Saturday, August 31, 2013

Labor Day Transition

The GAL here.  I am going to keep it short and sweet this weekend. It's a holiday and all. Plus stories by Mindy, Tina, and Ruth are downloaded on my Kindle. It isn't just a great holiday for reading.  I love because it screams things like:

"Back to School!"  

My grandkidlets started preschool. My granddaughter attended her first ever class. They must really work em in the two year old class. She was a zombie, a cute little zombie when I picked her up. I'd show you a picture of the "after" but it's too scary. 

"Fall Fashion"

My white jeans and Hawaiian tops are packed away. My new dark wash jeans and long sleeved tops are in the closet. Still can't wear them because it is 90 degrees but, it's official, I can dream now. You still aren't over the fact I wear Hawaiian shirts, are you?

"No more zucchini or tomatoes but the pumpkins are coming in."

Didn't expect that one, did you? It has been a rough summer here. Too much water. Too cool for too long. The Farmer's Market was sad. But they are eeking things out. DJ's farm down the road has a field filled with the promise of great pumpkins. You can already see them from the road. A few more weeks and the fall crops will be planted, pumpkins harvested.

It's tough cooking fresh during this time of year. But the farmer's market still has potatoes and I broke down and bought broccoli at the local grocery. Labor Day is a great time for grilling before I switch over to soup season. So here is my last of summer/beginning of fall side dish for ya.

Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes

5 small yukon, red or other potatoes, cubed
2 crowns broccoli, cut into florets
olive oil
salt to taste

Put your potatoes in a plastic storage bag with oil and salt. SHAKE your booty. Repeat with broccoli florets.

Put potatoes in pyrex dish at 425 for 30 minutes.

Toss broccoli on top of potatoes in same glass dish.  Continue to cook for 10 minutes.
Serve with your favorite grilled object!
Hope your autumn starts off with a bang? What do you love best about Labor Day weekend and what it represents?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada with Tina Radcliffe

FIRST! Before I share Tina's post, I need to shout that Tina's new book The Rosetti Curse is NOW available on Kindle!! I've been dying for this book to come out. And now it's here. Click the book cover for more info or to purchase. Then be sure to come back for her excellent recipe!

Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

with Tina Radcliffe

2 cups diced or shredded chicken breast
1 Package taco or fajita seasoning.
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4.5 oz.) can diced green chili peppers, drained
1 (10 oz.) can red enchilada sauce
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 (8 oz.) container sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and spray with vegetable cooking spray. Sauté the chicken with either the taco or the fajita seasoning (add water per package directions). Drain off any extra fluid when done. Shred the chicken. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the cilantro, black beans, and green chili peppers.
2. Spread half of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of an 11x7 inch baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Place 4 tortillas over the sauce, overlap if necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream.

3. Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the cheese, and make another layer of tortillas. Layer the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas.
4. Cover dish with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
5. Remove the cover, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and dot with sour cream. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.
6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from: The Girl Who Ate Everything

Tina Radcliffe is a mild mannered hermit who writes Inspirational romance for Harlequin Love Inspired as Tina Radcliffe and romantic comedy as Tina Russo.

Her latest release from Love Inspired is
Mending the Doctor's Heart. Her first Indie release, The Rosetti Curse, is available now on Amazon for Kindle.

And keep your eyes on the newsstands for Tina's next romantic short story release to Woman's World Magazine- on-sale date is September 29.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Broccoli Slaw Omelette, Broccoli Slaw World Domination!!!


You've seen me extol the virtue of broccoli slaw in SALAD DAYS-RUTHY-STYLE

You've seen me make Lo Mein that was to die for!!!!

I use it for a base instead of bread for sandwiches.... If there's chicken salad, I toss it on broccoli slaw and throw on grapes or chopped almonds if I want to.


On celery or broccoli slaw. Or BOTH!!!!!

This bit of ingenuity came from eating at the Pearl Diner in Manhattan two weeks back.

I knew I'd be eating deliciousness all weekend, but I didn't see any sense in undermining my "New Normal Healthy" diet completely.... so I ordered a veggie omelette... broccoli, cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes.

LOVELY!!!! And don't you love how this diner nestles between SKYSCRAPERS IN LOWER MANHATTAN??????  It's stinkin' quaint and old-time and has great food... If you're in lower Manhattan, it is worth the walk for your waistline (The Pearl Diner is close to the harbor) and for your wallet (the prices are the same as you'd pay at home, no kidding!) to stop in at the Pearl and eat. Who says you can't eat on a bargain budget in NYC????

So here I am the other day, Jonesing over leftover carrot cake from my birthday and a thought hit:


(I get that most normal folk wouldn't jump from Carrot Cake....

To omelette, but there's this cute pair of capris that I fit into now...
And I'd like to fit into them next week. We all get how easily that can be undermined... so work with me here.)

In less than five minutes I could have a hot meal, get rid of the carrot cake urgings (which I fed to Angie Bourret, one of my young buddies who stopped by on her birthday right after mine!!!!)

Wait, I fed her the cake, not the urgings, I really didn't have to urge her at all, she's 14 and gorgeous and tall and eating a piece of cake looks GOOD ON HER.... The stinkin' brat.

Anyway, back to the omelette!!!

I mixed up three eggs in a bowl...

And my helper made a little special "dish" of her own on the floor...

How stinkin' cute is she?????

Okay, three eggs, bowl, whisk....

You do not need a pic for that, really???? REALLY???? Grab a fork or a whisk and beat those eggs silly.

This removes some traces of latent aggression.

Heat pan. Put splash of olive oil in pan.

Have broccoli slaw bag out and poised, ready to strike!

And I opened a can of mushrooms, too.

Pour eggs into hot pan. Throw in a handful of broccoli slaw, a generous handful.  Add mushrooms. Stir. Scrape bottom gently on reduced heat, cooking eggs while leaving the broccoli slaw crisp.

When just about done, flip with spatula, finish cooking over low heat or no-heat, top with a bunch of cheese (I used Mexican blend) and cover while cheese melts.


No carbs.

Did you see that??? A delicious healthy meal in five minutes with no carbs.

I am singing that right now!!!!!!  Because it was that delicious. And you KNOW it was that good because I:

A. Didn't throw it out
B. Didn't surreptitiously sneak the carrot cake into the back room and cram it into my mouth \
C. All of the above.

Yes. "C" is the correct answer, my friends!!!!!

And clearly I'm surrounded by really smart toddlers:

Note the heightened intelligence levels as proclaimed by the eyeglasses.

How stinkin' cute are they????  Love You "Zee Zee" and Joslyn!!!!

It's no wonder I get so much done with all the help I get!!!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Peach ice cream and Edna's new friend

Hello, everybody!!

  Well, I'm glad this post isn't back-to-back with Jan's hot fudge sundae (which I'm absolutely going to try) because we'd all die of a sugar high. But since the Tex had a healthy quinoa (I love to say it- don't you?) We can go on our merry way to.... homemade ice cream!
Edna was yearning for some goodies. I caught her reading this old book. It's so old, it says 'COOKY' on the front. Heehee! We love Betty Crocker. She has very lovely hairstyles. And aprons. Ok, and the recipes are good, too.
I swapped out Eda's 'cooky' book for a few other dessert books. She was having a good old time. but what she chose wasn't from these, but rather an old recipe we have for ice cream... because we have peaches!!
The thing about having your own peach trees: they all start to ripen at once. So, two trees equals lots of peaches! We're handing them over the fences on each side, throwing twenty pounds at a time at our neighbors but still... we're barely keeping up with the peaches.
I made a few batches of mint peach compote and it was tasty. But this was the winner: vanilla bean peaches. YUMMY. (See my vintage Kerr jar? Whee!) It was out of a batch of jars my dad brought over.
Here it is before it was stuffed with peaches. Oooooo!
There were a few of these ATLAS giant jars. I mean, what am I supposed to put in these?? The glass is wavy and ancient, even has little bubbles trapped in it. Lovely!
There were lots of those blue Ball jars so I sent them to facebook friends across the US last week. They got jars and I got the peace of mind that my kids would not be destroying those babies. So pretty! I sent Julie a Presto jar... but it came back to me. Can you believe I sent a package to her that didn't even have her street address? Ugh. My brain.
 Ok, so Edna wanted to make some ice cream, the old fashioned way.
NOTE: I doubled this recipe so the pictures will look like a lot more than the recipe should be. :) The amounts I give are for a single batch.
3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 cups milk                               
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 egg yolk                               
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla     

  •  So, let's start on the base. Mix sugar, corn starch and salt in a pan and whisk together. Pour in the milk and cream, whisking constantly. Heat until thickened, stirring constantly over medium heat. After it's thickened, set aside to cool for about ten minutes.
    Separate one egg. Beat the yolk.
     Pour one cup of the cooled milk mixture into the eggs, stirring constantly. Add the egg/milk mix back to the pan and heat again until a pudding-like consistency.
     Oh, our grapes are ready! Seedless sweet grapes... Except for the multitude of spiders, we're in heaven over here!
    So that's the recipe for plain vanilla. Most of the kids just wanted vanilla, so that was fine. but we had all these peaches! And I found this awesome recipe for peach and pecan ice cream!                      
  • 1 cup peeled and coarsely chopped peaches                                                              
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter                               
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  •  Here is some of the vanilla bean peaches, mashed. Mmmmmmmm.
     Add the butter, salt, and pecans to a pan and toast on medium for about 8-9 minutes.
     I split the vanilla ice cream into two bowls, so I could add what I wanted to the parents' batch.
     Stir in mashed peaches, about 1 cup. (This looks like more, and it was. And it was delicious. but the recipe says one cup.)
     Add toasted pecans. Later, I thought these tasted more like walnuts. Oh well. They were still good.
     Put the vanilla into the deep freeze to solidify. (Oh, see? Pecans in the background! I knew there were some... Hey, and rhubarb, too!)

     While it was chilling, I noticed Edna had struck up a conversation with this strange, leather box. He seemed sort of old and musty. I wasn't really excited about looking inside. But she was whirring and making little happy noises, so...
     There were all sorts of little leather packages inside. My favorite had its own retractable tape measure... and lenses!
     Once I figured out how to open it, the flat metal camera opened to this! How handsome is this guy?? He and Edna had a great time talking about the height of investigative journalism in the fifties and sixties. Walter (or Wally, as the kids called him) smelled faintly of cigars and vermouth.
     He'd spent a lot of his time taking Polaroid snaps of celebrities at boring cocktail parties, but his heart was in the newspapers. Sadly, he'd been in that box quite a while because they didn't even make film for Walter anymore.
    Plus, he'd never seen the internet. Of course, right after the VMA's, he decided it wasn't worth trying to follow celebrities anymore. He's going to be very happy as a showpiece. Retirement might not be that bad, after all.
     Peach ice cream... melllllllting!! It was delicious!
    This was definitely the hands down winner. Crunchy sweet/salty pecans with tart/sweet peaches were the perfect combination. You can tell how hot it is in my kitchen because it was slushy within minutes of hitting the bowl. But it was still GOOD.
     Ok, everybody! Have a wonderful week. We're headed off on vacation in a few days and I just found out that our place at the lake has no electricity. (Um, WHAT???) Now, how am I supposed to write without a plug in for the laptop?! Maybe it will be a real vacation after all!
    Or maybe I'll go nutty.
    Until next Wednesday!

    P.S. I also have Tina Russo Radcliffe over on my blog today, talking about her new book The Rosetti Curse! Pop on by and chat! She's giving away free e-books to any that are interested in giving it a try and leaving a review.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2013

    Farewell Ouray, Hello Discipline

    Tex here, back home in Texas after a wonderful week in Ouray, Colorado. For a tiny town, they sure have some good eats. And I think I tried just about all of them. From Mouse's incredible chocolate to the Beaumont Grill's amazing fried brie. Oh. My. Goodness. You have no idea. I'm getting choked up just thinking about it.
    But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Although feeling bloated isn't necessarily one of those good things. The bloating I did want to end. That meant I had to get back on track and start eating healthy again.
    So I wanted something yummy--something besides potatoes--to go with my grilled chicken breasts. I've had this big bag of quinoa in the pantry for while now. I loved it mixed with roasted cauliflower and spinach (recipe here), but whenever I've tried use it as a substitute for potatoes or rice, the quinoa lacked appeal.
    I hit the Internet, looking for quinoa recipes. Quinoa Pilaf? With pine nuts? I love pine nuts. Hmm...
    Guess what? It was totally delicious! I will definitely make this again. Not only was it yummy, it was easy. And we're all about easy, right?
    Here's what you'll need:
    • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
    • 1/4 cup pine nuts
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • half of a large onion, chopped
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
    • salt and pepper
    Put the broth and quinoa in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and grain is tender.
    While that's cooking, toast your pine nuts in a large dry skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown and fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove toasted nuts from pan and set aside. Heat the oil in the same skillet and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and begin to brown.
    (Yes, they are turning brown. I promise.)
    When the quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl. Stir in pine nuts, onions and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
    Good thing that salad is there. Otherwise we'd have a monochromatic meal. And that would not be fun. I think that's why God created so many colorful veggies.
    I did not have any fresh parsley, so I added about a tablespoon of dried parsley to the quinoa toward the end of the cooking time. But the onion and pine nuts were what made this dish. I love the different textures and the flavors paired very well.
    I'm sure our GAL knows this, but did you know that quinoa is wheat and gluten free AND a good source of protein? That makes it one of them there super foods. Which is good, because I plan on making this more often.
    Have you ever had quinoa? What are your thoughts on this super food?

    Monday, August 26, 2013

    End of Summer Hot Fudge Brownie Sundaes!

    Summer is drawing to a close.

    Of course, now that we're in the middle of the hottest week of the year, it's a little hard to believe!

    But the Sturgis Rally is over and school is starting back up all over the country (our college boys start this week), and we're seeing fewer out of state cars around town. Things are quieting down.

    And we're getting our Hills back....

    Not that we mind sharing them with the thousands upon thousands of visitors each know...there's nothing like the peace and quiet that settles over our Hills in the fall....

    But wait! It isn't fall yet! There's time for at least one more summer fling!

    Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae

    This is so easy-peasy, especially if you do the "run to the store" method. Buy some brownies from your grocer's bakery section, a jar of hot fudge topping, and some vanilla ice cream and you're all set!

    However, we're all about homemade here at the cafe, right? (at least when there isn't a looming deadline!)

    First of all, you need a nice, fudgy brownie. You can make your own favorite recipe, or you can try Pam Hillman's Heaven in a Crock Pot. Just click the link and follow her directions.

    The next item is ice cream. Don't we all love ice cream? You have to try Julie Hilton Steele's super easy recipe here.

    And now we're all set for the piece de resistance! (Now go back and read that again, but use a cheesy French accent - real cheesy, like in an old Pink Panther movie. Isn't that better?)

    Hot Fudge Sauce!!!

    Okay, here are your ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups heavy cream
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa powder
    1/2 cup butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the cream, sugar and cocoa powder and heat it until it boils. Be sure to use medium heat and stir constantly!

    Once the yummy stuff gets to a rolling boil (a gentle boil, but one that won't stop when you're stirring), cook for another 30 seconds to a minute. I cooked mine for 30 seconds after it started boiling, but the next time I'll cook it longer so that it's thicker and fudgier.

    But don't cook it too long! Five minutes will put you into serious fudgedom, and you won't be able to pour it over your ice cream.

    After it's done boiling, remove your pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

    Pour the fudge into glass jars to store - I used some pint canning jars.

    Don't worry about the spilled drips - they didn't stay there long!

    Stir it a few times as it's cooling. Once it has cooled for a while, it's ready to use.

    (And you can store the leftovers - just put a lid on the jars and put them in the fridge. Be sure to share one with a friend!)

    Now that you have all the ingredients ready, it's assembly time.

    Break the brownie in two pieces and arrange them in the bottom of your dish. Top with a scoop or two of ice cream, and then spoon some hot fudge all over everything.

    I think I may have to celebrate the end of summer again tomorrow!

    So tell us, what's your favorite way to say goodbye to summer?

    But before you go, we have to have a gratuitous puppy picture, right? Thatcher is 21 weeks old now, and right smack dab in the middle of the awkward puppy stage. Head too big, feet always in the way, ears out the wazoo... A few more weeks and he will grow into all his parts - but he's so cute in his adolescent ugliness, isn't he?