. The lily pad beneath the flowers is the leaf of the water lily plant.

The water lily is repeatedly used in the oil paintings of French Impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926). His water lily series of 250 oil paintings are some of his most masterful works.
The water lily paintings were inspired by Monet's flower garden at Giverny and a nearby 


Water Lily Pond 1899

Keep your meal planning simple and easy with a grilled salmon meal sauced with an Asian flair. Serve a side dish of Orzo and fresh veggies, a recipe previously posted.
Other side options include serving salmon pieces in a bowl with brown rice and steamed 

 Asian BBQ Salmon Dinner
Cook's Notes: There are some key nutritional differences between wild and farmed salmon, according to USDA data. A small fillet of wild salmon has 131 fewer calories and half the fat content of the same amount of farmed salmon. And although farmed salmon may have slightly more omega-3 fatty acids, it also has 20.5 percent more saturated fat content — and that’s fat you don't want.
This recipe serves 2.
  • 1 piece Alaskan Wild Salmon (check out Costco)
Asian Sauce
  • 2 TB. each ketchup,hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar
  • 1 TB. each soy sauce, sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. Asian chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger or 1/4 tsp. ground ginger 
  • Mix all sauce ingredients together in a small pan and heat on low 1-2 minutes to thicken slightly. Transfer mixture to a small bowl to use for basting.
  • Heat grill to medium heat. Place salmon skin side down on foil. Baste and cook 12 minutes a side. Turn once during the cooking time.   

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fatal Flaws

Biographies and memoirs have always held a special interest for author Connie Lounsbury. She has a strong belief that everyone should write their own story. When she wrote Fatal Flaws (reissue of book Kathleen Creek), it was the story of her grandmother’s life told in both fiction and nonfiction. She had never met her grandmother, but only discovered the truth of what happened after her father had died. With nothing but an old court file and her aunt’s memories, Lounsbury wove true events into a fiction novel.
Connie Lounsbury is an acclaimed author, public speaker, and ghostwriter with seven books and 34 short stories published in the United States. She has received several prestigious writing awards, including the 1998 Guideposts Writer’s Contest and First Place Award in the inspirational category of the 2002 Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. She lives with her husband near Monticello, MN.

Fatal Flaws is based on Lounsbury's true family story. After discovering her grandmother (Irene) was not the person family members believed her to be, Lounsbury felt the need to exonerate her. Her father, Jonathon in the book, was one of Irene's children. He never talked about his childhood nor about his mother. Lounsbury wanted to understand more about her father, how his growing up years impacted his adult life and the choices he made with his own family. Lounsbury is a master storyteller weaving what little she knew about her grandmother into a gripping and engrossing fiction story. She created characters, motives and events while staying faithful to the time period of the early 1900's with a Minnesota and North Dakota prairie landscape backdrop.

Irene loved two men at the same time, which ultimately was responsible for her demise. When Irene's husband abandons her and their children in the early 20's Irene makes many attempts to turn her life around. She tries, in various ways, to earn an income to support her children. When circumstances make that impossible, her vulnerability is exposed. The double standard in that era made it easy for those around her to take advantage of her. The neighbor wants her baby, the banker wants her loan repaid, the doctor wants her farm, the judge wants her two little boys, and the town telegrapher just wants her. Each are pillars of their community with secrets they don’t want others to know.

Irene, who didn’t want to have children until after she had them, fiercely loves each of her children. She desperately tries to keep them from starving while the community brands her as disreputable. Her love for a childhood sweetheart and a horrible truth that she didn’t want to believe reveal secrets of child abuse and murder. What happened to make the man she loved willing to watch his children starve to death? Irene was a victim of a judgmental society with little compassion for a woman. The hardships of living in the Midwest as a single mom in a male dominated society were challenging enough and then factoring in issues of equality. Fatal Flaws continually places Irene in dire circumstances. It is a roller coaster of emotions.

Lounsbury's strengths as a writer are evident throughout the book. Her word choices feel natural and smooth for the time period. They capture authentic voices caught in a web of tension. Lounsbury successfully masters the dialect of Kentucky mountain talk where Irene's husband Sam's family lives. Lounsbury's rich description of the landscape with its changing seasons impacts the main characters, helping the reader imagine a life stepping back in time. Lounsbury must have done extensive research to be able to accurately depict a time period from long ago. She gives attention to detail with clothes, home furnishings, farming practices, conversations and social mores. Fatal Flaws tells a story in a character driven manner. Each of the main characters is fully developed. While Irene does have several flaws which spiraled her downward descent, Lounsbury successfully creates empathy for the character. She shows Irene's strengths as well as her vulnerability. The bittersweet ending is fictitious but certainly plausible. There is much to admire about this author's style and creativity developing this story.

To learn more about Connie Lounsbury, her books, upcoming events and newsletter check out her website 

Words from publisher of Fatal Flaws

Connie Lounsbury is an author who is a gem in the storytelling field. When I saw the first draft of Fatal Flaws, I thought, "This is a book I want to publish." I'm looking forward to publishing her next novel called Shattered Dreams of a Soldier’s Wife which tells the story of a young mother who dreamed of their happy life after her husband returns home from fighting the Vietnam war, only to have him arrive home an angry, bitter, man who cannot accept the loss of his arms and legs.

Meet Connie at The Northwoods Art and Book Festival August 10, 9 AM-3 PM. She will be selling and signing copies of her book Fatal Flaws. She will also have on hand previously published books to sell.  

Sunday, July 21, 2019

I Scream-You Scream-We All Scream For Ice Cream

How much ice cream do Americans consume?
Today, the average American consumes more than 20 pounds of ice cream each year, according to the International Dairy Foods Association. If you think that's a lot of ice cream, multiply it by 329 million Americans.
Check out these links for some great deals

even Pet Smart offer a free ice cream treat today for your pooch

Just in case you can't make it to any of these stores or restaurants listed today Ever Ready has got you covered with some ice cream treats.
Ice Cream Sandwiches and Waffle Bowl Treats
Black Cherry Chunk Ice Cream Pie
Black Forest Ice Cream Pie

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Pie
Ice Cream Tacos
Saved my best to last and easiest pie to recreate, Hula Pie. It's a famous Hawaiian favorite from Kauai. I even bought their signature Hula Pie plate for serving.
Hula Pie


Friday, July 19, 2019

Festive Summer Drinks

I was hooked on little paper umbrellas by the age of 8.
My parents would bring them home after an evening out for my sister and I. We liked to collect the umbrellas and use them when we played "house" with our dolls. 

Make life more fun and serve drinks with paper umbrellas and slices of fruit. With the summer heat these drink recipes might just cool you off.

Roxie knew how to beat the heat today, she's  off to the beach right across the street. 

Just Peachy Sangria
Recipe serves 6

  • 1 bottle of white wine
  • 1 cup peach schnapps
  • 1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 2 nectarines, sliced
  • 1 cup red or green grapes (freeze grapes for several hours before adding to drink)
  • Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.
  • Cover and chill at least 2 hours-add frozen grapes.
Frozen Strawberry Mojito 
Cook's note: Serve the drink in a pint jar for a fun twist
  • 1 can frozen limeade, thawed 
  • 1/2 can rum (use limeade can to measure) 
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries 
  • 1/2 can water 
  • Muddled mixture of fresh mint and pulp of two limes 
  • Use a blender to mix all ingredients. 

Sparkling Cherry Limeade
Recipe adapted from Southern Living July 2012 and makes 8 cups. 

  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • Margarita salt optional
  • 1 can limeade concentrate thawed (12 oz.)
  • 3 -1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 jar (6 oz.) maraschino cherries
  • 2 cups sparkling water 

  • Rub rims of 8 chilled glasses with lime wedges and dip rims in Margarita salt.
  • Stir together limeade concentrate and 3-1/2 cups of the cold water.
  • In a blender pour entire bottle of maraschino cherries with juice and puree.
  • Add to blender limeade with cold water and mix at high speed.
  • Fill each glass about 2/3 with the limeade mixture, add a few ice cubes and then add sparkling water to each of the glasses.   
  • Optional a splash of orange liqueur and a little tequila for a margarita type cocktail. Oh, and don't forget a lime wedge and little paper umbrella!
Life is far too short not to have a little umbrella in your drink and with your cake :)
Recipe posted on

Follow my Pinterest board Fun Drinks for more ideas

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 ...