"Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

~ Lemon-y Libation ~

Who says that kids get all the fun...?

With an abundant lemon harvest, I have been experimenting with different ways to use up my fresh and delicious lemons. 

I don't always have the 'called-for' ingredients on hand...so I improvise, adapt and overcome!

My latest invention...a Lemon & Pear Martini.  Don't knock it until you've tried it.

Similar to a Lemon Drop Vodka Martini, with one small change...oh ya, add the bubbly sweetness after you shake, NOT before.
Vodka ~ 1 1/2 oz.
Lemon Juice ~ 3/4 oz.
Sparkling Pear Juice (Sparkling Cider or Apple Cranberry Cider) ~ 1 oz.
Lemon Twist for Garnish

Pour first three ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake well.  Strain into chilled glass, pour in sparkling juice.  Garnish with lemon peel. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

~ Fast & Slow Cooking ~

Yesterday was officially the first day of Autumn...so, I thought I would bring out my slow-cooker and simmer something aromatically delicious. 

Using my Make if Fast, Cook it Slow cookbook (which I picked up at a used book sale), I found something that I could make using the ingredients that I had on hand.  I omitted/added a couple ingredients:  It called for corn, I used carrots.  It called for cumin spice, I did not have any on hand, so I used rosemary, thyme, and celery seed.  Just a pinch or two of each.  Although it is suggested to use chili powder as a substitute, I omitted because of the salsa I used in the ingredients.  It was plenty spicy!


The Ingredients:
2 cans black beans, drained & rinsed
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken pieces
4 cups chicken broth
16 oz. salsa
1 cup frozen corn (I used fresh carrots)
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 cup sour cream
Optional garnishes: shredded cheddar cheese, avocado slices, fresh cilantro

The Directions:
Drain & rinse the beans, place in stoneware.  Add the chicken, broth, and salsa.
Next, add the vegetables & spices.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or high for 5 to 6 hours (I did high for 3 hours and low for 2 hours).  Mix in the sour cream before serving, and garnish with cheese, avocado & cilantro if desired.

My children loved it...even my picky one enjoyed it.  Depending on the spiciness of the salsa, will (of course) make your soup either mild or zingy!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

~ Ganache Icing ~

Easy as 1 - 2 - 3!

Baking can be very satisfying...especially when you top off your simple cake recipe with a decadent and incredibly easy ganache recipe like this!

You only need two ingredients:
1.  One cup of heavy whipping cream and
2.  Nine ounces of bittersweet chocolate. 

I use the chips, only because it saves the step of breaking up the bar. 

Your cake should already be cooled and ready to be topped with the ganache icing.  You can drizzle in the middle and the top, or just the top.  I have placed fresh raspberries in between the layers of cakes to offset the chocolaty icing with a touch of tart. 

In a pan, heat the whipping cream on the stove top.  Watch carefully because is heats quickly and you don't want it to boil over...heat until boiling, then remove from heat.

Pour the hot whipping cream over the chocolate and whisk away until you get a smooth and creamy ganache.  It will be thick, but easy to pour.

Starting from the center of the cake, pour the icing, working your way out toward the sides.  It will drip slowly.  You decide if you want the *drip look*...

or the *complete coverage*... 

 This recipe should make enough to do either.  This cake was covered by pouring alone...I did not use a spoon or spatula to ice the cake; however, you can use the back of a spoon or spatula to help spread your ganache.

Personally, I like the "drip-look" on this particular cake and for this particular occasion...

Monday, September 2, 2013

~ A Random Walk... ~

...into my garden this morning led to this small harvest.

If you have access to any patch of soil, or a any type of (raised) garden bed, or even just a large pot - Do yourself a favor and plant yourself a little garden.  Seriously!

Plant something that you will use...or something that you would find useful to have fresh, daily.  In other words, do not plant a gourd if you do not plan to use it...and do not plant something (like a gourd) to use as a decoration.  Plant it.  Grow it.  Eat it.  You will be satisfied.

Do not say that you do not have a green thumb!  Things grow with soil, water & sun.  So you see, thumbs are extremely helpful, but not mandatory.  :o)

It is such a treat to find these treasures waiting for you to find...

hopefully before little wild creatures get to them first!


 Tomato plants making a comeback after serious decapitation from a rabbit.

"Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who
were good little bunnies, went down
the lane to gather blackberries;
But Peter, who was very naughty,
ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's
garden, and squeezed under the gate!
First he ate some lettuces and some
French beans; and then he ate some
radishes..."  ~ Beatrix Potter

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

~ Simple Summer Salad ~

These are *leftover* pictures from a few July meals...

Casabas are one of my favorite types of melons...my mouth is watering just thinking about them.
I place them in the refrigerator before I slice them up.  Spoon out the *innards*, then slice.  I usually cut them into smaller squares and serve them like this:
They are sweet and juicy and the texture is soft. 

I love salads...they are so easy and make great meals, just add some protein like chicken, tuna, salmon...anything.  I also sprinkle on nuts, usually almonds, sliced or whole - whatever I have on hand.

Grilled chicken can be eaten just like this, or sliced to use on a salad, etc...We usually cook up more than we need in order to use the following day.  Cooking extra saves time!  Leftover chicken is delicious cold on salad or easily warmed with some rice or other side dish.  You really don't need much to make a meal.  Again, use the palm of your hand to measure your serving size for protein.

Popular summer fruits in our area are cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, watermelon and strawberries.  I tell my children to eat up, because when they are in season...they are not to be missed.

We usually eat strawberries plain.  No whip, or occasionally dipped in chocolate for fancy occasions, or the Summer favorite:  strawberry ice cream.  It's too easy (and delicious) not to make.


Friday, July 12, 2013

~ Chow Ciao! ~ Olive Oil 101

With Fabio Viviani...


Besides getting a kick out of watching Julia Child in the kitchen...I find Fabio entertaining as well. 

Chow Ciao! 

~ Simple Steak: Dinner ~

After the steak is cooked (searing both sides to seal in the juices) Sauté the mushrooms with the steak for an awesome flavor.  This entire meal took about 40 min. from start to finish.  (including washing, chopping, cooking...)
Serve with veggies on the side and fruit for dessert.

We seem to be eating a lot of green beans these days...
I steam them for about 3 minutes and then toss them in a bit a olive oil and dash of kosher salt.  My children love them!
Rainiers cherries have a golden/pink color.  Very sweet.  Little Lamb thought these might not yet be ripe.  My children are familiar with the dark red Bing cherries, which we grow...we will have some tomorrow night!  I love all the summer fruit!!!

Rainiers Cherries

Thursday, July 11, 2013

~ Tools of the Trade ~

It pays to have some good *tools of the trade* at hand.  I try not to keep a lot of gadgety type things in my kitchen drawers.  I do keep some useful tools that make food preparation easy & efficient.

Also, since I don't like to hand wash, a tool should be dishwasher friendly.

Let me introduce one of my top ten favorites:


It makes chopping onions, garlic...you name it, QUICK and easy.  No time for tears.

I just rinse it off and place it in the dishwasher (top shelf) when I'm done.

Here is a short demo ~ Easy as 1, 2, 3: 
1.  Peel off outer skin of onion.  Discard skin (or use for compost).
2.  Slice onion in quarter (or half, depending on size of onion).
3.  Place under chopper...and push down on top handle. 
Various sizes of chopped onions depending on how many "chops" you give it.  Several make larger sizes, and about 12 - 15 "chops" make finer pieces.  I love this tool.

Another helpful tool(s):


These are very patriotic colors.  Actually, RED is for meats, WHITE is for fish and BLUE is for breads.  They, too, are dish-washer safe.

The right tools can make cooking & baking fun (& quick)!  I'll have to share my all time favorite way to bake salmon...you can find my recipe for California Ranch Rice, here.

Summer fruit...eat it while it's in season!!!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

~ Red, White & Blueberries ~

Fourth of July Fare
This trifle bowl has an ice reservoir that keeps desserts, salads, etc, cool.


Strawberries & Champagne...Champagne & Blueberries...


linking up to Catholic Cuisine for more 4th Festive Foods...

~ Leftovers ~ Summer Sandwich

Using last nights grilled chicken breast (seasoned only with kosher salt & pepper); sautéed slices zucchini squash, mushrooms, green onions.  Toss in sliced (cooked) chicken breast; set aside.

Whip together eggs, milk, salt & pepper, cook in skillet.  Mix in chicken & vegetables.
Grilled chicken, sautéed zucchini, mushrooms...

I splashed on some chili sauce...because I like spicy foods!  My children placed cheese on top of their "sandwich".  Fresh chilled watermelon on the side.  Voila - Summer Sandwich! 

Great for Breakfast or Lunch.  I used leftover chicken from last nights dinner, and buns from leftover BBQ.  It was actually too much bread for me, next time I will toast a slice and have as an open-faced sandwich, or omit the bread altogether.