July 31, 2010
I love it when zucchini is plentiful! There are SO many recipes you can make with zucchini!! The other day I found a recipe for Zucchini and Ricotta Galette. Oh my goodness! It was SO delicious! If you really want to impress the heck out of someone, make this recipe! The flavors of zucchini, garlic and ricotta are perfect together! The crust was absolutely fantastic! It was so light with lots of flaky layers. I have to admit...when I rolled out the dough for the crust, I was very nervous. It was very soft...so unlike traditional pie crust that I am used to. When I got to the part where you fold the edges of the crust up over the filling...the dough was not cooperating AT ALL! But....I made it happen and I just went with it! I am so glad I did. I just trusted that it would all turn out well in the end. And oh my did it ever turn out! Really, really impressed with the dough! The trouble that I had, and maybe you will have if you give it a whirl, is the dough got soft and meltey and sticky very fast...however, if you can get the dough up off the baking sheet and get it over the filling as best you can, it won't even matter! It will bake up beautifully, and look all rustic! Oh yes!! It was so worth it!
ZUCCHINI AND RICOTTA GALETTE
MAKE THE PASTRY DOUGH: WHISK TOGETHER 1 1/4 C. FLOUR AND 1/4 TSP. SALT. ADD 8 TBSP. OF COLD BUTTER, CUT INTO PIECES, TO THE FLOUR MIXTURE. CUT IN WITH PASTRY BLENDER UNTIL THE TEXTURE OF COURSE MEAL. IN SMALL BOWL, WHISK 1/4 C. SOUR CREAM AND 2 TSP. LEMON JUICE AND 1/4 C. ICE COLD WATER. ADD TO BUTTER FLOUR MIXTURE. MIX WITH BACK OF WOODEN SPOON TIL IT COMES TOGETHER. PAT INTO A BALL. STOP. DO NOT OVERWORK DOUGH. COVER WITH PLASTIC WRAP AND REFRIGERATE 1 HOUR.
WHILE DOUGH IS RESTING IN FRIDGE, SLICE 1 LARGE OR 2 SMALL ZUCCHINI INTO 1/4 IN. ROUNDS. LAY OUT ON PAPER TOWELS AND SPRINKLE WITH SALT. LET DRAIN ON PAPER TOWELS FOR 30 MINUTES. MEANWHILE, MINCE ONE MEDIUM CLOVE OF GARLIC, ADD 1 TBSP. PLUS 1 TSP. OLIVE OIL TO GARLIC IN SMALL BOWL AND WHISK. SET ASIDE. IN SEPARATE BOWL MIX 1/2 C. RICOTTA CHEESE, 1/2 C. GRATED PARMESAN CHEESE, 1/4 C. SHREDDED MOZZARELLA CHEESE, AND 1 TSP. OF THE GARLICKY OLIVE OIL AND SEASON WITH SALT AND PEPPER TO TASTE.
PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. ON FLOURED SURFACE, ROLL OUT CHILLED DOUGH TO 12 INCHES ROUND. TRANSFER TO UN GREASED BAKING SHEET. SPREAD RICOTTA MIXTURE EVENLY OVER BOTTOM OF GALETTE DOUGH, LEAVING 2 INCH BORDER. TIME FOR THE ZUCCHINI...ABSORB ALL LIQUID ON TOP OF ZUCCHINI ROUNDS WITH A PAPER TOWEL. OVERLAPPING ZUCCHINI ROUNDS, LAYER ZUCCHINI IN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES ALL THE WAY TO THE CENTER. TUCK EXTRA ZUCCHINI ROUNDS HERE AND THERE. DRIZZLE REMAINING GARLICKY OIL OVER ZUCCHINI. FOLD BORDER OVER FILLING, PLEATING THE EDGES TO MAKE IT FIT. THE CENTER OF THE GALETTE WILL BE OPEN. MAKE AN EGG WASH FOR THE EDGES OF THE CRUST BY BEATING ONE EGG YOLK WITH ONE TSP. OF WATER. THIS WILL CREATE A BEAUTIFUL GOLDEN COLORING ON THE CRUST. SPRINKLE TOP OF ZUCCHINI WITH SMALL HANDFUL SHREDDED PARMESAN. BAKE 30 - 40 MINUTES UNTIL FILLING IS PUFFED UP, ZUCCHINI IS SLIGHTLY WILTED AND PARMESAN IS GOLDEN. THE CRUST WILL BE A BEAUTIFUL GOLDEN BROWN. REMOVE FROM OVEN, COOL AND CUT INTO WEDGES.
July 30, 2010
I was really pleased with my carrot crop this summer. It is so fun to pull a carrot out of the ground because each one is a different shape and size. It's like digging for treasure! You don't know what you're going to get until you pull it up. We grew more this year than last year, but I see that I am going to have to grow even more next year. After I trimmed, washed, peeled, sliced, and blanched the carrots, I saw that I had enough carrots for only 2 dinners. (four servings per dinner) After I blanched them and plunged them into ice water, I froze them in those reusable "Glad" containers that pre-packaged lunch meat comes in. Since I didn't grow enough this time around, I will pick up some carrots at the farmers market and freeze them as well. But next year.....look out baby! Carrot city! If that's the case, I really need to start canning!
Here is some very exclusive, newly released artwork, drawn by my children and me! Hope you enjoy it!
July 26, 2010
My spearmint plant is flourishing! This is the first time I have ever grown spearmint and I am excited. I have it growing in it's own separate container due to the fact that it is very invasive. Mint is so aggressive it can actually spread from yard to yard if left to grow freely in the ground. If that is where you choose to grow it, just make sure you plant it in a deep bottomless container such as a 5 gallon bucket with the bottom cut out of it. I have learned that mint is a perennial, which means it will grow back year after year. Mint especially thrives in cool, moist spots but, it is so hardy it can tolerate full sun as well.
Before I go any further, I should note that spearmint and peppermint are two different plants. However, they are both a member of the botanical genus Mentha in the mint family. The leaves from a Spearmint plant possess a lighter, sweeter flavor, which can be chewed leaving a pleasant taste on the tongue. On the other hand, peppermint leaves are very strong and should be dried first and used sparingly.
I did a little research and found that, not surprisingly, the main use for spearmint oil is used for flavoring gum, toothpaste and candy. The #1 thing that comes to my mind is Wrigley's Spearmint Gum. Of course, mint is commonly used in cooking as well. The freshly chopped mint leaves, can be preserved in vinegar, and used as a condiment when served with lamb....maybe I should remember this when I have my lamb roast! Also, both dried and fresh mint leaves are used in soups, sauces and stews. Oh yes, and we mustn't forget the famous Mint Julep...the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Spearmint leaves are also used found in the ever increasingly popular drink, the Mojito. And, oh my goodness, I just remembered....when I was a child, my Mom would give me "Tom Tucker Mint Gingerale" when I wasn't feeling well.
This summer, my favorite use for spearmint leaves has been in fresh brewed iced tea. After picking and rinsing the leaves, I crush and twist them to release the oils and drop them into the bottom of a nice tall glass. Of course, next comes plenty of ice and then finally the tea.
It all comes together to produce one heck of a refreshing drink on a hot summer day. It may seem silly, but that simple act of picking, crushing, and adorning my iced tea with a few mint leaves makes me one happy girl! I guess it's that whole "it's summer and the livin' is fine!" thing. Ya know what I mean? I think I am high off of summer this year, or maybe it's just the mint!
I should also mention the medicinal uses for mint. Known for it's high amounts of pure essential oil menthol, mint eases pain and discomfort by relaxing muscles of the intestinal wall. This makes it a great remedy for indigestion, nausea and flatulence. I'm sorry, did I just say that? Yes, I did. But what do we all reach for when we are a little gassy or ate one too many slices of pepperoni, sausage pizza...spearmint or peppermint flavored TUMS my friend. It's the total cure-all for a wishy-washy, upset, gassy, bloatey, heart burny stomach. Actually, another great way to soothe an after dinner stomach is to make a tea with fresh or dried spearmint leaves. I have read that you can even heat it in a cup of milk for your little one's upset stomach. It's also used for alleviating congestion and soothing insect bites.
The great thing about mint is that it is safe to ingest or to apply topically. By topically, I mean that it is found in facial cleansers, cosmetics, shampoos, perfumes and ointments. It is also commonly used in aroma therapy, claiming to help your focus and concentration. It evens promises to clear your mind and mental stress helping you to sleep. I once had a pillow spray infused with menthol that actually did make me feel more relaxed and calm at bed time.
Now that I think about it, mint is prominent in my daily life...from brushing my teeth, washing my face and hair, chewing gum, providing me sinus relief, relieving my wishy-washy stomach after consuming a bowl of 5 alarm chili, and last, but not least, my wonderful, icy cold, refreshing, sweet, iced tea, with just a kiss of spearmint...what can I say...Mint...it's a wonderful thing!
July 25, 2010
Well, another week has come to an end and summer is just sailing by. We are approaching the end of July and I can hardly believe it. I have enjoyed this summer tremendously. Our winter was very long and cold with a lot of snow, so summer was well received in our neck of the woods! I love listening to the cicadas, smelling freshly cut grass, watching the tomatoes grow, seeing fireflies light up the dusky, damp evening sky, and feeling the warmth of the driveway on my bare feet.
I also love a good summer evening picnic with friends and relatives. My son and I went to a picnic last evening at my good friend Becky's. I swear, the food at summertime picnics is the best..so delicious and refreshing. I am always in awe of the clever and different recipes that show up at these events. I find myself taking a tablespoon sampling of each one, even if I am not sure if I will like it, because it always turns out that I love it!
Her and her husband were having a lamb roast and I was so excited to go as I have never been to a lamb roast before. I was so ready to sink my teeth into the lamb that had been roasting on a spit for 6 hours carefully tended to by the master roaster Robbie (my friend's husband). The lamb was so delicious. I was so pleasantly surprised by the taste.
The seasoning was perfect, nice and salty and flavorful. The fat from the lamb and the garlic cloves, salt and pepper made for a moist and juicy piece of meat. I hear they are planning a pig roast in the fall, and guess what...I'll be there! I now want to host a lamb roast at my house. First I need to find out how and where to buy a lamb. They bought theirs at the 4-H auction at the yearly Hookstown fair. I am so jealous, I want to do that too! Well, whatever way I come by a lamb, I am having a roast, and I am pretty excited about it. My family and my husband's family have never had a lamb roast, and I've been married into this family for 18 years now, so I think it is high time to change things up a bit!! Besides the lamb, there was enough food to feed a king and his army: buttered noodles with mushrooms, cheesy potato casserole, broccoli rice casserole, tabbouleh, creamy cucumber salad, loaded potato salad, watermelon, fruit salad, fruit pizza, rigatoni, baked beans and hot dogs, blueberry cobbler, pound cake berry trifle, chocolate zucchini cake, and so on. I chose to bring a dessert and made a recipe I found on the blog Picky Palette. Here is the link. picky-palate I slightly altered the recipe according to what I already had in my pantry, but it is really almost identical.
It is called Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Layered Krispie Treats. Oh my it was delicious and oh so easy to make! The topping was to die for as I love, love, love, chocolate and peanut butter combined! If you would like to give it a whirl, here is the recipe!
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUP LAYERED KRISPIE TREATS
6 C. RICE KRISPIES CEREAL
1 BAG MINI MARSHMALLOWS
1/4 CUP MARGARINE OR BUTTER
2 C. CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER
1 PACKAGE MINI REESE'S PEANUT CUPS, QUARTERED
1 HERSHEY BAR, BROKEN AND MELTED
1/2 TSP. CRISCO
MEASURE RICE KRISPIES IN A BOWL. PUT MARGARINE AND MARSHMALLOWS IN LARGE MICROWAVABLE BOWL AND COOK FOR 3 MINUTES, ONE MINUTE AT A TIME UNTIL MELTY AND PUFFY. DUMP MARSHMALLOW MIXTURE INTO CEREAL AND STIR TO COAT EVENLY. DUMP INTO GREASED 13 X 9 PAN. PUSH DOWN INTO PAN GETTING INTO CORNERS AND MAKING IT LEVEL. MELT 2 CUPS PEANUT BUTTER IN MICROWAVE FOR 1 MINUTE. FOLD QUARTERED PEANUT BUTTER CUPS GENTLY INTO PEANUT BUTTER. POUR EVENLY OVER RICE KRISPIE TREATS AND SMOOTH OUT WITH RUBBER SPATULA. MELT HERSHEY BAR WITH 1/2 TSP. CRISCO IN MICROWAVE. MIX WELL. DRIZZLE MELTED CHOCOLATE ALL OVER TOP OF PEANUT BUTTER TOPPING. CHILL IN FRIDGE AND CUT INTO SQUARES.
P.S. Here was the final scene at my friend's house.
The beautiful silvery moon rising above the corn field illuminating the countryside.
Ah, yes...how I love the countryside. I am completely at home here.
July 21, 2010
has to be the traditional white frosting
with yellow or blue roses?
I've made many birthday cakes over the past few months
...all of the them the non traditional variety.
My latest was no exception...
a towering, triple layer Applesauce Cake.
The batter boasts a whopping 3 cups of applesauce
making this cake supremely moist!
Spicy undertones of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove
conjure up warm memories of golden autumn afternoons.
No matter we are smack dab in the middle of summer...
every bite will have you droopy eyed and smiling
on the hottest of summer days.
The sweetened whipped cream,
kissed with just the right amount of cinnamon
marries the rustic flavors
of apple, sugar and butter
found in the cake.
What a treat this would be
at backyard picnic
amongst family and friends.
You'd better bring copies of the recipe though...
as I'm sure there will be many requests!
TRIPLE LAYER APPLESAUCE CAKE
3 C FLOUR
3 TSP. BAKING SODA
1 1/2 TSP. BAKING POWDER
3/4 TSP. GROUND CINNAMON
3/4 TSP. GROUND NUTMEG
1/4 TSP. GROUND CLOVES
3/4 C. UNSALTED BUTTER (SOFTENED)
1 1/2 C. SUGAR
3 TSP. VANILLA
3 C. UNSWEETENED APPLESAUCE
CINNAMON WHIPPED CREAM
2 C. HEAVY WHIPPING CREAM
3/4 C. POWDERED SUGAR
1 TSP. GROUND CINNAMON
1/2 TSP. VANILLA EXTRACT
DIRECTIONS FOR CAKE: PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 DEGREES. SPRAY THREE, 9 INCH CAKE PANS WITH NON STICK COOKING SPRAY. DUST WITH FLOUR. IN MEDIUM BOWL, COMBINE FLOUR, BAKING SODA, BAKING POWDER, CINNAMON, NUTMEG AND CLOVES. SET ASIDE. BEAT BUTTER WITH MIXER FOR 1 MINUTE. ADD SUGAR, BEAT. ADD EGGS AND VANILLA AND BEAT FOR 2 MINUTES. REDUCE SPEED TO LOW AND ADD FLOUR MIXTURE BY THIRDS ALTERNATING WITH ADDING THE APPLESAUCE. BEGIN AND END WITH THE FLOUR MIXTURE. DIVIDE BATTER AMONGST THE 3 CAKE PANS AND BAKE FOR 35-40 MINUTES. COOL IN PANS AND INVERT CAKES ON BAKING RACK TO CONTINUE TO COOL.
WHEN CAKE IS COMPLETELY COOL, PREPARE CINNAMON WHIPPED CREAM. COMBINE HEAVY CREAM, POWDERED SUGAR, CINNAMON AND VANILLA EXTRACT IN MIXER BOWL. BEAT ALL TOGETHER ON MEDIUM-HIGH SPEED UNTIL STIFF PEAKS FORM. DO NOT OVER BEAT. FROST AND STACK ALL THREE LAYERS.
July 19, 2010
July 17, 2010
Mini chocolate chip raspberry muffins are the bomb! In my last post, I spoke of freshly picked sun ripened raspberries. I used a tried and true recipe that was perfect for my raspberries. I mixed up a batch of these babies and they were so delicious, I wanted to share the recipe!
MINI CHOCOLATE CHIP RASPBERRY MUFFINS
1 HEAPING CUP FRESH RASPBERRIES
2 C. FLOUR
3/4 C. SUGAR
1 TBSP. BAKING POWDER
1/4 TSP. SALT
2 EGGS, SLIGHTLY BEATEN
1/2 C. MILK
1/3 C. VEGETABLE OIL
6 OZ. SOUR CREAM
2 HEAPING TBSP. STRAWBERRY JELLY
2 BIG HANDFULS CHOCOLATE CHIPS
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. SPRAY MINI MUFFIN PAN GENEROUSLY WITH NONSTICK COOKING SPRAY. COMBINE FLOUR, SUGAR, BAKING POWDER AND SALT. MAKE A WELL IN THE CENTER. COMBINE EGGS, MILK, OIL, SOUR CREAM AND STRAWBERRY JELLY IN A MEDIUM BOWL. ADD EGG MIXTURE ALL AT ONCE TO FLOUR MIXTURE. STIR JUST UNTIL MOISTENED. FOLD IN RASPBERRIES
AND CHOCOLATE CHIPS.
SPOON BATTER INTO PREPARED MUFFIN CUPS, FILLING EACH A LITTLE OVER 3/4 FULL. BAKE FOR 18 MINUTES, GIVE OR TAKE A FEW MINUTES....KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR MUFFINS. THEY SHOULD HAVE A NICE GOLDEN COLOR TO THEM. COOL IN PAN. ENJOY!!
MAKES APPROX. 62 MINI MUFFINS
*OF COURSE THIS RECIPE CAN BE MADE IN A REGULAR SIZED MUFFIN PAN...IT JUST WON'T BE AS MUCH FUN!!
July 16, 2010
Just yesterday, my children and I went to visit some friends. We had a great time enjoying nature, picking red raspberries and visiting with farm animals.
I feel at peace when I am in these surroundings.
I am a country girl at heart...for sure!
This sweet little boy is my friends son. He is so adorable! He gobbles up raspberries like there is no tomorrow! Of course he eats them as he picks them! But, mostly his Momma picks them for him.
My friend and her hubby raise pigs. This little piggy (will eventually go to market) is a cutie, but I had a hard time with the smell! Umm...it was quite pungent on a 94 degree day! I have smelled cows before...stinky...but I can deal with it...but oh my...this was the first time I have ever smelled a pig pen! Sorry little piggy. I don't mean to offend...but oh my!!
Ah, the alpacas...now I can get close to these animals. I did not smell a thing! Ha Ha! They will come right up to the fence to greet you. I have secretly named them!
I call the white one Snowball.
The "hairdo" alone is killing me!
..and I named the brown one Snufalufagus!
These beautiful sunflowers were growing here and there and everywhere. I was not about to miss the opportunity to take some great photos!
me...hoping the sunflowers will help me look beautiful!
Yesterday was just what the doctor ordered. It left me feeling happy and peaceful inside. I have been eating the freshly picked raspberries and searching through my recipes. I have decided to make Chocolate Chunk Raspberry Muffins. Oh ya!! I made these last year with berries that were picked from the same place!! The muffins were to die for! I will be posting the recipe and photos very, very soon!
July 10, 2010
Seems like a rather slow week.
I worked Monday and Tuesday evening,
and I've been at home the remainder of the week.
Lots and lots of laundry
played Chinese Checkers with my youngest son
took a walk on a sunny day
took a walk on a rainy day
took a photo of my house
baked a zucchini cake
which, I MUST share the recipe at the end of this post!
It is simply to die for!
Do not let your summer slip away without baking this cake!
snapped a couple photos of wildflowers
sent my son off on a Boy Scout camping trip
did lots of dishes
baked a poppy seed cake
enjoyed a rain storm
made zucchini pancakes
stayed up too late
slept in every morning
pulled a carrot from the garden
...and I think that is it.
Just every day normal life going on around here.
P.S. Here's the recipe for:
2 1/2 C. SUGAR
1 C. OIL
1 TSP. CINNAMON
3 C. GRATED ZUCCHINI
2 C. FLOUR
2 TSP. BAKING SODA
2 TSP. BAKING POWDER
1 C. CHOPPED WALNUTS
BEAT EGGS. ADD OIL, SUGAR AND CINNAMON. ADD DRY INGREDIENTS. STIR IN NUTS AND ZUCCHINI. USE A 9 X 13 PAN, GREASED AND FLOURED. BAKE AT 350 DEGREES FOR 30 TO 40 MINUTES.
FROSTING FOR ZUCCHINI CAKE
1 STICK BUTTER SOFTENED
2 C. POWDERED SUGAR
8 0Z. PACKAGE CREAM CHEESE SOFTENED
1 TSP. VANILLA
BEAT ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER AND SPREAD OVER COOLED CAKE.
July 8, 2010
Today was a totally lazy day. I had planned to clean the upstairs of my house today...the bedrooms, both bathrooms, put away all the folded laundry, clean up my scrapbook stuff...
I did nothing of the such!!
I actually was full well planning on doing all of the above, until my 8 year old son said
"Mom, you are always cleaning! Don't clean today. You need a break. You don't ever take any breaks. You're 40, you get breaks now. I'm not going to let you clean today. You're an artist, make some art....less cleaning, more art!"
So, I decided maybe he was right. I decided to not clean. While I was thinking about what fun project I wanted to do today....I fell asleep on the couch and took one of those one hour naps where you are half sleeping and can still hear what is going on around you. So now it is 4:30 in the afternoon and I haven't done too much. Well, I guess I did do a couple of things...
*cuddled on the couch with my 8 year old
*took a nap
*took a few photos
*shared some Ritz crackers
*ate a can of tuna for lunch
*did one load of laundry
*ate a farm fresh peach
*observed my sons gluing wooden sticks together
So, let me tell you...I know it is okay to take a day off and do nothing, but for some reason, it makes me feel so guilty for wasting time. I wish I could just be lazy for a day and be okay with it, but I can't. I have my reasons for feeling guilty about the wasted time:
*only have just so much time on this earth
*make the most of each and every day
*when I don't have any time, I will be wishing I had this time
*don't delay, start today
*never take time for granted
If anyone has any thing to counter act the above reasons to not waste time, please let me know. Then maybe I can enjoy a day of laziness without the guilt.