pictures, words, food, adventures and once in a while, something random

Archive for April, 2012

RAIN

Bad weather always looks worse through a window.  ~Author Unknown

Living in the Pacific Northwest, we’re never short of it.  It was one of the things that kept me from moving here.  But now, it is one of the reasons I love it here.  Rain may resemble gloom to some, but when those little silver drops come down from the sky…

trees grow…

flowers bloom…

a plant’s thirst is quenched.

Let’s not forget a rainy weekend gives us an excuse to sit by the fire and be lazy, read a book, spend some true quality family time.  There’s an upside to everything.

The perfect complement to a rainy day is my bacon clam chowder with cheddar garlic biscuits.  http://somethingville.com/2011/01/12/bacon-clam-chowder/.

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Red velvet cupcakes with buttercream icing

I made few dozen red velvet cupcakes for a surprise baby shower for my baby sister and thought I might share the recipe, since it was very much liked.  The hardest part was refusing to dip my fingers in the batter while mixing the ingredients and sampling them after.  Thank goodness for my daughter and her friend for being my victims testers, although eventually I gave in and had some myself.  I know traditionally, the preferred icing for red velvet is cream cheese.  I paired it with my favorite buttercream and it actually turned out great.  Enjoy!

I got this recipe from a good friend of mine, which she found on www.allrecipes.com

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Red Velvet Cupcakes

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 160 | Total Fat: 5.5g | Cholesterol: 34mg (By ESHA Nutrient Database)

Servings: 20.  Prep Time: 30 Min.  Cook Time: 20 Min.  Ready In: 50 Min

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 fluid ounce red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 12 cup muffin pans or line with 20 paper baking cups.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Mix in the eggs, buttermilk, red food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the baking soda and vinegar. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter and frost with desired frosting.

Link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/red-velvet-cupcakes/detail.aspx

Buttercream Icing

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 181 | Total Fat: 9.8g | Cholesterol: 12mg (By ESHA Nutrient Database)

Servings: 20.  Prep Time: 15 Min.  Ready In: 15 Min

Ingredients:
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Directions:  In a large bowl, cream together the butter, shortening, and vanilla. Blend in the sugar, one cup at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the milk, and continue mixing until light and fluffy. Keep icing covered until ready to decorate.

Link: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/buttercream-icing/detail.aspx


Fiddler on the roof

If I were a rich man, Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. All day long I’d biddy biddy bum. If I were a wealthy man….

I can’t say the ducks are back, because for these guys… they hang out on our street all year.  Their favorite spot is my neighbor’s roof.  We walk past it to the bus stop every morning, so the kid decided to name them “Fiddler and his wife”.  I asked, “Why Fiddler?”  Her response “Because he’s always on the roof.”  And I asked “How do you know it’s a girl duck and boy duck, what if they’re both dudes?”  She proceeded to explain the distinguishing marks and corrected me by stating the male is called a drake and the female a hen.  So I asked one more question… “Why are they called ducks then?”  She said “If you need to know more, just google it mom.  Right now we have to get to the bus stop”.


Busy Bee

Success is sweet, but first you sweat for it. ~ Christine Sternfels


Chicken with asparagus in wine & butter

I love cooking with wine.  Most of it makes it in the pan.  Here’s another dish, great for entertaining or just dinner.  This took me about 20 minutes to make and five seconds to eat.  You can make a healthier version by grilling, but we’re talking spring in the Pacific Northwest people.  It’s in the 40′s out there!  For today, we are pan searing indoors.

Ingredients: 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, thawed.  2  cups white wine (I used pino grigio, but any white wine will work, even riesling). 4 tbsp butter.  1 tbsp olive oil.  1 bundle or about 1 lb. asparagus.  About 1 tsp salt.  About 1 tsp pepper.

Wash the asparagus, cut the bottom off.  To know how much to cut off, take the end of the asparagus between your thumb and forefinger and bend until it breaks.  Discard the bottoms and cut asparagus in half, place in a dish where you can soak it in 1/2 cup of wine.

Cut up chicken in strips.  Size and shape is up to you.  The smaller the pieces, the quicker it cooks.  Set heat to medium high.  Place chicken and 1 & 1/2 cups wine in pan and cover.  It should start boiling in about 5 minutes.  Mix it around and add salt and pepper.  I don’t measure.  I use rock salt and peppercorn and crank the grinder over the pan to sprinkle some on the chicken.  So 1 tsp. of each may not be enough, or too much.  Use your best judgement according to your taste and health requirements.

Mix, then cover for another 2 minutes.  Chicken should be cooked by now and wine should be almost gone (if the pan is dry and the chicken is not yet cooked, add another cup of wine for the chicken to cook in).

Increase heat to high.  Add the butter, olive oil and asparagus (with the wine it soaked in).  Mix around and cover for about 2 minutes.  Take lid off.  Sauté to mix flavors around and burn off the wine while charring parts of the chicken and asparagus (takes less than 5 minutes).  That’s it.  Plate, serve and manja!

I’ve used this as an appetizer, but I’ve also used it as a main dish with some pasta, pesto and marinara.  Either way, everyone enjoyed it.


The hand you’re dealt

“Life is like a hand of cards. You have to play the hand you’re dealt, you can’t win by folding, and sometimes you must take chances in order to win.” ~ Mike Conner

Life isn’t fair, but it is good.  It’s a constant maneuvering of decisions, points of view, strategies, action and direction. We’re all recipients of a deal.  None alike, each one unique.  How we play it, what we make of it and what we get out of it is up to us.


Beggars can’t be choosers

“It’s no coincidence that man’s best friend cannot talk.” ~ Anonymous
 

Begging for food isn’t easy.  If I sit still like this… bat my eye lashes like this… smile a little like this… will it work?  By the way, I don’t like veggies anymore.  The lettuce you gave me the other day gave me the runs!  This girl needs her proteins (hint).


Got Faith?

Faith… hope is its brother, trust is its sister, belief is its partner and reason is not required.  ~ Christine Sternfels

I was raised Catholic.  I married a Jewish man.  I have friends who practice Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Mormonism, Paganism, Taoism.  Some are Christian, Protestants, Baptists, Anglicans, Agnostic and Atheists.  Today, my husband, daughters and I are Christians.  I don’t go to church all the time, but I try.  I can’t call out quotes from the bible, but I own one and read it.  I am not religious, but my faith in God is steady most of the time.  I’d be lying if I told you my faith can’t be shaken.  It has been tested over the years, but I can’t say I’ve ever lost my faith in God.

I am human – not perfect, not without sin and definitely not without fault.  Love and compassion are the baseline of my actions, and when you read about the message that different religions have, it boils down to those two words.

Faith is an essential part of my life.


Turkey Sliders

If you’re like me, when someone says “Turkey” I immediately think thanksgiving or too healthy to be delicious.

Well… I just found a way to make Turkey more appealing in flavor, while still keeping it somewhat healthy.  These are great for lunch or dinner and best for entertaining.  Another bonus… Kids love to make it and “gobble” it up.  Okay, enough with the puns… here we go!  We have three types of Sauces.  Italian, Asian and Mexican turkey sliders.

Serving Size: 16 sliders

Bread:  Use Ciabatta or dinner rolls, not exceeding 2.5 inches in diameter or on all sides.

Meat Patties: 2.5 lbs. lean ground turkey.  1 tsp. kosher salt.  1 tbsp. magi seasoning.  1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce.  1 tsp. parsley (chopped or flakes) and 1 tsp. cilantro (chopped or flakes).

Preparation & Cooking:  Mix all together (Make sure meat is thawed).    After thoroughly mixing all together, roll into 1.5 inch balls.  Flatten to 3.5 diameter patties.  Use a skillet or frying pan to cook.  Heat should be set to medium high.  Drizzle a tsp. of olive oil and cook your patties.  Set aside patties on a plate and keep the frying pan going.  We’ll need the pan and grease for the sauce.

Sauce:  Using frying pan and grease from cooking the patties, turn the heat up to high.  Mix in 1 tbsp. crushed garlic and brown.  After garlic is brown, add 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar and mix for 10 seconds, then see below for following steps:

For Italian turkey sliders in a bowl, put together 2 tbsp. freshly grated parmesan cheese.  3 tbsp. mayonnaise.  3 tbsp. Caesar salad dressing.  3 tbsp. Ranch dressing.  1 tsp. freshly crushed peppers.  Mix all ingredients.  Pour the sauce from the frying pan over this and continue to mix.    Spread on both top and bottom insides of bread.  Layer: Bottom bread, turkey patty, 1 slice tomato, basil leaf, top bread.  Serve with freshly tossed salad.  Enjoy with a glass of Syrah!

For Asian turkey sliders using the same frying pan after the garlic is browned and the balsamic vinegar mixed in, put 8 to 10 cups shredded cabbage (You can buy a coleslaw mix at the store and use that).  Add 1 tsp. sesame oil and 1 tsp. magi seasoning.  Mix all together until the cabbage is more than half-cooked.  Use 2 tbsp. or a scoop to put on your patty before placing the top bun.  Serve with some mini lumpia.  Enjoy with cranberry vodka tonic!

For Mexican turkey sliders using the same frying pan after the garlic is browned and the balsamic vinegar mixed in, thinly slice gold (yellow) sweet onions.  Brown it, add a tsp. of cumin and put on your patty, then place some spicy jalapeno potato chips before placing the top bun.  Serve with some tortilla chips, salsa and pico de gallo.  Enjoy with cold cerveza!  


HOPE

Even on the gloomiest day and rain is pouring down hard… the clouds will open up and light will shine through.  ~ Christine Sternfels

 


When I grow up…

When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to grow up.
Now that I’m older, I wish I was a kid again.
~ Christine Sternfels


Roasted Chicken with Chili and Corn bread

Sometimes you want to get creative but have no time to do everything from scratch.  I have several “semi home-made” methods with store-bought roasted chicken.  Here’s what I did with it today.

My daughter and I would play “Top Chef” at home.  She would pull ingredients from the refrigerator and the pantry, then I have 30 minutes to come up with a meal… not just a dish, but a whole meal.

Unlike Top Chef, my ingredients are pretty normal.  I don’t normally have eel, black licorice or exotic mushrooms around the kitchen.  Today, she pulled these ingredients, along with some left overs from the roasted chicken we had the other day.

For those who don’t know my food blogging style, I am not as detailed as a real food blogger.  I just slap things together most of the time but feel free to ask me anything if you need more detail.  The ingredients are, corn bread mix, 2 cans of chili, 2 tbsp steak sauce, 4 tbsp bbq sauce, Baja mix veggies and roasted chicken (I normally get the herb flavored roast, but you can choose any type that will go with the sides).  Let’s get started!

  1. Cook the corn bread following the package instructions, but add 1 cup of the Baja mix veggies for every 7 oz bag of corn bread mix.
  2. Follow heating instructions of chili, adding the steak sauce and bbq sauce – depending on how you like your chili, adjust the amounts of steak sauce and bbq sauce you add.
  3. Heat up your roasted chicken in the oven, microwave or pan.
  4. Plate it up.

My favorite was how the corn bread turned out.  That was a pleasant surprise and that I was done plating under 30 minutes!  Have fun with it if you try this!  Happy cooking.

For this recipe,


Driving Miss Daisy

Daisy: “Charles, I think we’re lost.  We must stop for directions.”
Charlie: “Shush woman, I know what I’m doing… ooh look…. camera, say cheese!”

Do you ever wonder what your dogs are talking about?


CHANGE

Yesterday I was clever,
that is why I  wanted to change the world.  

Today I am wise, 

that is why I am changing myself.  

~ Sri Chinmoy

Why is it difficult for some of us to simply be the change we want to see in the world?  I believe we wake up with the best intentions, but they are empty promises without taking action.  If there is one word to identify what gets in my way to change for the better, it would be strength.  I am working on that.  What is yours? 


REFOCUS

“There are days when things are crystal clear, then there are days when everything is a blur.  There will always be obstacles in front of us and around us, so don’t spend your time being confused.  Refocus and remember what you were going for.”  ~ Christine Sternfels


Unplug

“The best way to recharge is to unplug.”  ~ Christine Sternfels

Nowadays, between gadgets, noise, tv, life and the voices in your head, it gets draining.  I’ve decided to unplug my computer and phone this week, surround myself with loved ones and go out there to enjoy nature so I can recharge.  See you in a week!


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