Tuesday, February 25, 2014



Dr. Mark Reinke, and well-known E.N.T. specialist in Green Bay, passed away on 12/25/13. He was 57 years old.
He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2012. When he received the diagnosis, he immediately gave up his practice so that he could work on his Bucket List.
I don't know how far he got with that, as he was also receiving treatment during that time.

I was acquainted with Dr. Reinke, as I had sought medical treatment from him a couple of years earlier.
When I read his obituary, it made me think: Do I have a bucket list, and if so, what's on it?

I had to think long and hard about that. Most of the time I just exist, as in working, eating, sleeping.
This continued to tease the edges of my imagination. 
Then last week I saw a young man on a television show who had a bucket list of 100 items.
Wow. Even when I was his age, I don't think I would have been able to come up with that.
So, back to the present day. What's on my bucket list.

1) Retire in 3 years, 6 months, 3 days, not that I'm counting.

2) Continue to write until I have 13 Rivers Run Cottage Series books written and published. I've always like a baker's dozen.

3) Publish a second cookbook. I'd like to do one with pictures.

4) Record my family's history in the form of a book with photos and statistics.

5) Stay at 7 different bed-and-breakfasts, in Wisconsin, in the next 7 years.

6) Publish a book of warm, fuzzy short stories.

It took a lot to come up that short list. I'm not sure if it's because I'm of a certain age, or if I'm content with life and don't see the need to seek new sights, new thrills, new experiences.

So, I ask you, what's on your bucket list?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

From The Kitchen - The Empty Nest

Smokin' Slow Pork

I've taken out my gizmo, aka, my mini-slow cooker, and cooked up a batch of slow pork. When I say batch, I mean 2 servings. It's easy to increase the recipe according to what you need.

This is a 3-in-1 recipe. I used my Chickadee Cottage Seasoning (recipe #1), made up some mighty tasty sauce (recipe #2), and created a mighty tender, tasty entree (recipe #3). Recipe 2 and 3 are technically 1, as in 1 recipe, not the #1 recipe as noted prior. Are you confused yet? 

I start with pork tenderloin. I've also made this with thick-cut restaurant-style pork chops.  Any kind of pork will work.I add the water,

then sprinkle on the first mixture of seasonings. This isn't my Savoring Seasoning, but is a mixture that I often turn to when I'm preparing some type of meat.

After this has cooked for awhile, I mix up the sauce,
which includes the Chickadee Cottage Seasoning,
and add it to the meat. You can find the recipe for the seasoning on this prior blog: Savory Seasoning. For a visual, see the first photo of this blog.
Then come back down and finish reading the rest. Thank you very much.
 This sauce can work for any recipe calling for bbq sauce. A little sweet, a little savory, a lot of tasty.

Now comes the good part. I like to melt some shredded mozzarella cheese on a french roll, and top with the pork.
Mm, Mm, good.
 I mean, is it ever good.
Happy Saturday.

Smokin’ Slow Pork
2 thick-cut pork chops, 1/4 lb. each, or 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
1/2 C water
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
1/4 Tsp garlic powder
1/4 Tsp onion powder
2 Tbsp + 2 Tsp ketchup
4 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tsp brown sugar
1 Tsp Chickadee Cottage Savory Seasoning
4 Tsp molasses
3-4 Drops liquid smoke

Place meat in 6 cup slow cooker. Add 1/2 C water. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder together, sprinkle on meat. Cook 4-5 hours on low, until meat is tender. Remove most of the liquid from the bottom of the crock. With forks, pull meat apart. In small bowl, mix ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, savory seasoning, molasses and liquid smoke. Spoon over meat and cover. Let heat 10-15 minutes, until hot. 2 servings

Saturday, February 15, 2014

From the Kitchen-Outside the Nest

Comfort Food 101
Cheeseburger Meatloaf

I like plain old boring meatloaf just fine.
I ate a lot of it growing up, and even took cold meatloaf and ketchup sandwiches for lunch.
There are those who turn up their noses at meatloaf, and yet they will eat eggs, or bread, or a hamburger.
These are the basics of meatloaf.

Let's examine how this is made.

I start with bread crumbs,ground sage, garlic and onion powder, a little salt, a sprinkle of black pepper.

Then I add the beef, and some of my favorite liquid egg product, aka Egg Beaters. Give it a good mixing, and add half to the bottom of the bread pan.

Top with some shredded cheddar, and bits of crisped bacon. If you like onion or mushrooms or peppers on your cheeseburger, you can tuck them in here as well. Put the top layer of meat mixture on, and pat into place.

Add a layer of mustard and ketchup, pop it in the oven.

Since I make mine in a mini-loaf pan, cutting the recipe into a quarter of the amount of ingredients, it's just enough for a meal.

 A few garlic potatoes and a handful of  brussels, and I'm good to good.
Is it ever good.
Happy Saturday

Cheeseburger Meatloaf
1/4 C bread crumbs
1 lb. ground round
1/4 C liquid egg product, or 1 egg
1/2 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp onion powder 
1/2 Tsp ground sage
1 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp ground black pepper
1/2 C shredded cheddar
4 strips crisp bacon, crumbled
2-3 Tbsp yellow mustard
1/4 C ketchup

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat inside of 4 x 8 inch bread pan with cooking spray. Combine bread crumbs, ground round, egg product, garlic powder, onion powder, ground sage, salt and pepper, until well mixed. Pat half of mixture into bottom of pan. Top with cheese and bacon. Place remaining meat mixture over top and pat into place. Top with mustard and ketchup. Bake 55-60 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160°. Remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes before serving. 4-5 servings

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Review

The Harbinger

A gentleman from my church recently shared his copy of this book. When I asked him what it was about, he searched for the right words, then simply stated that it deals with the end that is coming.
I was intrigued. I sat down and started reading, and I was hooked.
The book is classified as fiction/suspense. The story unfolds with a writer, Nouriel, who receives a seal, or harbinger, in the mail. He then meets up with a prophet, who explains the mystery of the harbinger, along with eight additional harbingers.
The story is riveting, the telling done in such a way that it pulls you in.
After I finished the book, I did a bit more research, and found 2 other books that have been written,  discrediting the facts and references that Jonathon Cahn lists in the book.

By the way, did I mention that this is classified as fiction?
The definition of fiction: "literary works of imagination, novels and stories that describe imaginary people and events". That describes all of us who sit at our computers and spin imaginary tales to catch a reader's imagination. Our stories are based on some type of facts and information, giving us a basis to work with.

Whether the facts that this book is based on are true or not, the contents of the book certainly has me thinking about our country, our beliefs, the slow progression away from faith. If Jonathon Cahn has accomplished nothing else, he has certainly made me ponder on the demise of our country that I see happening day by day.

Certainly an enjoyable read.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Red Velvet Cupcakes
This is so appropriate for Valentines Day.
Or any day for that matter.
Red is the color of love.
Red is the color of valentines.

What better way to celebrate that special day, than to whip up some Red Velvet cupcakes with a chocolate chip, cream cheese filling. To die for.

I start with the wet ingredients, including the most important part, the red food coloring.

I whisk the dry ingredients together,

and beat them all up. For all those naysayers who say that all-purpose flour doesn't make a light, soft cake, I say: try this, you'll like it.

Next comes the important filling. There are also naysayers who say you cannot use low fat cream cheese in cooking.
I beg to differ. I used these handy little wedges, and they worked just fine. Blocks of low-fat cream cheese, as well as whipped cream cheese spread will also work. 

After combining with the other ingredients, I beat it all together, then stirred in the chocolate.

As usual, I made a smaller batch for myself. 
Good thing I had this vintage 8-cup muffin tin hanging on my kitchen wall. Comes in right handy.
I've included instructions for both 8 and 12 cupcakes below.

They are  so pretty when they finish baking,

and they taste even better.
Are they ever good.
Happy Saturday, and may your Valentine's Day be filled with love.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

8 Cupcakes
1/2 C plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 Tsp baking soda
1/4 Tsp salt
1/2 Tsp baking cocoa
1/2 C granulated sugar
2 Tbsp liquid egg product
1/4 C plus 3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
2 Tbsp vanilla almond milk
1/4 Tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350°. Line muffin pan with papers or silicone liners. In bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa and sugar. In separate bowl combine egg product, oil, sour cream, almond milk, vanilla, and red food coloring. Using mixer, beat on low speed until well mixed. All flour mixture slowly, beating on low speed until mixed well. Divide into pan. If using a 12-muffin pan, add about 1/4 C of water to the cups with no batter.  

Cheese filling:
2 oz fat-free cream cheese spread
1-1/2 Tsp liquid egg product
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix together. Drop scant teaspoon in center of each cupcake before baking. Bake 18-22 minutes, until edge of cupcake springs back when touched, and cheese mixture begins to lightly brown. Cool on wire rack.
12 cupcakes
3/4 C plus 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/8 Tsp baking soda
3/8 Tsp salt
3/4 Tsp baking cocoa
3/4 C granulated sugar
3 Tbsp liquid egg product
1/2 C plus 1-1/2 Tbsp canola oil
3 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
3 Tbsp vanilla almond milk
3/8 Tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp red food coloring

Cheese filling:
3 oz fat-free cream cheese spread
2-1/4 Tsp liquid egg product
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

6 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rivers Run - The Next Chapter

Angel Song

Here it is! The next book in the Rivers Run Cottage Series.
I've just placed it on Amazon today. Paperbacks will be available in 7 days. Kindle ebooks will be available within the next 2 days.
Book signing events will be coming soon(when it warms up outside, like maybe July 2020).

Doug and Jackie's romance continues in this book. Here's a quick view into what you can expect:

Rivers Run is a small quiet town in the Northwoods. Everybody knows everybody. Rumors flow from tongue to tongue, the same as anywhere else.
The rumor mill kicks into high gear when a stranger shows up and comes across a tragic fire. Who is the woman who was pulled from the fire and what was she doing in an abandoned cottage? It seems there are family secrets that were so well kept that even the family, themselves, doesn’t know about them.
Jackie O’Reilly ignores those wagging tongues. She’s got enough on her plate right now with planning her marriage to Doug Sterling. When he first proposed, she was so shocked that all she could do was mutter ‘yes’. She’s managed to push her uneasiness aside and continue with making plans. When she’s confronted with the one thing that could change her mind, will she get past it, or will she call off the wedding altogether? 

The next 2 books are already written and waiting to be published. Book 4 is 2 years old and never published. Book 5 is almost a year old and never published. Here's a sneak peek into those stories.

Book 4 - Where's There's A Will (Katie's story)
Book 5 - Sweet Nothings (Romance and drama, o my)

Book 6 - Everything In 3's, is in the planning state, and will center on Win Boxter. You've met her in the second book, 'The Color of Light'. She has a way of flitting in and out of a story without settling or giving you a clear picture of who she is.
It's time to pull her from the background and place her front and center. Oh my, her life will become very interesting.

Hope you enjoy 'Angel Song'. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

From the Kitchen

Roasting Vegetables

They say that when you cook/boil vegetables in water, and throw out the water, you are throwing out the nutrients. If you steam your vegetables, you are retaining the nutrients. But, you need a steamer for that.
I've gotten into the latest trend, which is roasting vegetables.

It started with fresh brussels. I am trying to broaden my horizons, as in eating vegetables that I didn't like.
I know, last week mushrooms, this week brussels. What is this world coming to?
So, I tried preparing them a number of different ways, but couldn't find the right method. Yuk, blah, boring, who eats these things, anyway?

That's when I got my aha! moment.
I have those sometimes.

I pulled out the olive oil, garlic powder, salt. I use full strength salt for this, rather than the reduced-sodium kind.

I poured and sprinkled, then threw in the brussels and gave them a toss.
And then I roasted them.
Were they ever good.

And then it hit me.
The next aha! moment. Kinda scary.
Why not add some others, like carrots and fingerling potatoes? (Yes, those dark little blobs are potatoes. Interesting blue/purple potatoes.)
After all, some of the seasoned oil mixture still coated the bowl. Surely, they would be just as tasty. And so, I commenced to dabbling with other possibilities. And I popped them in the oven, and roasted and toasted.

Mighty tasty. Don't mind those dark spots and cheeks, that just adds to the flavor. They perked up that leftover beef roast that lurked in my refrigerator.

 Roasting is my new technique for veggies. I've also roasted cauliflower. That's another recipe for another time. Oh, and by the way, no butter required.

The final verdict?
Was it ever good. If it wasn't, I wouldn't be sharing with you.
Happy Saturday

Roasted Vegetables

Olive Oil
Garlic powder, to taste
Salt, to taste
Brussel Sprouts, mini carrots, fingerling potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim stem end of brussel sprouts. Combine Olive oil, garlic powder and salt in bowl. Add sprouts, toss until coated. Place on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pierce potatoes with fork, toss carrots and potatoes in bowl, coating with seasoned oil that remains. Remove brussel sprouts from oven after 10 minutes, add carrots and potatoes, return to oven and roast additional 15 minutes.
The amount of oil, garlic powder and salt will depend on the amount of veggies that are being prepared. For a single serving, use about 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/2-1 Tsp garlic powder, and 1/2 Tsp. salt.