Saturday, May 31, 2014

From The Kitchen - Outside The Nest

Pickled Onions
It's that time of year again.
Burgers and brats on the grill.
I'm sharing a recipe that I had posted last year.
It's a good one. Don't roll your eyes and wrinkle your nose. Just follow along, scurry to your own kitchen, and give it a try.

First I start with slicing an onion. I like to use a nice Vidalia. They're mild and sweet. I slice it as thin as I  can.

Then I sprinkle on the salt, and let them sweat.

The ingredients are nothing fancy. Vinegar, mustard, garlic, oh my.

I rinse the salt off of the onion and slide it into the simmering pickling brine.

One onion magically fills my jar.

I love the tangy onions on my burgers (last summer's photo),

as well as on a brat with grainy mustard.
Doesn't this just make your mouth water?
Is it ever good.
Happy Saturday.
Pickled Onions
1 medium Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced into 1/8 inch slices
1-1/2 Tsp salt, divided
1/3 C cider vinegar
1/4 C water
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1/2 Tsp prepared mustard
1/4 Tsp celery seed

In small bowl, toss onion with 1 Tsp. salt, set aside for one hour. Pour off water and rinse onion. In small saucepan combine remaining ingredients, include 1/2 Tsp salt, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add onion, pulling rings apart, simmer 2-3 minutes longer, until onion is heated through, stirring often. Transfer to jar with a tight fitting lid. Let cool uncovered, put on lid and store in refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Bed and Breakfast - Part 2

The Breakfast
Last week I showed the bed part of the Riverview B&B.
Today I'm sharing the breakfast portion of B&B.

The first day we started with homemade granola topped with greek yogurt and a luscious fresh strawberry.

That was followed by quiche and a side of bacon. The bacon was from the local butcher shop.

Then we topped that off with cranberry pumpkin bread. The leftovers were placed on that empty covered cake plate, where cookies had resided the day before. The cookies came along with us on our shopping trip.

We found ourselves back at the Riverview early that afternoon, after a busy couple of hours. When Marilyn joined us, we informed her that we hadn't gotten to the place she suggested for lunch.

Next thing we knew, we had a plate of cheese, crackers, and fresh fruit. That was before we went out to enjoy a steak dinner at a local restaurant.

Sunday morning found us with yet another fantastic breakfast. We started with Erdbeersuppe, aka strawberry soup, which was much like a strawberry smoothie. Delishioso.

Next we had french toast with blueberry sauce, and fresh asparagus,

along with breakfast links from the local butcher shop.
We stopped at said butcher shop on our way out of town to pick up some tasty products.

We finished the meal with a bowl of fresh fruit.
Our compliments to the Innkeeper. Was it ever good.

Even if the bed part hadn't been good, which it was, the breakfast would have certainly made up for it. As I stated a week ago, no more motels for me. I have been totally and absolutely spoiled. This is the only way to go.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Peanut Butter Trail Mix
It's that time of year again. School's out and road trips are in the works.
Here's a handy little recipe that is quite healthy, and a whole lot tasty.

I start with the quick oats and two kinds of nuts. I use slivered almonds and chopped cashews. Other kinds will work just as well. 

Then I measure the peanut butter and honey into a microwave-safe container and give it a whirl.

Next I add the cinnamon and vanilla.

I mix it all together,

spread it on a baking sheet, and bake it. I don't spread it too thin, because I like this on the chunky side so that I can eat it with my fingers. If it's spread too thin, it'll brown too quickly, and possibly even burn.

When it's done baking and has cooled completely, I layer mine in a container. First the oat mixture, then a sprinkle of dried fruit and some yogurt covered raisins.

I couldn't decide if I wanted white or chocolate on the raisins, so I used both.

I topped off the mixture with a few of both kinds, and called it good.
This can be carried in little snack bags or small containers, or, in my case, left in the larger container so that I can just grab a handful and munch.
Any way you look at it, it's tasty, it's healthy.
As in, is it ever good.
Happy Saturday.

Peanut Butter Trail Mix

1/2 C reduced-fat peanut butter
1/2 C honey
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tsp vanilla
4 C quick-cooking oats
1/2 C sliced almonds
1/2 C cashew pieces
1 C chopped dried fruit mix
1 C yogurt covered raisins

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine peanut butter and honey in a microwave-safe bowl, heat 30 seconds.  Add cinnamon, vanilla, oats and nuts. Stir until well combined. Place on baking sheet, bake 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir, bake additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir gently once while cooling to allow mixture to stay in clumps. When completely cool, alternate layers of oat mixture, fruit and yogurt raisins in air-tight container.  Approximately 6 cups.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Bed and Breakfast - Part 1

The Inn and the Innkeeper
My friend, Wendy, and I recently slipped out of town for a girls-only weekend.
We stayed in a bed and breakfast, a first for both of us.

We started with a map and some very carefully typed instructions which I typed. We were taking back roads all the way there, enjoying the scenery. Unfortunately, the map was not exactly accurate. And then there was the fact that we turned around and went back the other way when we realized that  we were on the wrong road. What we didn't realize was that if we would have kept going on that wrong road, we would have ended up where we wanted to go and we wouldn't have been late. Too much talking.
On today's post, I'm going to share pics of the accommodations. Next week I'll share the food, and the following week the scenes.

We stayed at the Riverview Bed & Breakfast in Neshkoro, which is in Marquette County, in central Wisconsin. Marilyn Brockopp is the Innkeeper, tour guide, a blessing in disguise, a true angel.  

We had  the use of a quaint sitting room which included cushy seating, a TV, VCR, DVD player, plenty of interesting reading material, and an electric fireplace.

Our rooms were a delight as well. Mine was the Blue Iris room,

Wendy had the Vintage Room.

There is also the Tree House Room, nestled beneath the roof on the second floor.

We were provided with fluffy towels, cushy robes,
and best of all, chocolate. I was in heaven.

The first evening found us relaxing and talking. Imagine that. We had been talking non-stop since one o'clock that afternoon, and we were still going strong at seven that evening.

I helped myself to a bedtime snack, a wonderful oatmeal raisin cookie. We laughed, we discussed serious topics, we reminisced about days gone by.

Did I mention cookies? We didn't finish them that evening, but they disappeared the next day. I've turned down very few cookies in my life.
 We were certainly surprised by the pampering. We're both used to fending for ourselves. I cannot say enough good about our experience. This is a perfect place for a girls-only weekend, a romantic getaway, a time to relax and breath some clean air.
The setting is quiet, the town less than 500. 
My bucket list includes visiting 7 different B&B's in 7 years. Hmm, I'm not sure I will accomplish that. I feel the pull from this one, the lure to come back and visit again.
Peace, quiet, friendship, and the warm embrace of a lovely Christian soul who reached out and provided us with some much needed pampering.
Thank you Marilyn.
Food? Did someone mention food? Check back next week, and you'll see what I mean.
No more motels for me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

From the Kitchen-Empty Nest

All Things Italian
I enjoy Italian salad dressings, Italian Beef, Italian bread, all things Italian.
Today's recipe is a simple dry seasoning that can be used in so many ways. I use it in my:

spaghetti sauce,

to season chicken,

to make salad dressings. For a creamy dressing, simply combine fat free sour cream, cider vinegar, and seasoning.

Dollop on on a chef salad. Em, em, tasty.

Or, how about balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and seasoning.

Luscious, luscious on a chicken spinach salad. You don't have to be a gourmet chef in order to prepare food that tastes like a 5 star restaurant.

I like to stir up a batch and keep it in a small jar, ready and waiting for the next adventure to Italy.
Try it, you'll like it.
Is it ever good.

Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp onion powder
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1/4 Tsp dried thyme
1 Tsp dried basil
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1/4 Tsp celery salt
1 Tbsp reduced sodium salt

In small bowl, mix all ingredients together, store in tightly sealed container. Add to vinegar and oil for salad dressings, or in any recipe calling for Italian Seasoning

Italian Balsamic Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning

Combine all ingredients in jar, cover tightly and shake.

Creamy Italian Dressing
1/4 C fat-free sour cream
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tsp Italian seasoning

Stir together. If too thick, can be thinned with a small amount of milk. 4 servings

Saturday, May 10, 2014

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Short Ribs French Dip
aka Beef Au Jus

Last week I shared my recipe for homemade dry onion soup mix. If you missed it, you can find it here:
onion soup mix
Today, I'm sharing a recipe using said mix. Let me tell you right now, this is so darn tasty, that it's hard to stop eating.
The main ingredient is boneless short ribs.

I start with onion, which I slice nice and thin, using this gadget. I love kitchen gadgets.

Next the wet ingredients get mixed with

the dry. Nothing fancy, everything so simple.

Pile the meat on top of the onions, add the mixture, turn on the gizmo, let it cook.
Since I cook in small batches, I use my small crock pot and set it on low. If you try this, remember, the smaller the vessel, the faster it cooks.
Believe me, in this little beauty, it cooks. 4-5 hours max.
When it's nice and tender and I can pull the meat into nice chunks, I remove any fat or gristle.

Next I prepare the bread. This is a french roll. I like to use these when I'm looking for a substantial sandwich. Sliced french bread works as well.

Drizzle with olive oil and toast under the broiler until golden brown. By toasting the one side only, it will firm up the bread, and keep the juices from trickling through and creating a soggy mess.
Well, ok, so my attention was elsewhere, and the roll got a little more than golden brown. I scraped off the darkest part. It still tasted good. Since I don't want my readers to make the same mistake I did, I am including the photo for your chuckling pleasure.
Pile on the meat, sprinkle with shredded cheese (slices of provolone are wonderful as well),
return to the broiler until melted.

I also like to toast slices of Pesto Parmesan bread, and top with the meat and cheese. Like I mentioned earlier, I like the meat chunky, not all shredded into threads.

Put some of the juice into a small bowl, dip the bread/meat in, chew slowly to savor the flavors.

Was it ever good.
Happy Saturday

Short Ribs French Dip

1/2 inch of a large onion, thinly sliced
1 pound boneless short ribs
1-1/4 C water
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp dry onion soup mix
1/2 Tsp minced garlic
French rolls or a loaf of French bread
Shredded mozzarella cheese, or sliced provolone

Place onions in bottom of crockpot. Top with short ribs. Combine water, soy sauce, onion soup mix and minced garlic, pour over meat. Cook 4-6 hours, or until meat is tender and can be pulled apart into chunks. Remove meat from crockpot, pull apart with 2 forks, return to crockpot.

Drizzle olive oil on inside of French rolls, or slices of French bread. Place under broiler and broil one side until golden brown. Top with meat(without juice) and cheese, return to broiler and heat until cheese is melted. Serve with remaining juice for dipping. 4 servings.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Signing Event

Book Signing Event
I wanted to share a few pictures from my recent book signing event which took place at St. Jakobi.
I have a great group of followers who stand in line to get a signed copy of my book.

My first customer, or is that fan?, is my cousin, Shirley.

Next were my friend, Sandy, and my cousin, Audrey.

I even had a younger fan. Well, ok, she was just eyeing up the penny bowl and the bookmarks.
Her mom is on the Board of Education for our church.
$2 of each book sold was given to that board for a day camp trip to Camp Luther in Three Lakes.
I hope that I can help another child or family have the opportunity to go on that trip.

There were others there as well, always ready to support me. Some are friends,

others fellow parishioners and relatives.
I simply cannot say Thank You enough to those who believe in me. I am truly blessed.

My phone rang several hours later. It was another member of our congregation, a lovely lady who taught Saturday school and vacation bible school when I was a child.  She's unable to get out of the house, even to attend church.
She wanted me to know that she had read the first 2 books, and she asked if she could get the third. She spends many of her hours dealing with pain, and she advised that when she reads my books she can lose herself in the story and push her problems aside.
Another parishioner approached me with questions about my publisher. Their grandson has written a book, and was struggling to get it published.
I explained about Amazon publishing, and he was thrilled to hear that there are other options.
I am happy to share my little bit of knowledge and  stories; to help others, if at all possible.
With every book comes a tiny ray of hope for someone.
I'll never be on the best-seller list, and that's ok with me. I'm accomplishing what I had hoped, and I'll continue to work at it, one word, one chapter, one book at a time.
I'll say it again. I am blessed.