Saturday, October 22, 2016

Let's Get Cooking...Here's the Weekly Menu

Have I mentioned how happy I am to have a fully equipped kitchen again?  Do you feel like you're hearing a broken record?  Do I have readers who are wondering what the heck a record is?

Don't worry...soon I will be over the giddiness of my kitchen and finding something else to bore you to tears about.

Today,we have a funeral to attend.  Then we have 3, yes Three, parties to attend.  The first is for our niece, Danielle, who turned 18 on Thursday.  The second is a surprise....shhhhh don't tell anyone.  The third is a 50th celebration for our friend, Dave.  So I won't be cooking tonight.

Tomorrow, though, I am cooking my heart out.  I am supplying the dinner for this week's meeting at the church.  We have been meeting on each Monday for a few weeks and still have several Monday's to go.  I will spend Sunday cooking so that it is all ready for Monday and just needs to be rewarmed.

Tuesday, We are having a small dinner party for some dear friends so that they can see the new digs. I know that not everything is complete and put together yet but they will get the idea.  Besides, we are due a night of relaxation and laughs.

The rest of the week is just typical.  Food pantry, choir, watching the Angel Face....all the things that fill my life with joy and purpose.  In between we will be unpacking more boxes, building walls, building a yard for the hens, having flooring installed (finger's crossed) installing window treatments and bugging the painter for a date certain.

Image result for fast metabolism diet

So, here is the Weekly Menu.  I am back on the Fast Metabolism Eating Plan starting Monday so I am going to enjoy Polish feast I'm preparing for Monday's meeting on Sunday before it starts LOL. Then I am going to follow Haylie's Survival Tips.

Dinner out at several places

Sunday-preparing food for Monday
Cucumber Dill Salad
Stuffed Cabbages
Sauerkraut and Kielbasa
Potato Cheese Pierogi
Peanut Butter Bars with Oatmeal and Chocolate Chips
Pumpkin Dump Cake

Meeting for me, Frank on his own

Tuesday -Dinner Party
Roasted Sweet Potato Soup
Spinach Salad with Pears and Cranberries
Chicken Broccoli Rice Bowl
Cranberry Orange Sorbet
Pumpkin Meringues

Steak Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chicken Stir Fry

Fish Friday
Cranberry Cod
Quinoa Pilaf

Friday, October 21, 2016

Pasta with Smoked Salmon for #FishFridayFoodies

Welcome back to Fish Friday Foodies where, on the third Friday of each month, we all present a recipe containing fish or seafood that complies with the theme for that month.  This month our host is Caroline of  Caroline's Cooking and she has chosen Fish and Seafood Pasta as our theme.

This made me very happy because it takes two things that I absolutely love and combines them into one dish.  What more could you ask for in life??  We eat fish and seafood pasta quite often around here and I have shared with you my recipes for Frutti di Mare, Linguini with Clam Sauce, Macaroni and Tuna Salad. Malaysian Noodles with Sausage and Crab and Seafood Lasagna.

I had some wonderful smoked salmon in my refrigerator so I decided to use that for my pasta dish.  I used brown rice pasta since I had that in my cupboard as it fit into the eating plan that I have been trying to maintain.  But that, my friends, is where any resemblance to a FMD dish ends today!  This recipe uses butter and heavy cream but every once in a while you need to splurge and this was my every once in a while.  So I poured myself a glass of wine and enjoyed every last bite of this creamy and delicious dish.

This dish reminded me of  Tuna Noodle Casserole but with Smoked Salmon.  This is fine with me because I love Tuna Noodle Casserole.  I hope you enjoy this dish and the others that are being brought to the table today.  You will find those right below the recipe.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon

1 T. butter
6 oz. mushrooms
1/2 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. lemon grass paste
1/3 c. heavy cream
6  oz. frozen peas
4 oz. smoked salmon, skin removed, flaked
1/2 lb. Brown Rice Pasta, cooked per package directions

Melt butter in skillet over med high heat.  Add mushrooms and onions, season with salt and pepper and cook until onions are translucent and mushrooms have shrunk and are tender.  Stir in the lemon grass. Lower the heat to medium and add the cream and peas.  Cook until peas are defrosted, warmed through and the cream is reduced.  Gently stir in the salmon.  Toss with the cooked pasta adding a little of the cooking water, if needed, to thin the sauce.  Print Recipe

Interested in joining #FishFridayFoodies? Just leave a comment on this post with your blog name and I will be happy to add you to our group. You can also check out our Facebook Page and our Pinterest Board.

More Delicious Fish/Seafood Pasta Recipes

An InLinkz Link-up

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spiced Rum Pumpkin Bundt for a Birthday Celebration #BundtBakers

Sunday we celebrated our eldest daughter, Amy's, birthday. When Amy was helping us move last weekend she asked for "something  pumpkin" for her birthday dessert.  She said she had been craving pumpkin and didn't want to wait until Thanksgiving for pie.

As luck would have it, our theme for this month's Bundt Bakers was "Happy Fall Y'All".  This fun theme was chosen by Teri of The Freshman Cook. Providence further smiled on my life when Melissa of   Smells Like Brownies, posted this Drunken Pumpkin Bundt Cake in this months Secret Recipe Club.

I knew, immediately, that this was going to be my inspiration for Amy's Birthday Cake and it fit in perfectly with our #Bundt Bakers theme.  So "Happy Fall, Y'All".  This cake is moist and perfectly spiced.  It was a huge hit with our family and Amy was very pleased with her dessert.  This would be perfect for any of the Holiday dinners or potlucks you may be attending.  Enjoy.

Spiced Rum Pumpkin Bundt
adapted from Smells Like Brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
2 c. pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
1/3 c. spiced rum
3 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. pumpkin pie spice

3 T. unsalted butter, melted
3 T. spiced rum
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
lge. pinch of salt

Treat a bundt pan liberally with baking spray.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the large bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. When mixture is pale and stiff, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat on high speed for 2 minutes.

In a small bowl combine the pumpkin puree and rum.  In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix in the flour mixture alternated with the pumpkin mixture on low speed until combined, starting and ending with the flour mixture.  

Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake in a preheated 350* oven for 60-75 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake removes cleanly.  Remove from oven and cool, in the pan, on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning the cake onto the wire rack to cool completely.

When cake is cooled, melt the butter in a 2 c. measuring cup by placing it in the microwave on high for 15-20 seconds.  Remove when melted and allow to cool.  Add the powdered sugar, salt and rum to the butter and stir until smooth.  Pour from measuring cup onto the cake.  Print Recipe

More Happy Fall Y'all Creations


#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on the BundtBakers home page.

Curry Kissed Carrot Soup #ImprovCooking Challenge #MealPrepMadness

Wooohoooo guys.....I am soooo happy to have a kitchen again and to have it filled with all of my appliances that it seems were packed away forever.  I hadn't realized how spoiled I had become with all of my kitchen gadgets.

I, of course, managed.  Women have been "managing" in the kitchen for years.  Then men started cooking and they weren't going to "manage" so they created stand mixers, blenders, food processors, spice grinders, etc, etc... for which I am very thankful.

To be honest, I don't know who created any of these things.  It may very well have been a woman but since they were created early on chances are that even if it were a woman, her man would have taken the credit LOL.  Heck, lately listening to the political statements being made, there are those who would like nothing better than for woman to be back in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

Now, I don't have anything against being in the kitchen. It is where I am happiest.  I love going barefoot and my children are my greatest blessing from God but woman have fought long and hard to be treated as equals and it breaks my heart when I hear and see prejudice of any kind to any segment of society.  Phew, did I get off track or what?!

Ok, I am stepping off of my soapbox now and am going to talk to you about a fun little group I am in called Improv Cooking Challenge.  Improv is, as the name suggests, a group of bloggers, who love to cook, being given two ingredients each month and improvising a great recipe using said ingredients.

Our ingredients this month were carrots and curry.  My husband, who professes to hate curry, enjoyed this soup.  I used a mild curry powder and he helped himself to two servings.

This week we are also celebrating #MealPrepMadness.  A week long celebration where we share our meal prep tricks with others.  As I mentioned earlier in the post, I have been living without my kitchen gadgets for 3 1/2 months.  I never realized how much I depended on them until they were gone.  They make life so much easier and are such wonderful time savers.  This entire soup took less than a half hour to make.  

I started out by chopping all my veggies in the food processor.  They were finely chopped so took only a minute to get tender when added to a med hot skillet with olive oil and curry powder.  When the veggies were softened and the curry was fragrant, I added the chicken stock.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and cook for about 5-10 minutes.  

I was then able to pour the entire amount into my vitamix and puree until smooth.  You may have to do this in batches if your blender is smaller or you can use a hand blender which is another handy dandy gadget.

Return the pureed mixture to the pan, place over medium heat and add the lemon juice and salt and pepper.

That's it!  Easy peasy and delicious.  Vegetarian, Vegan and Fast Metabolism Friendly.  It is the perfect first course or light lunch or dinner.  Don't forget to check out the other Carrot and Curry Creations following the recipe.

Curry Kissed Carrot Soup
adapted from Eating Well

3 T.  safflower oil
1 1/2 t. curry
8 carrots, peeled and chunked
2 lg. stalks celery, chunked
1 med. onion, chunked
1 (32 oz) box organic chicken stock
juice of 1/4 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Place the carrots, celery and onion in the large bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over med high heat.  Add the curry powder and veggies. Cook, stirring, until veggies are softened and curry is fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle boil and cook for 5-10 minutes, until vegetables are very soft.  Transfer mixture to a blender (in batches if necessary) and puree until smooth.  Return the soup to the saucepan and gently rewarm over medium heat.  Stir in the lemon juice, taste and season with salt and pepper.  Print Recipe

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Pie for Crazy Ingredient Challenge

The third Thursdays have become pretty crazy around here.  I have three monthly events that are all posted on this day, #BundtBakers, #ImprovCookingChallenge and, of course, #CIC, for which this post is written.

I love all three of these groups and am thankful for the scheduling options offered by blogger that allow me to prepare and serve the meals anytime that is convenient, write out the blog at my leisure and then share it with you on the designated day.

That is how it usually works but not this month.

This month was moving month.  We began moving on October 8th and went nonstop for an entire week.  I was finally back in the kitchen on October 12th and made our first meal in our new home. Now that the kitchen was up and running, I was able to plan a dinner party for our daughter's birthday this past Sunday.  That took care of Bundt Bakers but I still had Improv and CIC due.

Monday night our daughter, Nicole and her husband, Pierre came for dinner. Nicole hadn't had a chance to see the house yet. They had previous plans for Sunday so decided to come over after work the following day.  This was a perfect opportunity for me to get in my next two challenges.  Nic and Pierre are adventurous eaters and always up for trying new dishes.  They also like eating meatless so Meatless Monday is a perfect day for them to visit.

In Crazy Ingredient Challenge we vote between several items on two different lists each month. Whichever ingredients get the most votes is what we use to create a meal.  This month the winners were......Spaghetti Squash and Cornmeal.

I love Spaghetti Squash so I was very happy to participate.  I knew that I wanted to do a casserole of some sort using the cornmeal as a topping.  I stumbled upon this Santa Fe Spaghetti Squash Casserole at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  Susan has a lot of great recipes on her blog.

Susan had you microwave the squash which would have made this dish ready much quicker than my method of oven roasting it.  You can cook yours however you like.  I used 1 1/2 spaghetti squashes because I had a half left from another meal that needed to be used but wasn't enough for this recipe.

Other than roasting the squash, the rest of the recipe is just combining the ingredients.  We are not completely fat free in this household so I used olive oil to cook my veggies.  I used red, orange and yellow peppers instead of green.  Substituted Ranchero Beans for the black beans and taco seasoning for the chili powder.

I also made the cornmeal mixture a little thicker than Susan had written in her recipe.  This meal was a huge hit.  Pierre ate two large servings and was happy to take the leftovers home with him.  "This is my kind of meal", he remarked.  I think when I next make this casserole, and there will be a next time, I will add some fresh jalapeno peppers in with the onion and sweet peppers.  I thought the dish needed a little extra kick.

Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending on your outlook) we got busy talking and visiting and when we sat down to eat, I forgot to take any photos of the finished pie.  I remembered when I was packing up the leftovers for them to take home, so I pulled out a plate and snapped a shot of a piece of the casserole.  It was dark outside and the photo suffered from no natural light but take my word for it, this is a casserole you can be proud to serve.  Thanks, Susan, for the great inspiration.

This is the perfect recipe to ease me back into the FMD eating plan on Monday.  The cornmeal crust would not be allowed but I think and almond meal crust would be delicous and make this dish Phase 3 Friendly.

Make sure you stop by to see all the other Spaghetti Squash and Cornmeal inspired dishes following the links after the recipe.  Have a great day!

Southwestern Spaghetti Squash Pie
adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

1 1/2 medium spaghetti squash, cooked and scraped into strands (learn how here)
2 t. olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 each mini red, orange and yellow peppers, diced (or 1 lg red pepper)
1 (15 oz) can Ranchero Beans, rinsed and drained
1 (4 oz) can green chiles, drained
1 c. corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 c. packed baby spinach leaves
1 t. taco seasoning
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 c. corn meal
1/2 c. hot water
pinch of salt
1/2 t. agave nectar

Heat oil in large skillet over med high heat.  Add the onions, garlic and peppers.  Cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the spaghetti squash and allow to cook some of the moisture from the squash for another 5 minutes.  Add the beans, chiles, corn and taco seasoning.  Mix to combine.  Add the spinach and cook for a minute or two until wilted.  Stir in the lime juice, taste and season with salt and pepper.  Turn into a casserole or deep dish pie plate that has been treated with cooking spray.

Combine the corn meal, water, salt and agave in a small bowl. Pour over the squash casserole, spreading the batter to cover.  Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 30-40 minutes, until the crust is cooked through and golden brown on the edges.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Repurposing Furniture and Two Audible Book Reviews

When I started packing for the move, I placed this chair and table in my garage sale.  I had no takers so it made the move with me.  This turned out to be very fortuitous since the sunroom was larger than I had recalled and I needed furniture to make a sitting area.

So I had a green recliner and this wingback chair, both bought shortly after we were married over 25 years ago.  The table came with me when I entered into the marriage.  It was part of my dowry LOL

The table had seen better days and had been scratched up and chewed on by numerous pups.  This was not a problem when it was tucked in my own little corner next to my own  little chair but it didn't look too nice in the middle of a room.

So I decided to paint it using chalk paints.  My sister had taught me how to do this a couple of years ago when we were getting the nursery ready for Little Miss.  You can read about it and learn the technique here.   

It is very simple.  I had Frank tighten all the loose screws to make the table more sturdy.  Then I started by applying my undercoat that I chose to make pink.  I put on two coats of the pink followed by one coat of a sage green.  Then I took a wet rag and distressed it...going down to the pink in some spots and all the way to the wood grain in other spots.  I let it dry overnight and then applied three coats of minwax to it.

I am happy with the outcome but wish I had used a darker green.  My sis said "so put on another coat of dark".  I may do that but not immediately I dressed it up for the Fall and I think it looks fine.

Moving doesn't allow much time for reading.  I normally read at night for an hour or so before going to sleep but I have been conking out the minute my head hits the pillow.  Thankfully, I can listen to audible books while unpacking or while painting tables.

The first book I listened to was recommended by Heather of Based on a True Story.  I knew I wanted to order up this book based on Heather's review and I am glad that I did. 

If At Birth You Don’t Succeed

This is the story of Zach Anner, written and narrated by Zach Anner.  I had never heard of Zach prior to this book because, as some of you may know, I live under a rock.  Zach has been a youtube sensation and has had a couple of reality television shows.  He is a comedian, a filmaker, and an author.  He also was born prematurely with cerebral palsy.  Zach writes about his life with transparency, honesty and humor.  I found myself laughing out loud and then wiping away tears.  It is, at once, uproariously funny and tenderly touching.  I felt like Zach was sitting at the counter as I unpacked and keeping me company.  I would recommend this book to everyone and think it would make the mandatory reading list for my class if I were a high school teacher.   There are so many lessons to be learned from Zach's story of tenacity, responsibility, empathy and perseverence.

Image result for friction by sandra brown

The next book that I listened to and finished while working on the table was Friction by Sandra Brown.  This is the first novel I have read by this author but it won't be the last.  It is the story of a Federal Marshall who lost his wife in an accident and not coping well, gave temporary custody of his daughter to his in laws.  He has now gotten himself together and is in court for his final day of a hearing to determine whether his daughter should be returned to him.  As he is testifying a gunman charges into the courtroom spraying bullets and killing the officer providing security.  The protagonist, Crawford, protects the judge and then flees after the gunman.  Hence starts the story of Friction....Who was the gunman?  Who was his intended target?  Why was there an assasination attempt?  Who deserves custody of the little girl, Georgia?  Can the judge be impartial having been saved by Crawford and finding that she and Crawford are very attracted to one another?....find the answer to these questions by reading or listening to this book that is hard to put away.

We aren't the only one's downsizing...

We recently moved from our 4000 square foot home to a 2000 square foot home.  We traded in our 12 acres for 5.  Frank retired earlier this year and we no longer wanted a home that required so much time and energy.  We also appreciated the fact that moving would save us money each month since our income level dropped after retirement.

We are settling into our new home very nicely.  We were iffy about whether this was going to be the right move until we got in here.  Now, each day, we remark on different aspects of our new home that we prefer over the previous.

We aren't the only one's who downsized.  Frank and my brother, Dick, put together the new home for our laying hens yesterday and we moved them last night.  They had spent the last week at their old house and we would stop by every other day to give them food and water.  Not to worry, they were not neglected.  The 4 children who now live in our previous house loved them each and every day. They have convinced their parents to order up some chicks in the Spring so that the coop isn't vacant for long.

When moving hens it is easiest at night because they go into a trancelike rest.  They are easily taken from their roosts and placed where you want them.  This is also how you introduce new hen's to your flock.  You move them during the night and when the other hens awaken they better accept that these newcomers belong.

I haven't been out yet to see how our ladies are adjusting to their new digs.  It is much smaller but it is placed inside of our out building to give them protection from the elements.  There is a dog door installed by prior owners in the outbuilding that will lead into an outside run for the hens.  Frank will be working on that today.  I am sure they will be happy but I bought them a sack of mealworms as a treat to help them adjust.