Thursday, March 31, 2011

Building friendships with awards

That is my take on the various tags and awards offered to bloggers. This little act of kindness can also be a fun way to share about one's self and become more of a friend. It is easy to be friendly out here in blogland, everyone is safe at home behind a computer screen or other such device. It is just as easy to also put a bit about yourself out there, in the same way we build face to face friendships in our hometowns.

This award was given by Melissa @ Frugal Creative. I had the opportunity to do a couple of guest posts at her place, thank you Melissa. Please take a moment to stop and say hello to Melissa and learn about her.

The rules state to list 7 facts, and I will because that is how we learn of one another, and pass it on to 15 other bloggers. That is the part I have a bit of discomfort with, not wanting anyone to feel put upon. So I shall be a rule breaker (sorry Melissa!) and offer the challenge to share 7 facts about yourself on your blog and drop a line back here, so everyone can come and visit you!

Seven facts:

1. I am a middle child, always helpful and the one called upon to be helpful. This of course spilled over into my adult life and my daily job. Funny how that happens!

2. I made jam for my new home as a married woman, before I got married. Making a home was always my desire, working outside of the home is a necessity.

3. I drive a frugal car, shop in thrift stores and I love my life. My home is beautiful, I am excited by the challenge of finding just the right item to make it perfect and not spending a lot to do so.

4. My family supports my hobbies and my dreams, this is paramount to happiness. I hope that I offer the same in return, that is what being a family is all about.

5. I fail completely at keeping a sourdough starter going. There I said it out loud!

6. I want to be just like my grandmother, to my own grandchildren.

7. I do believe life gets better. We age yes, the body changes yes, but life takes on a different meaning, one of depth and happiness.

Again Thanks to Melissa and the challenge is on!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Proof of Spring!

The clocks were reset a couple of weeks ago, but that did nothing to assist Spring in coming to my town. How about yours? Strawberries started appearing in the produce section of my local market, but that also did nothing to assist Spring in coming to my town. Yours? We are still having constant rain, and I know that will not assist Spring in coming to my town. What do you think?

But then on Sunday when I was getting the house tidy in preparation for our 2:00pm dinner, I noticed something strange in the dining room. I had placed the gardening gifts received from my sister right by the back door, where I could see them, and get them planted. But with the previously mentioned rain, that little chore has not  happened yet. As I was getting ready to take the items to the garage, I noticed it right then and there, Spring!

The rhubarb is already growing, in the bag! The poor little one on the far right is not going to make it, but the bigger one will. Honey opened the bag, and I knew right away I had found it.....proof of Spring. Now if only I can get this stuff to grow for me, once it is in the ground, I will be a happy woman.

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is linked to:
Garden Tuesday @ sidewalk shoes
Cottage Flora @ Fishtail Cottage

key words: spring, rhubarb, garden

Monday, March 28, 2011

Braised Meatloaf, or how to make friends with meatloaf

 This is so good, catsup is not required!

I know, what on earth could I be talking about? How can anyone not be friends with meatloaf? Well, uhmm, that would of been me. But hold on, I can explain, you see.......

Meatloaf is so, well it's solid, and thick and big. You know a big loaf of meat. That's why we did not get along. When there are only a couple of folks eating, a standard sized meatloaf lasts forever! Most meatloaf recipes are usually 2 pounds of ground meat, which will yield about a 3 pound loaf when you factor in the filler, eggs, milk, etc. That my friends is a lot of, yep you guessed it, meatloaf. We (OK, me especially) are tired of it, before it is gone.

I can and do get creative. I have made spaghetti sauce with leftover meatloaf, I have sliced it and used it in a rice casserole in place of any thing else called for. I have sliced it, covered it with a sauce/gravy and baked it again to re-present it as a new dinner. Leftover meatloaf has been turned into lasagna, hash with eggs, and sandwiches.

There are probably a few more creations, but I think you get the general idea. I myself do enjoy a sandwich of warm meatloaf on buttered bread with mustard. Add some pickles and a celery stick or two and you have a great lunch. A delicious sandwich, but one, maybe two in a week are plenty.

Then I found this recipe, for a stove-top braised meatloaf at Olla Podrida and what a great find it was! One pound of ground beef, braised on top of the stove, a richly flavored pan reduction. Yep, meatloaf heaven! And it is just the right size for small families. Pattie's recipe is dinner guest special. When I got past the wow factor (and wiped my chin!), I concentrated on the technique and the yield. Introducing........

Everyday Braised Meatloaf
adapted from:  Olla Podrida

1 slice bread
2-4 T milk
1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
1 T finely minced onion
1 T catsup (this touch of sweet will carry the rest of the flavors, you won't taste it separately)
1/2 t garlic salt
fresh pepper to taste ( 4-6 "grinds")
2 T dry bread crumbs
1/3 c Parmesean cheese
2 T finely chopped, ham or salami or  prosciutto or mortadella

1/2 - 3/4 c dry (fine) bread crumbs, plain or Italian flavored

1 T olive oil
1T butter

1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 c beef stock or water
1 small tomato, finely diced
1 small carrot grated ( if desired)
1 T minced onion (if desired)

Place slice of bread and 2 tablespoons of the milk in a skillet, warm gently, stirring until mixture is a creamy mass. You may need up to the full 4 tablespoons of milk, however do not use more. Let cool.

Combine the cooled bread mixture and remaining ingredients for the meatloaf. Mix together gently. On a large sheet of plastic wrap, turn meat mixture out and begin forming a log, approximately 2 1/2 inches thick. Wrap and chill for an hour or place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

In a shallow bowl, add dry bread crumbs. For ease I cut the log in half to make the process of coating and browning easier. Coat the meat mixture in bread crumbs, taking care to maintain the meat loaf shape.

Heat butter and oil in large shallow pan, saute meat loaf piece(s) until golden brown, turning to brown all sides. Take care to not break the loaf apart.

The added vegetables during the braising will add body and additional flavor to the pan sauce reduction.

Add wine, stock and diced tomato, carrot and onion if using, braise covered on low/simmer 1 hour. Remove from pan, set aside. Sieve pan drippings to remove skin and seeds from tomato and another other solids that you do not want in your reduced pan sauce. Skim fat, return to pan and boil down to concentrate and thicken. Serve the reduced pan sauce over the meatloaf or with mashed potatoes.
Serves 4-5

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

And now an update and open invitation!
Cookbook Sundays has moved, from Toronto Canada to Vancouver Washington U.S.A. Please join me on April 3, 2011 for the first cookbook Sunday, right here at Mom's Sunday Cafe. Cookbook Sundays will run for 8 days each month, the first Sunday through Sunday of the week after. It is fun and so easy to participate, all you have to do is:
1. choose your cookbook
2. select your recipe
3. cook and have a good time
4. share it at Cookbook Sundays!
See you there! 

This post will be shared with:
hearth n soul @ a moderate life
Tuesday Night Supper Club @ fudge ripple

key words: small families, meatloaf, braising

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Our Sunday Cafe, March 2011

Another great dinner and good times with the family, I do believe I got pictures of everything this time!

Flank steak pinwheels, on a bed of spinach and mushrooms.

Teriyaki Chicken.

Braised Meat loaf.

 Various side dishes, buttered corn, brown rice, and oven roasted sweet potatoes.

 Roasted Cauliflower Salad with lemon, garlic and Parmesean cheese. 

 Salad Platter, build your own salad, with lemon mustard dressing and a blue cheese vinaigrette

Gingerbread Pudding Cake, with sliced apples.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread with Pecans. I have some non-nut eaters in my group. The way around that is for nuts to be placed on top, leaving a small "nut free zone". I usually place any nuts in a quick bread recipe on top. I love the toasted flavor and the nuts are in plain view for those who might have "texture" issues.

Pretzel Toffee, just for fun and sharing!

We also made Lime Rickeys using the SodaStream, concentrated grape juice and juice of 1 lime, these were a hit!

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop by.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

key words:  Moms Sunday Cafe

Pretzel toffee, sweet, salty and so good!

I am a real sucker for the sweet/salty combination. If you are, you must make this. Or at least remember this recipe, for those times when you need a treat, a gift for others, or a project to work on with someone special.
Me and pretzels go way back, I eat them often. I offered this delicious Roasted Pretzels snack some time ago. So falling hard for this pretzel toffee, was very easy!

Pretzel Toffee
adapted from: My Kind of Cooking

small twist pretzels, a 9oz bag will be more than plenty
1 c butter
1 c brown sugar
2 c chocolate chips, a 12 oz bag

Line a 10X15 inch jelly roll pan with foil. Cover the surface of the foil with pretzels, leaving no empty spaces. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium size sauce pan, melt butter, stir in sugar. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, allow to boil 2 minutes, adjusting heat as needed to keep a bubbling boil. Do not cook longer than the 2 minutes.

This is the boiling stage you want to maintain for the 2 minutes.

Pour butter mixture evenly over the pretzels, carefully place pan into the oven. Bake 7 - 10 minutes.

Check after 5 minutes to make sure the sugar mixture is not getting too dark around the edges.

Remove from oven, sprinkle chocolate chips over the surface.

Let stand 10 minutes, carefully spread chocolate over surface of the candy.

Let cool, then refrigerate to chill. This will assist in breaking the toffee into pieces.

Break toffee, place in decorative bowl and watch the compliments come your way. This is seriously good!

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always thanks so much for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
Fat Camp Friday @ Mangoes and Chutney
Sunday Potluck @ Mommy's Kitchen
Sunday's at one @ Cocina Diary

and by request:
Sweets for a Saturday @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies

Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen Country Cottage

Feed Me Tweet Me Follow Me Home @ 21 Century Housewife

A friendly reminder:
Cookbook Sundays had moved! From Toronto Canada to Vancouver Washington U.S.A. 

Please join me April 3, 2011 for the first cook book Sunday @ Mom's Sunday Cafe. I hope to see you there. Special thanks to Brenda at Brenda's Canadian Kitchen for sharing this great event.

Key words:  candy, toffee, easy, cookbook Sundays

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tomorrow is Sunday Cafe, and a word of thanks.

We are celebrating the March birthdays and saying good-bye to a family member that will be moving to another part of the state, tomorrow will be a busy dinner. I have begun to plan meals with more vegetables, in different forms that will (hopefully) appeal to all. We shall see!

Here is my proposed dinner menu:

Flank Steak Pinwheels, these were a simple assembly of butterflied flank steak, stuffed with thin sliced ham, spinach, dried tomatoes and provolone cheese. I will serve these atop a bed spinach and sauteed mushrooms.

Polpettone alla Toscana (it's not your mother's meatloaf!)

Chicken Teriyaki

Brown rice with almonds

Salad platter, (make your own creation) I am hoping this will encourage more salad eating.
Lemon Mustard Salad dressing
Creamy Blue Cheese dressing

Roasted sweet potatoes

Buttered Corn (as you have noticed, this one if for Honey)

Lemon Parmesan roasted Cauliflower

Cream Cheese and Toasted Pecan Banana Bread

Gingerbread Pudding Cake, I love this dessert! I have a couple of apples that are a bit past prime, I will roast them a bit in the oven before I pour the batter over the top,

and for something fun I made, pretzel toffee, this stuff is YUM!

I was one of the lucky winners at Living the Frugal Life, was able to choose the book I wanted and here is my choice:
hey, what's this?

Thanks, Kate!

As always, thanks for stopping by,
I appreciate your time and your comments!

Key words: Sunday Cafe, vegetables, gingerbread

Friday, March 25, 2011

Lemon and Mustard Salad Dressing

If I got to live in a perfect world, I would serve a crisp salad each evening with a freshly made salad dressing, and never purchase another bottle of the stuff. But alas my world is not perfect and even I get tired of salad every night. The homemade salad dressing part? That I can do. There will however be that ever present bottle of Wishbone Italian dressing that Honey believes is absolutely the only dressing that should go on a salad, ever. OK Honey, but take a look at this........

I know, parsley again? Yes and for a good reason. Most salad dressings and vinaigrette, are very high in fat content. Good quality olive oil is wonderful, and we need healthy fats in our diets. But lets be honest, we don't have a problem getting enough fat in our diets here in this country. Maybe the right fats, but certainly not enough fat. Enter parsley, and a host of other ingredients, these ingredients can take the place of some of the added fat and offer good nutrition in the trade. Your own homemade "light" salad dressing.

Lemon Mustard Salad Dressing
adapted from:  Salad Dressings!
by:  Jane Marsh Dieckmann

1 bunch of parsley, washed, dried, trimmed with a 2 inch stem
1 green onion, sliced thin
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon, strained
1 T sugar
1/2 t salt
2 t dijon style mustard, or 1 T of a milder grainy type
1/3 c olive oil
1/2 c buttermilk

Combine all ingredients through olive oil in processor bowl, process until smooth(ish).

 This lovely dressing is delicious over sliced
tomatoes, or steamed and chilled vegetables.

Scrape down sides, add buttermilk, process additional 30 seconds.

Decant into a jar, refrigerate, shake before using. Makes approximately 1 1/2 c cups.

Recipe rating:  Oh Yes! (will make again)

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
Pennywise Platter Thursday @ nourishing gourmet
Foodie Friday @ designs by gollum
Tweet Me, Feed Me, Follow Me Home Friday @ the life and times of a 21 century housewife

key words:  homemade salad dressing, parsley, buttermilk, lemon

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How about a Strawberry Dessert Bar

Today I was assured that spring is coming. The proof was right there at the marketplace. It was in the form of a beautiful display of strawberries. I had no choice, I had to bring some of these wonderful berries home.

When you are in need of proof that the season is ready to turn, I ask you, would this not be the answer? As the market continues to fill with all the wonderful produce that marks the warmer weather, it is also time to remember the simple yet delicious ways to enjoy the seasons bounty.

A perfect way is to set out a strawberry bar at dessert time. This quickly built dessert is also a serve yourself affair, how can you go wrong? Oh and it is beautiful as well.

Set out a large dish of washed berries, a small bowl of sour cream and a second bowl of brown sugar. To enjoy all you do is, dip the berry into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar. Enjoy, repeat as necessary until satisfaction is achieved. See very easy. Maybe too easy, lets recap the instructions to keep it straight.

1. Set out a large bowl of washed berries, 2. a small bowl of sour cream and 3. a second bowl containing brown sugar. To enjoy, dip the berry first into the sour cream and then into the brown sugar. Repeat until satisfied.

See very easy and so easy to enjoy!

And then there is Honey's style, 

Sliced berries, over vanilla ice cream, drizzled with chocolate syrup. It is easy to please everyone, at strawberry time. 

As always thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post will be shared with:
Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Simple Lives Thursdays @ GNOWFGLINS 
Fat Camp Friday @ Mangoes and Chutney

key words:  strawberries, easy dessert, sour cream

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Garden Tuesday

I wish,

the garden looked this great, right now! With spring growth popping out of the ground, and the weeds under control.
I wish,

it was time to mulch the strawberry beds with crushed egg shells, saved all year, just for this anti-slug task.
this is more like the state of things around here. Droopy, sad and in need of lots of TLC! Our weather has been crazy with rain, wind and yesterday more hail. Even the indoor plants are feeling it! 


I am dreaming of better garden times ahead, I would like a couple of these little outdoor plant stands, that we noticed a couple of years ago while out and about. This was at a little antique store, and I fell in love, with it immediately.

Garden-time dreaming, that's all that I'm doin...........

As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
Garden Tuesday@sidewalk shoes

Key words: garden tips and tricks, outdoor plant shelf.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Manhattan Clam Chowder, from pantry and fridge

Crushed thyme, golden brown bacon and dry white help flavor this delicious chowder. It is full of vegetables, a complete meal. Add some crackers or bread and fresh fruit, dinner is complete.

The weather is changing, but it is still a very cold beginning to Spring! But I am ready for a bowl of something a tad bit lighter in content, yet hot and steaming, this chowder will do the trick. This is also a great recipe because you could make this at any time, the ingredients are readily kept in most well stocked kitchens. This cook also be prepared up to adding the clams, chill, then finish when you get home for a super speedy meal.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

adapted from: What to Cook, when you think there is nothing in the house to eat!
by:  Arthur Schwartz
Serves 3-4
see below for update: a cooks wisdom

2 slices bacon - diced small
1 c diced carrots
1 c diced celery
1 c diced onions
2 c diced potatoes
1 - 28 oz can Italian plum tomatoes, reserve juices, chopped
1 c clam juice, water or chicken broth (not bouillon - too salty) - I used 1/2 c water and 1/2 c dry white wine
1/2 t dried thyme
scant 1/2 t garlic salt
fresh ground pepper
2 - 6 oz cans chopped clams, do not drain

In a medium sized saucepan fry bacon until golden brown, remove to drain, reserve the bacon fat. Add the diced carrots, celery and onion to the saucepan.

Saute over medium heat until tender about 10 minutes.

Add potatoes, mix well and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with the juice, clam juice or chosen liquid, thyme, garlic salt and a few grinds of pepper.

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer 15 minutes. Add the clams and the juice along with the reserved bacon, heat until pipping hot. Serve with oyster crackers or biscuits.

a cooks wisdom:  increase clams to 3 cans, increase bacon to 4 pieces, drain 1/2 fat before sauteing vegetables, do not use any water - use 100% of any liquid chosen, increase simmer time to 45 minutes.
Serves 4. Now you have a flavorful dinner!

Here is a preview of the new button, for Cookbook Sundays@Mom's Sunday Cafe. I alas was unable to complete this project without the assistance of my son, a huge thanks goes to him for his help! And I love this button, this is a photo from my collection of cook books.

With this task cone, it looks like we are in "go" mode, for the first Cookbook Sunday on April 3, 2011. I hope to see you there!
As always, thanks for taking a moment to stop and say hello.
I appreciate your time and your comments.

This post is shared with:
hearth n soul @ a moderate life
blue Monday @ smiling sally's

key words:  pantry meals, chowder, easy meals, soup.