Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

~Merry Christmas~

There have been many lists written these past few weeks.  The lists for things to do, things to bake & things to purchase have been rewritten, also!  Now, it's time to enjoy family & friends.  I wish all of you, your families & your friends a very


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

~Effortless Entrees~

At this time of year we've all been preparing for the holidays!  Every day is filled with hustle & bustle.  Grocery shopping and shopping for gifts, visiting friends, baking & rechecking travel plans, in addition to working is only a part of a busy week.  Nutritious, tasty dinners that are easy to prepare are welcomed at the end of a busy day.

On this blog I've posted some yummy entrees that are found in the snowflake above.  Many of the recipes are prepared in a Slow Cooker/ Crock Pot.  Click on any entree in the snowflake & the post & recipe is at your fingertips.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
(File Photo)

Sour Cream? Yes, I have Fat Free.
Nutmeg?  Yes.
Salt Free Butter?  Yes, definitely need to use Butter!
Flour & Sugar?  Yes.
Colored Sugars?  Yes, yes!
Rolling pin & rolling mat?  Double yes.
Cookie Cutters?  Definitely!

That's part of my check list before I bake Sour Cream Sugar Cookies.  I've used my go to recipe for rolled out Christmas Sugar Cookies for so long - over 30 years.

Imagine biting into a soft rolled out sugar cookie that has a cute whimsical shape.  As you are chewing the cookie a hint of Nutmeg flavoring tastes so good.  The sugar cookie is festive- decorated with colored sugars.  After eating one, another is hard to resist!         

These cookies are time tested with both my family & my friends!  They are made in 2 steps.

On Day 1 the dough is prepared, wrapped & refrigerated to be used on Day 2.
The next day take out the Colored Sugars, Rolling Pin & Rolling Mat.

This is a very easy cookie to make/ bake.  Roll the dough to 1/4".  Then, use your cookie cutters.  After baking/ cooling a taste test is definitely necessary.  Who can resist this cookie?  Usually I bake them 2- 3 weeks before Christmas & place them in the freezer.  They freeze very well & are so yummy!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
          printable recipe card (click here)         

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

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
Cookie Cutters


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.  
The last time I baked this family fave was the end of March.  My son & soon to be daughter-in-law included them (bells & hearts) in their Welcome Bags for their overnight wedding guests.  4 batches were baked for their very special occasion!  Now, it will always be a tradition with me to use green & purple sprinkles when decorating the bell shaped cookies.  :)

Welcome Bag Cookies
(File Photo)

In the next few days my cookie cutters & rolling pin will be put to work.  I have the Fat Free Sour Cream & Unsalted Butter in my fridge.  It's time to plan on making the dough & baking these soft yummy cookies.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

"Shake Rattle & Roll"

"Shake Rattle & Roll"
The bright yellow plastic canister that the Domino SUGAR was packaged in has been recycled!  We have a new green toy for our grandsons!  Over a 6 month period I've saved many different colored plastic bottle caps- red from apple cider, white from soy milk, blue (1% fat milk & O.J.) & yellow from apple juice.  The washed bottle caps were stored in the cleaned canister.  On Thanksgiving AM the Turkeys Table Runner (directions) was out & ready for business.

***Now that our younger grandson has passed the age/ stage of giving toys & books the taste test while admiring/ using, the bottle caps could make an appearance.   With supervision this is a great toy.

I had saved the plastic bottle caps to use as "counting objects".  Once a teacher, always a teacher!  Little did I know that Shake, Rattle & Roll is a much more fun use.  The filled covered canister makes a great drum, too!

Shaking, then opening the container & spilling the bottle caps is a FuN game.  Then, collecting all of the caps while giggling adds to the enjoyment!

Our new green toy is packed away to be used again!  Maybe they will be "counting objects" in the future, but not for a long time!  Who needs to count them???

I definitely need to change the table runner!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Turkey a la King

Turkey a la King
served over Toasted Oatmeal Bread
(File Photo)
The aroma of Turkey roasting on Thanksgiving Day is just the best!  With cranberry sauce chilling in the fridge & the garlic mashed potatoes & other side dishes on the move, dinner is on its way.  My fam has never had a problem having leftover slices/ pieces of the delicious moisty Turkey.  Opening the fridge door & grazing seems to be a custom of the weekend.  At least opening the door to see if anything has changed position on a shelf, certainly is a habit.  :)

Hot Turkey Sandwiches on Friday is set in stone, here.  On Saturday there usually are a few pieces remaining.  That's when I see Turkey a la King in our future.  Mixed vegetables along with chunks of Turkey combined in a creamy white sauce.  This is served over toasted Oatmeal Bread.  Oh yes, along with Cranberry Sauce.  Yum, yum, yum!

When preparing dinner why take the extra step of making or using commercial pie crusts for Turkey Pot Pies???  Toasted bread serves the role so well!  Prep Turkey a la King.  When it's ready, toast the bread.  Easy & no fuss all while tasting absolutely delicious!  Try it, you'll like it!

Turkey a la King
 Serves 2 - 3 Adults

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

  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 enough Turkey I make a double batch & freeze the extra portions.  It's an easy dinner to defrost/ reheat on a cold winter night.

***Chicken can be substituted for Turkey at other times during the year.

***A half portion is also so yummy when served over a baked potato!

Currently, it looks like winter outside!  The snowflakes are falling heavily on the day before Thanksgiving!  It'll be a different sight looking out my kitchen window as I bake the Thanksgiving pies!  Today I have 2 sous chefs!  :)  


Wishing you, your family & friends a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

~Butternut Squash Bread~

Butternut Squash Bread cooling!
Last Friday was the designated day for me.  Our weather has been quite brisk lately with the exception of Monday's rain.  On our garage floor were 5 Butternut Squash remaining in the carton.  They needed to be prepped for our freezer.  It's always best to take care of that before our cold temps make an appearance.  So... more bags of yummy locally grown Butternut Squash that is mashed/ ready to microwave is now in our freezer.  This week's been cold, brrrr!

2 Cups of the mashed Squash were refrigerated.  I had plans- Butternut Squash Breads!  It's a tradition with me to use Butternut Squash rather than Pumpkin for breads & pies.  It's a baking custom in my family.  Now, as long as my bowls & measuring utensils were to be used for baking, I baked 2 breads.  One is always cooled/ wrapped/ placed in the freezer for Thanksgiving weekend.

Butternut Squash works so well in this recipe.  However, if you do not have this yummy mashed vegetable readily available, use Pumpkin
  • I use Olive Oil for sauteing & baking 
  • Egg Whites rather than a Whole Egg is used.
The recipe below is for 1 Bread.  It's definitely a family fave here!  Light & moisty!

Butternut Squash Bread

Oven:  350°F      Time:  55 Minutes  


1 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon Ground Cloves (optional, but delicious)
1  Cup Sugar

4 Egg Whites (= total of 2 Whole Eggs)
3/4 Cup Olive Oil for sauteing & baking
Cup Butternut Squash (cooked, mashed & cooled - defrosted if frozen)

  1. Spray 1 large bread pan 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 pan.
  9.  Bake at 350°F for 55 Minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in   middle of loaf.
  10.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 Minutes.
  11.  Then remove from pan & continue cooling.
  12.  Later, place on plate & cut into slices.
We always enjoy Butternut Squash Bread during Thanksgiving weekend.  It's also a holiday treat that can be baked/ cooled/ wrapped in foil & placed in the freezer.  When needed, defrost.      


Friday, November 14, 2014

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles

Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
(cooling before wrapping & freezing)
Do you have 1 and 3/4 Cups of Buttermilk in your fridge?  Do you have 1 Cup + 3/4 Cup Milk?  That small amount of Buttermilk is the beginning of a delicious breakfast!

About a month ago after opening the door to one of my kitchen cabinets, suddenly I "spied" my Belgian Waffle Maker!  It's only been "untouched" for about 6 years!  Other than taking it down when cleaning the cabinet shelves.  Remembering that I had Buttermilk in my fridge, the next step- King Arthur Flour's website.  There it was- a recipe for Buttermilk Belgian Waffles!  The photo looked so yummy & I had the Buttermilk!
  • I use King Arthur Unbleached Flour whenever I make pancakes.
  • My less cholesterol habit:  Substitute Olive Oil for sauteing & baking for Butter.
  • Another less cholesterol habit:  Rather than 2 whole Eggs, I'd use 1 whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites.
    I was on my way to make a very yummy breakfast.  By using the Olive Oil, no butter/ margarine was needed at our table either- only a topping.  What delicious waffles!  The second time I prepared these waffles for breakfast, defrosted strawberries were a great topping!
    No, we did not devour the entire batch!  The extra waffles were cooled & wrapped in plastic wrap/ placed in Freezer bags for even quicker breakfasts other mornings.  My method of reheating:  my microwave.

    The holidays are in our future!  If you are looking for a quick, easy & absolutely yummy breakfast to serve your overnight guests Buttermilk Belgian Waffles are great!  Take out your waffle maker!  If you don't have one, that small appliance would be a great gift to receive!  My waffle maker is at least 15 years old.  Make & try these.  They are so good!

    Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside!
    Buttermilk Belgian Waffles
                 makes 8 Waffles
                 adapted from King Arthur website

    1 + 3/4 Cup King Arthur Unbleached Flour
    4 teaspoons Sugar
    2 teaspoons Baking Powder
    1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    1/2 teaspoon Salt

    1 Whole Egg + 2 Egg Whites
    1 + 3/4 Cups Buttermilk or 1 Cup Buttermilk + 3/4 Cup Milk
    1/2 Cup Olive Oil for sauteing & baking 
    2 teaspoons Vanilla


    1. In a large bowl combine Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Baking Soda & Salt.
    2. In a smaller bowl beat 1 Egg + 2 Egg Whites.
    3. Add Buttermilk, Olive Oil & Vanilla.
    4. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring until almost smooth.
    5. Spray Belgian Waffle Maker with PAM before preheating, only when making 1st waffle in batch.
    6. When Waffle Maker is hot, use 2/3 Cup batter to make waffle.
    7. Close lid. Cook for 2- 3 minutes - until steaming stops.
    8. (With my Belgian Waffle Maker cooking time is 2 Minutes, 30 Seconds.)
    9. Carefully remove & continue.
    ***One AM I had only 1 Cup Buttermilk, so I also used 3/4 Cup Milk & the waffles were also oh, so good!

    Using the Olive Oil, no butter/ margarine is needed.  Maple syrup or Strawberries are our fave toppings!  What will yours be?


    Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Freezing Butternut Squash

    Preparing for the freezer!
    It's definitely like clockwork!  In October my DH & I purchase a bushel of Butternut Squash from Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow.  One of our local grocery stores does purchase their supply there, also, but we go "farm to table" ourselves.  The carton is stored in our garage.  It's all part of the plan!    All summer we've dined on locally grown vegetables.  It is definitely a change in the taste when we buy them the remainder of the year at our grocery stores!

    A Bushel of Butternut Squash
    Butternut Squash is one of my fave vegetables!  You remember my story:  Growing up my family had 2 large vegetable gardens.  We canned & froze the year's supply of our veggies.  The gorgeous Butternuts were one of our last harvests.  Preparing these vegetables & freezing them to enjoy the remainder of the year was definitely a tradition for me.  As newlyweds my DH & I had a great garden when we rented our apartment here in Western Mass.  Our kind landlord plowed a small section of his beautiful lawn, so I could have my garden.   My DH learned about growing veggies & got hooked on the fresh food.  Our corn smelled so good that the local cows visited one day-  much to our surprise.  My DH had grown up in Queens, NY, so it was shocking to see the cows in our garden eating!  Definitely not a common sight in one of the boroughs!    

    This past Sunday the Patriots were playing the Broncos & my pots of peeled/ prepared Butternuts were on the stove simmering.  It was time to start tackling that bushel in the garage!  Our weather has gotten colder & the squash needs to be prepared for the freezer.  Even during an exciting football game the tradition lives on!  A good sous chef is an added plus, here!
    Freezing Butternut Squash

    Utensils I use:  Dutch Oven or Pot, Cutting Board, Knife, Spoon, Colander, Ziploc Freezer Bags, Marker for Labeling 

    Butternut Squash  
    1.  Rinse/ clean the Butternut Squash under cold running water.
    2.  Dry.
    3.  Using a cutting board & a sharp knife, cut off & toss the stem and rounded top.
    4.  The long top portion is cut into slices. The slices are circles.
    5.  Cut the peel off & discard.
    6.  Cut each peeled circle into 2" chunks and place in large Dutch Oven/ pot. 
    7.  The lower portion containing seeds remains.  Remove the seeds with a spoon.
    8.  I save as much of the orange vegetable as possible that surrounds the seeds.  Cut off the peel.
    9. Cut into pieces & place in Dutch Oven/ pot.
    10.  Add cold water to container (so it reaches about 2" up in the pot).
    11.  Turn the heat to High.
    12. After a Boil is reached, lower the heat and simmer about 12 - 15 minutes, until pieces can be pierced with a fork.
    13.  During the cooking minutes, carefully stir the Squash pieces often in the pot, so they soften equally.
    14. Drain the squash using a colander.
    15. Return the chunks to the large pot and mash.
         16.  Cool until comfortable to pack in Ziploc Freezer Bags.
         17.  Pack about 2 Cups of mashed Squash in Ziploc Freezer Bags.
         18.  After labeling, store in freezer.

    Do you freeze Butternut Squash?  It's a very tasty veggie at dinner during the colder months. 

    The Butternut Squash is defrosted in the microwave easily.  First, remove Butternut Squash from bag & place in a covered microwave safe baking dish- leaving an air vent.  No sugar nor butter/ margarine needed, here!  I also use it very often when cooking rather than using pumpkin.  :)


      Monday, October 27, 2014

      Halloween Sherbet Punch

      Halloween!!!  It's the time of year when imaginations rule.  Spooky!  Scary!  Squirmy!  Decorations are appearing along with the pumpkins! 

      If your family's  Halloween Party is this week, a beverage for "children of all ages" is Orange Halloween Sherbet Punch!  It's an orange frothy beverage that contains only 2 ingredients.  Orange Sherbet & 7- Up.  (Diet 7- Up works just fine).  What could be easier?  This brew is very tasty & very colorful.  Put those 2 ingredients on your grocery list!  Remember disposable cups, too!  Now find your punch bowl & ladle!

      Halloween Sherbet Punch

       For each 1 Quart of Orange Sherbet
       Use 2 Bottles 7Up - 2 Liter size bottles (refrigerated)

      1. In a large punch bowl place 1 Quart Orange Sherbet.
      2.  Pour 2 bottles 7-Up Soda in punch bowl, pouring some over Sherbet.
      3.  Stir a little to mix.  Results in frothy, softened Sherbet on top.
      4.  Ladle into cups adding some of the Sherbet.
      5. Replenish the 7UP + Orange Sherbet, as needed.
      My family has enjoyed this brew for over 20 years.  Yes, raspberry & lime sherbet also make a very tasty punch in the hot summer months!


      Happy Halloween!!!


      Monday, October 20, 2014

      Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp

      Needs a small scoop of vanilla ice cream!
      Autumn!  Apples!  October!  Cooler nights!  Wait, wait...I need to go back to apples!  This is the season when biting into a fresh juicy apple is such a treat!  Sure, I like the summer fruits like strawberries, blueberries & cantaloupe that are easily available, but an apple...oh, yum!  Not only are there many varieties, but they can be enjoyed fresh or baked in a goodie.
      One goodie that my fam always enjoys is Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp!  This baked dessert made with fresh apples has a few Craisins & Raisins sprinkled in & and tastes so good with the oat topping.  That topping has Nutmeg & Cinnamon, too!  In the produce area of my local grocery store I see a commercially packaged dry mix to make the oat topping.  The thought passes through my mind:  "How hard is it to make an oat topping?"  Not difficult at all!  Below is my very easy recipe!  Try it, you'll see!    

      If you've never tasted this yummy dessert- bake one & the aroma from your kitchen will get you hooked!  Yum!

      Craisin/ Raisin Apple Crisp

      Oven Temperature: 375°F
      Time: 45 - 50 Minutes

       6 - 7 peeled sliced large apples - I use McIntosh, Cortland
             &/or Empire apples
      3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
      1/2 Cup Flour
      1/2 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
      3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
      3/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
      1/3 Cup + 1 Tablespoon softened Butter or Margarine
      1/4 Cup Craisins
      1/4 Cup Raisins

      1.   Preheat oven to 375°F.
      2.   Spray PAM in 8" x 8" glass baking pan.
      3.   Rinse apples under cold running water & dry.
      4.  Peel & slice apples. 
      5.  Place peeled sliced apples in pan. 
      6.  Add Craisins & Raisins and mix in. 
      7.  Thoroughly mix remaining ingredients together in small bowl.
      8.  Sprinkle over apples. 
      9.  Bake 45- 50 Minutes or until apples are tender. 
      10.  Serve warm or chilled with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. 
      11.  When cool, cover & refrigerate any leftovers.
      This weekend I baked this Apple Crisp using a combo of McIntosh & Cortland apples & it was a great treat!  We always enjoy this dessert with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on top!  So good!


      Friday, October 10, 2014

      ~Summit House on Mt. Holyoke~

      Admiring the CT River that flows through the Pioneer Valley
      from the Summit House porch
      Autumn!  The season when leaves change color from green to vibrant shades of yellow, orange & red!  Before they make their way to the ground it's such a treat to stop to admire them.   It's a beautiful time of year!  This is also the time for me to save seeds from my annuals & divide/ transplant bulbs.  There are many outside tasks, but enjoying the beauty that Mother Nature is sharing with us is an added plus.

      Yesterday, my DH & I drove north to Hadley, MA.  Our destination was the Summit House on top of Mt. Holyoke.  On the winding road up the mountain we drove past some hikers.  The view from the parking lot at the summit was a tease of what awaited us.  Climbing up the ramp/ then stairs, gorgeous views were in all directions!  Walking around the "wrap around" porch of the newly renovated Summit House was definitely a treat!  We live in a beautiful area of Western MA!  Looking north my hometown of Amherst & also VT was visible.  Looking south in the distance we viewed the Springfield, MA/ Hartford, CT area!

      Zooming in Looking North
      The Summit House has a long history.  During the second half of the 1800's it was a hotel located on the top of Mt. Holyoke.  To learn about its fascinating history, click here.

      For us, yesterday was the perfect opportunity to visit!  This is Columbus Day weekend!  Our New England scenery is beautiful.  Anyone interested in visiting this wonderful location, click on the "Plan Your Visit" info here.  Before leaving home, we did call the listed phone number for updated detailed info.     

      Terrain near the Summit House
      with my shadow

      What a great opportunity to view our CT River Valley & learn a little history!

      We did Enjoy!

      Tuesday, October 7, 2014

      Harvesting Zinnia Seeds

      The bright redyellow, pink & orange Zinnias blossomed all summer!  So many vibrant colors!  Each seed planted grew into a very bushy plant with so many bright blossoms & buds.  Combined with the Marigolds that were planted in front of them, our side garden has been enjoyed by our neighbors, too!  Especially our next door neighbors! 

      Now that Autumn is here, it's time to save the Zinnia seeds from this year's crop!  What might seem like quite a chore, really is not at all.  When the colorful Zinnia blossoms have a dried out look, snip off the flowers from the stems of the plant. 

      ***I harvest the seeds before we get a good hard frost here in my area of Western Mass!  That frost will end my Zinnia crop.  Our weather will change & it will get colder. 
      With a gentle breeze blowing!
      A tissue box that has been cut down is the perfect container for the flowers, so they can continue the drying process.  Place those dried out looking flowers in the tissue box.  My container is sitting on the sunny window sill in our Family Room.  Those seeds that were harvested are the source for some of next year's colorful gardens! 

      After the blossoms are dried, pull off the outer flower petals.  Discard the remaining parts.  Each dried petal is attached to a "tear shaped" seed.  After planting that seed next year, it will grow into a Zinnia plant.  There is next year's crop!  Sweet! 

      "Tear Shaped" Zinnia Seeds attached to dried petals.
      (File Photo)
      I remove the dried petals from the seeds - as much as I can.  Those dried seeds will be stored in sealed labelled paper envelopes.  Next spring, after the rows in our gardens have been created for the seeds, I'll place the Zinnia seeds in the ground & cover with a light coating of soil.  Then, pat the soil gently.  Every day they will need to be watered.  Before you know it there will be sprouts!  Those little green plants will need to be thinned out.  When any plants are 5"- 6" tall, they can be transplanted to other parts of the yard.  The process will start again!     

      Harvesting & saving Zinnia Seeds is a yearly tradition with me.  In any given year if I find that the flowers are much smaller than the previous crop, I take the clue.  The following year I'll purchase newly commercially packaged seeds for that year's colorful gorgeous Zinnias in our yard.

      Do you harvest & save seeds for the next year's crop? 
      I Enjoy it!

      Sunday, October 5, 2014

      ~Early October~

      Autumn is a beautiful time of year!  Early October brings cooler weather & the scenery in our yard changes every few days.  Soon, an abundance of oak leaves will be floating downward.  That always brings on the Fall yard work.  However, it's great to enjoy the scenery!

      The pot of yellow Mums brightens up our yard even on a cloudy day!

      Close-up of Mums

       Our Zebra Grass has tassels every Autumn!

      The Hydrangea has lavender blossoms.  All summer they have been blue.

      Every yard needs at least one scarecrow!


      Thursday, September 18, 2014

      Roasted Zucchini/ Summer Squash

      Where's the photo?!?
      Sometimes there's just not a photo!  Those are the times when we are either famished or I just forget to take out the camera or the iPhone.  Last night was one of those times.

      It was a very quick dinner.  Those frozen Crabcakes do come in handy!  Crabcakes with tartar sauce are always so good on a sesame seed bun.  You know the ole' combo- 1 Tablespoon Sweet Relish with about 1/2 teaspoon Mayonnaise & stir.  Making the Tartar Sauce was easy, but we also needed a veggie.  No, not French Fries.  Opening the fridge & looking down to the veggie bin, 2 Zucchini + 1 Summer Squash popped into view!  Roasted veggies are always so yummy, so I had my answer.  Roast the sliced veggies in the same cookie pan & at the same temperature as the Crabcakes while they were baking!  Now that our temps are a lot cooler, heating the oven & kitchen actually feels great!  During the HHH summer months I really do not do much baking!  

      Roasted Zucchini + Summer Squash
           2 - 3 servings

      2 Zucchini
      1 Summer Squash

      or 1 Zucchini + 2 Summer Squash

      1. Wash veggies under cool running water, dry.
      2. Cut into 1/2" slices.
      3. Using a container or Ziploc Bag, combine 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil + 1/8 teaspoon Oregano & 1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder.
      4. Add veggie slices to bag & coat.
      5. Place coated veggies on cookie pan.  I placed them surrounding the Crabcakes
      6. Roast 20 Minutes at 450°F.
      Zucchini & Summer Squash were added to my list to purchase at the roadside stand today.  I'll definitely be roasting these again as long as our local veggies are available!   :)  Try it!


      Sunday, September 14, 2014

      Go BC!!!

      Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, MA was rocking last night!!!  The Boston College Eagles upset 9th ranked USC with a 37- 31 victory!

      Go BC!!!


      Thursday, September 11, 2014

      Baked Eggplant Parmigiana

      Baked Eggplant Parmigiana
      Do you have a couple of Eggplants?  Whenever I see a display of Eggplants suddenly an image of Eggplant Parmigiana comes to mind!  A forkful smothered in tomato sauce is so good.  Usually the Eggplant has been fried, so I tend to stay away from ordering it when dining out.  Not that I don't enjoy the taste, it's that cholesterol thing with me.  I try to save fried foods for that once in a blue moonLike the Whole Belly Clam Roll served with tartar sauce & a side of Cole Slaw- when we were at the Cape.

      For the past 3 years I've enjoyed Eggplant Parmigiana, but the Eggplant is baked, not fried.  While thumbing through a recipe booklet from one of our local grocery stores, the recipe caught my eye.  Now, when these veggies are in season locally here, I like to bake a batch a couple of times.  Definitely there are more servings remaining after dinner.  This freezes very well and can be reheated in the microwave on a busy night.  It's easy, it's delicious!  What can be better?

      You guessed it.  Sunday's trip to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow included Eggplant.              

      Baked Eggplant Parmigiana  
           adapted from Big Y Life in Balance

      Olive Oil for baking & sauteing 
      (2) small Eggplants
      Ground Pepper
      Garlic Powder
      Tomato Sauce (about 16 oz. - 20 oz.) 
      (1) can 6 oz. Tomato Paste
      8 oz. shredded Mozzarella

      1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
      2. Line a large cookie pan with foil and spray with PAM.
      3. Wash & dry Eggplants. 
      4. Cut each Eggplant into 1" round slices.  Cut an even number of round slices.
      5. Place each slice on cookie sheet and drizzle a small amount of Olive Oil on top of each slice.
      6. Then, lightly sprinkle with Ground Pepper & Basil.
      7.  Bake Eggplant slices for 20 minutes in 450°F oven. 
      After slices are baked, remove from oven and lower oven temperature to 350°F.

      *While Eggplant is baking continue prepping:  
      1. Spray a large baking dish with PAM.
      2.  Mix Tomato Sauce with Tomato Paste in a small bowl. 
      3.  Place a small amount of sauce mixture in baking dish, covering bottom.
      4.  Place baked Eggplant slices on bottom of baking dish.  Top each slice with shredded Mozzarella Cheese.  Then, top with another slice of Eggplant.  Place sauce mixture on top.  Sprinkle on Garlic Powder & Oregano.  
      5. Then top with more Mozzarella Cheese.  
      6. Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until Eggplant is soft. 
      7. Serve with Penne. 
      For an extra great taste, I sauted 1 Green Pepper after cutting it into slices & added it to the sauce before baking.  That extra flavor was great!  Bake Eggplant Parmigiana soon!


      Tuesday, September 9, 2014

      Freezing Green Peppers

      Ready for the freezer!
      Fresh locally grown Green Peppers!  They taste so good!  During the colder months I really miss the opportunity to purchase a Pepper grown locally to include in a dinner recipe.  However, these days there is a Plan B going on with me & Green Peppers.  At this time of year when they are very plentiful, a quick trip to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow makes Plan B happen very quickly.

      Sunday was that day.  After a great time relaxing at the Cape, I was ready to get busy & freeze the Peppers.  It is a very easy process.

      Cutting Pepper Slices
      (File Photo)
       Freezing Green Pepper Strips 
      1. Rinse Peppers under cool running water.  Dry.
      2. Cut off tops.
      3. Discard seeds.
      4. Cut each Pepper in strips. 
      5. Place a handful of Pepper strips in a plastic sandwich bag.   (I do not use exact measurements.) I "eyeball" the amount I'd get from 1 whole Pepper for each bag.
      6. Close the sandwich bag and fold over. 
      7. Carefully, place all sandwich bags in a Ziploc Freezer Bag.
      8.  Seal, label and place in freezer. 
      ***Usually from the "cut off" Pepper tops a few chunks of Pepper can be saved to freeze, also.  These chunks are also placed in sandwich bags & then in a Freezer Bag.  (See photo above.)

      During the harsher winter months whenever a Green Pepper is an ingredient in a recipe, I head to my freezer to remove 1 sandwich bag.  They are already cleaned & cut into strips/ chunks.  So tasty!  Well worth the small amount of time to prep them in the summer!

      It did not take long to find my kitchen!  :)


      Sunday, September 7, 2014


      Nauset Beach, Orleans, MA
      Getting back into the swing of things after a great vaca at the Cape!  Sunny days in September, watching & listening to the waves at our fave beach - Nauset Beach, dining on fresh seafood every evening- ahhhhh!  Totally FuN!

      Stopping in at the Fishing Pier in Chatham, MA.  One Fishing Boat had finished unloading its "catch of the day".

      Taking in the view on the right side-

      "Who is watching who" moment between a Seal & a Sea Gull!

      Now where is my fridge & my stove?  :)

      We did enjoy!