Thursday, August 13, 2015

The End of the Line

The End of the Line
For some, life just meanders on, the same thing day after day. For others, there are numerous challenges and changes as the days go by.
I have experienced many changes, from getting married, to losing a spouse, to building a new house due to a degenerative disease, to selling that house and moving to an apartment.
Along the way, I became an author, got brave and published my books, started my blog.
I've seen computers change from key-punching to something you can slip into your pocket or purse. Phones can now tell you the weather, play music, show a video, get your emails, give you directions.
But, as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, or is it the final chapter, the end of the line, the last hurrah, adios amigos? 
However you look at it, what I'm trying to spit out is that I will no longer be a blogger. It's been a difficult decision to make, but one that I feel is right.
I don't foresee starting a blog again in the future.
I will continue to write. After all, I want to publish at least 13 books(one of the items on my bucket list).
I need the time away to rethink, regroup, regenerate.
I want to thank all of my faithful readers and followers. As they say, it's been a real trip.
But, all trips eventually come to an end.
And, in the famous words of my late grandfather, was it ever good.
Tearfully yours.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek before I Tweak

I have my next two books written. I just need to tweak them before I publish.
I've decided to share the covers, along with the titles, today.

Three of Everything
Rivers Run certainly does have their share of problems and crime. Old and new characters, and I mean characters.

Cowboy Coffee
The setting is different, the story is shorter, the characters are old and new.
I'll have both ready for printing by the middle of October, and hope to schedule another book signing event for early November.
I'll be sure to share a blip or two from each book when they're published.
Hope to see you soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tiny Kitchen Nation

Lemon Bars

Day 2 of the Tiny Kitchen Nation. Day 1 was last Tuesday. I made Toffee Bars, in case you missed it.
They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Well, I didn't exactly have any lemons, but I had the product thereof, so I came up with my version of the famous Lemon Bar, baked in a tiny pan, in my tiny oven, in my tiny kitchen.

Butter and sugar,


mix until crumbly.

Press in the pan, and bake. Oh wait, first grease the pan. I use a bit of corn oil, or canola oil, or olive oil, depending on what I have on hand, and I brush it with a pastry brush. There's nothing wrong with using cooking spray, but when the can is empty, that's one more item in the landfill that just sits there and doesn't disappear.
Ok, I'm hopping off of my soapbox now.

Now I bake it in my toaster oven. You can use a 4x8 inch bread pan, a 5x7 inch glass baking pan, or a 6x9 inch baking pan. I switch off, depending on whether I'm baking in my tiny oven, or the regular oven.

While the crust is baking, it's time to mix the lemon part. Liquid egg product (like EggBeaters) ((remember, 1/4 C egg product equals 1 egg)),

flour, sugar, lemon juice from a bottle,

and a drop or 2 of lemon extract.

Here's the tricky part. Do not overdo the extract. You won't like it. Trust me on this.


Pour over crust that has been baking,

bake it again. It gets nice and brown on top, which doesn't hurt it a bit.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar,
and there you have it. Another great recipe from the tiny pan that fits in the tiny oven that sits on the counter of the tiny kitchen.
Are they ever good.
Happy Saturday

Lemon Bars

1/3 C butter
8 Tsp granulated white sugar
2/3 C flour
1/3 C liquid egg product
1/2 C granulated white sugar
4 Tsp flour
3-1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 Tsp lemon extract
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325°. Spray 4x8 inch glass bread pan with cooking spray, set aside. Combine butter, 8 Tsp granulated white sugar, and flour, until crumbs form. Press into bottom of baking pan. Bake 15-20 minutes, until golden. In small bowl, combine liquid egg product, 1/2 C granulated white sugar, flour, lemon juice and extract, whisk until combined. Pour over top of crust, bake additional 20 minutes. Cool on baking rack. When completely cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars. 8 bars

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Tiny Kitchen Nation

Tiny Toffee Bars
Tiny House Nation, Tiny House Hunting, Tiny House Living. Where will it all stop? I hope the shows don't ever stop. I love watching to see how one to six people will fit into, and live in, one hundred fifty square feet to five hundred square feet.
One of the most common comments when they see the kitchen: will the Thanksgiving turkey fit in the oven? That has me thinking, which is a really scary thought in itself. How about some Tiny Kitchen Nation recipes?
I'm getting with the program today, so to speak, by sharing my aunt's recipe for Tiny Toffee Bars. Her recipe calls for a 10x15 inch pan. That won't work for my tiny kitchen, so I baked them in a tiny pan, in a tiny oven. It can be done.

I start with creaming butter and adding brown sugar.

Liquid egg product, such as Egg Beaters, because I don't have fresh eggs. If I did, I wouldn't use them anyway. I would have to beat an egg, measure out 1 Tbsp, and throw the rest away. That's not economical, and it's wasteful. Eggs are a precious commodity in this day and age, based on the cost per dozen, unless you have your own chickens running around your yard.

Ok, now the dry ingredients, and mix,

press in a tiny pan (5x7), place in a tiny oven(toaster oven). I like using my toaster oven so that I don't need to heat up my tiny home with my regulation style oven. It's summer. I don't need any extra heat.

After it's baked, I sprinkle with chocolate chips,

wait until they melt(a couple of minutes), and spread with the back of the spoon.

I sprinkled mine with finely chopped pecans. Other nuts can be used, according to your taste.
So there you have it. A tiny batch of Tiny Toffee Bars, which allows you a tiny taste of goodness.
My next tiny kitchen recipe: Lemon bars. If my tiny oven bakes them properly, I'll share that recipe as well.
This batch? It's going to a get-together with my family.
Are they ever good? We'll have to wait to see what their opinions are.

Tiny Toffee Bars

1/4 C butter
1/4 C brown sugar
1 Tbsp liquid egg product
1/4 Tsp vanilla
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/8 Tsp salt
2 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate baking chips
2 Tsp finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350° (325°for glass pan). Combine butter and brown sugar, cream until light and fluffy, add egg product and vanilla, mix well. Stir in flour and salt. Press into 5x7 inch pan, bake 18-22 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with semi-sweet baking chips, let sit until chips are glossy and begin to melt. Spread over bars with back of spoon. Sprinkle with nuts. Cut into bars immediately and let cool.8 bars

Saturday, August 1, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Grilled Pineapple Sundaes

Yes, I'm still grillin' and chillin'. This recipe will really bring the chill on after I get my grill on.
If you read my blog on Tuesday, you know that I am not perfect, because I wasn't able to produce the perfect caramel sauce for my ice cream.
I needed to step it up, come up with something different, in order to sooth my irritated ego.

This is a pineapple cutter. It is the slickest gadget, rating at the top of my variety of gadgets.

This is what I get when I ply the pineapple cutter to a fresh pineapple. Sorry, no before and after. I figure everybody knows what a fresh pineapple looks like.

This is toasted coconut. Just a side note: I found instructions from a very reliable source, that said to toast the coconut on a microwave safe plate, 30 seconds at a time, until lightly browned. Well, either my microwave is way stronger the the source's, or my microwave safe plate isn't so safe. I threw out the darkened evidence. Extra dark coconut does not smell nice. Trust me on this.
 Then I went at it 10 seconds at a time, stir, 10 seconds, stir, etc. Much better.

And we're grillin'. That's right. I put my fresh pineapple slices on the grill, and got them some tan lines. I was careful, so as not to burn the pineapple, because when I have fresh pineapple, I do not want to waste a single morsel.

Grilled pineapple, topped with vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with toasted coconut. I broke into the Pina Colada song with I scooped it up, scarfed it down, inhaled every bit of it.
Was it ever good.
Happy Saturday

Grilled Pineapple Sundaes

1/4 C shredded coconut
8 slices fresh pineapple
6 cups vanilla ice cream

Place coconut on a microwave plate. Heat on high power 10 seconds at a time, stirring after each, until coconut is lightly browned. Heat grill to medium low, place pineapple slices on grill and heat until grill marks are brown, flipping often to avoid burning. Place 2 pineapple slices on each of 4 salad plates, top with 1-1/2 C vanilla ice cream each. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp toasted coconut on top of each sundae. 4 servings

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Less Than Perfect

Caramel Sauce Debacle
I am sorry to have to admit this, but, I am not perfect. There, I said it. Out loud. It's a true fact.

After researching numerous recipes, I decided to make a batch of caramel sauce. I had vanilla ice cream in the freezer that was begging for a tasty topping. Most recipes call for heavy cream, or half and half, or even sweetened condensed milk.
I had none. I have vanilla almond milk on hand.
So I did more research. On the web. Which tells only the truth, and no lies.
Yes, I can make caramel sauce using almond milk.

Sugar, butter, almond milk.
Bring to boil, keep whisking while it cooks.

This is what I got. A thin sauce(perhaps I didn't cook it long enough), which was so sweet.
How sweet was it? It hurt my teeth, it hurt my throat when I swallowed it, it hurt my stomach.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating a tiny bit, or not.

Once I put it in the frig, it resembled left-over gravy
with a thick layer of fat on top.
Only in this case, the bottom was a nice syrupy sauce, that was still way too sweet, and a top sugary layer, grainy and, um, well, it was not ever good.
Not to worry. I haven't given up yet.
Perhaps a candy thermometer. Perhaps using cream.
Perhaps going to the grocery store and just buying a jar of topping.
Happy Tuesday

Saturday, July 25, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Italian Marinade

It's still hot outside, so I'm still grillin' & chillin'.
I love pork chops on the grill. Love, love, love them.

So. Here's an easy marinade that is sooo tasty. And, it can be used on pork, chicken, or beef. I prefer it on pork.
This looks like a lot of ingredients, but really, it's not. Oil, Worcestershire sauce(say that three times fast), garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
The recipe that follows is enough for 4 pork chops.

Mix it up, pour it on, commence to marinading. There'll be enough to give it flavor without drowning the poor chop in pools of liquid.

Once I have the chop on the grill, I like to turn the pork chop a quarter turn halfway through grilling each side. It makes pretty cross marks, that look professional. And, it tastes better that way. Trust me on that.

Paired with a green vegetable, it's a meal in itself.
Is it ever good.
Happy Saturday

Italian Marinade

1/4 C oil
6 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-1/4 Tsp garlic powder
2-1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning
3/4 Tsp salt
3/4 Tsp ground black pepper
Pork chops, steak, or chicken

Combine all ingredients except meat in a bowl. Place meat in a reclosable bag, pour marinade over meat.Place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours. This is enough for 4 pork chops.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

My Favorite Things

Grilled Cheese

I love grilled cheese sandwiches. I love to make my own bread, using a bread machine.
Here's what I come up, when I combine the two.

Onion dill bread with cheddar.

Garden Vegetable bread with pepper jack, salsa, and a fried egg. My idea of Huevos Rancheros.

Then there's the heart attack waiting to happen.
I'm not a fan of tomato soup, so I compromise.
Tomato bread with cheddar and bacon.
It's soup and sandwich in one.

Then there's the cinnamon swirl bread with mozzarella and apricot jam; plain wheat bread with plain cheddar;  caraway rye with ham and swiss;  orange bread with cream cheese and cranberry sauce; and, and, and. . . the possibilities are endless.
I can take one bread recipe, change one ingredient, and I'm on my way to another great idea.
Making bread with a bread machine is effortless.
I wonder if I can come up with a different sandwich every week? Hmm, something to think about.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Chicken Tenders in Garlic & Herb Marinade.

Today I'm sharing part two of grilling 101. On Tuesday I talked about grilling vegetables.
Today, I'm doing the chicken.

There are a lot of ingredients in the marinade, but they all add their flavors and meld together, as in a plethora of stuff.

Mix it all together,

pour over the chicken tenders in a resealable bag.
Let the marinading begin.

Skewer them, and grill. Oh, and when you're grilling, make sure there's enough gas in the tank. Just saying.

Combined with the grilled potatoes and sprouts, all I can say is: Was it ever good.
Happy Saturday.
If I'm grillin', I'm chillin'

Chicken Tenders in Garlic and Herb Marinade

1/3 C lemon juice
1/3 C white vinegar
1/3 C olive or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tsp dried thyme
1 Tsp dried Italian style seasoning
1 Tsp poultry seasoning
1 Tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 pound skinless chicken tender strips

Combine all ingredients. Pour over chicken tenders, and marinade in refrigerator at least 4 hours, or overnight. Remove chicken from marinade, discard marinade. Thread chicken onto skewers, grill over medium heat 5-7 minutes, turning often. 4 servings

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

From the Kitchen - Outside the Nest

Grilling 101 - Vegetables

This is the start of a 2 part blog. Today I'm going to talk about grilling vegetables. On Saturday I'll share the main entree that will go with the vegetables.

I start with small potatoes, and fresh Brussels sprouts.
Yummy in my tummy for sure.

I use my microwave steamer and microwave the potatoes about 2 minutes. I do poke holes in them so they don't explode. Then I steam the sprouts about 1-1/2 minutes. The idea is to get them just tender, but not done all the way through.

Then I season them, by tossing them in olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, and black pepper.
Thread them on skewers. Since I'm using bamboo skewers, I soak them in water for a while, so they don't burn up on the grill. The chicken in the foreground will appear in Saturday's blog. I included it as a teaser, just to get you to return. I am so sneaky.

Put them on the grill, and keep turning them every few minutes. I grilled my for about 5-7 minutes.

Enjoy. There's nothing hard about making a flavorful, healthy meal. Don't be concerned with the charred outside, it adds mucho flavor. Trust me on this.
Stop back in a couple days and check out the marinaded chicken tenders. I think you'll like them.

Grilled Vegetables

20 medium Brussels sprouts
12 small potatoes
1/4 C olive or vegetable oil
1 Tsp onion powder
1 Tsp garlic powder
1 Tsp celery salt
1 Tsp ground black pepper

In microwave, steam or cook Brussels sprouts 1-1/2 minutes, just until slightly tender. Poke several holes in potatoes with a fork, steam in microwave 2 minutes. Combine oil and seasonings, toss Brussels sprouts and potatoes in mixture. Thread 3 potatoes each on skewers, and 5 Brussels sprouts each on skewers. Grill over medium heat 5-7 minutes, turning often. 4 servings