Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A DIY Happy Halloween to You.......

Happy Halloween everyone.  I hope your day is hauntingly wonderful and eerily exciting.  We actually have our Little Angel Face today.  She has already been trick or treating 4 or 5 times with her Mama but I think we will take her out for a little bit today anyway.

We don't get any beggars at our house.  We live in a rural area where the houses are too far apart, the streets are not lit, there are no sidewalks and the speed limit on our road is 45 mph.  However, we are only a few blocks from town and the local police shut down the streets in the area so that the kids can safely beg there and then the Lion's club has a big bonfire and hot dog roast when the designated time for begging is over.

Frank and I attended a Halloween Party last Saturday evening.  We did not dress up but we did take part in the pumpkin carving contest.

While Frank worked on the pumpkin, I went onto the computer and found a poem about witches.  There was no credit listed for the author of the poem, it was simply listed as a children's poem.  I copied it down and typed it out using some spooky fonts and background.

I picked up a black frame, a raven and a bag of creepy crawlies from the dollar store.  Then it was
simply a matter of printing out the poem and hot gluing the raven and other creatures to the frame.

It was an enjoyable morning project.  This is the first time we have carved pumpkins in about 10 years.  Next year,  Melody will be old enough to join in the fun.  We are looking forward to that.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Mediterranean Muffins #MuffinMonday

Happy Muffin Monday all.  I have a savory muffin to share with you today.  These muffins are stuffed with sundried tomatoes and feta cheese.  I omitted the kalamata olives that the original recipe contained because 1. I didn't have any in the house and (most importantly) 2. Frank doesn't like olives.

Since these muffins were made to accompany a Mediterranean Chili we were having for dinner, I wanted to make sure he liked them.  That chili recipe will be coming up in a couple of weeks so stay tuned.

These are not light and fluffy muffins.  These are dense and hearty muffins.  Perfect for a soup and bread supper.  I usually try to have bread of some sort with dinner.  We grew up doing so.  I'm sure it was a way for my mother to fill up 4 growing boys as well as 2 girls, herself and our Pops.  We also had a lot of soup dinners.  You can stretch a couple of pounds of meat a long way if you put it into a soup, stew or sauce.

I worked the afternoon shift when my children were young.  Their dad worked the day shift so this meant they only needed to be home unattended for a couple of hours in between my leaving and their dad coming home.  Someone once asked my daughter what kind of dinners her dad would make.  She responded "the same as mom except mom has more vegetables and bread when she makes dinner".

I hope that you enjoy these muffins with your next dinner.  Frank ended up really liking them so I was glad that I didn't include olives.  I, however, think the olives would have been marvelous in these already wonderful muffins.

Mediterranean Muffins
adapted from Land o Lakes butter

2 c. flour
1 T. sugar
1 T. baking powder
3-4 sundried tomatoes, packed in oil, drained and finely chopped
1/3 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. fresh basil leaves, chopped
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
Parmesan cheese  for sprinkling

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and baking powder.  Add the tomatoes, basil and feta.  Stir to combine and make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, butter and egg.  Pour into the well created in the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.

Divide into a 12 cup muffin pan that has been treated with cooking spray or lined with paper cups.  Sprinkle the muffins with Parmesan cheese and bake in a preheated 400* oven for 15-20 minutes or until a skewer inserted removes cleanly. Print Recipe

More Marvelous Muffins

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spooky Pizza Bites #SundaySupper

Our theme for this week's Sunday Supper is Halloween Finger Food.  For me, Halloween is all about the little ghouls, ghosts and goblins, so I decided to have my grand-daughter help me to make some Hauntingly Good Pizza Bites.

We started with refrigerated pizza dough rolled thin and cut out spooky shapes using our Halloween Cookie Cutters.  We made ghosts and bats.  I don't know what happened to my pumpkin cookie cutter.

I added the sauce and the Angel Face added the pepperoni.  Two pieces for her, one piece for the ghost, until the ghosts were covered.  My girl is a salami nut!!

Sprinkled on the cheese, popped them into the oven and in 10 minutes we were enjoying our Spooky Pizza Bites for lunch.

Spooky Pizza Bites

1 pkg refrigerated pizza dough
1 jar prepared pizza sauce
1 pkg. pepperoni slices, slivered
Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Roll out the pizza dough into a thin rectangle.  Using Halloween cookie cutters cut the dough into shapes and transfer onto a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat.  Spread the sauce over the shapes leaving a slight border along the edges.  Place desired amount of pepperoni on top of the sauce and sprinkle generously with the cheese.

Bake in a preheated 450* oven until cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Print Recipe

Halloween Finger Foods #SundaySupper

Spooky Snacks and Starters

Tasty Trick-or-Treats

Sunday Supper MovementJoin 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, October 28, 2017

Ricotta/Mascarpone Pillows with Roasted Mushroom Sauce #Merlotme

I served up this meal on a Meatless Monday.  Frank isn't crazy about Meatless Mondays.  He never complains and he always eats whatever I put on the table but he is definitely a carnivore and misses meat when it is not included in a meal.

We sat down, said grace, toasted with a bottle of Januik Merlot that I had received for the #MerlotMe event, and dug in.  After the first bite, Frank commented that the wine paired well with the dish.  A couple more bites and Frank said that this recipe was a keeper.

#MerlotMe takes place each October when American Wineries get together and showcase this often misunderstood and unloved varietal that is so lush, rich and delicious.  Many of the wineries send samples to bloggers as part of this movement.  I love getting free samples and I am happy to participate in food and wine pairings.  When sharing these pairings with my readers I am always sure to give my own honest opinion.  You can learn more about the #MerlotMe movement in this post or by typing #MerlotMe into any social media platform.

Frank poured us each another glass of wine and then went back for seconds on the pasta finishing it off. Then he said words that made my heart melt...."This is better than any pasta dish I have ever had at any restaurant".  It is praise such as this that we food bloggers strive for each and every time we cook.

Januik vineyards are located in Columbia Valley, Washington.  It shares a tasting room with another winery, Novelty Hill.  Both wineries are under the direction of Mike Januik.  Their website doesn't have much to say but rather invites you to try their wines and see what you think.  I think the wine was smooth and fruity.  I thought it paired very well with the earthiness of the mushrooms in this dish.  I think it would pair just as well with pasta in red sauce, pizza, steak or burgers.  I find this is true of most Merlot.  It is a very food friendly varietal.

The recipe for the pasta was inspired by one found in Cuisine at Home, however it is changed so drastically that the only resemblance to the original is the use of mascarpone in the filling and the roasting of the mushrooms before creating the sauce.

This made a wonderful Meatless Monday meal.  It would be equally as lovely if served as a pasta course or first course at a dinner party.  It is casual enough that it would be a welcome addition to a potluck buffet or to be whipped up and served up to friends on a busy weeknight get together.

The recipe I am sharing made 2 dinner portion servings.  Feel free to double or triple the recipe as needed.

Ricotta/Mascarpone Pillows with Roasted Mushroom Sauce

1 pkg. wonton wrappers
1/4 c. whole ricotta cheese
2 T. mascarpone cheese
1 T. shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 t. dried thyme, divided
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 T. Olive oil (I used garlic infused)
2 scallions, white and light green parts
1/4 c. white wine
1/4 c butter
1/2 c. chicken broth

Combine the ricotta, mascarpone, parmesan, 1/4 t. thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  

Toss the mushrooms with olive oil, salt, pepper and remaining 1/4 t. thyme.  Place in an oven safe skillet and roast in a preheated 450* oven for about 10-15 minutes, until browned.

While the mushrooms are roasting, place about a 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese filling onto the center of  wonton wrappers. Using a pastry brush, dipped in water, wet the edges of the wonton wrappers and fold into triangles, pressing the sides to seal.  Bring each long corner of the triangles together and then bring up the remaining edge to meet, as if folding a diaper.  

Place a large pot of salted water on to boil.  While waiting for the water, remove the mushrooms from the oven and place on the stovetop over med high heat.  Add the wine and cook, stirring up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan until the wine is nearly evaporated.  Reduce heat to medium and add the butter and chicken broth.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid  is slightly thickened.  

Drop the pillows into the boiling water and cook just until the rise to the top. This should only take a few minutes. As they rise, transfer them with a slotted spoon to the skillet with the mushrooms.  Toss, gently to coat.  Print Page

Friday, October 27, 2017

Before We Were Yours: An Audible Book Review and The Weekly Menu

Image result for before we were yours

Wow.....all I can say is Wow!!  This novel is the first that I've read by this author.  It was narrated by Emily Rankin and Catherine Taber, both of whom did a marvelous job.  

This novel is based on the true horror story of the Tennessee Children's Home Society ran by the infamous Georgia Tann.  It is the story of Rill Foss/Mae Crandall and her siblings who were stolen from their home and their loving parents, separated and sold off to the highest bidders.  

The Tennessee Children's Home Society stayed in operation, stealing children from poor homes and selling them off to rich homes, for more than 30 years.  Many of these children were from loving homes with parents who provided for them as well as they were able during the great depression.  Disparity between classes is nothing new and this novel accentuates just how evil is the love of money.  This operation was ignored by law enforcement officials, hidden by politicians and endorsed by society who credited the Society with making adoption an acceptable possibility and placing "poor waifs" into good homes.

Some of them were good homes with parents who wanted a child more than anything and, living in other States, had no idea of the circumstances that lead to the acquiring of these "orphans".  That, however, does not change the fact that families were torn apart to provide these children to the new homes.

Some were not so l lucky as to get adopted.  Many were neglected, abused and died while awaiting adoption.  Those that got too old to be viable candidates for adoption were sent to work farms and treated as slaves.  Some were adopted by families that may have been rich but were not suitable for children. Joan Crawford acquired her daughters through this society and we all know how that turned out.

I would give this novel a 5 star rating.  The information on the Tennessee Children's Home Society is historical and factual. The fictional account of a family who were stolen and placed in this society is horrifically realistic.  The story of, Avery Stafford, is interesting and keeps you wanting to hear more.  

The Weekly Menu

I am including this week's menu in this post instead of writing a second post. 

Tomorrow night we are attending a Halloween Party at the Bendas.  I am bringing Kielbasa and Sauerkraut to the potluck.

That's it for the plans for the week.  Can you believe it??  Woohooooo....a Free Sunday and a non stress week.

Saturday-Halloween Party
Kielbasa and Sauerkraut for Pot Luck

Sunday Supper
Lemon Oregano Pork Chops
Spinach and Tomatoes
Mashed Potatoes

Meatless Monday
Squash and Chard Manicotti

Toddler Tuesday
Meatballs in Mushroom Gravy
Mashed Potatoes

Pork Pad Thai
Steamed Rice
Mango Salad

Leftovers before Choir

Date Night (Dinner and a Movie)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Shrimp Prosciutto and Mushroom Pizza for #NationalPizzaMonth #MadeinFrance

October is a great month!  The weather cools.  The foliage turns into a kaleidoscope of colors.  The houses get all decked out for All Hallow's Eve. The kids are all running around giddy excited.  There is candy and chocolate and goodies galore.

And then to make this month even more fantabulous......It is National Pizza Month!!  Those who know me, know that there is no food that I love more than Pizza.  It beats out chocolate and cookies. It beats out pasta and potatoes.  It beats out steak and lobster.  Not that I don't  love all those foods too but.....C'mon....it's PIZZA!!

Our friend, Colleen of The Redhead Baker feels that same as I about pizza so she decided to throw a party and invite all of us like-minded bloggers to bring a pizza to the bash.  

I made up a batch of homemade pizza dough.  This recipe makes enough for 2 pizzas if you are serving a family.  I used half for our pizza, since it is just me and Frank, and put the other half into the refrigerator to turn into garlic knots to serve with dinner another night.

I sauteed up some mushrooms and onions to add to the pizza.  I like precooking my mushrooms and onions first.  I think the flavor is better.  I'm not a huge raw mushroom and onion person and it doesn't have quite enough time to get cooked to my liking in the 10 minute baking time.

I always try to add some greens to my pizza.  It is a great way to sneak in some extra nutrition and it helps to alleviate some of the guilt of this guilty pleasure of mine.  I had some baby kale in the refrigerator but any tender greens will work.  If you have adult greens, sauté them up first with the mushrooms and onions.

Then I sprinkled on the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, layered several slice of prosciutto on top and covered the entire pizza with 12 large shrimp before popping it into a hot oven. 

While the pizza baked I went into the wine fridge and pulled out this bottle Touraine Sauvignon Blanc from Paul Buisse.  This wine was provided to me from Whole Foods as part of their #MadeinFrance event.  You can learn more about this event in this post or by searching #MadeinFrance on any social media platform.  

While this wine was provided as a sample all opinions in this blog are strictly my own.  This wine is clear, bright and crisp.  Coming from the Loire Valley it pairs well with fresh water fish but I thought it could stand up well to the shrimp and prosciutto on this pizza.  I was right and I was happy that I made this choice.

My pizza didn't want to come off the peel very easily.  Make sure you put down a nice layer of cornmeal on the peel under the pizza dough before you add the toppings. I use a pizza stone and wooden peel when I make pizza.  If you don't have or don't use a pizza stone you can just form this pizza right onto a baking sheet.

As you can see, my pizza is a little misshapen but it tasted absolutely marvelous.  I added additional mushrooms and onions to the top of this pizza when I decided to only make one pie instead of two.

The buttery flavor of the Sauvignon was perfect with the shrimp.  The crispness of the wine helped cut the richness of the cheese and prosciutto.  It was a wonderful dinner.

I can't wait to see what all the others are sharing with us today.  I am excited to have new pizzas to try each month.  You will find links to the recipes right underneath mine.  Pizza anyone??

Shrimp Prosciutto and Mushroom Pizza

1 recipe pizza dough, homemade, store bought or your favorite recipe
1/4 c. pizza sauce, or to taste
5 oz. sliced mushrooms
1/2 small onion, sliced
2 t. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 handfuls of baby kale
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. shredded parmesan cheese
4 slices prosciutto
12 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and onions. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Roll your dough into a round or square to your desired thickness.  Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1" border.  Sprinkle the mushrooms and onions over the sauce and top with the kale, covering the mushrooms and onions.

Sprinkle the cheese over all and then add a layer of the prosciutto topped with the shrimp.  Bake in a preheated 500* oven for about 10 minutes, until shrimp is pink, cheese is bubbly and crust is golden brown.  Print Recipe

More recipes to celebrate #National Pizza Day

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Pork and Pears with Hard Cider Sauce #NationalPearDay

Happy National Pear Day!!

I have invited some of my blogging friends to celebrate with me today. I kind of feel sorry for pears.  We spent an entire week posting all of our favorite apple recipes during the last week of September.

We had a lot of fun but now it is time to celebrate the pear and it gets one lousy day......what is that all about!!

On my old farmstead I had pear trees so I was always looking for ways to use up pears. Some of my favorite recipes are this Spiced Pear Bundt Cake  and this Caramelized Pear Upside Down Cake.  I also love them in savory preparations like these Pan Roasted Pork Chop with Pear Chutney or this Salad with Arugula and Pears.

I decided to prepare another savory dish to share with you today.  I love the combination of Pork and Pears so when I saw this recipe for Vanilla Cider Pork with Pears in Cuisine at Home, I knew it was going to be a winner.

It starts with Pork Tenderloin, one of my favorite cuts when I want to get dinner on the table in short order.  Just be careful that you don't overcook it.  You want it to be a perfect medium rare at an internal temperature of 140*.

Quarter up some nice ripe but firm pears in some butter, until they turn a nice golden brown. Then remove them to a plate.

In the same pan, sear the pork that has been seasoned with salt and pepper and lightly dredged in flour.  When browned place on the plate with the pears.

Don't worry, we aren't ignoring the apple.  We are going to use a nice, crisp hard cider in the sauce.  The best thing?  You only need 1 cup which means, of course, that you HAVE TO drink the cider remaining in the bottle.  It would be a crime to waste this lovely beverage.

Deglaze the pan with the cider mixed with chicken broth, cream and flavored with vanilla.  When the sauce is reduced by half, return the pork and pears to the pan and continue to boil until pork reaches desired temperature and sauce has thickened.

Remove Pork and Pears to a serving platter.  Drizzle with the sauce and serve. This is a delightful harvest dinner showcasing all the wonderful flavors of Fall. 

You will find more perfect pear recipes at the bottom of this post.  I can't wait to see what the others are sharing.  I am always excited to get new pear recipes.

Pork and Pears with Hard Cider Sauce
adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #47

3 T. butter
3 large, ripe, firm pears, peeled, cored and quartered
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and sliced into 1" thick medallions
1/2 c. flour 
salt and pepper, to taste
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. hard apple cider
1/3 c. heavy cream
1 t. vanilla

Melt butter in large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the pears and cook until lightly browned in spots. Remove to a plate and set aside.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Dredge each medallion lightly in the flour.  Place into the butter remaining in the skillet and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Remove to the plate holding the pears.

Whisk together the cider, cream and chicken broth.  Add to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Stir to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the vanilla and continue to boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Return the pork and the pears to the sauce.  Continue to cook at a gentle boil until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140*-155* (med rare to med), the pears are tender and the sauce has thickened.  

Remove pork and pears to a platter to rest for 5 minutes leaving the sauce on low heat in the skillet.  When ready to serve drizzle warm sauce over the pork and pears.  Print Recipe

More Pear Recipes to Celebrate National Pear Day

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Hot and Sour Soup #FoodnFlix #BookReview

Okay, so do you want to know how out of the loop I am?

Do you want to know how old I feel?

When Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles chose Ghostbusters as this month's Movie for Food n Flix  I was shocked.  What do you mean Ghostbusters 2016?  There was a Ghostbusters 2016?

I had to look it up.  Yep, there it was and with another star studded cast and this time those Ghostbusters were women.

Image result for ghostbusters original

For you youngsters out there, the original movie came out in 1984 and starred Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Sigourney Weaver and a whole slew of others.  Please, please do not ask me who is Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and Sigourney Weaver.  I am feeling quite old enough, thank you very much.

Of course, you do know who some of them are as they made cameo appearances in the 2016 version starring Melissa McCarthy, who I love.

Image result for ghostbusters 2016

I didn't think that a movie could get any goofier or hokier than the original.  I was wrong....this movie is even more ridiculous and just as fun....as long as you aren't looking for any intellectual stimulation.

I don't remember any food in the original movie, except perhaps marshmallow fluff and green slime, both of which made an appearance in the remake as well.

The saving (foodie) grace of this movie is that the Ghostbuster's offices are on top of a Chinese Restaurant.  I knew I loved Chinese food for a reason.

Melissa McCarthy has an ongoing feud with the Chinese Restaurant because every time she orders wonton soup there is little or no wonton included.  However, I have previously shared my Wonton Soup recipe with you.

Image result for myers and chang cookbook

Then, as luck would have it, I won an Asian Cookbook, Myers+Chang at Home, from the folks over at The Book Club Cookbook.  Perfect!  I started reading the Preface written by Christopher Myers and the Introduction by Joann Chang.  I learned about how they met, how they married and how they started the restaurant.  I also learned about how they decided the menu and that Christopher's best friend Esti, who is Jewish but obsessed with Hot and Sour Soup, created the one they serve in the restaurant. They dare you (and me) to find a better Hot and Sour Soup anywhere.

As I read that I recalled a reference to Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp in the movie and knew that I had found the recipe that I was going to share today.  I had to make a grocery run because tofu is not an item I use very often.  The grocer was out of ground pork but I had bought some country ribs to use in my Slow Cooker Cassoulet so I pulled out my handy dandy kitchen aid and ground my own.

Now, I can pretty much guarantee that this is the best hot and sour soup I have ever tried because it was the first time I had ever tasted hot and sour soup.  However, Tingting loves hot and sour soup and we were taking the Angel Face home so I texted her and told her I would be making dinner for them that night and would see her when she got home.

I transported the soup so that I only needed to rewarm it and add the eggs before serving.  I also packed up my wok and the ingredients for a quick chicken and veggie stir fry.

Never having had this soup before I was a little unsure of the cloudiness after I stirred in the egg but Tingting took a bite and gave it a thumbs up.  I served it up and it met with my, Franks and Little Miss Melody's approval as well.  I am happy to have another Asian Soup in my repertoire.

I will be linking up over at Foodies Read where we share all of the books that inspire us to get creative in the kitchen.

Interested in joining us over at FoodnFlix?  You can learn how by going here.  Next month we are watching Planes Trains and Automobiles hosted by Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures.