Monday, June 30, 2008

More summer recipes

Here's one my girls love (we use decaf coffee). I don't remember where I picked it up on the internet originally.

Iced Mocha
1 1/2 cups coffee -- hot, strong brewed
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons chocolate syrup -- such as Hershey's
1 cup milk, skim -- ice cold
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Handful crushed ice -- or so
Lightly sweetened whipped cream -- for garnish
1 small piece semisweet or bittersweet chocolate -- for garnish
1. Combine the hot coffee and brown sugar in a large measuring cup and stir until the brown sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate syrup. Transfer to a shallow bowl. Cool briefly at room temperature, then chill until ice cold. You can accelerate this step by putting it in the freezer, but just make sure it doesn't start to ice.
2. Combine the chilled coffee, milk, and vanilla in a small pitcher; stir to blend. Divide the coffee between 2 serving glasses, adding a small handful of crushed ice to each. Top each glass with whipped cream then grate a little chocolate over each one. Serve with straws.

I think this one came from a supermarket display:

Beef and Broccoli Slaw Wraps
1 pound ground beef, extra lean
1/4 cup onion -- finely chopped
12 ounces broccoli cole slaw -- shredded (or cole slaw mix)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
12 flour tortillas -- (8-12)

Brown ground beef and onion over medium heat until the beef is no longer pink, breaking beef into 1/2 inch crumbles. Pour off drippings; season with salt and pepper. Stir in slaw mix and hoisin sauce; heat through. Spread about 1/2 cup of beef mixture onto each tortilla. Wrap tortilla around filling. Serve with addtional hoisin sauce, if desired.

This one came from a grocery store ad.
Simply Strawberry Pie
1 package sugar-free strawberry gelatin -- (.3-ounce)
1 package sugar-free vanilla pudding and pie filling -- (3-ounce) cook and serve type (NOT instant)
2 cups water
2 cups fresh strawberries -- sliced
1 reduced fat Ready Crust -- (9-inch)

Combine gelatin, pudding mix and water in medium saucepan. Cook until thickened (like a heavy syrup). Add sliced strawberries and blend gently. Turn into graham cracker crust, chill 3 to 4 hours before serving. Garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if desired.

Oops! I forgot to add a link to Kathy's site on this post.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer recipe swap

My dsil Kathy is hosting an exchange of quick, easy summer recipes. This one immediately came to mind.
Greek Isles Pasta

Put some water on to boil and cook your pasta. Meanwhile, dice up the tomatoes. Julienne the fresh basil if you have it. I often don't have it so I replace it with dried. I crush the dried in my hands over the bowl. The juice from the tomatoes helps re-hydrate the basil. It works for me.
Crumble some feta into the bowl. I'm real precise about measuring, ya know. ;-)
When the pasta is done, toss it with the other ingredients. Sprinkle on some black pepper to taste. Wonderful served warm or refrigerated and served later as a pasta salad.
Greek Isles Pasta
12 ounces pasta, uncooked
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (optional-I never use it anymore)
6 ounces Feta cheese
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup basil, fresh, julienne-cut (or I use a couple tablespoons of dried)
ground black pepper


COOK pasta according to package directions; drain. Return to pan; toss with oil.
TOSS with cheese, tomatoes and basil. Season to taste with pepper.

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Almost 13

The grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins were here today to help us celebrate Julianne’s birthday. The big day is actually Tuesday-she will officially be a teenager!


Julianne chose Barbeque Chicken Pasta and Texas sheet cake for our lunch. We added some fruit salad and raw veggies with ranch dip. Grandma, who can’t seem to show up empty handed, brought some banana bread. Aunt Penny brought some redskin potato salad because she had a boatload to use up-well, it actually was just a really large bowl. Our poor low-carbing family members…I think they enjoyed every cheating bite.


We aren’t going to discuss the lack of decorations, ok? I think candles on a cake automatically make it obvious it’s a birthday cake. Besides, how would one decorate over nuts in the icing? We aren’t talking about the extra little holes in the cake, either. I gave Allison the candles to arrange on the cake-I’m thinking she changed her mind about a couple of them. lol

Julianne loved all her gifts. She got some things she had requested as well as some cash and a gift card. The gift card came with a suggestion that she might go shopping with Aunt Kathy to use it. She likes that idea!

We had a nice visit with everyone and it was a good time. Until the toilet plugged and overflowed, anyhow. Some memories you just can’t anticipate…and would rather forget…
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Goodwill find

The girls and I stopped by Goodwill yesterday. I don't often think to check their linens but happened to do so yesterday. I was tickled to find two table runners.


I use them to protect the slate top on the island. The slate scratches pretty easily so I've been on the lookout for runners to offer a little protection. I'm not too sure about the blue one in my green kitchen. What do you think?

The other one will be good at Christmas. The blue one set me back $.49 and the Christmas one was $.75. For that price, I figure if I get home and don't like them, I can donate them back.

(And Aunt Sharon, I look every time I go for that elusive mixer.)
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hillbilly suspenders


This is Allison in some of her "home" clothes. You know, the stuff they don't wear out of the house.

She came to me very proudly last night to show me her solution to her pants slipping down all the time. Twine suspenders. Tie on one front beltloop, loop through the center back beltloop, bring back to other front beltloop. We all think it looks uncomfortable, but she assures us it's fine-much better than wearing one of her belts, she says.

She added her straw hat and, to complete the ensemble, pulled out a long piece of grass to chew on. I'm thinking this will be a picture worth saving to embarrass her at her graduation open house.

In other news, the chicks seem to be doing well in their new home. The big switcheroo happened last night. Some adult chickens were moved as well. I'm not sure if there will be more of that to come or not. I try to avoid having too much knowledge of what happens with his animals. lol

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Food, again...

We had taco salad with our friend on Sunday. As always, there were leftovers. One of my very favorite ways to use leftover taco stuff is to make a Greek omelet. I know, mixing the Mexican stuff into something Greek seems kinda…hmm…cross cultural or something, doesn’t it?

Before moving 20+ miles away from the neighboring towns we grew up in, we used to like eating breakfast at a little diner called “Margie’s”. This is where we met Greek omelets. The restaurant went out of business several years ago so we have no chance to go back once in a while and indulge our craving. Obviously, our only choice is to reproduce them at home. It’s pretty basic and easy.

Make your egg the way you normally would. For filling, top your omelet with leftover taco seasoned meat, onion, green pepper, tomato, pepperoncini, feta cheese, and cheddar cheese. Fold it over however you usually do. That’s it. Of course, I don't often serve it with the cinnamon raisin toast Margie's offered. It's a great option if you've got it though.

Please don’t tell the food police I’m calling this Greek food. ;-)
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Baby chicks


Allison thinks we should show everyone the latest news from the barn...
Here she is with Pzilla (yes, the girls named them). The other one is named Smoag(can you tell we read "The Hobbit" recently?). They are currently living in a box in the living room until Clarence gets another coop built. These two are all we have to show for 24 eggs incubated. Not a screaming success, IOW.
The chicks won’t be going to the new coop-but he needs room to move the existing flock around to make a place for them. He has some elaborate plan for this rooster to go with these hens, and that rooster to move in with those hens…you know how it goes. Getting baby chicks out of the house becomes a pretty big ordeal. Not that the girls, well, mostly Allison, mind having them near. I just fear the day they are big enough to jump out of the box. Hopefully, that day won’t arrive before they move into their new digs.
This is the new coop in progress. He's using hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. We had a mink "incident" this spring so I think he wants the holes as small as possible.Once the dust settles, Clarence may incubate some more eggs. Or not.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

An unexpected treat!

My best friend came over today after church for the afternoon. She brought a recipe she wanted to try from here:

http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.fc77a0dbc44dd1611e3bf410b5900aa0/?vgnextoid=d89758f015a57110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&autonomy_kw=oatmeal-raisin%20squares&rsc=header_1

Of course, the insane amount of butter called for in the recipe was impossible for her to consider using since she is a cardiac nurse. So, we debated over what to use as a replacement for part of the butter-non-fat yogurt or applesauce. We decided on the applesauce until she saw the huge size jar I'd be opening-so the yogurt ultimately won out.

Anyone who knows how I cook will completely understand that we weren't done tweaking just yet. Oh, no. Doesn't the idea of craisins sound so much better than raisins? She cut the salt and omitted the pecans (she doesn't like them). We baked them at a lower temp. (a hint I read recently for baking with fat replacements) and did not wait for them to cool before cutting. Oh, man, my family can't walk past without grabbing another piece.

So, here's how we *really* made them:

Oatmeal Craisin Squares


4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) melted
3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups raisins
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Nonstick cooking spray



Preheat oven to 315 degrees.
In a large bowl, add oatmeal, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt; stir to combine. Add melted butter and vanilla and stir to incorporate; set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine craisins, 1/2 cup water, lemon zest, and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and immediately reduce heat to a simmer; continue cooking for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor; process until almost smooth. If mixture is very liquid, strain through a fine mesh strainer, discarding liquid.
Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer half the oat mixture to baking dish and press down, using your hands, to form an even layer. Using an offset spatula, spread craisin mixture over oat layer. Top with remaining oat mixture, pressing down to form an even layer.
Transfer to oven and bake until golden brown on top, 35 minutes. Let cool 1.3 seconds before cutting into 2-inch squares. Oatmeal-craisin squares may be stored, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days. Yeah, right...

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Learning as I go...

My dear sil, Kathy, (http://kathyscottage.blogspot.com/) set up my background and header yesterday. Isn't it cute?

Since I couldn't get a photo to post, no matter what I tried, she told me about Picasa. It seems to make the difference in getting pictures to show up-Yippee!

So, now I'm trying to learn my way around blogging. See what I can do-as well as what I still need help with. If I end up with zillions of posts about nothing you'll know why.

Strawberry tower


Here is the cedar strawberry tower Clarence built this spring, shown as he prepared to fill it with dirt.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hoe, instead of mow

We are trying something new this summer at the blue barn.

We have terraced the front lawn between the sidewalk and house and converted it to garden space. It was always a dreadful place to mow, due to the terrain. With the girls now riding the mower the majority of the time, I was worried about their safety on this little patch of lawn. Now it is a non-issue.

The new challenge is to keep it looking at least semi-maintained, which requires a fair amount of hand weeding and cultivation.

We've had rain almost every day of late. Great for the veggies and flowers-and the weeds.