Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Out and About

An Early Belated Birthday Bash
My BFF Wendy's birthday has gone past.
I, on the other hand, will be celebrating a birthday some time in the future.
But, technically, I've celebrated a birthday in the past, and Wendy will be celebrating a birthday in the future. So, what exactly were we celebrating, anyway?
I won't say how many years for either of us, because I don't have to, so hah, hah. A girl does not have to talk about, or admit, just exactly how old she is, or isn't.
Since it had been a long time since I had ventured out on an 'Out and About' trip, I suggested we visit our favorite local Italian restaurant, aptly named Luigi's.

They have this really great outdoor space, with tables and chairs, and waitresses, and food, and flowers, and birds flying through, and it's just grand.

And, and, and, they have Diet Sun Drop, in glass bottles. If you've never had Sun Drop, or Diet Sun Drop, from a glass bottle, bottled right here in Shawano, by Twigs Beverages, you simply have not lived. Trust me on this.

There was garlic cheese bread, simply to die for.
Well no, we don't want to die, but you know what I mean.

And there was pizza, also simply to die for.
 We decided that we should think real hard about coming back again, and again, and again. Well, except not in winter, because it would be pretty darn cold sitting out there in the winter, with the snow flying.
So, the moral of the story is: you gotta come to Shawano, and eat at Luigi's, and drink a Sun Drop, because, because, because:

Is it ever good.

And a word of warning. If you take pictures with an outdated cell phone, don't expect to transfer them from your phone to your laptop. I tried it. So, in order to accomplish this week's blog, which was to include the above photos, I needed to make another trip out and about, and purchase a new smart phone, onto which the salesman transferred said photos from my dumb phone, so that I could put said photos on this blog. All in all, a simple trip to Luigi's turned into quite an expense. Oh well, Happy Birthday to me, whenever I'm celebrating .
Hey wait a minute, where's my picture? I was there too!

Ah, here I am, a bit windblown, but none the worse for wear.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

June Dairy Month - Day 8

Strawberry Spinach Salad
with Candied Pecans
and Poppy Seed Balsamic Dressing

That's right, one more salad recipe. I've saved the best for last. Who knew that so many salads contained dairy?

I'll start with the candied pecans.

Butter and brown sugar(yup, I make my own brown sugar)

and pecans. Oh boy, these are really addicting
if you decide to sample them. I bet they would be really good on ice cream.

Spinach, strawberries, feta cheese, candied pecans, dressing. I use my basic balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and add the onion and poppy seed.

That's all there's to it. Nothing more, nothing less.
A few years ago, I would have turned up my nose at this concoction, but, no longer.
The tangy feta, a tiny bite of the vinegar, sugary sweetness of the caramelize, the nutty flavor of the pecans, and healthy greens.
I could eat this every day.
Is it ever good.
Happy cows make a happy Saturday

Strawberry Spinach Salad

1/4 C granulated sugar
1/2 Tsp salt
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1 Tsp minced dried onion
1 Tsp poppy seeds
1/2 Tsp granulated sugar
8 C torn spinach leaves
10-12 large, fresh strawberries, quartered
1/2 C crumbled feta cheese

Combine sugar, salt, vinegar, oil, onion and poppy seeds in blender. Blend until combined. Set aside and let flavors meld for about an hour.
Place spinach leaves on plates. Top with strawberries and feta cheese. Drizzle with dressing. 4 salads
Note: can also add caramelized pecans.

Caramelized Pecans
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 C pecan halves, or pieces

Melt butter in skillet over low heat, add brown sugar and pecans, cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until caramelized. Spread on waxed paper, and let cool.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

June Dairy Month - Day 7

Layered Vegetable Salad
Yes, another salad. For me, that's what summer is all about. I'm not a fan of turning on the stove and cooking something hot.
This is my version of the familiar 7-layer salad,
except, I don't need to make a huge bowl of it, or a giant pan of it. It fits nicely in my 4x8 bread pan.

I start with fresh spinach.
This is my all-time favorite salad green, and it has way more food value that lettuce.

Shredded carrot, topped with peas,

chopped orange bell pepper,

green onion, shredded cheddar.

And yes, I do use real bacon for this recipe. It gets sprinkled right on top of the cheese. Yummy in my tummy.

Reduced fat sour cream, low-fat mayonnaise,


dollop it on,

spread it out, and let it chill.

It may not come out pretty, but it sure does taste good. I make a meal of this.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Only one more Dairy Month recipe to go.
Guess what? It's a salad. Check back on Saturday, you'll like what you see.

Layered Vegetable Salad

2 C fresh spinach, torn into bite sized pieces
3 small carrots, shredded
1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
1/2 C chopped red or orange bell pepper
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 C shredded cheddar cheese
2 slices bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
1/4 C reduced-fat sour cream
2 Tbsp reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 Tsp dill weed
1/4 Tsp garlic powder

Place spinach in bottom of 4x8 inch glass bread pan. In the following order, top with carrots, peas, pepper, onions, cheddar cheese, and bacon. In separate bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, dill weed and garlic powder. Drop by tablespoons on top of salad and spread carefully. Refrigerate overnight. 2-3 servings 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

June Dairy Month - Day 6

Creamy Fruit Cups

Since Father's Day is tomorrow, I'm going to dedicate this to my Dad. He loved to eat, and ice cream was one of his favorite desserts.

First, an edible cup. I wrap a flour tortilla inside of a damp kitchen towel, and microwave about 15 to 20 seconds, until it's warm and soft. This is quite important, or it won't bend and fold and flute.

Then I give it a quick spritz with cooking spray, and sprinkle on the cinnamon and sugar.
Gently press, and fold, and flute, into a custard cup. If I'm making more at one time, I use my jumbo size muffin pan.
Remember to spritz the inside of the baking vessel, elst your edible cup will stick, and you will lose the effect. Trust me on this.

Bake until crispy,

fill with berries,

top with vanilla ice cream,

let the ice cream melt a bit,

and commence to eating.
I like to snap off a bite of the cup, and enjoy the cinnamony goodness with a bit of ice cream and a berry or two. Yummy in my tummy.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make just one, or as many as you want.

Any way you make it, is it ever good.
Another hats off to the girls who produce the milk. This recipe is good to the last drop. If you want to lick your plate to get it all, go ahead. I won't tell. After all, our mothers taught us to clean our plates.
Happy Saturday

Creamy Fruit Cups

4 (6 inch) Flour tortillas
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
2 C fresh fruit, such as strawberries or raspberries
2 C vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to  375°. Spray 4 glass baking cups with cooking spray. Wrap tortillas in a barely damp kitchen towel, and heat in microwave 20 seconds. Spray one side of each tortilla with cooking spray and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mix. Gently press into glass baking cup. Bake 15-20 minutes, until tortilla is crisp. Remove from cup and let cool on baking rack. Fill each cup with 1/2 C fresh fruit, and top with 1/2 cup ice cream. 4 servings

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

June Dairy Month - Day 5

Tomato Salad

This is a nice summer salad,
easy to assemble,
tantalizingly tasty on the taste buds.

I use grape tomatoes, but cherry tomatoes will work as well. I halve them, and add some sliced green onion.

Add some crumbled Feta. Mine is Italian seasoned, very, very, yummy. And, it is June Dairy Month.

Shredded mozzarella. After all, this is June Dairy month.

Add the dressing, which is a variation of my basic balsamic vinaigrette,

give it a gentle stir. I stir mine several times while it marinates.
Pretty darn good looking salad.
Just as a disclaimer, I normally don't eat fresh tomatoes, unless I have a few on a green salad.
Once I tasted this concoction, I've changed my mind. I will now eat fresh tomatoes, if it's this recipe.

As a final hurrah, I top each serving with a sprinkle of Parm. After all, it is June Dairy month.

My favorite, by far: a side dish to my baked Cod and a green vegetable.
It doesn't get any better, or any healthier, than that.
Happy June Dairy Month

Tomato Salad

2 C grape tomatoes, halved
1 green onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp crumbled Feta cheese
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella cheese
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tsp grated Parmesan cheese

Combine tomatoes, green onion, Feta, and mozzarella in a bowl.  Stir together vinegar, olive oil, Italian seasoning and garlic powder in a small bowl, pour over tomato mixture and gently stir. Refrigerate several hours before serving, stirring occasionally. Top each serving with grated Parmesan cheese. 4 servings

Saturday, June 13, 2015

June Dairy Month - Day 4

Turtle Crunch

Anybody who knows me personally, knows I love cashews. And caramel. And, and, and, chocolate.
And I love Turtles. Not the ones with the hard shells, that stick their necks out, and walk slower than me. I don't much care for them. Especially snapping turtles. They are not nice.
I digress.

Corn Chex: check

Cashews and mini-kisses, aka chocolate: check

Here's where the dairy comes in, and the creation of the caramel. Butter, melted with brown sugar,

and gently boiled. Oh me, oh my, here comes the caramel.

Pour that luscious goodness over the chex,

stir, and place on a baking sheet.
Then it get's baked. Imagine that. I place it on a baking sheet, and it get's baked.

Once the chex is baked and cooled, I mix everything together.

Grab a sample of each,

or scoop a handful. Any way you look at it, is it ever good. The only bad thing about this is, there was nobody here to help me eat it, so I had to eat it all myself.
Once again, thanks to the girls who provide the milk, which turns into butter, which adds to the inches around my waist and hips.
Happy Saturday

Turtle Crunch

9 C Corn Chex
3/4 C butter
1/2 C brown sugar
1-1/2 C salted cashews
1-1/2 C Hershey’s mini kisses

Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. Place Corn Chex in large bowl. In saucepan, over low heat, melt butter and brown sugar. Boil 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and pour over Chex. Using rubber spatula, stir gently until mixed, and cereal is coated. Pour onto pans in single layers. Bake 8 minutes, stir, bake additional 8 minutes. Watch carefully that the caramel coating does not get too dark or burn. Remove from oven and let cool on pans. Combine with cashews and mini kisses. Store in container with a tight fitting cover. 12 cups