Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Country Fairs and Quesadillas

This afternoon Dawn and Teaghyn came over and we all headed to the 4H fair for a few hours.  I love going to country fairs.  I love watching the kids get excited over being able to see and touch the animals.  I enjoy seeing the pride on the kids faces who raised the animals and won awards for their hard work.  I love seeing the community all come together in one location where it is peaceful and friendly and you are greeted with smiles.

There are lambs and goats to pet everywhere you look.

And calves that were only born a few days ago.

There are contests to join.
This one was an animal sound contest.
When asked what animal sound she was going to make, Teaghyn replied "Unicorn".

And ponies to ride.
Look at that smile.
She said "This is the best day ever"!!

When we got home I made Chicken Quesadillas for dinner.  I love making Quesadillas because they are fast, easy and delicious.  They are also a great foil for whatever you happen to have in your fridge and a great way to use up leftovers.  Each time I make them they are a little different depending on what is in season and what is in my fridge and pantry.  Here is today's version.......mmmmmmmm, tasty!!

Chicken Quesadillas

8 large flour tortillas
2 c. shredded Mexican Blend Cheese (or whatever cheese is in your fridge)
1 T. olive oil
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast half (or 1 c. leftover chicken, shredded)
1 t. fajita seasoning
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 small yellow summer squash, seeded and sliced
1/2 an avocado, sliced
Sour Cream
Jalapeno, if desired

Dice chicken breast and sprinkle with fajita seasoning.  Saute in oil over med heat for a few minutes, then add vegetables and continue to cook until chicken is no longer pink and vegetables are tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat griddle or skillet to med high heat.  Place a tortilla onto the hot surface and sprinkle with 1/4 c. cheese, 1/4 of the chicken/vegetable mixture and another 1/4 c. cheese.  Top with another tortilla and cook until bottom tortilla is crispy.  Flip and continue to cook until cheese is melted and top tortilla is crispy.  Repeat making 4 Quesadilla's.  Cut each Quesadilla into 6 pieces, garnish with Avocado Slices and serve with Sour Cream, Salsa and Jalapenos.  Print Recipe

After dinner Spence and I made Mexican Fritters.  They turned out lovely.  You can see the photos and get the recipe here.

Food n Flix-Cream Fritters ala Like Water for Chocolate

I love this Food n Flix Club!!!  How much fun is it to watch a movie, find inspiration for a recipe, create the recipe and share it with the rest of the group??

This month's host is Elizabeth at the Law Student's Cookbook.  She has chosen the movie Like Water for Chocolate.  Elizabeth had not seen this movie yet but had read and loved the book.  I had never heard of the movie or the book prior to this challenge so I  was very intrigued.  A google search taught me that this movie is from 1993 and was very well received by audiences.  It appears to be a mystical, magical love story with lots of cooking thrown in.  I was very anxious to watch it so I conducted a smart search on my tv, found that it was playing on the Starz channel and set it to record.

And for some unknown did not record.  When I went to try to record it again, it was no longer playing so then it was off to the video store for me.  My local video store did not have the movie either. So then I spoke with Kim who had read the book and seen the movie but did not own it.  She generously ordered it up for me through netflix.  Two days later I got a text that the movie had arrived!!!

This movie was all in Spanish with English subtitles.  I don't know if that is how the movie was made or if that was just my copy.  Either way it was okay because it immediately caught my attention and had me entranced.  I kept having to rewind the movie because I would start laughing and miss some of the subtitles.  I would also have to rewind because I would start to write notes about the movie and miss the words.  Subtitles and multi-tasking do not mix.

I watched as they ground their meat for burgers. I watched as they baked bread in the wood oven.  I watched as they created music with their knives while cooking. I watched as Nacha and Tita baked the wedding cake and added their tears and then I watched as the guests ate those tears and felt much sadness and melancholy, yearning for the love of their lives and resulting in mass vomiting.  I shared their tears when Nacha passed away.

I was intrigued by the quails with rose petal sauce but I think I better save that "hot" recipe for when Frank and I are home alone LOL.  Mole sauce made with lots of love sounded good as did homemade tortillas.

I wanted to slap the mother throughout the entire movie but after the watermelon scene it became an obsession with me and I couldn't think of anything else.  I rejoiced when her mother, in her cruelty sent Tita away.

I celebrated as Chencha's broth cured Tita's broken heart and gave her the courage to stand up to her mother.  And I was not as generous as Tita and shed nary a tear when the old hag  mother died.  Alas, my happiness was short lived because that woman even hounded Tita from the grave.  Poor Tita, she couldn't even bake bread in peace.

Cream fritters seem to be the perfect foil for bearing your heart's secrets.  And the movie began and ended with wedding feasts prepared by Tita with love as the secret ingredient.  I was flabbergasted by the end of the movie and of all the characters portrayed, my heart mostly went out to John who was the only person who loved unceasingly and unconditionally.

So, after all that, the recipe that stuck with me and that I hoped to recreate were the Cream Fritters.  I did a search and found this recipe for Cream Fritters (Bunuelos) at Muy Bueno Cookbook.  The only adaptation was that I halved the recipe and I am glad I did because once you start eating these you don't stop until they are gone!!

I couldn't let Spence watch the movie with me but I could let him help with the recipe.

He kneaded the dough, cut it into equal pieces and rolled it out.

We ended up with 12 good size fritters.
I allowed the tortillas to rest for a bit.  
This allowed them not only to dry but to relax so I could roll them thinner before frying.

I handled the frying.

Spence handled the sprinkling.

I handled the drizzling.
Frank handled the photo taking.

We all handled the eating!!!

Mexican Fritters
very slightly adapted from Muy Bueno Cookbook.

1.5 c. flour
1/2 t. each, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
3/8 c. milk
2 T. butter
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
Canola Oil

Combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Place milk, butter and vanilla
in a small saucepan over med heat.  Bring to a boil, remove from heat.  Add a small amount of the hot liquid to the beaten egg, whisking to incorporate, then add egg mixture to the remaining hot liquid, whisking quickly to incorporate.  Add the liquids to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until soft and smooth.  Divide dough into equal portions and roll into balls (you should get 10-12).  Roll the balls into thin tortillas.  The dough will still be pretty elastic at this point, just get them flattened into a circle.

Lay tortillas out onto paper towel and let rest for half an hour, turning over after 15 minutes.  Place another paper towel over the tortillas and roll them until they are very thin.  They will roll out easily now that they have rested.

Heat an inch of oil in the bottom of a pan that will allow the tortillas to lie flat as they fry.  Fry one at a time over med high heat, turning once during cooking.  Remove from oil to a paper towel lined paper plate to drain, flipping once.  Remove to a second paper plate and sprinkle both sides with Cinnamon Sugar (1 t. cinnamon to 1 c. sugar).

Drizzle with honey and serve.  Print Recipe

You Gotta Have Faith....

Especially when you are a care giver.  You have to have faith that the Lord will not give you more than you can handle.  You've got to have faith that you are stronger than you believe yourself to be.  You've got to have faith that when the person you care for leaves you they go onto a better place where there is no pain or illness or confusion. Where they are embraced by God and made whole once again.  You Gotta Have Faith.

My niece, Natasha, who lives in California, made and sent me this beautiful sign that hangs proudly in my living room to remind me that You Gotta Have Faith.  You can learn why she chose to bless me with this at my earlier post.

Today is One Word Wednesday and our word case you haven't Faith.  Please visit here to find out more about One Word Wednesday hosted by my friend Lisa Moles.

This is an especially poignant word this week since our mutual friend, Paula, just lost her husband for whom she had been a caregiver.  We all are caregivers to our spouses but it takes on a different meaning when that spouse, who always walked by your side and returned care back to you, is no longer able to be the life partner you once had.  Or when a parent, who was your caregiver for so many years is now in a position to need to be given care.  Or when a child who is supposed to grow up and away from you as you give him care will always require a care giver.  These are the times that require faith.  These are the times that you need to rely on the Lord to see you through.  Because otherwise you would despair.....and that is a dark, lonely place to be. 

Some of us have found comfort in sharing our journey at One Word Wednesday.  We find support and hugs, laughter and prayers.  We find a community of caregivers who are just taking it one day at a time and maintaining their faith.  Please stop by and share your journey with us.

Some say Tomato, Some say Tomahto, I say Winner!!!

Back on July 13th I entered a giveaway hosted by Heather at It's Yummy to My Tummy.  Heather is part of our Secret Recipe Club community.  SRC is the bomb!!!  Not only is it fun.  Not only do you have access to thousands of great recipes.  It is filled with a bunch of the nicest bloggers you would ever want to meet.  The love and support oozes off their pages.  This morning I learned that I had won the giveaway that was sponsored by Red Gold Tomatoes.  I am very excited....this is the second giveaway, hosted by members of SRC that I have been honored to win.  You can learn about the first one here.

And here is the package that I won.
Thanks again, Red Gold, Heather and Beautiful Assistant.
You really need to check out Heather's blog if only to get your heart melted when you see her Beautiful Assistant, but as long as you are there you may as well take a gander at some of her fantastic recipes!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bittersweet Tuesday....

The original title of this post was going to be Sweet Tuesday but just prior to posting it I went to my friend, Paula's, blog over at Smidgens, Snippets and Bits and learned that her husband had lost his battle with Parkinson's Disease last night.  Paula posted a beautiful music video in tribute to her husband Richard. Please stop by her blog and offer your support during this very difficult time.

I changed the title to Bittersweet Tuesday because while Paula was busy preparing for a final goodbye as a life ended, I was again busy today preparing for a life to come into our world.  And so goes the circle of life.

We were originally going to attend the 4H Fair today but Teaghyn had a birthday party to attend so Dawn is getting her tomorrow and we will go to the Fair.  Since that was cancelled, I knew that Frank was taking his Mom out for lunch today so Spence and I joined them.  While we were out, we stopped at Miles Cake and Candy Supply and bought some colored chocolate and some cute molds containing little baby items.  After another stop to see my Mom we came home and Spence and I started making candies for the shower.

Spence is very serious about his work.
Making candy in molds is easy but very time consuming.

The molds had 5 different objects and we used 4 different colors of chocolate.

While we were playing with the candy, Kim called and asked if she could come by and drop off Ting and Tony's shower gift as she is leaving to work a 3 day trip tomorrow and will not get home until late on Saturday night.  Kim's cousin, Anna, has been visiting with her this week so they both came over for a dip in the pool and to join us for dinner.

No, the heater is not fixed yet but it was a really hot day out there today.

Kim and Anna relaxed for a few minutes while I went in and started our dinner for tonight.  We had a new recipe for Try it Tuesday that also incorporated my Year of Pizza Challenge.  It was a very quick recipe adapted from this one that I found on Cooking Classy.  

I used a mixture of Zucchini and Yellow Summer Squash.

Halve the squash lengthwise and take out the center seeded portion.
If the squash boats are large you can halve them again if you choose.

Fill the cavities with pizza sauce.
Sprinkle with cheese.

Top each with a pepperoni that has been quartered.
Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil leaves.

Bake in a 350* degree oven or on a gas grill over med heat with the lid shut for 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender.  I could have given mine another 5 minutes or so on the grill so adjust your time as needed.

Summer Squash Pizza Boats
adapted from Cooking Classy

8-10 small zucchini and yellow summer squash
1 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce
2 c. shredded Mozzarella Cheese
16-20 pepperoni slices, quartered
Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped 

Halve the squash lengthwise and remove seeds and spongy inner portion with a spoon.  Place squash on a baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper.  ( I did not do this and I was sorry when it was clean up  time.) Fill each squash cavity with pizza sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.  Quarter one pepperoni slice per squash boat and place on top of cheese.  Sprinkle boats with fresh chopped basil and bake at 350* for 15-20 minutes or until squash is tender.  Print Recipe

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is it still Monday? is only 7:30 at night and we have completed 3 days worth of chores and running around.  I am very happy to finally be sitting in my chair with my feet up on the ottoman and an icy cold glass of water on the end table.

I had a rough night last night, I awoke at 3 with a bad stomach.  I finally fell back to sleep around 6 and slept until 9:30  I got up and got right to work because, in case you haven't heard, I AM HAVING A BABY SHOWER IN 5 DAYS!!

I am sure that you are all sick to death of hearing about my gardens but I just have to tell you this.....Spence and I went and bought 30 bags of mulch on Friday.  That is a lot of mulch to load and unload into a truck.  It is a lot of mulch to spread in you gardens.  Your back aches, sweat runs into your eyes, your knees hurt, you get dirty and stinky.  It sucks!!  Do you want to know how much 30 bags is in this yard???

It filled this garden.

And this garden.
Except for the area that contained a ground hornet nest.
They did not wish to be disturbed by the mulch.
I always show great respect to things that can cause me pain!!

And this garden.
And a tiny bit of the area by my pig.
That is 3 gardens out of 10.
I probably need another 80 bags of mulch.
I have no idea what I was thinking when I put in all of these gardens.
And that is with us taking out the gardens around the gazebo this year.
I don't think all the gardens are getting completed by the shower.

After having all that fun....I fell into the pool, unheated pool....because the part will not be here until Wednesday.  Just the fact that I would stick a toe into an unheated pool gives you some idea how hot, sticky and miserable I was.  While I allowed myself to air dry. Spence went for a little spin on the 4 wheeler as a reward for all of his wonderful help.

Isn't he a handsome guy!!

Frank got home and we started cleaning out the garage.  It is good for us to have parties every once in a while so that we are motivated to do these chores that we hate.  This is what we had to deal with when we started.

Yes this is the third stall in our garage.
There is a motorcycle parked there somewhere.

Pretty overwhelming, isn't it?

We weren't sure where to even start.  So we just started pulling stuff out and putting it in the driveway.
We sorted it as we went into piles according to where they needed to go.  The piles were trash, donation, back in the garage, put away elsewhere.  As we were working on this, Tingting came over (God bless her) and needed me to go shopping with her for shower stuff.  So we left Frank to finish up the garage and we went to the dollar store, stopped to see Mom, another dollar store, Joann's, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Party City and Krogers.  When we got back, Ting was exhausted and promptly fell asleep.

Frank got quite a bit done in the garage.

It still needs some work but at least now we can walk through it without feeling like we are in an obstacle course.  Frank finally called it quits and hopped in the shower and I started dinner.  

My original meal on the Weekly Menu was Pasta with Spinach Pesto, Corn and Beans that I had found in Cuisine at Home, Issue #46.  But when I went to make it and looked in my larder I changed out Chard for the Spinach, Peas for the Beans, Bowtie Pasta for the Pappardelle, Red Wine Vinegar for the White Wine Vinegar and Mozzarella Cheese for the Ricotta Cheese.  I also followed my own recipe for the pesto using half Swiss Chard and half Basil.  That is the wonderful thing about recipes....they are merely a guideline and an idea giver and then you do whatever you want to make it your own.  My nephew, Jake, had stopped by and joined us for dinner.  He wasn't so sure about this meal when he sat down but he ended up loving it....we all did....and I think you and your family will too.

I shredded fresh Mozzarella Cheese so that it would melt evenly when mixed with the hot pasta and vegetables.

I cooked the pasta according to package directions adding the peas and corn when there was 7 minutes of cooking time remaining.

While the pasta and vegetables were cooking I diced up and dressed the tomatoes.

A perfect Meatless Monday dinner using seasonal and local vegetables.

Pasta with Swiss Chard Pesto, Corn and Peas
inspired by Cuisine at Home, Issue #46

1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves only, chopped
1 bunch basil, leaves only
1/2 c. pine nuts
3 cloves garlic
Olive Oil
Lemon zest and juice from 1/4 of a lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. Bowtie Pasta
1 c. grated fresh Mozzarella cheese
Kernels from 2 large ears of corn
1 c.  fresh peas, shelled
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan Cheese
3 small tomatoes, diced
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. olive oil

Place Chard leaves, Basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, lemon zest and lemon juice into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  With processor running drizzle in the olive oil until desired consistency.  For this dish I chose to make it a paste-like consistency. Set aside.  The lemon juice will keep the pesto vibrant.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When there is approx. 7 minutes of cooking time remaining add the peas and corn to the cooking water and allow to cook with the pasta.  While the pasta and vegetables cook.  Grate fresh Mozzarella Cheese into the bottom of your serving dish.

Place diced tomatoes in a bowl, add the vinegar and oil, season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

When Pasta and Vegetables are cooked, drain and immediately pour on top of Mozzarella Cheese.  Add the Pesto and toss all ingredients until coated with pesto and cheese.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and top with the tomato salad.   Print Recipe

Now it is my turn to get into the shower and call it a night.  I hope you all had a wonderful and productive Monday as well.  And even though this is only Monday, I think I will link up with Wednesday Whatsits...stop by and see what others have been up to.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Weekend Wind Up

Friday we got up early and Frank prepared a wonderful breakfast of Sausage Patties and Pancakes. Spence had requested Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  Frank makes these just like the Blueberry Pancakes except he sprinkles them with Mini Chocolate Chips instead of Blueberries.

Frank, of course, does not mix the chocolate into the batter but sprinkles it on just so.

Breakfast was delicious.

Then Frank and Spence went down to Warren to look get a price for the part needed for our pool heater and to see if it made more sense to buy a new one while I stayed home and watched "Like Water for Chocolate" for my Food n Flix challenge this month.  Tune in Wednesday to see what recipe this film inspired me to make.

Here is what Frank and Spence is $1100 for the part to buy it from the store and $1600 for a new heater.  Frank had found the part for $700 on line.  We decided to think on it as this is a big expense coming on top of the baby shower.

Then we went to visit Mom at the Memory Center.  We were going to take her for ice cream but a guitar player arrived shortly after we did and Mom got engrossed in the music so we left.  We got ice cream and then Frank and Spence went shooting with John.  Spence did really well but I cannot figure out how to get the video onto this dang blog.....I have spent hours now trying to figure it out and am just a little FRUSTRATED!!!  Those of you who would like to see my great nephew (almost grandson) shoot perfectly (as he does everything in life) just go look on my facebook page because I am, evidently, computer illiterate!!

After they were done shooting we put the salmon back in the freezer and joined John and Kirsten for Chinese food.  Then they stole Spence from us and took him for a spin in their convertible Mustang.

Saturday we got up early and I got things ready for Frank's shooting class.  He had 10 people so I, once again, just threw together Sloppy Joes because that is an easy meal to make ahead of time and for Frank to serve up to the class.

Spence and I left and met Amy at the Farmer's Market where I bought some nice looking Walleye and Lake Trout Fillets.  I also got 2 hanging plants and a potted impatience for only $12.  It pays, evidently, to not put in flowers until the season is half over.

We left the Farmer's Market and did some shopping and had lunch out.  Then Amy left to go see Mom and Spence and I went to our CSA and to get mulch which was on sale....5 bags for $10 at Kroger and then another discount if you were a loyalty does pay to procrastinate!!!

We got home and put everything away just as Frank's class was finishing up.  Then we went to Lowe's and got a grill for Ting and Tony's housewarming gift.  I should have taken some pics of us trying to fit the box into the car but we were too busy struggling.  It is funny now but not so funny while it was happening.  We finally ended up taking the grill out of the box and putting it into the trunk by pieces.  

Since we were all calm and completely relaxed (not) by now we headed over to our graduation party, which was very nice and gave us an opportunity to breathe before we headed over to Ting and Tony's to put the grill together so they would have it for their housewarming party.  It was a long day....

This morning we were up and at em early once again.  We went to Mass on Harsen's Island after which they had a lovely fellowship breakfast.  Then we drove around so Spence could see what the Island had to offer. We stopped home long enough to water plants, straighten the house and feed the dogs and chickens and then we were off once again.  

Then we went to see Mom and while we were visiting we took a video and when I was going to download the video I figured out how to show you Spence!!!!  YAY!!!  So put Mom on hold for a moment and watch Spence!

Isn't he marvelous.
I love that smile at the end of the video.

Ok, back to Mom.  We were on the way to see Mom before going to Ting and Tony's housewarming.  We had loaded everything up in the car, stopped at the post office and then BAM!!  for absolutely no reason my nose started streaming blood.  All over the car, all over me and my looked like a scene from chainsaw massacre.  Frank pulled over and we stuffed tissues up my nose and then he brought me back home so I could get changed and cleaned up.  Meanwhile, he called Ting to tell her we would be late but she (thankfully) had everything under control.

Once I was back to (semi) normal we headed out again and stopped to see Mom.  Mom said that she had "tons of company" today.  I asked who had stopped by and she said "your sister and her husband and the whole family".  I later learned that my sister had, in fact, stopped by with her husband, son and dog to see Mom.  I was pretty pleased that Mom recollected that but I guess they had just left prior to our arrival.  We had taken Mom a package that had arrived from Mary and Larry in California.

Mom with her package from California.

Mom opening her package.

We then asked Mom if she wanted to go with us to the housewarming party but she thought she better not because her"gang" might need her.  So we kissed her goodnight as she went to play trivia and headed over to Ting and Tony's.

Ting and Tony did a marvelous job.  They had burgers with all the fixings, salad, corn on the cob, chips and watermelon.  It was a lovely day and they made us very proud.  Unfortunately, I did not take any photos while we were there.  When it was time to leave, John and Kirsten, once again, stole Spence from us.  I don't know where they are or what they are doing but I do know Spence is in great hands and I am sure he is having a blast.

I hope your weekend was wonderful as well.  See you all tomorrow.

Ooops, I almost forgot....on the way home tonight Frank decided we should get the pool heater fixed because otherwise it would be a wasted that part was ordered tonight to arrive on Tuesday.