Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Bench

43.  While walking through a local garden setting, I came across this beautiful bench.
It was placed in a perfect location to sit, think and enjoy the surroundings.
But, when I saw this bench, it enhanced the garden spot.  I just had to snap a
few shots.  Isn't it amazingly beautiful.  

My Maggie sitting on the bench.
This simplicity makes me smile.

Have a beautiful day and a restful weekend!

"Taking joy in living is a woman's
best cosmetic."
 ~ R. Russell

Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking Upward

42.  The other evening my daughter and I noticed the moon in the sky...a slight sliver of light in an upturned smile shape.  How beautiful it was.  We took time to stop and gaze upward and we both agreed the sky was smiling at us.  Beauty is all around us, whether we notice it or not.  Our days are so busy and become so crowded with stuff, with stress, with loneliness, with pain...that we miss the simple beauties present.  Just a quick look into the faces of our family, reveals God's beauty. 

While talking with a beautiful friend today, It came to my mind...we complicate God and our relationship to Him.  We have reduced Him to our small, discouraged existence...and ask Him, how could He ever love us and how could we ever measure up.  We have it all wrong!  His beauty is limitless and His love is pure...He is just waiting for us to turn our hearts upward and notice His beauty in His spoken Words to us.  Beauty is revealed to us as we read and listen to Him.  Without His Word, our lives loose precious moments of wonder.  His Word washes away the pain and stress, stuff and loneliness...our families faces grow more lovely and others around us can be viewed through new eyes.  His spoken Words bring renewed life...moment by moment. Each Word is divinely inspired by purity and holiness.  That Word refreshes, restores, molds and regenerates our thinking, our actions, our whole personality.  The Words that give us our direction for life, relationships, fears, the future and everything that concerns us.  

Take time to read that precious Word...God's Word...His heart to you...and you'll find your heart looking upward in a smile.  

"Take the first step in faith.  
You don't have to see the whole staircase,
 just take the first step."
 ~ Dr. M.L.King, Jr

Friday, February 20, 2009

Stuffed Pork Chops

41.  I love Giada De Laurentiis, a chef on the Food Network.  She is lovely and her recipes are awesome!  Every once in a while I catch her show on tv.  She made a fantastic recipe, that I have been dying to try, back in December.  It was Pork Chops stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach.  Sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese are always in my fridge, and my honey found pork chops on sale yesterday at the store.  I was happy to find this recipe on-line.  It was a "MMMMMMMMM" meal! 
My family just kept saying "MMMMM" with every bite!  

boiled potatoes with saute' onions and parsley on the side.   

"Food is so primal, so essential a part of our lives,
often the mere sharing of recipes with strangers 
turns them into good friends..."
 ~ Jasmine Heiler

Carrot Cupcakes

40.  Here is a great Carrot Cake recipe from my favorite cookbook, 
This comes from The White Swan Inn, San Francisco, CA.
It is to be baked in a 13x9x2½ inch pan but I made cupcakes instead. 
I just decreased the baking time in half and they turned out wonderful!
I also eliminated the frosting and made my own cream cheese
frosting (recipe follows).  I always seem to change up recipes to 
my liking...just me I guess.

Four Sisters Carrot Cake
The American Inn and Bed & Breakfast Cookbook

2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤

3 eggs
¾ cup oil
¾ cup buttermilk (or milk with a ¼ tsp of vinegar)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤

1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, drained and squeezed
2 cups grated carrots
 3½ oz of coconut
2 cups chopped nuts
✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤  ✤

1 cup sugar
½ baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup butter
1 tsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Sift flour, 2 tsp baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.  In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Add oil,  ¾ cup buttermilk, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla, mixing well.  Add in the dry ingredients, blending thoroughly.  Mix in the pineapple, carrots, coconut and nuts.  Pour into a greased and floured 13x9x2½ inch pan.  Bake in a 350º oven for 55 minutes (or till center springs back to the touch).
To make frosting, using a large saucepan, mix together 1 cup sugar, ½ tsp baking soda, ½ cup buttermilk, butter, and corn syrup.  Boil for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add 1 tsp vanilla.  Pour over the hot cake.   Serves 16.
Lilly's Cream cheese Frosting Recipe

1 8oz pkg cream cheese at room temperature
4 Tblsp butter, room temperature
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Blend together cream cheese and butter till smooth, slowly add sugar and vanilla and whip for 2 minutes till smooth.

"If God had intended us to follow recipes,
He wouldn't have given us grandmothers."
~ Linda Henley

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What Does Busy Look Like?

39.  Today is a busy day...I have a boat load of laundry, letters to write, the beds to change, dinner to cook.  So sitting and "blogging" is out of the question...or is it.  I decided today my post would be one, written an hour or so at a time.  You will have to keep checking back to see what busy really looks my life...

So this is my laundry pile...what!!!!!
You have got to be kidding me!  Where did all of this come from???  
I need my sister Esther to help me...she loves to do laundry. 
Esther, where are you when I need you?  And I thought I was on vacation
this week!
So... the sorting begins...and, done!

Now, I'm off to wash the dog!  and change the beds...wait, that
means more laundry.  I know, stop complaining and get to work!
Thank you Lord for my work and piles of laundry because you 
give strength to the weak. amen!

Well...the frig needed to be cleaned, so that's what I tackled next...

...and just when I started, my dear honey brought home groceries.

So...bags were everywhere...everything from the fridge was on the
counter, and my honey decided to start a pot of sauce all at the same
time...ok, we can do this!   
Finally, the fridge was done and everything clean and organized!

And here is the pot of smells so good.  I'll have to post my
honey's's a family recipe.  His mom was such a great cook!

While I was cleaning out the fridge, I found an eggplant stuffed in the, how about eggplant parmigiana with that wonderful sauce?
Sounds like a plan.  So I put the next load of wash in and started on 
the eggplant.  I'm popping it into the oven right now!  
So dinner was done and we sat down to a yummy meal...
Eggplant parm, pasta, sausage and yummy sauce.
And the always gets done...tommorrow.

"Housework is something you do
 that nobody notices 
until you don't do it.  ~ Author Unknown

We Did It...Bowling!

38.  Today, my husband, 10 year old daughter, Maggie, and myself went Bowling!!   We had so much fun.  

 The week of Presidents Day is considered the "Winter Break" here in Long Island New York.  Schools are closed the whole week and families go on vacation, or a cruise, skiing or just away for the week.  When we first moved to NY, we were confounded as to why, 7 weeks after Christmas, everyone needed another vacation...till we lived the NY pace for a year.  Between the traffic, constant running, people working 2 to 3 jobs just to keep up with really do need a break!  

Rather than go on a cruise, BOWLING was our entertainment of choice!  Who wants to go on a cruise if you can go bowling.  It's cheaper and you don't get seasick.

Fortunately, we arrived just as the noon crowd was leaving.  The bowling alley was filled with loud, Long Island mom's in velour jogging suits and Uggs with tons of kids and "Hannah Montana" singing loudly in the background of the pins falling and balls bouncing down the lanes.  One of the little girls threw her ball so far it jumped over two lanes and rolled down our lane!    Someone needed to shout "fore" or "take cover"!

Now, I haven't bowled in about...hmmmm, could I say, 10 years.  I've taken my girl's club every year but end up watching, more than bowling, so this was a treat.  My husband did strike or spare after another.  He definitely needs to be in a bowling league that wears matching shirts.

We bowled two games, ate junk food that is terrible for you and made some great memories!  Especially in the ladies restroom...Maggie and I were washing our hands and looked around for a towel dispenser...there were none...but there was "THE EXTERMINATOR" on the wall.  An electric hand dryer.  Seemed harmless till you pushed the button and it blew air so fast, it made the skin on your hands move in a wave...and the noise!!!!!    WOW!!!   First, we both jumped and then we cracked up laughing so hard.  I'm glad no one else was in the bathroom with us...they might have gotten blown to the other side of the room.  What a scene we made!  

I forgot to take my camera and was so sad but my husband has pictures on his cell phone...that is why they are so small.

Thanks Becky for the "We Did It Wednesday" suggestion to go out and do something fun with your daughter.  It was great fun!  Then we came home had sloppy joes and watched American Idol together.

"You can't wrap love
in a box,
but you can wrap a person
in a hug."
~ Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Macaroni and Cheese

37.  I have found the very best of the best in Macaroni and Cheese.  No... Kraft has not come out with a new and improved "blue box" of mac and cheese.

While surfing through the Epicurious recipe site, I came across 
this Macaroni and Cheese is to die for! 
The recipe suggests the making of individual servings, 
with half of the recipe, in small ramekins. 
 I made the whole recipe in a 9"x13" baking pan.
 It turned out wonderful!  The edges were crispy and the macaroni so creamy!!!
The recipe calls for panko breadcrumbs but I save all my italian bread ends 
and make bread crumbs. 
 I love the flavor of the crunchy topping. 
You can adjust the butter, use 2% milk and even use
 whole grain pasta.  Whatever you choose to do...
you just have to try this recipe!!

"One of the very nicest things about life
 is the way we must regularly stop
 whatever it is we are doing
 and devote our attention to eating."
 ~ Luciano Pavarotti

Friday, February 13, 2009

Lost and Found

36. Today my daughter Emily came home from school, (she commutes to college in Manhattan every day on the Long Island Railroad), and announced she wanted to make cupcakes to take into the city tomorrow for her friends. "Of course", was my response, "no problem"! So I went to look for my recipe...the best recipe ever for cake and cupcakes...and it wasn't there!!! Oh, well, I must have put it inside one of my recipe albums with the little sleeves...nope...not there. where could I have put that recipe? I remembered the last time I made it, I was going to put it in a place where I would be able to find it very easily and not loose it. But where was that? Obviously a very safe place because I could not find it at all! I originally found it in Martha Stewarts "Kid's" magazine back in early 2000. All I knew was that it was the "giraffe cake". So Emily went on line and began typing in what ever she could think of. Martha...giraffe...martha cake...giraffe cake...Kids cake...yellow giraffe cake...Martha's yellow giraffe cake...Martha Stewart yellow baby giraffe cake... and on it went while I am in the kitchen pawing through my plethora of recipes and Emily is on line for an hour, making loud sighing noises...obviously, so I could hear them. I even called my sister to see if I possibly gave her the recipe...nope! She said she would look through her pile of recipes...must be a family trait. I was befuddled! This was one of my most reliable recipes...could I have thrown it away?...ARGH!

Finally, after an hour of searching we were both about to give up...when it hit me...hahahahah! The recipe was in a safe place...TAPED ON MY CABINET DOOR!!!!! I walked over to the cabinet and opened the door. You see, I learned this little trick of taping your favorite recipes inside a cabinet door so they are there whenever you need them. I have several recipes there like my scones, pumpkin pie, brownies, bread, measurement cake/cupcake recipe! Oh yeah...that's where I put it!
How could I have been so dense! It's been there for months...I did this on purpose, because I would always have to search for it when I would bake cupcakes. My daughter Emily just about shot me...heeheheheh...she grabbed my shoulders and just shook me. Oh well...what do you expect from a 49 year old, with fading eye site, bum knees, and a brain that skips every once in a while? Anyhoo...we baked the cupcakes! And they turned out fantastic.

Here is the recipe on Queen Martha's site but I alter it a bit. Instead of 7 egg whites and no yolks, I separate 4 eggs, beat the 4 whites to peaks and add the 4 yolks with the liquids. I think it makes the cake/cupcakes richer and moist. So my recipe is really a yellow cake.

The frosting is pretty standard but also a creation of my own. It seems like a large batch but the cake/cupcake recipe makes about 40 standard cupcakes. This recipe is also great with lemon zest and lemon juice instead of the almond and vanilla extract.

Vanilla Frosting with Cream Cheese

1 lb confectionary sugar, sifted
1 stick butter, cold and cut in pieces
4 Tblsp cream cheese, cold and cut in pieces
2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
milk to desired consistency
food coloring optional

Mix everything together adding milk very slowly, checking the consistency. Whip till the sugar is smooth.
Emily wanted colored sugar sprinkles and I put Butterfinger chocolate hearts on the top of Maggie's mini cupcakes for her 4th grade class tomorrow.
And this little box of mini cupcakes are going to our secretary at the office tomorrow for all her hard work! Getting an Annual Report together is a nightmare! I think she deserves them!

So if you were here...I would make you a cup of coffee or yummy tea and serve one of our wonderful homemade cupcakes! Can't you just taste them in your mind...mmmmmmm.
Boy am I glad I found that recipe...don't think I'll loose it again. If I do...I can just come back to my blog...if I remember I put it here. :-D
Have a Happy Day Today!

"The existence of forgetting
has never been proved:
We only know that some things
don't come
to mind
when we want them."
~F. N.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My First Valentine

35.  My sweet, sweet mother put together wonderful memory scrapbooks for 
my siblings and I this past year. 
It was amazing how she saved so many 
precious pieces of memorabilia from each of our lives: 
school papers, baby bracelets, certificates, Christmas wish lists,
notes we wrote to her and of course photographs.  I spent the other 
day just paging through this wonderful treasure of my life memories.  
And I came across my very first Valentine!  I was only one years old! 
 It was sent to me by my maternal Aunts, Grandmother and Grandfather.  
Inside it says, "Because you're such a darling tot, So cute in every way.
Everyone will want you for a Valentine today"
and then they each signed it!

Isn't this the sweetest thing?

I realized this card is vintage now...February 1961.  Does that make me vintage?  

Happy Valentine's Day to each of you!  
I hope you each have a sweet day filled with lots of love and goodies!
And...Happy Birthday to my dear sister! 

"I've fallen in love many times...
always with you."
~Author Unknown <3

Friday, February 6, 2009

Apple Pie Tarts

34.    Yesterday I found frozen pie crust in the freezer...can't remember when it got pushed to the side.  Pulling it out of the freezer, I decided to make a pie today.  Although it was only enough for a one crust pie I started to consider my options, though not liking any of them.  What I really wanted was a slice of apple pie. But that would mean making another batch of crust for the top layer.  Now, what could I pie with a crumb about mini apple pie tarts!  Yes.  Sounded like a plan and not nearly the amount of work as a pie.

Apple Pie Tarts

1 pie crust, roll out into a 12x14 rectangle. 
2 apples, peeled and cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
lemon juice
milk or water/flour

 Cut pie crust into 6 equal parts for a large cup muffin pan or 12 for a small cup muffin pan.  Line muffin tin with paper baking cups or lightly grease.  Fit pie crust squares into muffin cups loosely.
  Divide apples between the six cups evenly.  
Sprinkle sugar over apples and sprinkle with cinnamon.  Dot with butter and squeeze a few drops of fresh lemon juice over apples.  
Roughly turn edges of dough toward center of tarts covering apples loosely.  Brush tops with milk or water and sprinkle sugar over top.  
Bake in 350º oven for 30 minutes or till tops are browned and 
apples are bubbling.
Serve with ice cream or whipped topping.  Or eat them just as they are. 

This was so easy and it was just enough to take care of my apple pie craving.

"Pies are made of butter and love."  ~ Norwegian Proverb


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