Wednesday, October 1, 2014

31 Days of Writing Fiction-MOVE

Today is the first day of the 31 Day Challenge, hosted by The Nester and co hosted by Kate Motaung of  Five Minute Friday.  The Nester challenges us to write each and every day in October on one topic.  I am not sure that my pledge to write fiction each day qualifies as a topic but I am doing it anyway.  To make things even more interesting, Kate, has challenged us to limit our writing on said topic to only 5 minutes a day using a different word prompt each day that she has provided.

We will see how it goes...wish me luck and please stick with me during this journey.  I will gladly accept any feedback you have to offer.  This is completely new territory for me.


 I couldn't move.  I was paralyzed with fear.  I had heard of this happening but I didn't believe it was real.

How did I come to be here?  How could I have been so blind, so stupid.  It had seemed like such a good idea.  He was charming, rich, handsome....everything I had dreamed of finding in a man.

Was that what happened? Was I so enthralled in my dreams that I was blind to the truth?  It had sounded so innocent, so perfect.

Let's move away together, just you and I.  Somewhere we can call our own.  Somewhere secluded where no one else will be able to bother us.  It will be just the two of us, he said.  Our own little paradise.

I mean, really, how many people can afford to buy their own Island?  A whole entire Island just for us...and the staff, of course.  And the many guests we would have...because we both loved to entertain and be sociable sometimes.....or so I believed...


One year ago--Organizing for October and A Little Background

Caramel Apple Pretzels for Foodie Extravaganza

I have joined a new fun group on facebook called Foodie Extravaganza.  Each month the host chooses a theme and the rest of us create recipes to go along with the theme chosen.  Well here, Let me just share this with you:

Welcome to the Foodie Extravaganza!  

We are a group of bloggers who love to blog about food!  Each month we will decide on an all-famous National Monthly Food Holiday in which we will base our recipes around. This month the ingredient is pretzels with an optional ingredient of caramel.  Yes, October is National Pretzel Month along with a whole array of other delightful things!! Get excited!! We hope you all enjoy our delicious pretzel treats this month and come back to see what we bring for you next month.  If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza.  We would love to have you! If you're a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

Now you know me....I could not resist joining this group.  I do love my cooking challenges.  They make me smile.

I made pretzels for the first time last week as part of the #10DaysofTailgate Challenge.  I was surprised at how relatively easy making soft pretzels is and I was very pleased with the recipe that I used from Slow Roasted Italian.  I am using the same pretzel recipe today but adding to it so I can get into the theme of our Fall Inspired Extravaganza.

As you saw in my Day 4 post I warmed the beer to between 110-120*

 I added some yeast and honey and let it get nice and foamy before adding the flour and salt.

Except this time when the dough was done kneading, I added 2 apples, diced small, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.
I continued allowing the dough to knead to incorporate the apples.
I needed to add quite a bit more flour to adjust for the moisture from the apple mixture.
I kept adding a tablespoon at a time until it reached the right consistency.

Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured counter.

Cut off a hunk and, using lightly floured hands, roll into a strand.
If the apples pop out just keep rolling and they will go back in.

Shape the strand into a pretzel shape.
Drop into the boiling water and cook until it rises to the surface.
Remove from water, using a spider or a slotted spoon.

Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt.
Bake at 450* for 13-15 minutes.

When they are done baking drizzle with your favorite caramel sauce.

Allow to cool, remove to a serving platter and enjoy.

Caramel Apple Pretzels

12 oz. beer, warmed to between 110-120*
2 1/4 t. active dry yeast 
2 T. honey
3 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 t. kosher salt
2 apples, peeled and cut into small dice ( I used Honey Crisp apples)
1 T. cinnamon/sugar mixture (made from 1/2 c. sugar and 1 t. cinnamon or you can use store bought)
1/2 c. baking soda
1 egg
Kosher salt for sprinkling
Caramel Sauce for drizzling--I used Sanders which is a local company.

Pour warmed beer into large bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment.  Sprinkle with yeast, stir in honey and let set for 5-10 minutes until nice and foamy.

Place diced apples into a small bowl and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, shake to combine.

While waiting for the yeast to proof, fill an 8 qt. pot with water and bring to a boil, lower heat to medium.  In a small bowl beat egg with 2 T. of water and set aside.

Add flour and salt to mixer and knead for about 3 minutes until dough comes together into a ball. Add the apple mixture and continue to need adding additional flour, one tablespoon at a time as needed until dough is tacky but not sticky.  It took quite a few tablespoons to get to the proper consistency. Turn dough onto a clean, lightly floured, countertop.

Cut a piece of dough off and using lightly floured hands roll into a strand about 14-16" in length.  Form the strand into a pretzel shape.  Continue until all dough is formed into pretzels.

Carefully add the baking soda to the boiling water, it will foam up and then settle down.  When the water returns to a medium boil with no foam, add the pretzels, one at a time, for about 30 seconds or until they float to the top.

Remove from the water to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Do not allow to touch each other.  When all pretzels are on sheet, brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake in a preheated 450* oven for 13-15 minutes.  

Drizzle with caramel sauce.  (You may have to warm the sauce if it has been refrigerated) Allow to cool before serving.

And here is what the rest of the Crew cooked up:

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Let's Talk Tuesday

It's 9 pm and I am just now sitting down for the evening.  For a little while anyway.  In an hour I've got to get up and finish some chores that I started.  It has been a very busy and productive day.

I got up this morning and went to Zumba.  Afterwards Jackie and I stopped and saw Mom.  She and her gang were all sitting around with the activity director playing trivia. Some of those residents are still pretty sharp when it comes to trivia.

When I got home I pulled out all the Halloween decorations and got part of the house decorated for the season.  Just the main floor so far.  Perhaps I will get to the basement tomorrow or Thursday.

When Frank got home we took a ride over to see our Little Miss Melody Elizabeth.  I had picked up some Halloween outfits for her and I took Ting and Tony some of the Corn Chowder we made last night.

Maddie thought Grampa was a great pillow today.

When we were done with our visit we went out for dinner and then hit the grocery store.  Larry and Mary arrive tomorrow morning and we thought it would be nice if there was food in the house.  Dick and Jackie will be joining us for dinner tomorrow night and I have to take Ting and Melody to the doctor tomorrow so it is going to be another crazy day.

When we got home we made up another batch of corn chowder.  I also cooked up the chicken that we did not have for dinner tonight and I will make Chicken Pot Pie on Thursday instead of the BBQ Ribs as scheduled.

Tomorrow is October 1st and I am, once again, joining with The Nesting Place for a 31 Day Challenge.  This year the challenge will have a twist because I am also joining with Five Minute Friday and each post for the 31 Day Challenge will be given a one word prompt which I will use to write about my topic each day for five minutes.  

Are you confused yet?  Don't worry, I will explain it more to you tomorrow.  Last year I was just starting my blogging journey and this challenge really helped me.  I wrote about dealing with Mom's Dementia/Alzheimer's Disease for 31 days.  It was a very popular topic and I made a lot of friends as well as letting go of a lot of stress.  This year I am going to try my hand at writing fiction for 5 minutes each day using the prompts given.  I have never written fiction.  I have sat down a couple of times and attempted is harder than you think.  I am hoping that breaking it into 5 minute sessions will help.

The last thing I want to talk to you about on this Tuesday is the book I finished reading a couple of days ago.  

Child 44

This book was very disturbing to me.  It takes place in Russia during the end of Stalin's reign.  Wow...that's all I can say is Wow.  I am so glad that I was born here in the United States and not into a Communist Country.  It was a very interesting read and I learned quite a bit about the communist mind set and how people were brainwashed and if not brainwashed, in a position to never question authority of any kind.  This is the first book in a trilogy.  When I first started reading it, I did not think that I would want to read the other two, about halfway through I was starting to think I might want to read them and now that I am finished with it I definitely am going to read the next two books. I'll let you know how they are.  Stalin died in  this book so I think that things get better for the Russian people now but I am not sure....I had a hard enough time in US History let alone World History as a kid.  Now as an adult, I am fascinated by history and I love historical fiction.

Which is a great segue into the new book I have started....

This book takes place in the 1800's during the time that the Mormons were leaving Europe, arriving on American soil and making the 1300 mile trek by foot to Salt Lake City, their Zion.  I have only read the first few chapters but I am already intrigued.

A year ago--Yearning for Yoga

The Final Touchdown...#10DaysofTailgate....Ducky Joes

It is with a sad heart that I say goodbye to this Tailgate Event.  It has been so much fun creating dishes with all of the wonderful products our sponsors provided.  I kind of felt like I was participating in a Chopped Challenge with a tailgate theme. I am so very grateful to Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla for hosting this event.

On this last day I am going to highlight the 4 of our generous sponsors whose products I received.  I conceived of this recipe way back in the beginning of September when the packages first started arriving and I saved it until the end so I could "Save the Best until Last".  I hope you enjoy it and I hope you had as much fun at this event as we did.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that one of my readers wins a prize package.  You can learn all about all of our sponsors and enter to win some great prize packages here.  Make sure you check your email!!

Our generous sponsors sent us tons of products to try during this event.  I have been having so much fun with them all and I can honestly say that I have been so pleased with all the products that I received that I will continue to use them now that this event is completed.  I recommend these product for all my friends, family and dear readers.  I am thinking that many of them would make great gifts for those that love cooking as much as I do.

For today's recipe I am using ground duck from Maple Leaf Farms.
Mango Mustard from El Diablo.
Cherry Chipotle Sauce from Not Ketchup.
And Chunky Garlic and Chili Pepper from Gourmet Garden.

I browned the duck with the onions, garlic and salt and pepper.
Drained it and put it in my crockpot.
Added the rest of the ingredients and set it to cook for 4 hours.

Ducky Joes

1 lb. ground duck
1 small onion, chopped
1 t. Gourmet Garden chunky garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 t. Gourmet Garden Chili Paste
1/4 t. El Diablo Mango Mustard
2 T. Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup
2 T. Ketchup
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 can Chicken Gumbo Soup

Brown ground duck with onion, garlic, salt and pepper over med high heat.  Drain and place in the crock of a slow cooker.  Add remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.  Cook on low for 4 hours.  Print Recipe

**Note: Should you not have these items and/or not care to purchase these items you can use my recipe for Sloppy Joes using ground beef and items that you do have in your pantry.

Here's what the other team members brought to the table...

Homemade Honey Mustard Chipotle Chicken Bites by Love and Confections
Beer Cheese Brat Chowder by Cheese Curd In Paradise
Ducky 13 Bean Soup by The Not So Cheesy Kitchen
13 Bean Chili by Miss Laura’s Kitchen
Za’atar Spiced Cashews by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Chicken & Potato Stir Fry on the Grill by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy
El Diablo Spicy Wood Smoked Pork Butt by CafeTerraBlog
Grilled Lemongrass Lamb by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Grilled Clash of the Seasons Panzanella by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Boston Lager Cupcakes by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Monday, September 29, 2014

Marvelous Monday

What makes today marvelous?

  • I tried something new today...I went rollerskating.  I was horrid.  But I did not fall down and I am not giving up.  I am signing up for lessons, at least a couple, to see if I can get the hang of this.  I went during the old timer's skate so it was like a throwback to the 30's and 40's with all the music and skate dancing from that era.  It seems to be a theme this week.
  • I got to spend some time with Mom and she is doing wonderfully well.
  • I got some baby time in and gave Ting a chance to shower.
  • I got one of my freezers cleaned out.
  • We made a slew of Corn Chowder to put in the freezer I just cleaned. You can find my recipe for Corn Chowder right here.
  • I got all caught up on my blogs.
  • It is squash season so I am sharing two recipes with you.  Squash Puree which can then be used in many different recipes and Spaghetti Squash which is what's for dinner tonight.

First cut the pumpkin and the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise for the spaghetti squash.
Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 400*

I don't season the pumpkin as I just want clean puree to use in other recipes.
I drizzle the spaghetti squash with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper..

Flip them over and prick the skins with a sharp knife to prevent splitting.
Bake until fork tender.  
The pumpkin may start to collapse upon itself.

Remove the pumpkin from the shell and put into a strainer to allow all moisture to drain.

When the pumpkin puree is dry, place into a container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.

Pumpkin Puree

1 small pumpkin, halved and seeds removed

Place pumpkin, flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 400* for about an hour, until the pumpkin starts to collapse and a fork can be inserted easily into the flesh. Scoop out pulp and place into a strainer.  Allow to drain for an hour or longer, until the flesh is completely dry.  Place into a container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use. Print Recipe

Using a fork, start shredding the flesh of the spaghetti squash.
It will come out in strands.

Remove to a serving bowl.


Top with your favorite Marinara sauce.
I topped mine with this recipe that I had canned.
Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese.

Spaghetti Squash Marinara

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese

Place spaghetti squash halves onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Flip so that flesh side is down, puncture flesh with a fork or small knife to allow steam to escape.  Bake at 400* for an hour or until easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and flip over on baking sheet.  Using a fork, shred the flesh into strands and remove to a serving bowl.  Top with Marinara sauce that has been heated in a saucepan.  Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and serve.  Print Recipe

I am sharing this recipe with Simple Supper Tuesday.  Stop by and grab some great easy meal ideas!

One year ago--Funday Sunday

A Step Back in Time

Yesterday was a gorgeous day and we used it well.

Frank had donated a flight for 2 at a fundraiser a few months ago.  The couple that was the highest bidder on the flight chose to go to Mackinac Island for the day.  It was a perfect day for it.

Mackinac Island is like stepping back into time.  It is accessible only by boat or plane and there are no motor vehicles (with the exception of emergency vehicles) on the Island.  You travel by foot, bicycle, horse or horsedrawn carriages.  The construction is all from the 1800's to early 1900's.  It is pristine and secluded...until you get into the city which is teeming with people, restaurants and shops.

The couple was very nice and very excited about the trip.  They graciously paid for our horse drawn taxi into the city and then bought us a wonderful lunch at Seabiscuit Restaurant.  After lunch we split up and the couple went shopping while Frank and I went on a 5 mile hike.  The Island has great hiking trails where you seldom, if ever run into other people until you get to one of the sites at which the tours stop.

This is Arch Rock.
It is made of Limestone.
The center has eroded away and left it in the shape of this Arch.

This is the view from the top of Mackinac Island
Michigan's Great Lakes were once all oceans.
Our State stone, The Petoskey Stone, is fossilized coral.
You can see that they are as vast as oceans.
They turned fresh water after the ice age which is also what created our landscape that is flat on the east side of the state and gets hillier and even mountainous as you travel west.

It was a wonderful way to spend a glorious, sunny, crisp Autumn day.

One year ago--A is for Apples

Steak Kabobs --#10DaysofTailgate

Yes, today is the 10th day of #10DaysofTailgate, but the party is not over until tomorrow so this is not your last day of recipes!!  Lucky for you, when Camilla  decided to host this event we started on the 20th and went through to the 30th which actually gives you 11 days worth of terrific recipes from all of our talented bloggers or at least from me because I may have done it wrong LOL.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are very grateful to Camilla for all of her hard work. She arranged for us to have some amazing sponsors who provided us (the bloggers) with awesome products and you (the readers) with the chance to win some excellent prize packages.  You can learn all about our sponsors and the prize packages by going to this post.

Today, in my recipe for Beef Kabobs, I am showcasing  a couple of the products that I received from our generous sponsors.  I am going to be working with Fire Wire Flexible Skewers and using Gourmet Garden Herbs and Spices for seasoning my steak and my Themopop to make sure the meat is cooked to the perfect temperature.

I like to make Kabobs because they cook quickly and they look elegant.  I often cook my veggies on the same skewers as my meat. Today I am sticking with Mushrooms and Onions as the veggies included because in this household we usually serve sauteed Onions and Mushrooms with our Steak.

Gather your ingredients for the Marinade and place in a gallon plastic bag that can be sealed.

Cut your Steak into chunks.  
Add to the Marinade and refrigerate for a few hours.

Place Steak and Vegetables alternately on the Skewers.

Grill over Med heat to desired temperature.
Med Rare is 130*.

Remove from skewers and serve.

Steak Kabobs

1/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
1/8 c. Olive Oil
2 t. Gourmet Garden Chunky Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. Gourmet Garden Italian herbs or 2 t.dried Italian Seasoning
1 t. Gourmet Garden Parsley or chopped Fresh Parsley or dried Parsley or no parsley
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sirloin Steak (about 1/4 lb per person) cut into 1 1/2"- 2" chunks
Whole Large Mushrooms
1 Large Sweet Onion, cut into Chunks

Combine all ingredients up to the steak in a gallon sized sealable plastic bag and smoosh to mix.  Add the steak and release the air from the bag so all the steak is covered in marinade.  Refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight if you prefer.

Place the Marinaded Steak, alternating with Mushrooms and Onion, on a skewer.  I used Fire Wire Flexible Skewers for this recipe but any skewers will work.

Grill over med high  heat to your desired temperature.  I prefer my steak med rare (130*).

Print Recipe

Here's what the rest of the crew brought to the table...

BBQ Sausage & Cheese Plate by The Spiffy Cookie           
Vegified Hot “Wings”  by Curious Cuisiniere            
Fried Polenta Cakes with Grilled Tomato and Mozzarella Salad by Love and Confections               
Smoky Karma Stovetop Beans by Culinary Adventures with Camilla

Chile con Queso by Sew You Think You Can Cook

Kicking Karma Veggie Fajita Pizza by A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures     
Not Ketchup Cherry Chipotle Steak Tacos by Making Miracles               
BBQ Chickpea Sliders with Apple Slaw by Debbi Does Dinner Healthy         
Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili by The Pajama Chef