Sunday, May 28, 2017

Week 75, 5-28-2017

Thoughts and Quotes:  In the same degree as you are helpful, you will be happy.
                                                                             Karl Reiland

If this is true, there are two happy fellows running around right now. They're a couple of everyday heroes who made a difference in my life.

First is David at Resolve It Computers. Last week I said that I'd call my hero Ben, but it was David who answered the phone and came to my rescue. I took my computer in on Tuesday, and David ordered my new hard drive (which takes two days to receive), replaced the old drive, transferred my files, searched for and removed any viruses, and delivered my computer back by 4:30 p.m. on Friday and hooked it all back up so I could do my blog post today. You can find them HERE.

Second is Bev's (from my Cooking Club) husband, Bill, who spent two days painting my patio furniture to help me in my quest to "catch up".  It looks like new.

First the outside black furniture



And then the inside white furniture




Now I can enjoy the screened-in patio again and even barbecue on my expensive, state-of-the-art Walmart grill


Things that Grow: I haven't made much progress on the books, but this is what I've been doing instead:

The patio pots





I even found a patio tomato plant


I have three raised-bed gardens I'm planting. Wonder if I'll finish before winter?

The south one is flowers. The larkspur (I think) plus a couple of other plants came back from last year.


The opposite end is planted with tulips. If I put them along the fence, the moles eat the bulbs. I ended up with a few imposter daffodils which I'll transplant as soon as the leaves die back more. Moles don't like them, so they can go by the fence.


The north bed is vegetables. I think I overdid the turnips. They'll need to be thinned soon.


I planted carrots here, but I think I'm getting a nice crop of crabgrass. It sure doesn't look like carrots to me.


Still working on the middle bed. I put in some plants which were 98 cents at Aldi. Another tomato, a banana pepper and a jalapeno pepper. By the following day, the leaves were gone from the banana pepper. Squirrels? We don't have rabbits. All the green at the far end is crabgrass. Yuck!

I'll move the red storm lilies as soon as they finish blooming.


They do well over by the fence


Tips: If you dislike working in the yard as much as I do, make yourself a cute sun hat with a cheap straw hat, odds and ends of silk flowers, and a glue gun. Might as well add fun whenever you get the chance.


I didn't do very well on my National days. 
Last week: Chocolate chip day - 1/4 to 1/3 cup chocolate chips, 6 oz milk, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes in the microwave on high, and instant hot chocolate.


Coquilles Saint Jacques Day. I'm pretty much a purist when it comes to meat and vegetables, so I had seared scallops with boiled and buttered Yukon Gold potato, corn, and tomato wedges.



Cherry Cobbler Day: I had a jar of dark cherries, so I made Quick Cobbler. Since you put the batter in first and then the fruit, the juice turned my batter an ugly brown color. Tasted okay though.




No Dirty Dishes Day: I picked up Chinese - enough for two meals.



Quiche Lorraine Day: I made quiche, but not Lorraine. Mine was unique. Spam and green olives. The second theme lunch for June is Aloha Luau. When I did it in real time, I made macaroni salad with Spam, but I'm revising the menu for the book and I want something lighter, so thought maybe a tossed green salad with little Spam cubes.Then I had fried Spam and eggs for breakfast one morning and tossed the rest into the quiche. With the added green olives, it was very salty - right up my alley.



Quiche is so easy: An unbaked pie crust, 3 eggs, 1 cup of cream and 1 cup of grated cheese. Add whatever else you like, and any combination of cheeses will work. Bake the pie shell about ten minutes at 350 before you add the filling; bake another 30 minutes. That's it.

I was a total failure with last week's National days, even though they were fairly easy. Sorry.


Theme Dining: The first June theme lunch is Berry Bonanza.

The Invitations



The Table




The Menu


The Food



The Party Favors (Raspberry Candy Bars)


The Recipes

CRANBERRY CHICKEN

10-12 chicken tenders
1 15 oz can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 small bottle French dressing
1 envelope Lipton’s onion soup mix

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all but chicken in large mixing bowl, mixing well.

Add chicken and stir to cover each piece.

Dump into a 13” X 9” baking dish.

Bake 25-30 minutes.


Note:  For a sweeter version, use Catalina dressing.

RICE PILAF

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup raw rice
2 cups hot beef or chicken broth
Salt and pepper
Toasted sliced almonds for garnish, optional

Heat butter in a heavy saucepan.

Add onion and sauté until transparent.

Add rice and toast briefly, stirring constantly.

Add hot broth all at once.

Cover and simmer over lowest heat 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally after first ten minutes.

Garnish with almonds.

Note: You may add anything else you like: sautéed celery, mushrooms, herbs, etc. For Cherry Rice Pilaf, add chopped dried cherries with the rice.

 BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsps (1Tbs +1 tsp) baking powder
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 eggs
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
4-5 Tbs sugar for topping

Heat oven to 400°.

Combine the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.

Mix the milk, oil, and eggs and pour it into the well.

Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Fold in blueberries.

Fill greased muffin tins (or paper baking cups) 2/3 full. Sprinkle sugar over the tops.

Bake 20-25 minutes.

Note: Recipe makes 24 muffins – easily halved to make only 12 if you wish.

STRAWBERRY THUMBPRINT COOKIES

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, separated
1-1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup chopped almonds
Strawberry or other jam

Heat oven to 300°.

Beat butter, sugar, vanilla and egg yolk in a medium bowl until fluffy.

Stir in the flour and gather the dough into a ball.

Chill several hours.

Roll level teaspoonful of dough into balls.

Dip in slightly beaten egg white and roll in almonds.

Place 1” apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Press an indentation in each and fill with jam.  They’re called thumbprint cookies, but my middle finger works much better.

Bake for 20 minutes.

This recipe works well with any flavor of jam.  Just be sure it’s nice and thick.  You can also skip dipping them in egg white and rolling them in almonds if you want a smooth cookie – no crunch.

BLUEBERRY MINI-CHEESECAKES

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
24 vanilla cookie halves (see note)
1 21-ounce can of blueberry pie filling, chilled in can

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Line muffin tins with 24 paper baking cups and put a cookie half in the bottom of each with the fancy side up.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and lemon juice until light and fluffy.  Divide between the muffin cups, spooning evenly over cookie halves.

Bake 10-15 minutes until set.  Check at 10 minutes.

When cool, spoon the pie filling sparingly over each cheesecake.  Chill.

To serve, remove paper baking cup and place the cheesecakes on serving dish.

Note:  I used to buy vanilla wafers for the crust, but now they’re too small.  I buy a bag of cheap vanilla sandwich cookies and take them apart, discarding the filling.  If you only find chocolate on one side and vanilla on the other side cookies, save the chocolate sides for chocolate cheesecakes or whirl them in the blender or crush with a rolling pin to use for making a chocolate cookie pie crust.  Freeze the leftover cookie halves until you need them.

For the parfaits, simple layer strawberry pudding made from an instandt pudding mix, crushed strawberries mixed with sugar, and Cool Whip.

I hope I can finish the second theme lunch for next week. We'll see. Still working on things that grow.

MEMORIAL DAY
2017

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO HAVE FOUGHT AND THOSE WHO HAVE DIED FOR OUR FREEDOM

THOSE WHO ARE SERVING TO PRESERVE IT

AND LOVED ONES WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE US

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Week 74, 5-21-2017

Thoughts and Quotes: Create with Joy, Live with Passion.

I saw this on a blog header when I was browsing. I love it. It could be a motto. Maybe I've been living with too much passion and recording it, because my disk is full. Of course, it happened on Sunday, my blog day. It's like getting a letter from the IRS which says to contact them with questions and no info. You find the letter in your mailbox on Friday after work and you can't call until Monday, so you think about it all weekend. I'll call my hero (Ben) first thing tomorrow to see where we go from here.

I can post what I've saved, but I can't import the other photos from my camera. Short post today.

Tablescapes: The June tablescapes are finished and the photos saved, so here goes.

Butterflies





Pretty in Pink





Maroon




Seashells





As I've explained in the past, my tablescapes are everyday tablescapes. You can actually use them to serve a meal and most everything on the table came from yard sales, thrift stores, on-line sales, etc. And once the word got around that I was doing tables, many of the things I use are gifts; wonderful gifts, which remind me of the thoughtfulness of the donors each I use them.

That said, I enjoy the tablescapes which are works of art as well. Many of them cost lots of money, and a lot of them would be impractical for serving an actual meal, but they're lots of fun to see, so I have a link you might enjoy. Each Thursday, there's a Linky Party of tablescapes and you can find them HERE. After you look at the nautical table, you'll find a group of photos at the end. Click on each one and it will take you to another tablescape on another tab.

I was all set to boast about how I celebrated the national days from last week, but that will have to wait, as the photos are still in my camera. Let's take a look at next week.

Monday - National Buy a Musical Instrument Day or National Maritime Day. As I have no use for a musical instrument and I don't have a boat, I'll choose the third option - National Vanilla Pudding Day.

Tuesday - National Taffy Day or Lucky Penny Day. Hmmmmm! Guess I'll have to find a candy store if I can't find a penny.

Wednesday - Several options. You can either go on a scavenger hunt, eat escargot, or celebrate your brother(s).

Thursday - Again many choices. You can brown bag your lunch, tap dance, drink wine, or a choice I don't understand - National Towel Day. Do I buy new towels or what? 

Friday - Blueberry Cheesecake or Don't Fry Day. Take your choice or do both.

Saturday - It's Grape Popsicles or Cellophane Tape. Are there really grape popsicles? Guess I'll opt for the cellophane tape and make cards.

Sunday - Brisket Day or Hamburger Day. Either is fine with me.

EAT YOUR APPLES

TAKE SOME WALKS OR BIKE RIDES

READ A BOOK

HUG YOUR FRIENDS, FAMILY, PETS

GO ON A PICNIC

BUY MEMORIAL DAY FLOWERS

THANK YOU FOR SHARING MY LIFE







  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week 73, 5-14-17

Thoughts and QuotesI would I could stand on a busy corner, hat in hand, and beg people to throw me all their wasted hours.
                                                                                                Bernard Berenson

I, too, Bernard; I, too. I'd take the biggest hat I could find. I have a disappointingly short post this week, but my book goals for May are finished - Whoo Hoo! 

And in case you're wondering who the heck is Bernard Berenson, here he is right HERE.

The Mystery: In the last month, I've had more than four times as many page views from Russia as I've had from the U.S., so I'm going to try to find out who they are and welcome them. Excuse me for a moment.

Я имел много просмотров страниц с русского, поэтому я хотел бы приветствовать вас и надеюсь, что вы посещаете часто. Я пытался исправить мой блог так, что он будет перевести на русский язык. Я надеюсь, что это работает. Пожалуйста, дайте мне знать, кто вы и что вы бы хотели видеть на моем блоге, разместив комментарий. Благодарим вас за посещение.

Tasting: We had our Very Exclusive Cooking Club lunch on Thursday at Bev's. Here it is.


THE TABLE




THE MENU

Tossed Salad with Ranch Dressing

Chicken Breasts Wellington with Béarnaise Sauce

Rice Pilaf

Steamed Green Beans

Sister Shubert Rolls

Rum Cake with Whipped Cream and Raspberries

Iced Tea          Hot Tea

THE FOOD




THE PARTY FAVORS






THE RECIPES

CHICKEN BREASTS WELLINGTON
(A Pinch of Salt Lake City Cookbook)

4 whole chicken breasts, skinned, boned and halved
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, very finely chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
2 17-1/4 oz packages frozen puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbs cold water

Salt and pepper chicken and form breasts into contoured shapes. Put on a 15” X 10” X 1” jelly-roll pan. Add oil and wine to pan. Cover tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove chicken and reserve broth.

In a large skillet, sauté chopped mushrooms and green onions in butter until soft. Season with salt and add enough of the chicken pan broth to make a spreadable mixture (about 3 tablespoons). Cool mushroom mixture.


Thaw frozen puff pastry, one box at a time, following label directions. Separate each package into two strips. Cut each strip in half lengthwise and roll out to an 8” X 12” rectangle on a lightly floured pastry cloth. Coat the outside of each chicken breast with 1/8 of the cooled mushroom mixture and place on half of rolled-out pastry. Fold other half of pastry over. Trim and seal with a two-tined fork. Brush well with a mixture of beaten egg and one tablespoon cold water. If desired, when all chicken breasts are pastry-wrapped, roll pastry trims into thin ropes and shape into a bow for each chicken bundle. Add additional strips to sides. Brush trims with egg mixture. Place on a large cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden. Serve with *Béarnaise Sauce.

*The recipe is not included, because the packaged mix from Knorr is perfect, foolproof, and easier.

RICE PILAF

From Simply Recipes – here is the link: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/rice_pilaf/.

RUM CAKE
(Springfield Symphony Cookbook, Year Eight)
(Submitted by Mrs. J. T. Brown and Mrs. Dean Alumbaugh)

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 box yellow cake mix
1 small instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup oil

Heat oven to 325°.

Generously grease and flour a tube or Bundt pan and sprinkle the chopped nuts in the bottom.

Place all remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat at medium speed for 5 minutes.

Pour batter over nuts and bake for one hour.

Cool cake in pan 20 minutes and then ice.

Icing:
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light rum
1/4 cup water

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil; boil one minute.

Pour over the cake while in the pan and after the 20-minute cooling period.

Leave in pan until completely cold and then turn out on serving plate.

And I'm so stealing her idea of putting butter in egg cups so each person has his own little butter dish.



Theme Dining: Here's the second May lunch. I decided to call it Lazy Daisy Lunch because most of it can be prepared in advance. I even found an old recipe I haven't used in years called Lazy Daisy Oatmeal Cake which I believe is from the 1980's.

THE INVITATION
(The envelopes were made from magazine pages and the picture on the invitation probably came from a seed catalog. The little stick-on daisies were from Joey when she heard I was doing a Daisy lunch - I think they're Martha Stewart)


THE TABLE




THE MENU



THE FOOD






THE PARTY FAVORS
(Six note cards with envelopes and a refrigerator magnet)


THE RECIPES

CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

1-1/2 lbs fresh asparagus
2 cups chopped onion
4 Tbs butter
4 cups chicken broth
1/2  cup whipping cream
Salt and white pepper

Cut tips off the asparagus and reserve.  Snap off woody ends and discard.  Cut stalks into ½” pieces.

Sauté onion in butter over low heat in heavy pot for about 20 minutes until transparent.

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add asparagus stalks, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.

Puree soup in blender using batches of some liquid, some asparagus.  Start blender on low-pulse, working your way up to liquefy-high.  Hold down lid with a dish towel.  If it splashes, it’s hot.

Return soup to pot, add asparagus tips and simmer until tips are tender, 5-8 minutes.
OR, cook tips in a little butter in a small skillet while the simmering is going on and add them on top of your soup after you put it in bowls (or cups).

Stir in cream.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring up to serving temperature.


CRUNCHY CHICKEN CASSEROLE
Reminisce Magazine

1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbs butter
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1-1/2 cups cooked rice
10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
3/4 cup mayonnaise
8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 Tbs minced onion
Salt and pepper

Topping:
1 Tbs melted butter
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 350°.

Sauté celery in butter until crisp tender.

Mix with remaining casserole ingredients and spoon into ungreased 2-1/2 qt. casserole.

Combine melted butter and cornflakes and sprinkle on top.  Sprinkle with almonds.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Note: I cut the water chestnuts into smaller pieces.

This works equally well in 13 x 9 or 11 x 7 glass baking dish.




CRANBERRY SALAD
Cora Belle

1 small pkg cherry jello
1 cup boiling water
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 large can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 cup diced apple
1 cup diced celery

Dissolve jello in boiling water and cool.

Add cranberry sauce and lemon juice.

When slightly thickened, add apple and celery.

Chill several hours or overnight.


Cut in squares, put on lettuce leaf with a dollop of mayonnaise and a celery leaf.



CHEDDAR BREAD
Cream of Wheat Package

7 Tbs Quick Cream of Wheat
1-1/4 cups flour
3 Tbs sugar
4 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp thyme
1 cup milk
1/4 cup salad oil
1 egg, beaten
1-1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (about 6 oz.)

Heat oven to 400°.

Grease an 8” X 8” X 2” baking pan.

Mix first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Add remaining ingredients and stir until just blended.

Bake 30-35 minutes.

Note: 7 Tbs. Cream of Wheat is between 1/3 and 1/2 cup.




LAZY DAISY OATMEAL CAKE
Janice

1 cup Quick oatmeal, uncooked
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Pour boiling water over oatmeal and let stand 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 350°.

Beat butter until creamy, and gradually add both sugars. Beat until well mixed.

Add eggs and vanilla.

Whisk together flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon and add to creamed mixture. Mix well.

Pour into a well-greased and floured 9” square pan.

Bake 50-55 minutes.


Note: Original recipe calls for white frosting, but I like it with just a sprinkling of powdered sugar, or vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. 


QUICK CREAMY CARAMEL SAUCE
From C & H Sugar (Revised)

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream

In a four-cup microwaveable bowl or measuring cup, micro butter on high 45-60 seconds to melt.

Whisk in brown sugar and cream until blended.

Microwave on high for 1 minute, then stir.

Microwave on high 1-2 minutes more until bubbly and slightly thickened.

Sauce will thicken more as it cools.

Good over plain cake, ice cream, or baked apples.

Note: For Caramel-Pecan Sauce, just add the desired amount of chopped pecans.


Sorry, that's all I have for you this week. These theme dinners take time. But Yay! May is finished. The week ahead looks like 80's temps, and I plan to get back to my weeds and patios.  Maybe I should do some before-and-after photos, so you'll see what I'm up against. Next week's post won't be very exciting, but sometimes you just have to do what needs doing. Lots of work to do on my June goals, so I hope to get an early start. 

The four Tablescapes are finished, and one Theme lunch (Berry Bonanza) is mostly ready, but the Tea is only in the planning stages, and I need another Theme lunch idea. Suggestions are welcome. I'm thinking Blossoms, President's Favorites, or Say Cheese. And I'm doing the tea on the outdoor patio which hasn't been planted yet, and the furniture needs to be painted. Guess there won't be much reading going on this week.

Tidbits: Just so you won't be bored this week, here are some National Days.

Monday - Chocolate Chip Day (that's an easy one)

Tuesday - Coquilles Saint Jacques Day (I have some scallops in the freezer)

Wednesday - Cherry Cobbler Day (another easy one using my Quick Cobbler recipe)

Thursday - Take your pick: 
                  Cheese Souffle Day (I've always said I'd like to try making one)
                  No Dirty Dishes Day (not sure what this means, but I'm going to eat out)
                  Visit Your Relatives Day (maybe I'll visit Becky and Jim and we'll all eat out)
                   
Friday - Devil's Food Cake Day (Easy Peasy)

Saturday - Be a Millionaire Day (I wish)
                Quiche Lorraine Day (This could be a start on a Say Cheese lunch)

Sunday - Strawberries and Cream Day (another Easy Peasy)

LIVE IT UP

 WE COME WITH EXPIRATION DATES


GO FISHING OR

TAKE A DRIVE TO THE LAKE


EAT LOTS OF SALADS THIS WEEK


DON'T FORGET SUNSCREEN


AND CHOCOLATE


THANK YOU FOR SHARING MY LIFE