Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy Paths Ahead in the New Year



Where ever your own unique path may lead you in this New Year,  I hope that your path will lead you to happiness and fulfillment .....  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A White Out at Christmas!


                                 


There has been a 'White Out' at Christmas at my house!! :D .... but here in sunny Florida, as you can imagine...it does NOT involve Snow... instead it involved flour in my Kitchen!! I got out a recipe for an old fashioned favorite. I had many times made homemade Pierogi with my Mom and Grandma.  But as often is the case with Grandmas,  my Gram had no set recipe for how to make Pierogi. You know, it's the ol' 'you just keep adding flour til you get the right dough consistency'... lol...So in later years...I longed for homemade Pierogi and was not able to find a recipe that matched the marvelous way my Grandma's recipe made them..... Enter my friend Karen..who shared her family's recipe and Happy Day!! I Love you Karen!! So, for any of you, in the same predicament... I pass on the wonderful recipe for an old fashioned ethnic favorite... This recipe makes wonderfully tender Pierogi dough.

                              Pierogi

5 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Cold Water
2 Eggs
Dash of Salt
1/2 Cup Milk

Mix above ingredients, gradually adding Flour a little at a time. Place on a floured surface and knead well. Cut dough in 3 parts. 
Roll out 1 part at a time until it is the thickness of a pie crust. 

With top of a water glass, cut out rounds of dough. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of each round. Fold in half and pinch edges to seal. ( I also use my fingers to lightly press out the dough away from the perimeter of the filling before I fold the round in half).  

Bring water to a boil. Place the filled rounds into the boiling water, gently stirring the water to keep the Pierogi from settling to the bottom of the pot... a quick stir does the trick. No need to continually stir. You just want the dough to begin cooking in the pot without sticking. The Pierogi will rise to the top of the water when fully cooked.


I fill with either Cheese or Potato/Cheddar filling. the below recipes will fill one full batch of Pierogi.

Cheese Filling
1 to 1.5 lbs of Farmers cheese ( I use Cottage Cheese that I have thoroughly drained the whey or liquid part of the Cottage Cheese)
1 egg.
Mix together.

Potato Filling
4 medium potatos
2 tbsp butter
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Whip together.  

Yields approx. 4 dozen Pierogi. They freeze very well, for another time when you are busy and still would like homemade goodness :) When I am ready to serve them, I carmelize onions and sometimes add in a bit of dill for an extra special touch .... Enjoy!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holiday Season!


The tree, even when leaves have fallen, and blossoms have waned, continues to reach to celebratory heights. Let every season of life bring happiness and fulfillment.

Happy Holidays to my family, friends and readers... I hope the season is inspiring to all that each day be filled with love and caring for one another; as well as the realization that you are worthy of happiness not just at holidays....but everyday....

Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Burst of Tropical Goodness for Breakfast!


Happy Summer Mornings to you! Summer is a great time to indulge in the treasure trove of fruity goodness that can be had from our gardens. This weekend I played around in my kitchen with some Mango that I had on hand. I whipped up a batch of wonderful Mango Coconut Muffins for a marvelously exotic and fun Breakfast treat .  Don't want Mango? Toss in fresh Strawberries, or Blueberries, or dice up some fresh Peaches. Nevertheless, get that fresh fruity goodness going in the morning to keep you going all day, and all summer long......
 1/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg                                                       
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup 1%  or low fat milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract                                                 
1 tsp. coconut extract
                                                                              


Cream the above ingredients and then fold in
1 cup diced mango ( If you use canned or fozen, be certain to drain it. )

Spoon batter into a muffin pan as pictured. Sprinkle each muffin with Streusel topping-

I made a 'blonde' streusel topping with ( approximations) don't be afraid to play at it..
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tblsp. butter, softened
Your streusel should be nice and crumbly without being too moist.
Then for an added Coconutty punch... sprinkle each muffin with a bit of toasted coconut.


Bake at 350 degrees until they rise up and become wonderfully golden!






Make it a fun start to a fun day!!


Monday, July 18, 2011

Pouring a Bit of Summer Sunshine


I hope everyone is having a wonderful Summer! It has been a fun, albeit very busy, season for me.  Early on, my family and I took a wonderful trip to Paso Robles, California. As always, my Husband and I had a marvelous time trying to keep up with my Parents. Good times at every turn....


I always enjoy going to the west coast.... as it is so rich in creativity and beauty.



          We spent time touring Art galleries and shops.
 

My Husband and I fell in love with the small town charm of Paso....












And of course, how do you go to California without the fabulous Wine tasting ??!..... 
 and enjoying the lovely scenery ...... We had a ball driving around and enjoying the

Vistas with rolling grassy hills ......


Endless fields of Grape vines on the verge of bursting with  tender green leaves and luscious grapes!


The view of the Pacific Ocean engaging scenery that makes me feel as though I'm immersed in a Maxfield Parrish painting....  


I love that every Winery has it's own personality and mood....    Fun......






Formal ....









Relaxing.....




                                                                             










Rustic.....


 



Whimsical.......




Novel....



No matter the venue at Paso Robles, the trip there was so sweet......



Loved it! I hope that you find plenty to love this summer! Cheers!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Warm and Lovin' From the Oven / Banana Bread



Happy Weekend! Just a quick post to share my recipe for Banana Bread ! I LOVE this recipe because the bread, warm from the oven, has a crispy outside....but a warm, soft inside.... and, as you'll soon see... there is one ingredient that I add that makes a huge taste difference.... Have a couple Bananas hanging in the kitchen? Well what are you waiting for! Pop THIS in the oven and have a nice Breakfast in bed with your Sweetheart :)


1 3/4 Cups Flour
2 tsps. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/3 cup Shortening ( I use Butter Crisco)
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Almond Extract ( this adds flavor and aroma that blends so well with the Banana! )
2 Eggs ( beaten)
1 cup ripe Bananas ( I generally toss in 2 Bananas that I have sliced)
1 cup chopped Walnuts (optional - but I would never omit these!... the crunch of these just adds to the happiness)

Spray a Bread Pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Chop Walnuts, if adding . Combine all  ingredients, except for the Walnuts. Mix with a Stand or Hand Mixer. The use of a mixer is , in my opinion, important. It aerates the batter a little, making it nice and fluffy. Once mixed, fold in the Walnuts. Add batter to Bread Pan and bake at 350 ' for approx. 1 hr. ( Your baking time will vary, of course, depending on how powerful your oven is. I always  keep an eye on the bread, and use my Grandma's old tried and true insert toothpick test, once I see a golden brown crust form on the bread. Once the toothpick comes out dry.... it's time to gnosh!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Put a Spring in Your Step and a Spring in Your Faith



Happy Spring everyone! This is a wonderful time of year for me... I think for pretty obvious reasons. The thought of going outside and playing in my Garden is just so exciting to me. That is something that I think began way back when I was a little girl. I loved putting on my nice clean clothes, taking my sparkling 'girly' tea set and play dishes...outside .... to play at making a 'mud' bakery!! That's right! A MUD bakery... lol. My Sister and my Friends and I would mix up a nice big 'batter' of mud and we would proceed to make cakes, pies, cookies....and decorate them with pretty leaves and flowers and all of the loveliness that nature had to offer. Of course, when the 'baking' frenzy was done, WE didn't look so lovely, cause we were covered in mud. :p Our poor Moms....

Another favorite activity of mine, was picking wildflowers like the clover in the above photo. I loved making flower chains. Sitting in the cool green grass and making bracelets and necklaces out of flowers. Hmmm... As I type this, I'm actually seeing that alot of what I love to do is rooted in my childhood and the influence that nature had on me... All of the things I loved to do never really left me I suppose. 

So, for me, there has been much to be gleaned from nature. It has led me to so many wonderful interests... like gardening, cooking and jewelry making. But beyond that, it has also shown me the glory of perseverence in the face of challenge.

Each Spring, I go back to my garden and I trim away the dead leaves and stems that became blighted by the winter elements. And underneath, what looks dead and withered, are tiny sprouts, ...little tender green buds of life, just biding their time for the warmth of the sun to return.  

And THAT too, I have taken with me as I have become an adult. Particularly  in trying times such as these. There is solace for me in the perseverant and simple beauty of nature. No harsh climate will take that from me, be it meteorologic or economic. So, with that said, I've got a Spring in my step, and a Spring in my faith that better times will come. In the meantime, I will be biding my time, and tending to my 'Garden'.  I wish the same for you.......  

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

For a Berry Good Time Call : Skinny Gelato !


Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn't illegal. ~Voltaire

How wonderful that the warm and breezy days of Spring and Summer are fast approaching! I have to say, despite the heat of the season that will soon be here, I will still love to engage in cooking and baking. I can't help myself!! I LOVE it!  I do find, however, that what I desire to make in my kitchen does change with the seasons.

It is Strawberry season here in Florida...and so my attention turns to the luscious berries and fruit that are  now, and will be,  available to us in the coming months... So, with that said... I have been on a quest for the perfect low fat treat. I know.... low fat treat sounds like a contradiction in terms.. doesn't it?

Nevertheless... as a Nurse, I value the healthy Lipid panel I have managed to maintain. But as a gal nearing 50 years... I'm looking to live it up with things that I enjoy. Ergo, just because my metabolism is fighting my efforts...doesn't mean I should quit trying to stay healthy AND to have fun.

I've been on a Gelato kick lately. Simply to cut down on the fat, sugar and calories that come with eating Ice Cream. 4-8 % butterfat in Gelato vs approx. 14 % butterfat in Ice Cream. But to drill down even further, I found that even many Gelato recipes call for a hot process that involves making a yellow custard base often made with egg yolks and heavy cream..... that's right... Heavy cream... yikes.... I have made my Gelato this way...and it is good!

But I went looking for a healthier way to go about Gelato, cutting back the fat content, without sacrificing that smooth , creamy texture I so enjoy.  Credit goes to Gale Group/ Sunset Publishing's 'Skinny Gelato' a marvelous way to make, well...not Guiltless , but with less guilt, Gelato.  Admittedly, I tweaked their recipe to suit my self... but that's the fun of cooking I think.

1/2 cup sugar
 3 thin strips lemon peel (yellow part only), each 1/2 by 3 inches ( I simply microplaned the lemon peel. I might omit this in the future depending on what flavor I am going after)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
 2 cups extra-light or low-fat milk ( I used 1% milk)
Berry puree (You can experiment by food processing your favorite fruit to a puree consistency) 
 2 teaspoons vanilla ( how about Rum flavoring? Almond? Grand Marnier? Go ahead and play! :)


In a 2- to 3-quart pan, combine sugar and lemon peel; with a wooden spoon, press peel against sugar to release oils. Mix in cornstarch. Stir in milk. Stir over medium heat (with a whisk to remove any lumps) until sauce boils, about 5 minutes. When it boils, continue to stir 1 minute. Remove from heat. Lift out lemon peel; discard. ( Because I microplaned the lemon, I left it in the pudding)

I pureed raspberries in my food processor and then  fine strained the puree into a bowl to remove the seeds.
 I used approx. 10 oz. of berries.


Stir berry puree and vanilla into hot pudding until smoothly blended. Cool, cover, and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours or up until next day. ( I refrigerated for 4 hours before I churned)





Pour into a 1-quart or larger container of a frozen cylinder, self-refrigerated, or ice- and salt-cooled ice cream maker (use 1 part salt to 6 parts ice). Crank or process according to manufacturer's directions until gelato is softly frozen and hard to mix; remove dasher.








Serve or, to firm and mellow gelato, cover and freeze for 1 to 2 hours.
 ( I tend to freeze mine for a few hours, since I like a more firm Gelato. Conversely, if you find that you have frozen your Gelato solid, simply let it sit a few minutes to soften up. )


Enjoy! You know you want to.... :) As long as there is life... there should be fun! Let's try to keep it healthy fun whenever we can.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Peeping in... the Joy of all Walks of Life




Hello Dear Friends! Just peeping in to say Hello and Happy Spring! I'm so glad to be emerging from the Winter.... It has been a tough one for sure. I could laundry list my tribulations here.... but won't. The bottom line I will share. And that is at the end of a long Winter, comes the hope
of a new day , a Springtime of a lot of promise for sure!

Keep an eye on my blog this Spring for a look at lovely new items for my Etsy shop that are in the works... I have been working on sweet new items.

I also intend to showcase here, some of the exciting talent that I have come across in my travels. So much diverse talent......

Birds of all different feathers if you will....
I have spent some time, broadening my horizons in the past few months and have met  amazingly creative and inspiring Artists...Phototographers, Painters, Poets, Musicians, the list goes on..... And each a joy to behold in their own special way....

So prepare to be dazzled by their creative charms!



And some lovely new things from yours truly... as we share the joy of all walks of life together!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Flurry of New Items



I have had an absolutely marvelous time creating with polymer clay! It seems that over time I am finding more and more means of expression with clay. Lately, I have started to make my own unique earring findings.... and what a fun thing to do!! Keep an eye on my shop for the above pictured earrings, and more to come....   Have you branched out into a new means of creativity lately? I would love to hear from you about it!

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