Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sunday Snowstorm

It started snowing here in Michigan early this morning and it is not supposed to stop until sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening.  We are expected to get up to a foot of snow during this time period. It's okay though because we are in our nice warm house, cozy as can be, looking out the window at the winter wonderland surrounding us.  We are not yet worried about cleaning off the driveways or driving anywhere or even going outside of the house unless we decide we want to go out and play in the snow.

Isn't it lovely?
Tomorrow we will have to deal with it but for today we are just enjoying it.

This was  a perfect day for some baking.  We are having a perfect comfort food dinner for #SundaySupper.  Baked pasta in meat sauce with ooeey gooey cheese melted on top and I made an onion focaccia to go along with it.  The house smells heavenly!!

I took the recipe from Italian, the essence of meditteranean cuisine, by Carla Capalbo.  It is one of those little gems that you pick up on a fluke and it becomes one of your go to cookbooks.

Onion Focaccia
very slightly adapted from Italian, The Essence of Meditteranean Cuisine

2 1/2 T. dry yeast
1 c. lukewarm water (105-110*)
large pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
2 T. olive oil
3-3 1/2 c. unbleached bread flour
1 T. olive oil
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
1/4 t. dried thyme, crushed
1 T. olive oil
kosher salt

Combine yeast, water and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes until yeast is dissolved and mixture is frothy.  Turn the mixer to low speed and add the salt and olive oil.  Gradually add the flour a cup at a time until incorporated and a ball is formed.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for 8-10 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic.  Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball,  Spray the bowl with cooking spray, return dough ball to bowl turning to cover the surface with the oil.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for about an hour.

Punch down dough and knead for a few minutes.  Brush a large shallow baking pan with olive oil and press the dough down into the oiled pan.  Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise again in a warm place for about 30 minutes.

While the dough is rising, saute the onion in the 1T. of  olive oil until soft.  Stir in thyme and set aside.  Preheat oven to 400*.

Just before baking, make indentations in the surface of the dough with your fingers. Brush the dough with the last tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Spread the onions evenly over the dough and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until just golden.  Print Recipe

**This blog contains offerings from an affiliate link which means I receive a small stipend should you purchase using these links.

#TripleSBites....Let's get this party started!!!

Way back in December, when we were all busy concentrating on the Christmas and New Year Holidays, my friend Cam was concentrating on setting up this great event!!  Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, lined up sponsors, put out invitations, put together the team and created logos and documents while still managing to post about all of her Christmas cooking, baking and acitivities with her family.  Camilla is truly awesome and amazing and you should stop right now and check out her blog.  I will wait for you..........

I also want to send out a big THANKS to our sponsors of this event.  Who not only provided us with great products to use but also donated so that some of our lucky readers can win some of the awesome products as well!!  Click on their names below and you will be taken directly to their websites.

Not Ketchup
Gourmet Garden
Kitchen IQ
2 Armadillos
Acala Farms
Intensity Academy
Out of the Weeds
Pirate Jonny's
Voodoo Chef
Mekenita Brands
Spicely Organics

Please stop by and visit our sponsors.  I was very impressed with their websites and their products and I think you will be as well.  I did recieve some free products to use in my kitchen for taking part in this event, however all opinions expressed are 100% mine and 100% true.  Further, I will share with you which products, if any, were used in each recipe of this event.  Okay, enough with the administrative stuff and on to the fun stuff!!!

The Giveaway 
Terms & Conditions

Mandatory Entry: Leave a comment (below) and tell me What's your favorite romantic dish to cook for your sweetheart? Many more ways to enter in the Rafflecopter widget [below].

This giveaway is open to residents of the United States only, age 18 and older. This #TripleSBites 2015 giveaway runs from Monday, February 2, 2015 12:00am PT through Monday, February 9, 2015 at 6:00pm PT. Winners will be randomly chosen and announced on February 10, 2015. Winners will also be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to the email. If a winner does not respond in that time a new winner will be chosen. For more information, see the full terms and conditions in the Rafflecopter widget.

Disclaimer: All prize packages were provided free of charge. Participating bloggers received complimentary product(s) for their #TripleSBites posts. All opinions stated are my own.

Please click on the arrows in the rafflecopter to scroll through the prize packages!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I also want to share with you the fantastic line-up of bloggers participating in this event along with links to their homepage so that you can get to know them a little better.  They are a great group of which I am proud to belong.

A Kitchen Hoor's Adventures
Amy's Kitchen Adventures
Cafe Terra Blog
Cheese Curd in Paradise
Cooking in Stilettos
Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Curious Cuisiniere
Dancing Veggies
Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
Eliot's Eats
Famished Fish, Finicky Shark
From Gate to Plate
Making Miracles
Not so Cheesy Kitchen
The Pajama Chef
The Spiffy Cookie
The Weekend Gourmet
Things I Make (for Dinner)
Summer Scraps

I am linking up with Small Victories Sunday so that all of our friends over there get the chance to be victorious in this raffle!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Weekly Menu for the First Week of February.....

February!!!  What happened to January?

When I wrote these words it brought to mind an incident with my Pops.  It was New Years Eve 1994 and Frank and I had decided to stay home and celebrate quietly just the two of us.  Anthony and Nicole were spending NYE with their mom and we were partied out from the holidays.

I got a phone call from my Mom and she was crying.  I asked what was wrong and she said "Your father can't remember anything".  Thinking that he had forgotten something important to Mom I asked her what he had forgotten and she replied "Everything, he has forgotten everything!!"  I told Frank that we needed to go out to the house, we lived about 45 minutes away during this time.  When we arrived Mom met us in the garage and said "Don't tell him that I called you".  This reinforced, in my mind, that they had had an argument over something Pops had forgotten.

I walked in and asked where he was and Mom said he was in bed.  I walked into Pop's bedroom and my heart broke at the look of confusion and fear on his face.  I asked what was wrong and he replied "I don't know, I lost my dog".  I asked for clarification and he asked what day it was.  I replied "New Years Eve".  He said "What the hell happened to Christmas?"  He then asked what year it was and was shocked at the answer.  He had lost 2 years of his memories.  I told Pops I thought he had a stroke and we needed to go to the hospital.  Once at the hospital, Pops was diagnosed with TIA and kept for a couple of days during which all his memories returned and he was once again fine.

Mom and Pops.

Everytime I feel like time flies I think of this story and my Pops.

All right...on to business for February.

Today we are having dinner at Amy's house.  I am taking dessert that I will share with you on Wednesday.

Tomorrow we will go to Mass and then the pig transporter is coming to take my pigs to the processor.  I have invited Tamie and her kids over for dinner.  We still haven't given them their Christmas gifts!!

The rest of the week is just a typical week on the farm.  Nothing unusual scheduled, just getting ready for our trip.....woooohoooooo!!

So please stop by each day as I share recipes and photos with you.  As an added bonus this week we are also celebrating #TripleSBites.  I will be talking to you more about this tomorrow but suffice it to say there are going to be tons of recipes shared with you this week and that is not even taking into account Menu Plan Monday!

Dinner at Amy's

Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce
Focaccia-Italian, The essence of Mediterranean Cuisine

Meatless Monday
Spinach Pizza Pie- Betty Crocker's Casseroles and One Dish Meals

Beef  Stroganoff (using leftover filet mignon)
Popovers-Someone's in the Kitchen with Hudson's

Sausage and Bean Casserole-Cook's Companion

Out for dinner before choir

Baked Salmon (back on again!) -Magic Chef Cooking
Rice and Peas

Friday, January 30, 2015

Two more wonderful sponsor gifts for #TripleSBites

Only 2 more days before we start sharing all of our Spicy, Saucy, Sexy Bites for Valentine's Day and Beyond.  You are, for sure, going to want to stop by my and the other bloggers sites for great romantic and delicious recipes.


Last week I got a couple more sponsor gifts in the mail.  I am excited to try them and sahre the results with you during next weeks event.   I am not familiar with either of these products but they sound terrific and I have tons of ideas swirling around in my head on how I am going to incorporate them into my recipes.

The first item I am sharing with you comes from Acala Farms.  I received these two wonderful cottonseed oils, one is flavored with cilantro and one is flavored with chili and cumin.  The package included some information on Acala Farms and their product.  I have never used cottonseed oil. Heck, I didn't even know there was cottonseed oil for cooking.  They, reportedly, have a high smoke point and contain a high level of antioxidents.  Acala Farms oils are Gluten free, Vegan, Kosher and Certified Pesticide free.

The second package I got came from Spicely and contained Organic Chocolates, one box was flavored with Green Earl Grey Tea and the second was flavored with Honeybush Caramel.  I, of course, opened them right away and tried a piece of each.  All I can say is mmmmm, mmmmm, deliciousness!!!~  Spicely offers spices, teas and chocolates all organically grown.  What more could you possibly want.

Thank you Acala Farms and Spicely for these wonderful gifts you supplied to our participants....

Oh, I almost forgot the best part....Both of these sponsors are also giving away some great items to our lucky readers.  I will be sharing more about that with you tomorrow.  See  you then.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life is constantly changing and sometimes it just stops.

When I got up this morning, I straightened the house, made a batch of brownies and assembled my quiche.  Then I got a phone call that one of our members couldn't make it now and one had already told us she wouldn't be here so that left only 2 of us so we are rescheduling our meeting.

I wish that I had gotten the phone call early enough to change schedules and go to Zumba but it was not meant to be.  Oh well, such is life.  The good thing is that the quiche is all ready and set to go in the oven so we won't be going out to dinner tonight.

When I spoke with the one member who was going to make it to the meeting she told me that she had gotten a phone call from a local realtor who just sold a party store.  The previous owner had left all his stock on the shelves and we were welcome to come and get it for the food pantry so we met there this afternoon and picked up quite a large load.

When I returned from the food pantry, I went out to take care of the farm animals and found that one of my very first laying hens, Martha, had died.  Martha is the hen I am holding in my profile photo here on the blog.  She was the friendliest of all my hens and loved to be held and scratched.  Stella is not the only hen remaining from the original 6.

This is Martha, the black and white hen, and Puff.
They were part of the original 6 hens I ordered when I decided to raise layers.
Puff passed away a couple of months ago.
I imagine Stella, the last of the originals, will be leaving us soon too.

Since my meeting was canceled I am not making the fancy fruit salad that was originally scheduled for today.  I am just making a plain old fruit salad to go along with quiche before choir tonight.

See you all tomorrow.  Stay warm.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Coq au Vin with Vegetables

Our dinner tonight comes from Williams Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook.  I, once again, have had this cookbook for a long time.  I love it.  Not only does it have some terrific recipes that are easy to prepare but they are broken down into seasons.  Cookbooks broken down into season or ingredient make it much easier when you are trying to cook locally and seasonally as I do.

I only adapted this recipe a bit.  I halved it as the original recipe fed 6 and there were only 3 of us. I used Gourmet Garden Herbs in place of the fresh herbs.  Also the original recipe called for 3 T. of flour and had you use 1 T. with butter at the end but never mentioned the other 2.  Which just goes to show that even WS can mess up LOL.  This recipe was in the Autumn section but the vegetables used are readily available this time of year in my area as well.

I know that this recipe appears to have a lot of steps but most of them are just moving food from one location to the next.  It is not complicated at all.

Coq au Vin with Vegetables
slightly adapted from Williams Sonoma, Complete Seasonal Cookbook

1 T. unsalted butter
3 strips bacon, diced
6 pieces chicken
salt and pepper to taste
2 c. dry red wine
2 c. chicken broth
1/2 T. tomato paste
1 T. Gourmet Garden Italian Herbs
1/2 T. Gourmet Garden Parsley
1 Parsnip, peeled and cut into 1" lengths
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 1" lengths
1 turnip, peeled and cut into wedges
1/2 rutabaga, peeled and cut into wedges
1 T. butter, softened
1 T. flour

Cook bacon in butter over med heat in a dutch oven, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove bacon and set aside on a plate.  

Season chicken on both sides liberally with salt and pepper.  Brown until golden in the butter and bacon drippings over med high heat, about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken to plate with bacon.  

Add the wine, broth and seasonings to the dutch oven and bring to a boil, scraping any brown bits from bottom of pan.  Return the chicken and bacon.  Reduce heat to med low, cover and simmer for a half an hour or until chicken juices run clear when poked with a fork.  Remove chicken to a plate.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and wipe out dutch oven with a paper towel.  Return the liquid to the dutch oven and bring to a boil over med high heat.  Add vegetables, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until vegetables are tender.  Remove vegetables with a slotted spoon to the plate.  Bring liquid to a boil over high heat.  Boil for a few moments while you mix the flour into the softened butter with fork.  Whisk the butter/flour mixture into the boiling liquid.  Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring occasionally until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Return chicken and vegetables to thickened sauce and warm through.  Turn all into a large serving bowl.  Print Recipe

The Color of Heaven

We had quite the fiasco again yesterday with the pigs.  Suffice it to say they are still here with us and we have hired a transport guy to come and get them and take them to the processor on Sunday.  That is all I have to say about that except that last night Frank said we are never raising pigs again.  Of course, this morning he changed it to "if we raise pigs again we have to.......".  So I am not sure if we are getting pigs this summer or not.  Stay tuned folks......

I will also tell you that I was traumatized by the experience LOL.  Each time I would fall asleep last night I would dream about pigs and wake up all out of breath and anxious!!  Finally, around 3:30 am I gave up trying to sleep and finished the book I was reading.

This was an interesting book that would be great fodder for a book club as I can see some wonderful discussion coming about from it.  I didn't realize that it was part of a series of books and I am not dying to read any of the others in the series but I did enjoy the storyline and the characters.  I do believe in life after death and I know that there is a Heaven but I don't know if Heaven will be as it is portrayed in this novel.  Then again, perhaps that is the point, we don't know.

I am now starting Behind the Beautiful Forevers which was sent to me in the Books & Bloggers Swap .  Tracy loved this book and thought perhaps I would too so I am anxious to start it.

Cover image