Sunday, December 30, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

~Winter~



Achoo! Achoo!  That was definitely a signal to me that an "inside" day was on my agenda, today.  This past week  has been filled with fam & friends and FuN, so now it's time to chill and remember the orange juice is in the fridge!  :) 

This afternoon snowflakes started to cover the ground.  I always enjoy the view from our window - during each of the four seasons here in New England.  The appearance changes, but that also allows time to plan for the next seasons.

Right now, our snow blower is ready, so we are good to go!

Enjoy!

Friday, December 21, 2012

~Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes~

I like to try to plan ahead.  I like to try make things easy, whenever possible, if possible.  With all of the FuN activities going on this weekend and early next week, the dilemma of a great Christmas morning breakfast needed an answer.  A food that we all enjoy and is also hearty.  A food that also can be prepped easily on a very busy morning.

Well... I only needed to check out my own blog to find the answer quickly.  In the top right hand corner of my header is a plate containing a large amount of Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes.  I remember the day I snapped the pic before I packaged and placed the delicious light pancakes in the freezer. 

If I took a vote in my fam, this would be their fave breakfast.  These pancakes freeze very well and also taste so yummy after reheating in the microwave.  A package of Blueberries was defrosted in the fridge overnight.  A fresh quart of low fat Buttermilk was purchased yesterday.  King Arthur White Bread Flour is now my flour of choice when making these.  1 Egg + Egg Whites, Olive Oil for sauteing & baking + 1% Milk.  Add in a little Cinnamon and a little Nutmeg!  This is definitely my kind of recipe, because I've lowered the cholesterol content!  2 Egg Whites = 1 Whole Egg when cooking. 

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
(File Photo)
Needless to say, after I prepped a batch this morning my DH & I enjoyed them.  After the remaining Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes cooled slightly, each pancake was placed in a sandwich bag.  Little stacks were then placed in Ziploc Freezer Bags, labelled and then found their place in our freezer.

These Blueberry Pancakes with Buttermilk are so good! 

Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes
- adapted from BURYGOLD on allrecipes.com

Ingredients:

3 Cups White Bread Flour (can be all purpose Flour)
3 Tablespoons Sugar
3 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 and 1/2 teaspoons Baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon Salt (I use a little less.)
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

1 Whole Egg + 4 Egg Whites
3 Cups Fat Free Buttermilk
1/2 Cup 1% Milk
1/3 Cup Olive Oil for Sauteing & Baking

2 Cups Blueberries (can be fresh or defrosted & drained)

Method:
  1. Heat griddle over medium heat.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Lightly beat Egg + 4 Egg Whites in another bowl.
  4. Add Buttermilk, Milk and Olive Oil. Beat.
  5. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture in large bowl.
  6. Stir just until blended. Make sure all dry ingredients are mixed in, but do not over stir.
  7. Allow about 1/3 Cup of batter for each pancake and place on griddle.
  8. Add 8-9 Blueberries to each pancake.
  9. When brown on one side flip over.
  10. Brown other side.
This will be a great surprise for my fam this weekend!  Do you use Olive Oil for sauteing & baking?  Do you cook using Egg Whites?

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spinach Salad with Pears


We totally enjoy Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad, so fresh Spinach is on my weekly grocery list.  It's a great change from tossed salads during the colder months - when our grocery stores in the northeast do not always offer tantalizing fresh produce.

Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad
needs a drizzle of Balsamic Vinaigrette
(File Photo)
The other day no containers of Mandarin Oranges were to be found in my pantry.  That was a surprise!  However, a Del Monte 4 pack of Diced Pears in Light Syrup was waiting in the wings!  Why not try it?  Try it we did!  An individual serving of fragrant Diced Pears was opened to prep the two dinner salads.  Pears over Baby Spinach Leaves with a bit of Feta Cheese and a drizzle of  Balsamic Vinaigrette.  YuM!  This is another delicious salad!  Did I mention easy?

What can be easier than snapping off the long stems from the fresh Spinach leaves and placing them in a salad bowl? Add a few Diced Pears and top with a bit of Feta Cheese.  Drizzle on the desired amount of Balsamic Vinaigrette.  That's what I call easy!

*Yes, I do snap off the long Spinach stems.  Sometimes even with Baby Spinach Leaves, the stems can be a bit tough to chew.  Not good.

My local grocery store, Big Y, is offering a special on these individual serving 4-packs of Del Monte Diced Pears.  I'll be sure to check that out, again!

Chunks of fresh, ripened Pears would also be delicious in this salad!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
    

Saturday, December 15, 2012

~

~
 The families
 and their friends
 and the residents
 of Newtown
 are in our hearts.
                                 ~


Monday, December 10, 2012

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies, Yummy!

Reindeer Cookies...Yummy!
Biting into a homemade soft sugar cookie that has just a hint of nutmeg is my choice for a sugar cookieSour Cream Sugar Cookies are hands down...the winner.  Rolled out and cut into festive shapes, then decorated with colored sugars,  they are perfect for the holidays...any holiday.  This past week I started my Christmas baking!  There are always unexpected happenings and also sewing projects to complete, but I always have time to bake these delicious cookies containing sour cream.    

It is a two step process.  On Day 1 the dough is made, wrapped and then stored in the fridge overnight.  On Day 2 my cookie cutters, decorated sugars, rolling pin & rolling mat are used.

Rolling out the dough that has been refrigerated, overnight.
For years I've been baking this soft cut-out cookie and it has become a tradition for my fam to enjoy them at Christmas. 

An added + is that after they are baked and cooled, these cookies can be packaged and stored in the freezer until the holiday arrives.  Now, a double batch of these scrumptious family faves, are ready and waiting in our freezer. 

***Unsalted Butter works best in this recipe!  The stiff dough is easier to work with.
     

 Sour Cream Sugar Cookies   printable recipe card

Oven: 375°F
Yield: About 5 dozen, depending on size

Ingredients:

4 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (can be Fat Free)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Colored Sugars for Decorating

Method:

Day 1-
  1. In large bowl with electric mixer beat Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy.
  2. Add Egg, beat.
  3. Add in Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Nutmeg.
  4. While beating on Low, slowly add Flour, 1 Cup at a time.
  5. Add in Vanilla and Sour Cream. Beat on Medium until well combined. Dough will be stiff.
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on plastic wrap, wrap dough.
  7. Place wrapped dough on aluminum foil and wrap well.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.
Day 2-
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unwrap dough and cut into four parts.
  3. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness. Use cookie cutters.
  4. Place cookies on pan/sheet 1" apart. (Maybe 12 cookies to a sheet.)
  5. Sprinkle with colored sugars.
  6. Bake 10 - 11 Minutes. Bottom of cookies will be a light golden brown.
  7. Remove with spatula to wire cooling racks.
  8. When cool store in airtight containers.
**These cookies also freeze very well.

If you want to treat your family and friends to a sugar cookie that is light and contains a hint of Nutmeg, take out your cookie pans/sheets and the cooling racks!  These Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are just the best!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Another Look...

The elevated perennial garden in our backyard changes in appearance every season. This afternoon was so comfortable with temps in the 50°'s.  We were heading out shopping and I took a quick glance outside from our Family Room.  Then, another longer look.  A fox was basking in the sun under our large tree looking very relaxed.  That was a surprise!
The fox was comfortable enough to give me time to get my camera for a photo op.  Definitely, I took the pic from inside!  :)  I'm accustomed to deer, squirrels, skunks, chipmunks, rabbits and even a fisher cat once, moving through our yard.  Today brought a surprise.  A fox getting the rays!

That fox sure was enjoying the sun!
        

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Grilled Cheese & Avocado

Grilled Cheese & Avocado
Grilled Cheese...yum!  The sandwich containing oozing warm melted cheese has been a fave of mine for years.  Usually, lunch for me is Yogurt over a sliced Banana along with a glass of Orange Juice.  Bananas are not a fave with me, so I hide them in other foods, whenever possible, to eat the fruit daily.  

Yesterday, as my DH & I were delivering "Meals on Wheels" to senior residents in town, the vision of the ripened Avocado sitting on my kitchen counter kept popping into my thoughts.  Suddenly, I knew how the green fruit would be enjoyed!  A Grilled Cheese & Avocado Sandwich!  I envisioned cheese topped with slices of green Avocado surrounded by Oatmeal Bread.

Driving up our driveway, we were famished!  It did not take long to defrost 4 slices of Oatmeal Bread and locate my griddle.  Good ole' plain Grilled Cheese, Grilled Cheese & Tomato, Grilled Cheese & Ham and Grilled Cheese & Tuna all taste great.  This change up using slices of Avocado is also yummy!

There was an extra large slice of Avocado remaining.  Cut into chunks it made for a very tasty garnish!

Enjoy!
Yummy!
         

Friday, November 23, 2012

~Turkey a la King~

"Gobbles"
Do you have small pieces of roasted Turkey remaining in your fridge?  Enough to equal about 1 cup?  A package/box of frozen peas & carrots or mixed veggies in the freezer?  A partial loaf of bread?  Family members who are starved at dinner time?  If so, it's time for Turkey a la King!

After dining on Roasted Turkey with all of the trimmings on Thanksgiving Day and then Hot Turkey Sandwiches tonight, I always enjoy making this particular Turkey dinner for the third Turkey meal!  This past Tuesday was "my pie making day", so, no, I'm not about to roll out more dough for Turkey Pot Pies!  Turkey a la King is much easier and quicker to prepare.  It's also a delicious entree that even contains the veggies! 

Thanksgiving Day was great!  We enjoyed dinner, we chatted it up, we read stories and we also had Duplo construction going on.  "Gobbles" got exercise, too.   Now it's time to c-h-i-l-l!

Turkey a la King
served over Toasted Oatmeal Bread
along with an added Bonus- Thanksgiving Stuffing

Turkey a la King
Serves 2 - 3 Adults

Ingredients:
1/4 Cup Margarine/Butter (I use unsalted.)
1/3 Cup Flour
1 Cup Chicken/Turkey Broth
      (I use College Inn Light & Fat Free Chicken Broth.)
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup Turkey chunks (cooked), cut up, more if desired
2 Cups Cooked Carrots & Peas (or Mixed Vegetables)
*   *   *   *
Sliced Bread, Toasted

Method:
  1. Melt Margarine/Butter in skillet.
  2. Remove skillet from Medium heat and slowly stir in Flour.
  3. Return to heat and slowly add in Chicken Broth & Milk while slowly stirring constantly.
  4. Continue stirring over heat until sauce is thick and bubbly.
  5. Add cooked Turkey chunks.
  6. Add in cooked vegetables.
  7. Stir and heat mixture for 1 - 2 Minutes.
  8. Serve over toasted Bread.
If I have a large amount of Roasted Turkey to use, sometimes I'll make a double batch and freeze half of the prepared Turkey a la King.  This makes for another quick delicious dinner after a busy day.  During the year, Chicken can be used rather than Turkey.

And yes, there is more Cranberry Sauce!

Enjoy!
Yummy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Journey of the Pilgrims

The Cape...Cape Cod in MA... is a wonderful place to visit, especially during the warmer months.  In the small towns a bit of History can always be learned!  In the town of Chatham, the Chatham Lighthouse is definitely a "must stop and see again" whenever we are at the Cape.  The Lighthouse overlooks Chatham Bar and is now a home to a Coast Guard Small Boat Station.  The Coast Guard Station aids boaters and fishing boats whenever emergencies arise.
There is a wonderful bit of History to learn while enjoying the salty air in this scenic area.  What better time to share it with you than now, during Thanksgiving

Click to enlarge.

I've posted a photo of the plaque I enjoy reading at this area.  I've also posted the individual sections.  Click on each individual section and the story of the Pilgrims journey to the New World is easy to read.

Click to enlarge.


Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge
 
 
Learning while having FuN is the best way to learn!


Enjoy!
        

Sunday, November 18, 2012

~Apple Bread~


Thanksgiving Day is approaching!  My fresh turkey has been ordered and my oven has come in handy this past week.  Apple Bread, Butternut Squash Bread and Cranberry Bread will be enjoyed during the upcoming long weekend.  Yum!  The first two quick breads have already been baked and are in my freezer.  The Cranberry Bread tastes best when baked 1 - 2 days before eating.  It does not freeze well.

Apple Bread is definitely a fam fave!  Small pieces of Apples combined with Orange Juice, Cinnamon & Nutmeg result in a very tasty quick bread!  Olive Oil for sauteing & baking is also a prime ingredient.   

As with all quick breads that I bake, I  bake 2 - one to enjoy now and the other is cooled/labelled/placed in my freezer.


A few years ago I made a recipe card for this Apple BreadClick here for recipe. 

When preparing the batter, I use 4 Egg Whites.  It's that cholesterol thing.  2 Egg Whites = 1 Whole Egg while baking.  However, if you prefer to use Whole Eggs, use 2 Whole Eggs. 

This quick bread is absolutely delicious!  There is time to bake this Cinnamon & Nutmeg flavored, moisty, Apple Bread to share with your family/friends on Thanksgiving Day!    

Enjoy!
Yummy!
       

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chicken & Ham Calzone

Who knew that purchasing the 1 and 1/2 pound package of boneless skinless chicken breasts would result in...not 1, not 2, but 3 delicious dinners??? It sure wasn't me!

Every so often - when the weather takes a drastic change with the thermometer reading much lower, I seem to try to cling onto the warmer weather.  It was chilly outside and Grilled Chicken Medley was my plan for dinner the next evening.  The chicken needs to be placed in a Soy Sauce/ Lime Juice/ Cumin/ Paprika marinade for a few hours before grilling.  I use my handy dandy George Foreman Grill.   
Grilled Chicken Medley
There's always leftover grilled chicken, so the following evening we usually enjoy Chicken Enchiladas.  And that we did! Yum!

Chicken Enchiladas
After these two scrumptious meals there still remained about 1/2 cup of grilled chicken.  Sweet!  Maybe another dinner?  Oh, yes! 

A couple of months ago I saw a recipe in dash - a supplement section to our daily newspaper and saved the recipe to try someday.  The recipe was for a Calzone, using a tube of refrigerated pizza dough.   My DH & I do enjoy Bertucci's Chicken Calzone, so this was really worth a try!  A tube of Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust located in the Dairy Dept. in my grocery store was purchased.
Chicken & Ham Calzone
The tasty filling Calzone containing Ricotta Cheese, Mozzarella, cooked Chicken, Oregano, Basil and 2 slices of deli Ham cut in small pieces was absolutely yummy!  I'll definitely be making this again!  It was very easy!  I see Turkey on my horizon.

Chicken & Ham Calzone
     inspired by the newspaper supplement dash

Oven: 425°F    Baking Time:  18 Minutes
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:
1 tube Refrigerated Pizza Dough - I used Pillsbury Classic Pizza Crust.
about 1/2 cup cooked Chicken, cut in pieces
2 slices Deli Ham, cut in pieces
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 - 3/4 Cup Ricotta Cheese
1/8 teaspoon Oregano
1/8 teaspoon Sweet Basil

Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Line cookie pan with Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil.
  3. Spray Aluminum Foil with PAM.
  4. Open tube of pizza dough and place on foil.
  5. Combine ALL remaining ingredients in bowl.
  6. Using only half of the pizza dough, place filling on dough.  Leave 1" border on edges.
  7. Fold other half of dough over filling to edges.  Roll edges up and press to seal. 
  8. Roll edges again.
  9. Bake in oven for 18 Minutes. Calzone will be browned and puffy. 
  10. Cool slightly before eating.  The cheese is hot.
This Chicken & Ham Calzone was delicious!  Served along with Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad, dinner was easy to prep and so yummy!

Sometimes, do you have a small amount of cooked Chicken?   

Enjoy!
Yummy!
           

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November?

November 7, 2012
Every week my glass pitcher containing cold water and 3 Decaffeinated Green Tea bags is placed on the window sill.  Usually, the sun is shining when I use this self brewing method of preparing Green Tea. This is my "go to" method of brewing a pitcher. 

WoW!  Today, November 7, 2012 - was quite different!  Today snowflakes were falling!

video
         
This day in November sure looks like a December day!  Good thing that the leaves have been collected, the Zinnia seeds stored and the winter hats & gloves are ready to be worn!

My Green Tea?  Oh,  it brewed in about 3 and 1/2 hours as it always does.  :) 

Enjoy!
Yummy!
 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Phew...

Some rain fell and the winds blew!  In my town we all agree that we were very lucky!  After Sandy left our area without leaving a mark, we could place our Halloween decorations outside, again.  We were relieved that Sandy was:
We all do have family and friends that live in NYC (and its surrounding areas), the southern coast of CT and also the shores of NJ.  This is the time to think of and to help them.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad

Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad
The end of October?  Yes!  Halloween is a couple days away?  Yes!  The meteorologists on the East Coast have been emphasizing that we East Coast residents should be aware of a weather system coming up from the south?  Yes!  Have we been checking on the flashlights, batteries, non-perishable foods, bottled water and making sure that our cars have a full tank of gas? Yes, again!  

Last year we had a Halloween Nor'easter!  Here, in my town we lost power for 6 days.  This year so many more states & people will be affected by this hybrid weather system - Hurricane Sandy. We are heeding the precautions and the warnings!

Yesterday, in addition to our storm preparations, I remembered a wonderful Spinach Salad that I enjoyed at the Red Pheasant Inn while at the Cape this summer.  The salad we had at dinner last night was adapted from the tantalizing tasty spinach treat that made a great impression on me.  It was delicious!  That salad contained fresh oranges.  I had a can of Mandarin Oranges on hand, so a few of the smaller slices worked just fine.  If you like a salad made with fresh Spinach, try it! So good! 

Mandarin Orange Spinach Salad       

Ingredients:

Per serving
Fresh Baby Spinach
6 - 7 Mandarin Orange slices
Feta Cheese - crumbled
Balsamic Vinaigrette - 1 - 2 Tablespoons per serving

Method:
  1. Place desired amount of Baby Spinach Leaves in a salad dish.
  2. Add 6-7 Mandarin Orange slices.
  3. Sprinkle desired amount of Feta Cheese on top.
  4. Drizzle on Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This is a very tasty, colorful and nutritious salad for any time of year.  An especially good time is during the colder months when the tomatoes in my grocery stores are either costly or not lookin' good.

Enjoy!
Yummy!

And...Stay safe!
         

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saving the Seeds

Dried rust, golden, and red colored leaves were bouncing on the pavement as they blew down the street two days ago.  The sun was shining on a beautiful fall day!  As I enjoyed listening to the leaves I remembered the Zinnia seeds that were drying on our Family Room window sill.  All summer we and our neighbors have enjoyed our ever blooming Zinnias.  Shades of orangeyellow and red blossoms were constantly opening!  This year I purchased packaged seeds that would grow in three different heights.  The blossoms were also different.
Zinnias with pink Impatiens
Some looked like cone flowers.  In the autumn I save some of the dry flowers in order to further dry out and store the seeds.  My plan worked well two weeks ago.  I harvested my bounty one afternoon and we had a "hard frost" that night!  
 
Currently, there are 3 lunch sized paper bags on my window sill that contain the seeds that are drying. 
Tear shaped Zinnia seeds attached to petals
The seeds are tear shaped and still attached to the dried colored petals of the previously colorful flowers.
 
In a couple of weeks the dried seeds will be packaged in envelopes - and labelled according to height.  They'll be ready to plant next spring.
 
Not only do I have plans for next year's gardens, today I learned how to add arrows using Photoshop!  WooHoo!
 
Do you harvest seeds to plant the next year?
 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Yummy Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash Bread
A few slices had already passed the "Taste Test"
The Olive Oil for sauteing and baking was taken down from the shelf in my cabinet.  Yes!  There were enough Eggs in my fridge to use only Egg Whites.  The 2 cups of the prepped Butternut Squash needed had been stored in the fridge to bake the delicious Butternut Squash Breads, so I was good to go!  

Last week, the day after freezing the Butternut Squash, baking was on my agenda!  You guessed it, I replaced pumpkin with squash in one of my fave recipes.  Using Olive Oil and Egg Whites when baking this bread makes for a very light tasty treat.  By baking 2 breads, one can be placed in the freezer.  However, last week a neighbor was the recipient of the second foil wrapped bread.

  • The recipe below is for 2 breads.  If one bread will be baked, cut the recipe in half.
  • When baking these breads, I use a scant less than the required measured amounts of Salt & Sugar. 

Butternut Squash Bread

Oven:  350°F      Time:  55 Minutes       2 Loaves

Ingredients:

3 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Ground Cloves (optional, but delicious)
2 Cups Sugar

8 Egg Whites (= total of 4 Whole Eggs)
1 & 1/2 Cups Olive Oil for sauteing & baking
2 Cups Butternut Squash (cooked, mashed & cooled - defrosted if frozen)

Method:

  1. Spray 2 large bread pans with PAM.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in large bowl.
  4. In smaller bowl, beat Egg Whites until frothy.
  5. Mix in Olive Oil.
  6. Add mashed Butternut Squash to Egg Whites/Olive Oil & stir.
  7. Pour liquid mixture into dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  8. Pour batter into bread pans.
  9. Stagger bread pans on oven shelf.
  10. Bake at 350°F for 55 Minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in middle of loaf.
  11. Remove from oven and cool in pans on wire rack for 10 Minutes.
  12. Remove from pans and continue cooling on wire racks.
  • After cooled, enjoy.
  • After cooling, the second Butternut Squash Bread can be wrapped in Heavy Duty aluminum foil and placed in your freezer. 

In the next two days, the remaining squash that is stored in our garage will be prepped for the freezer. That also translates that there will be a start on baking for the Thanksgiving Day Weekend.  Two  Butternut Squash Breads will be baked/cooled/wrapped in foil & placed in our freezer. This is a yummy bread that is also very easy to prepare!  No need for a boxed mix! 

Enjoy!
Yummy!