Monday, May 23, 2016

Eggplant, Tomato and Pepper Salad

Last Tuesday, before all the move craziness began, Kim and Kurt came over for dinner.  It had been a couple of months since we had spent any time together and we had a wonderful relaxing visit and we were anxious to catch up on each other's lives.

I had planned on Beer Butt Chicken and I had some redskin potatoes that I roasted on the grill but that left me wondering what to serve as a veggie side.  I could have opened up a can of corn.  That would have made Kurt and Frank happy but it just seemed kind of blah to me.  So I looked in the refrigerator and found an eggplant and red bell pepper.  I had some Compari tomatoes on the counter that needed to be used so I decided to make a salad.

Kim and I LOVED it.  Frank thought it was okay.  Kurt didn't even try it.  Perhaps I should have opened up the corn too.......

I had originally planned to share this recipe along with the wine I served for French Winophiles but then the craziness began.  I am sharing this with you now while sipping my coffee and gearing up for another day of packing and sorting.  Talk to you soon.

Eggplant, Tomato and Pepper Salad

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper
4 tomatoes, quartered
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Parsley flakes
1/2 T. Basil, minced

Place eggplant slices and whole red pepper on a hot grill.  Grill the eggplant about 10 minutes per side until grill marks are pronounced and the eggplant is tender,  Remove to a plate to cool.  Grill the red pepper until charred on all sides.  Remove to a paper bag to cool.

When cool enough to handle cut the eggplant into large dice and place in a bowl with the tomatoes. Remove the charred skin from the pepper rinsing it under cold water and removing the stem and seeds, cut into large dice.

Place remaining ingredients into a jar and shake until well combined.  Pour over vegetables and toss to coat.  Let sit at room temperature for up to two hours before serving.  Print Recipe

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Best Baby Back Ribs Ever for #SundaySupper

Sue, from  A Palatable Pastime, created a fun theme for this month's Sunday Supper titled Throw it on the Barbie.  She asked us to share our favorite thing to barbecue now that summer is finally here. This was an easy choice for me.  I immediately knew that I wanted to share with you the Best Baby Back Rib Recipe you have ever seen.  It is the best because not only do the ribs turn out fall off of the bone tender but it is easy peasy and other words, the perfect recipe!!

I  found this recipe many years ago on  Since that time, my husband and I have tweaked it and played with it until it was exactly what we wanted.  You start out putting a dry rub on the ribs and letting them sit out for a while so that they are room temperature when you put them on the grill.  Line your grill with foil, to catch the grease from the ribs and prevent flare ups.  Heat the grill to with the lid closed until it is good and hot.  Open the grill, put on the ribs, close it and turn the heat to low.  Now for the most important part.....Walk Away....Do Not Open the Grill for at least one to one and a half hours.  Now open the grill, slather the ribs with sauce on the top and flip them over, close the lid and let cook for 5-10 minutes.  Open the grill, slather the other side, flip them over, close the lid and let cook for another 5-10 minutes.  You are done...that's it....told you it was easy peasy.

Now you can use any rib rub that you want but I would recommend that you try our World's Best Rib Rub that I shared with you when we were celebrating Handcrafted Edibles before last Christmas. Likewise you can use your favorite jarred sauce but if you want the authentic Best Baby Back Ribs Ever then I would suggest Frank's Special Barbecue Sauce.  It is super simple, very delicious and I think you will find that you normally have all the needed ingredients on hand.  We have not used store bought sauce since the day that Frank developed this recipe.  We use it for any recipe that calls for barbecue sauce.

The recipe I am sharing will easily feed 10-12 people.  The recipe is easily reduced or increased to meet your needs.

Best Baby Back Ribs Ever

3 racks Baby Back Ribs

Rinse ribs and pat dry.  Score the membrane on the back of the ribs with a sharp knife.  Rub both sides of the ribs liberally with the rub and place onto a baking sheet.  Allow to come to room temperature before cooking.

Place a layer of heavy duty foil between the grill grates and the burners of a gas grill.  This is to prevent flare ups when the ribs render their fat.  Start the grill, set to high heat and close the lid. Allow the grill to heat for 15-20 minutes.  Place the ribs, bone side down, on the grill grates.  Close the lid, reduce heat to low and walk away.  Do Not Open the lid for at least an hour but no longer than an hour and a half.  Open the grill and slather the tops of the ribs liberally with the barbecue sauce. Flip the ribs over, close the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Open the lid, slather the other side of the ribs with sauce, flip over, and cook, covered for another 5-10 minutes.  Remove ribs from grill, tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into serving size pieces.  Print Recipe

Here is what the others are grilling up today

Patio Libations
Let’s Get This BBQ Started!
The Main Event
On a Side Note
Saucy Sentiments and Rebellious Rubs
Finishing Touches
Plus Piri Piri Sauce and Recipes for Summer Grilling from Sunday Supper Movement

Sunday Supper Movement
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Getting Ready to Move and Kind of a Weekly Menu

Just when I thought our life couldn't get any crazier....It did.  Frank and I have been talking about downsizing for a while now.  We weren't in any hurry, we just knew that after he retired we would eventually move to a parcel and home that required less time and money to maintain.  Frank's been keeping an eye on Zillow and every once in a while we would drive by some houses but none of them met our criteria.  Since we were in no hurry, we could afford to wait until we found exactly what we wanted.

We wanted:
  • Ranch style home with maintenance free exterior
  • At least 5 acres
  • Paved Road
  • City Water
  • Natural Gas
  • Within a 10 mile radius of current home
  • Master suite on opposite side of home from other bedrooms
  • At least 1600 square feet
  • Local ordinances that allow us to raise our animals and Frank to conduct his CPL classes
Last Friday, Frank found a house that seemed nice.  He showed me the photos and told me it had just listed on  Zillow that day for sale by owner.  On Saturday, yes just one mere week ago, we went to see the home and we liked it.  We came home, discussed it and decided to hit some open houses on Sunday to compare what was available in the price they were asking. 

We went back to the first house to look at it again and then went to look at the others.  We liked the house even better the second time through and though we thought we were wasting our time we figured we should look around at some of the others.  Nothing compared.  We went back to the house and gave them an offer, contingent on the sale of our home.  They accepted and on Monday we signed a purchase agreement.

Front and Rear views of the new home.

On Tuesday our friend Maria McGuire came out and we looked at comparables for listing our home and at what our competition would be listed out there.  She thought the house would sell for more than what we were hoping and instructed us that she wanted all the kitchen counters cleared, the storage areas partially emptied, some of the furnishings removed, the decks stained, the gazebo powerwashed and set up as an entertaining space, some trees trimmed that were hiding the deck, etc...before she came out to take photos and put it out on the market.

Maria predicts that once our home is listed we will have multiple viewings in the first few days. The market is tight in this area right now and the houses are moving quickly.  We got to work and haven't stopped for 3 days.  We rented a pod and have been clearing out and filling up.  Frank cleaned the garage first so that we would have somewhere to put all of the stuff we will be selling in a moving sale.  Our current home is nearly 4500 square feet so we need to get rid of lots of stuff!!!!

Our goal is to have it ready to go on the market on Wednesday.  I would like to start the moving sale on Thursday but need Maria's advice before I do so.  In the meanwhile, life goes on and we gotta eat, so here's a haphazard weekly menu.

Tonight we had previously made reservations for a wine tasting dinner at Andiamo's Steak House downtown.  On Thursday, I am scheduled to have a lesion removed from my tongue.  The oral surgeon seems to think it is nothing but wants to remove it and have it biopsied to be on the safe side. That means a soft diet for a few days.

Please stop by during the week.  I have some posts previously scheduled and I will be updating with house info as time permits. 

Wine Tasting Dinner Date

Pork Tenderloin
Grilled Sweet Potato Planks


Italian Sausage Sandwiches

Pork Fried Rice (with leftover tenderloin)

Pasta with Grilled Veggie Sauce

Fish Friday
Tuna Noodle Casserole

Friday, May 20, 2016

Spicy Crab Dip for #FishFridayFoodies

Hi all.  It is the 3rd Friday of the know what that means, don't you?  That's right...It is Fish Friday!!!  Where a group of us Foodies get together and share a Fish or Seafood recipe with each other and all of our readers.  I started this group at the beginning of the year in an effort to add more fish and seafood to our diets.  I was thrilled and excited when 24 other bloggers asked to join me on this adventure.  Shortly after the first post which had no theme, the group decided it might be more fun and a lot more interesting if we took turns hosting with the host choosing a theme for each month.

This month my friend Caroline, of Caroline's Cooking, is hosting and has chosen the theme "Fish and Seafood with a Bit of Spice".   Great theme Caroline.  Thanks so much for taking over the reins this month.

We celebrated my husband's 65th birthday earlier this month.  We had family and a few friends over for hamburgers and chicken on the grill.  We celebrated during the week so dinner was later as to accomodate those poor souls who still have to work for a living.  

Since everyone would be arriving at different times, I set out some munchies and appetizers including this Spicy Crab Dip, to hold people over until dinner was served.

I was so anxious to try this dip that as soon as it came out of the oven, I spread some on a piece of baguette and ate it.  It was HOT....not spicy hot but boiling hot...I blistered the roof of my mouth!!  It was worth it though because it was very delicious albeit not as spicy as I would have liked, I increased the amount of hot sauce when I wrote this recipe so if you make it, it should be perfect. Please, let it cool a bit before you eat matter how amazing it smells!

Please join us next month when April of Angel's Home Sweet Homestead invites us to a Fish Fry!!  See all the info on our facebook page .  Want to join our group? Email me at

Spicy Crab Dip

1 lb. lump crab meat, picked over  
1 (8 oz) block Neufchatel cheese
1 c. sour cream
1/2 t. cajun spice mix
5 shakes of hot sauce
juice of 1/2 large lemon
1 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. garlic paste
1 (8oz) package shredded colby jack cheese

In large bowl of stand mixer, combine Neufchatel cheese, sour cream, spice mix, hot sauce, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and garlic paste.  Turn speed to low and fold in crab and half of the shredded cheese.  Turn into a casserole that has been treated with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the misture is bubbly.  Print Recipe

Let's see how the others Spiced It Up!!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Orange Cardamom Bundt with Mandarins and Orange Scented Whipped Cream #BundtBakers

Bundt Bakers this month is being hosted by Lara of Tartacadabra.  Don't you just love that name? Lara lives in Spain but decided that we should travel to India this month with the theme of  One Thousand and One Nights or as it is known in English, The Arabian Nights.

Have you read it?  I have not but Lara's invitation was very clear and I was excited to create an Indian inspired Bundt cake.  Lara said:
"Let Scheherazade's tales ensnare you as they ensnared Shahryar. Let them inspire you to bake something with the most suggestive ingredients from Arabic, Persian and Indian kitchens.   
Use pistachios, almonds, dates, raisins, cashews, spearmint, saffron, cardamom, rosewater, orange blossom water, figs, dried apricots, coconuts, sesame (obviously!)... anything you would expect to be served at Aladdin and Badroulbadour's table, while belly dancers entertain them and their guests."
The possibilities were endless and my taste buds were tingling.  I have used cardamom before when baking these Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes.  I also added it to an Indian Mango Cooler and loved it in my Stollen Bread Pudding.  So I knew that cardamom was going to be one of the flavors that I used for this challenge.

I had received a bottle of orange extract from Nielsen-Massey that I have been enjoying immensely and I knew it would pair well with the cardamom.  Now that I knew my flavor profile I punched in a google search and found this recipe for a mava cake by Swathi at Zesty South Indian Kitchen.

I read through the recipe and adapted it quite a bit.  I did not make my own mava and chose to use ricotta cheese instead.  I doubled the recipe as Swathi had made mini bundts and I was using a large bundt pan.  I also bundted (see what I did there?) a bit as Swathi's recipe was a little unclear to me but that may have been caused by the website translation.

The cashews I had were salted so I was going to omit the salt from the recipe but then there was no salt listed.  I am not sure if this was intentional or if it got missed in the ingredients but in my recipe you will find no salt but salted cashews.  If you are using unsalted cashews I would add some salt to the recipe.

The cake rose very nicely and the aroma emanating from the kitchen had me salivating all over the place.  

I was originally going to make an orange glaze for this cake which would have been very pretty but time got away from me.

So when it came time to serve it.  I opened a can of mandarin oranges and sprinkled some of the juices over the cake along with the oranges.  Then I added a dollop of cream that I had whipped up sweetened with powdered sugar and some of the orange extract.  DELISH!!

Orange Cardamom Bundt Cake
adapted from Zesty South Indian Recipes

2/3 c. ricotta cheese
6 T. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar
zest of one orange
1 egg
2 c. flour
2/3 c. milk
1/2 c. salted, roasted cashews, chopped
1 1/3 t. baking powder

Place cheese, butter, sugar, orange zest and egg in the large bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat until creamy. Add dry ingredients alternately with the milk, mixing well after each addition.  Fold in the cashews. Pour batter into a bundt pan that has been liberally treated with baking spray.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center removes cleanly.  Serve with sweetened, orange scented whipped cream if desired.  Print Recipe

Let's kick off our shoes, grab one of these treats and curl up with a story about Aladdin.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Zucchini Jam for Food n Flix

It is Food n Flix time again.  The flix part of it this month was chosen by Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles.  You can see her invitation post here and it is still early enough to join in the fun if you would like.  Kimberly chose the movie Witches of Eastwick which came out in the 1980's.  I didn't think I had ever seen it before but Amy said I had and Frank said I had so I guessed I had.  Until I started watching it and then I knew that I had not ever watched this movie.  It was not at all familiar.

 Image result for witches of eastwick

The reviews said it was scary.....Well, Jack Nicholson is always a little scary, isn't he? He plays the best nutcase ever....I am not sure it is an act.   The story stars Nicholson as the devil who comes into town and seduces three friends, played by Cher, Susan Sarandon and  Michelle Pfeiffer, who were unaware that they had magical powers (were witches) until they met him or conured him up as it were.

All three women are single, through divorce or death, and wondering what the rest of their lives would hold.  Cher is a widowed artist with a teenager. Susan Sarandon is a music teacher whose divorce was just finalized andn Michelle Pfeiffer is a mom of 5 adorable little girls who gets pregnant every time a man looks at her.

It is a goofy movie.  I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either.  I was just kind of neutral about it.  I did root for the women, who finally realized what problems were being cause by the devil they had allowed into their lives and joined forces to rectify the situation.

It is a movie filled with food....there is one, actually two,  especially disturbing scenes involving cherries.  I chose not to go there.

I actually got my inspiration, right at the beginning of the movie.  I think before the credits were even done rolling.  You see Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) in her garden grabbing one of the largest zucchini you have ever seen, and I have seen some large ones.  These lovely little darlings come out of the house with their lunchbags asking what was in them .  Their mom answers peanut butter. "Peanut butter and what?" asks one of the blond beauties. " Peanut butter and jelly" responds Sukie.  What kind of jelly asks another of the little blonds.  "Zucchini jelly" admits Sukie.

That was it. I watched the rest of the movie.  I saw fruit, fish, crackers, lots of drinks, breakfast foods, dinner foods, desserts...but nothing resonated with me like that first mention of pbj in those kid's school lunches.

So I googled Zucchini Jelly and found this recipe on  I adapted it slightly by halving the recipe as it is not yet zucchini season here and I don't have any huge zucchini's that I am looking to use.  

We enjoyed it on toast the next morning for breakfast.  It was good but very sweet.  I should have paid attention and thought about the fact the strawberry jello had sugar already in it and reduced the sugar called for in the recipe.  When I make this recipe again to use up my summer squash I will reduce the sugar by a full cup but keep in mind that I prefer things much less sweet than some.  My husband thought it was just fine the way I made it.

This is actually more of a jam than a jelly. The zucchini, as you can see, is very pronounced and when I think of jelly I think of just a clear gel with no chunks.  Hence, the fact that I named mine Zuchinni Jam instead of Zuchinni Jelly as in the movie or the original recipe.  Of course the original recipe called for the zucchini to be peeled.  Why would I peel the zuchinni when all the nutrients are in the skin.  I don't know if that is factual but it is what my Mom always told me so I left the skin on. I'm just weird like that.

Zuchinni Jam
adapted from

3 c. zucchini, shredded
3 c. sugar ( I will reduce this to 2 in the future)
1 (8 oz) can crushed pineapple
juice of 1 lemon
1 (3 oz) package strawberry gelatin

Combine zuchinni, sugar, pineapple and lemon juice in a large pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and allow to cook until zucchini is tender.  Remove from heat and stir in the gelatin until dissolved. Ladle the mixture into hot, steralized jars, leaving 1/4" headspace.  Seal and process in a hot water bath canner for 10 minutes.  Print Recipe

Monday, May 16, 2016

Cherry Sweet Tart Martini

We took a day last week and drove up to a little town in our State called Frankenmuth.  It is a town with German Heritage with wonderful clock shops, German Restaurants and specialty shops.  They often have bands on the sidewalks playing polkas and German folk music that you can stop and enjoy along with one of the many locally brewed German style beers and a Bratwurst from the hot dog cart. Frank and I have been known to polka down the sidewalk a few times.

Image result for Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth also boasts Bronners, "The Largest Christmas Store in the World".  It is huge and an amazing place to visit.  

Image result for Frankenmuth

We met our friends, Bob and Cathy, who live up in Houghton lake.

Image result for Frankenmuth

We ate lunch at a brewery on the river and then walked through some of the new shops they have built in an area they call Riverwalk Plaza.  It was a beautiful day.  Bob and Frank mostly stood outside the stores visiting while Cathy and I went inside and browsed.  Except for the Great Lakes Olive Oil Company and the Grand Traverse Distillery tasting room.

While at the Distillery we purchased a wonderful cherry flavored vodka.  The Grand Traverse area of Michigan is famous for the cherries grown there.  It is also becoming well known for the vineyards and now are making a name for themselves with breweries and distilleries.  It is no wonder that they combine cherries with their wine making, beer brewing and liquor distilling.

We tried a rye vodka that we also enjoyed and picked up as a sipping vodka. This vodka was served in a taste solo and also in a couple of shots.  One was mixed with cream soda...too sweet for me.  I was not a fan.  The other was mixed with lemonade and it was very tasty.  I can see us sitting on the back deck with tall glasses of lemonade spiked with this delicious vodka come summertime.

I absolutely did not want to wait until summertime though to enjoy this vodka and I really liked the way it melded with the lemonade.  So when we had John and Kirs over for dinner we decided to use them as our guinea pigs and concoct a new cocktail to enjoy while waiting for dinner to cook.

We squeezed some fresh lemons
Made some simple syrup 
(equal parts sugar and water, boiled until sugar dissolves and then cooled)
Combined equal parts of each per drink.

We shook them with ice and strained the into a sugar rimmed martini glass.
Garnished each with a maraschino cherry and.......
We named it Cherry Sweet Tart Martini.
Try'll immediately know why.

Cherry Sweet Tart Martini

1 jigger cherry flavored vodka
1 jigger fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 jigger simple syrup
1 maraschino cherry
sugar for rimming glass

Place the vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.  Shake to completely chill.  Pour into martini glass rimmed with sugar.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry. Print Recipe