Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

Merry Christmas! I was feeling much better on Christmas Day and I proceeded with my plans for dinner and an enjoyable evening. I was able to give my daughters each a homemade gift along with the usual presents. Michelle a boa like scarf that I knitted and Corey a pair of crochet wrist warmers. Hope they like them.
Everyone pitched in to cook this year so we had a very full menu. I made Party Roasted Shrimp, Toscano Soup (my version of the one from Olive Garden) for my soup and salad bar on the kitchen counter and Brian made his famous Cranberry Roast Pork. Michelle made Shepherd's Pie and a Crab Dip, Corey made her famous Chicken Divan. So we were pretty much covered with at least one dish someone could enjoy if they didn't like any of the others. We had a fun family gathering but it ended all too fast. Now to spend the rest of the weekend having some downtime with my hubby and puppies before getting on with another week.

Toscano Soup

This is a mild spicy soup that is perfect on a cold day. This is my take on the soup served at Olive Garden which I love. Instead of kale I use escarole or spinach as a preference for my family.
It’s so easy to make and makes a very large pot to feed a crowd. Cut the recipe in half if not so much soup is desired.

3 large 32 oz cartons of chicken broth
3 pounds Italian sausage browned and broken up
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes diced into cubes, not too large or too small.
2 bunches fresh escarole or spinach (about 8 cups), sliced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh garlic

Fry sausage in pan, set aside.
In a large pot, bring broth, cream, salt, pepper flakes and garlic to a boil.
Add sliced escarole and potatoes and add to the broth.
Simmer for hour. Adjust any seasoning if needed.

Cranberry Roast Pork

This dish is often called Cranberry Piggy at our house. We usually double the sauce ingredients because we like extra sauce for the table.

4 lbs pork roast
salt & pepper to taste
1 can (16 oz.) whole sweetened cranberries
1/4 cup peeled and chopped yellow onion
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and ginger

Rub the roast with salt and pepper, and place on a rack in a baking pan. Roast at 325 deg. for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until an inserted meat thermometer registers 175 deg.
In the mean time, combine all the remaining ingredients in a stainless-steel saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.
Halfway through the roasting process, begin basting the roast every 15 minutes with the cranberry mixture. The remaining sauce can be served on the side with the thinly sliced pork. Serve along with Wild Rice with mushrooms and onions for a wonderful meal.

Christmas Eve 2009 – Looking back over the year…

It takes lots of planning, cooking and cleaning until you get to the holiday season. First Samhain, then Thanksgiving and following quickly by Yule, Christmas and the New Year. Looking back over this past year it was filled with quite a few events. Our daughter Michelle was married in a destination wedding in Jamaica and Brian and I followed that with a fun vacation at Disney World. The only down side to that was it was brutally hot. By midsummer I changed positions at work doing something a bit more gratifying, only to have my husband lose his job a few weeks later.
But we pursued on in our usual manner celebrating the fall holidays and before you knew it was the Christmas season.
The best news is Brian was called back by his old company for an open tech position for a school district. After two interviews on Tuesday the 22nd he was awarded the job and will start on Jan 4th, 2010, a terrific present. We celebrated Wednesday with Asti and sushi.
This year Christmas Eve would be different for us, we would just be spending it with just the two of us, something we have never done before. With this ever changing world of jobs and extended family obligations the kids wouldn’t be home. We both have siblings we aren’t very close with and both our parents have passed on. So it’s just us and our kids and their significant others and they would be here for Christmas Day. Guess this is what happens as we grow older and our family changes. We planned a quiet fun evening but it had one down side. I wasn’t feeling too well, woke up with a sick sour stomach. Was it the sushi from the night before? We got it from our favorite place, never had bad sushi from there before. Mmmmm… guess I’ll never know.
So I pushed through the day stomach gurgling and all that went with it and luckily had planned an easy fix dinner.
Jumbo Baked Diver Scallops
Chicken Marsala
Rice Pilaf

I prepared dinner and we had recorded A Christmas Carol with Patrick Stewart the night before so we would be watching that. Brian set up our snack trays and we had dinner in the living room and watched the movie. I ate very little and kept dosing off because of the uncomfortable feeling in my digestive tract. Yech!
A short while after the movie we headed to bed rather early, I used a bit of Reiki on myself and fell asleep. Next thing I knew it was Christmas morning and I was feeling a lot better, “the spirits had done it all in one night”!

Jumbo Baked Diver Scallops
Lightly breaded jumbo diver sea-scallops, baked in a terrific lemon garlic butter sauce.
Delicious served with a crisp green salad and pasta or French bread, -or- may be served as an appetizer.

35 min 15 min prep

• 2 lbs jumbo deep sea scallops (diver's scallops)
• 1/2 cup fresh butter
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 tablespoon white wine (optional)
• 3/4 cup fine plain breadcrumbs
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 2 teaspoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
• Zest of one lemon
• 1 fresh lemon, quartered
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the butter and garlic (and the white wine, if using) into an oven proof baking dish (I use a pyrex pie plate).
3. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just until butter is melted (or, you may place the dish of butter into the hot oven for a few minutes, until butter melts).
4. Rinse scallops well under cold water. Arrange rinsed scallops (no need to dry them) in the dish of melted butter. Turn them so the butter coats both sides.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, parsley and lemon zest. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture evenly over scallops.
6. Squeeze the juice of one lemon quarter evenly over the scallops.
7. Bake at 400 degrees F for 18 to 20 minutes.
8. To Serve:.
9. Serve with additional fresh lemon wedges at the table.
10. A delicious meal served with a crisp green salad and pasta or French bread, plus a glass of white wine! Or, may be served as an appetizer.

Easiest Chicken Marsala (Make the Night Before)

1¼ hours 30 min prep

• 8 chicken breasts, pounded thin
• Italian breadcrumbs
• 1 lb mushroom, sliced
• 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
• 14 ounces marsala wine (use broth can)
• 1 egg

1. Scramble egg in small bowl.
2. Dip chicken breasts into egg and dredge into bread crumbs on both sides.
3. Sauté breasts in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan; set aside.
4. Sauté mushrooms and garlic in a small amount of olive oil.
5. Add broth and wine and bring to a boil.
6. Lay chicken breasts side by side in baking dish.
7. Pour mushrooms and wine sauce over chicken.
8. Marinate overnight in fridge.
9. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes uncovered until hot.
10. Serve with rice or noodles.
11. **The sauce absorbs into the chicken so you want alot of sauce to begin with.
12. Also realize the alcohol burns off during the cooking.
If you choose to have less sauce, broth and wine should be of equal proportions

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Relaxing Thanksgiving Weekend

Hard to believe it's Saturday already. I've been off since Thursday. Finally catching up on much needed rest. We did lots of good cooking for Thanksgiving dinner. I gave a few new things a try. Sometimes you just need to break out of doing things the same old way. Mostly everything I made turned out delicious. Here is the run down of recipes.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus - Giada De Laurentis' recipe. The turkey was a beauty and delicious. The drippings in the pan made a wonderful flavorful gravy
Oven Roasted Honey-Glazed Sweet Potatoes - Simple and tasted good
Sausage and Bread Dressing - Usual family recipe, but served it as dressing this year instead of stuffing.
Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmmsan Chese and Bread Crumbs - Giada De Laurentis' recipe - Brian saw these made on TV last week and had to have them. They were delicious and almost all gone, everyone liked them.
Orange Cranberry Sauce - Didn't turn out they way I had hoped, a bit to tart. From RecipeZaar.
90 Minute Batter Rolls - a nice recipe from 'Zaar but a bit sweet
Green Beans - Standard and yummy.
Creamed Onions - Tasted good but found some of the onions in the bag a bit large. Brian loves these with Thanksgiving dinner.
Dessert - Pumpkin Pie, along with goodies Michelle brought from the bakery and cookies Arianna brought filled with jelly.

It was nice sitting around the table talking and finally relaxing after all the cooking. The hot kitchen got me a bit cranky but I was fine afterwards once I cooled down.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Now onto planning Christmas. Sounds like we are planning a potluck dinner this year. No ideas yet but I'll be checking my recipes for some inspiriation.

I have some great recipes on RecipeZaar to try out. You can find me there too under the name Paintpuddles.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Easy Craft - The Love Stone

I use to make and sell these years ago at craft shows. They make a nice little gift for someone special. Not sure where I got this from originally. I use to make prayer rocks the same way but have long lost the poem, hopefully one day I'll find it again.

Use pretty scrap fabric (use pinking shears around the edge) and get creative with making the card on the computer.

Love Stone

To make and pass on to a loved one for when you are

The following is the poem which was printed out on pretty paper and

Love Stone

The stone in this pouch
Bears a wonderful charm
To heal all your troubles
And to keep you safe from harm.
It is a special stone
That you can never see
The reason its so special,
Is its just for you, from me.
Whenever you are lonely
Or even feeling blue
You only have to hold it
And know I think of you.
You never should unwrap it
Please leave the bundle tied
Just hold the stone to your heart
And feel the LOVE inside.

Then you punch a hole in the top corner of the laminated paper and
put either a pretty ribbon or raffia, etc. through the hole and the
other end of the ribbon is tied around a pretty little piece of
fabric which you have wrapped around the stone of your choosing.

(Just lay the little square of fabric down and place the stone in the
middle and draw up the edges around it and twist, then tie the ribbon
around to hold secure)

Pretty Gifts to make - Sand Sachets

Sand Sachets

1 cup clean sand
2 ounces paraffin wax
1 crayon - whatever color you'd like
1/2 teaspoon incense oil

Melt the wax in a double boiler or in a coffee can in a pot of water over medium/low heat until liquid. Add pieces of crayon until you get the color that you like. Add incense oil, then sand. Mix and pour into molds. Candy molds work great for these.

You can play with the ingredient amounts until you get the look that you like. Wrap in tulle and tie with a ribbon for drawer sachets. They make very nice gifts. This is another recipe that you can get creative with, adding herbs and botanicals to your hearts desire!

Homemade Gifts - Terry Rice Bags

Time to think about any easy last minute gifts to make. This is one of my all time favorites.

Terry Cloth Rice Bags

These large terry cloth rice pads are just terrific for soothing all your aches and pains.
The bag measurements should be about 10 inches by 6.5 inches for maximum coverage
of your arms, neck, shoulders, knees or ankles.

Use it warm or use in the freezer for those times you need an ice bag, just chill for thirty minutes. A good idea is to make two and leave one in a plastic zip-lock bag in the freezer.

Yes, you can use it over and over again! Use with a drop of essential oil for aromatherapy.
If you give as a gift remember to add a small tag with the following instructions or something similkar.

Pop the rice pad into the microwave for a minute or two, no more than that or you will get burned.

The ones I made I mixed the rice with a bit of dried lavender. I made a over a dozen
of these for gifts during one holiday. The stories I heard after let me know
how much they were appreciated. My hubby is still using his.

Remember not to over fill with rice or the bag won’t be able to mold to your body
it will be too stiff.

There are so many ways to make the pouches but I found
stacks of terry cloth towels on sale in WalMart.
They were a nice heavy thickness and have held up wonderfully.
You don’t want to use too thin a towel.
I have a fancy sewing machine that embroiders lettering
and put each persons name on the one end to personalize.

Busy weeks and a few good meals

Can't believe how the weeks are flying by and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. The days at work have been full ones and learning a new job just seems to be taking forever. But in the evening once I'm home with my hubby and my fur babies I can relax and fill my evening with enjoyable things.
I'm finally working on my holiday planning and preparing my lists. As I prepare my Thanksgiving list I remind myself of how blessed I am to have a dinner to prepare and family to share it with. I won't over do the holidays this year as I sometimes often do because Brian is still out of work. The girls and I have agreed we all need to keep it simple and spending the time together to enjoy a meal and sharing time with each other is what we want most. Our busy lives seem to keep us apart more than we would like but I know we are always in each others thoughts.

I do have a few good recipes I made this week but sorry no photos :( Just way too tired and forgot.

The first recipe is one I received from a co-worker friend. I paired it up with a chicken dish and Brian and Matt loved both dishes. It was like a weeknight fiesta! Both dishes were easy to make and absolutely delicious. Matt called them amazing! If you decide to try these recipes I hope you you enjoy them!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving where ever you may be. I have some new recipes to try for Thanksgiving and hopefully I will get some photos posted soon. Keep in touch.

Creamy Spinach Enchiladas

1 pkg flour tortillas
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 TBLS butter or margarine (or PAM)
1 10 pckg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack (or 1 cup Monterrey jack, 1 cup pepper jack)
1 10oz can enchilada sauce

Remove tortillas from fridge
heat oven to 375F
In a medium sauce pan, saute onions in butter/margarine/Pam until crisp tender, add spinach. Cook until moisture is evaporated. Stirring occasionally, remove from heat. Stir in ricotta cheese, sour cream and 1 cup shredded cheese.
Warm tortillas as directed on package. Spoon approx. 1/4 cup filling down center or each tortilla, roll up. Place seam side down in a greased 13x9 baking dish. Pour sauce evenly over tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly & heated through. Serve with sour cream and green onions.

Saucy Mexican Chicken

What You Need:

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 small breasts or 8 boneless thighs)
1 jar (16 oz.) Thick 'N Chunky Salsa
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

COOK chicken in nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 4 min. on each side or until browned on both sides.

ADD salsa and beans. Bring to boil; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 5 min. or until chicken is done (165ºF).

TOP with cheese.
Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

Suggestions: You can add onions and serve over rice. The possibilities are endless with this recipe. It's quick and easy and can be made in less than 30 min.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blustry Day Clam Chowder

Last blog for today. Just wanted to catch up with a favorite recipe I made this past week. I call this my Blustry Day Clam Chowder. Great for when those Autumn winds get kicking up. Here is my recipe.

Blustry Day Clam Chowder

This is a perfect recipe on those windy Autumn or Winter days where you want to get the chill out. It is a combination of several other recipes I found and a few tweaks here and there. I named it after one of my favorite stories, can you guess which one?

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery
1 1/2 cups medium-diced carrots
1 1/2 cups medium-diced green pepper
4 cups peeled medium-diced boiling potatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 quart (4 cups) clam juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
About 25 oz of drained canned chopped clams (the large can from Costco is perfect, just drain it) or about 3 cups chopped fresh chowder clams

Melt 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) of the butter in a large heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onions, celery, carrots, green pepper,a nd cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Add the potatoes, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 10 more minutes.
Add the clam juice, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
In a small pot, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter and whisk in the flour. Cook over very low heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
Whisk in a cup of the hot broth and then pour this mixture back into the cooked vegetables. Simmer for a few minutes until the broth is thickened.
Add the milk and clams and heat gently for a few minutes to cook the clams. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot.

You must try these waffles!

Brian loves waffles. It had been quite a few years since our waffle iron had died, with the kids all grown we just never replaced it. So now it's Autumn and what do I find in my email one day are recipes for pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins and the like. One recipe was for pumpkin waffles, the reviews on the recipe weren't too good but OMG, that got me thinking I need a waffle iron. Not just to make those buttermilk kind but all those savory ones I've seen made on TV. I love pumpkin spice anything, to me it's the true taste of Autumn.
So Brian and I went on a hunt for a waffle iron the next weekend. We checked online and in the mall. We found you could get a waffle iron anywhere from $14 to $200. Yikes, no way could I justify spending $200 for the Cadilac of waffle irons. As for the cheep ones, well they were just that, cheap. We settled for a nice Belgium waffle iron for $50. The next morning we used the waffle recipe from the book and it made delicious waffles. They were kind of heavy and the Belgium waffles were a bit larger than we had been used to eating. We had been eating those toaster kind for far too long, but heck we liked them. The one thing I wanted was to make Pumpkin Waffles. I could almost see them, almost taste them, so I went on the great online hunt for the perfect recipe and I found it. As you can see from the photo (this was Brian's plate), these waffles were picture perfect. They were so delicious, fluffy and the recipe is a keeper. They were the perfect brunch to start off our Samhain morning.
Here is the site where you can find the recipe. I hope you make them for yourself to see how great they really are.
It is called "Ultimate Pumpkin Waffles" and the photos speak for themselves.
Hope you enjoy!

Where did October go?

Did anyone see where October went?
Last I remember it was the beginning of Autumn and before I knew it it was Samhain! Oh gosh, the days turn into weeks much too quickly. My days at work are full and sometimes frustrating. I try to hold onto words from my wise mentors that I read to help me get through those days. Sometimes I let my emotions get the best of me. I do like my new position and it will still take some time to feel comfortable as I learn all the ins and outs of OTC labeling. Patience, a tough lesson.
One of the things I've been doing this month is some self evaluation, where I've been and where I want to be. I guess you get to thinking these kinds of things as the years pass by and the next thing you realize you are in the crone stage of life. So I hope to make some changes within myself in various areas of my life, both physically and creatively. Not that I haven't tried this before but at least I continue to try. I need to remind myself to get up, dust myself off and try again. One day it will click.
I just really need to accept who I am. I know there are those I come into contact with in my daily life that sometimes probably don't get me, but oh well. Who am I? I'm just a simple cottage witch trying to find my place where I'm most comfortable. Learn from my mistakes and just let everyone know anything I do really is from within my heart.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Magic of Autumn

Someone sent this to me a few years ago. I just love reading this and had to add it here as Autumn/Mabon is only a few days away. Not sure who the author is but thank you for your beautiful words.

The Magic of Autumn

Come with me to laugh and play while leaves of all colors dance and the wind sings of Autumn and magic."

Do you feel it, that crisp feeling in the air as the autumn winds reach out and lightly touch our senses? There's magic in the air as Mother Nature paints beautiful scenes of colors all around us.I would like to share just a few things about Autumn that I love so well.

Nights are cooler, so I pull out the blankets, hanging them out on the clothesline to freshen them in the cool breeze before placing them on each bed.
Pumpkins appear at farmers markets while baskets of apples are sold to merchants wanting to make apple butter and pies. Oh and don't forget caramel and candied apples and other treats too! Children of all ages get excited about Samhain.Halloween and All Saint's Day. so we can all pretend to be something magical and let our hearts guide us. having fun on a hay wagon, singing old tunes, laughing and telling ghostly stories. Smiling and snuggling closer to keep warm as my nose gets cold from the autumn night. Enjoying homemade popcorn balls, cookies and apple cider, mmmmmmm.
Vegetable soup and chili simmer on the stove top and the wood stove lit for the first time. I love the smell of seasoned wood burning and watching the flames dance and sparkle. it always takes me far away to another time and place where magic is afoot.
The last of the hummingbirds come and go to the feeder seemingly saying goodbye for another season. They will return in the spring when it's warmer, to bless us with their beauty and energy. The afternoon sun shines in my south window onto my crystals causing them to shine all around the room making little rainbows and dancing colors. The wind chimes sing in harmony.
I wash my favorite sweater, the one that makes me feel so comfortable, cozy and warm on the cool afternoons and chilly nights, even if it is old and worn. I sit up against a huge old oak tree and watch the leaves swirl and dance down to the ground as acorns drop on rooftops.
I can sense winters on its way, but just for now, I sit and stop everything to enjoy this moment. Soon there will be frost on the windows and you'll be able to see your breath as you walk through the trees and autumn pathways.
The mountains scream out with so many colors I feel my eyes will burst staring at them with their beauty. My breath is taken away once more. Sipping hot chocolate is sooo good in the morning, with cream on top, of course. while I watch the birds play and the deer slowly leave the garden area as they look for leftover morsels.
The crows gather there too looking like they're having a big morning meeting, discussing the days' events. Scarecrows oversee the pumpkin patch with vines going in all directions leading us to magical places. I love the feel of autumn magic and I'm happy to be reminded of the miracles of life as I watch the Seasons come and go.
I close my eyes and feel the cool air on my face and smell that special scent of Autumn and thank Spirit for sharing the magic of autumn with me once more. Whether it's Autumn or Spring in your area of the world, take time today to enjoy nature and the beauty that surrounds us. be thankful and never take anything for granted and remember we're all magical and the magic lives within us all year round.

Finished another knitting project

After we had settled into the new vacation cottage last week I was able to spend some time finishing up a fun fur scarf knitting project. Now I'm hoping to move onto something else on my quest to continue to learn to knit. What should be next? Mmmm, maybe a hat. I'd love to start some socks but not sure I'm at that stage just yet. Think I'll get over to AC Moore this weekend.

Our Cottage in the Woods

Life has been somewhat busy lately. Learning new things at my job since I moved over to the art department and the moving in of our new trailer on the property in Pa. It's hard to believe a week has past already since our vacation home was installed.

Moving day was rather interesting. After spending the previous night in the old trailer which was getting worse by the minute, (even the microwave gave a final pop and died when we tried to heat up dinner) we had hoped the new unit would have been delivered as promised by 9am, but they showed up four hours late - UGH!!!! We still hadn't showered (hot water tank busted in the old rig) and couldn't wait to move in. Well, the installation took all day. They told us to leave and get something to eat because they wouldn't be done until 5:00. So off to Perkins restaurant for some yummy burgers and K-Mart for essentials we needed for the new place. We got back around 4:30 and they were almost finished. They still hadn't hooked up the air conditioning yet and needed to come back this week to do that. They found a problem in our ground plumbing line and said we shouldn't use the water. What? No way! There is a small problem that will need to be addressed but we had been using the bathroom all morning in the old rig while waiting for them to arrive and I was not going to bed without a hot shower. So they left and Brian hooked up the plumbing himself, it works fine and yes we finally had a hot shower.

The new place is beautiful. The outside landscaping needs lots of TLC so we will try and take care of a bit of it before the cold weather sets in up there, then continue in the Spring.

As for cooking in the new place last weekend we had some basic meals but there is nothing as good as eggs and sausage on a cool late summer morning looking out at wild turkeys and ground critters skampering about.

Spending this weekend back home in NY but headed back up next weekend with Matt and his girlfriend. Highlight photos are posted on my facebook page.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thirty Four years and still going strong...

Today is our 34th wedding anniversary. Every year a happy one, full of love and fun. I couldn't be happier in my life.
The weather was perfect and the day was perfect. I made peach pancakes for breakfast. Brian surprised me with a funny card and a game for my DS - The new Prof. Layton and the Diabolical Box. Didn't think we were planning any gifts this year as we had just bought the new trailer home. I'll post more about the trailer next week. I didn't get him a gift but Brian did get a new hard drive for his computer earlier this week so he has lots of storage space for his games. I just want his computer to run perfect so he can be a happy camper and enjoy his games and stuff.

We went out mid afternoon figured we were going to have a late lunch at the Olive Garden but they only had a dinner menu so we ended up with dinner instead. The food was yummy as usual. I love the Zuppa Tuscana!

We then headed over to Walmart needed some things for the new trailer. The store is torn apart and they are rearranging the entire store. We were not so happy about the layout there, looks like they are trying to immitate Target. We had to walk the entire store to find the few items we needed. Didn't mind the walk after a large meal but just wanted to find what we needed. From there we took a peek in Game Stop and then Best Bargain Books, then on to home.

Think we will have a nice quiet evening at home. We have a nice get away planned to Pennsylvania next week when the trailer gets delivered and set on the property. Even the dogs are staying home next week. :)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Night Fish Fry

A beautiful summer evening, just Brian and I are home and to kick off the Labor Day Weekend we decided to do a homemade fried catfish sandwich with fries and cole slaw. I recently purchased a small home deep fryer for making the occasional fried dishes we enjoy from time to time. I've never owned a basket fryer before so this was exciting for us. We usually avoid fried or deep fried dishes for the obvious reasons but every so often that little voice whispers in our ears to do the "bad thing".

Brian made the cole slaw while I was at work so it was fresh and crispy and not limp and soggy like from the store. I hate store made salads these days. Then when it was time to make dinner we started to make the magick happen in the kitchen. Setting up the deep fryer, coating the catfish with a nice mix of seasonned cornmeal and flour and taking the plunge. First the fish, each piece came out perfectly golden, then we followed with the fries that were crispy and perfect.

Building the sandwiches was next. A dressing of Wasabi Mayo, fish, slice of Swiss and topped with the homemade slaw all on an artisan roll. Side of fries and presto an amazing meal was born!

Here are the recipes...

Easy Cole Slaw Recipe
10 min 10 min prep

1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons milk
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

1.Combine all ingredients except cole slaw mix in a large bowl and combine well.

2.Add the cole slaw mix and toss to coat. 3.Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight to allow flavors to blend.

Classic Fried Catfish

¾ cup yellow cornmeal

¼ cup flour

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Old Bay Seasonning (to taste)

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

4 catfish fillets or whole catfish

vegetable oil
Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Coat catfish with mixture, shaking off excess. Fill deep pot or 12 in. skillet half full with vegetable oil. Heat to 350°. Add catfish in single layer, and fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes, depending on size. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Dish Cloth

In my effort to complete projects and use up craft materials around the house, I finished a cotton dish cloth. Crocheted, very simple with some raised rows, not easy to make out in the photo though. Brian said he would rather use it as a hot mat than a dish cloth, doesn't have the heart to use it. Isn't he sweet.

Now onto some of the ideas I have for Christmas and Yule presents.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A perfect weather day...

No heat, no humidity, about 72 degrees. Even the A/C at work was way too cold for me. The cold at work got me thinking of soups and casseroles and stews.

So even though it is a bit early for a comfort food kind of meal. Tonight I made up an easy chicken and bisquit casserole that is a long standing family favorite. Oh, it may not be fall yet but this meal did my heart good. Don't get me wrong, I love all of the wonderful light summer dishes I make but I think I am reaching my limit and needed an old fashioned meal to warm the tummies of my family. Surely they must have been a bit chilly today too.

Chicken and Biscuit Dumpling Casserole
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cooked chicken, bite size pcs
Saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Stir in flour, salt, pepper until smooth. Add broth, bring to a boil, cook and stir one minute. Add chicken, pour into greased 13x9 casserole.
Biscuit Dumplings:

2 cups bisquick
2 tsp parsley
2/3 cup milk
1 large egg, beaten
Combine all, stir with fork until moistened. Drop by spoonfulls onto casserole (9-12 dumplings) Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Cover and bake 15 minutes more until biscuits are done. 6-8 servings.

From the weekend...

Well, it was a relaxing weekend, did a bit of this and that, not much to write about.

Finally got around to getting my hair cut and colored. Played on the computer and finished the weekend by watching the second to the last episode of the second season of "True Blood".

One of the things I made on Saturday was a pot of marinara sauce from my "Carmine's Family Cookbook". Spent the money on San Marzano tomatoes and it sure was worth it. Just a plain spaghetti dish for a rainy Saturday. Here's a picture and the recipe.


"We use this versatile sauce in so many of our recipes that we always have it ready and waiting. You will want to, too."

3 cans (26 to 28 ounces each) Italian plum tomatoes (we use San Marzano)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic (from about 12 cloves garlic)

2 fresh basil leaves, sliced

2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Drain the tomatoes in a colander set in a large bowl for 5 minutes. Reserve the tomato liquid.In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook it, stirring, for about 5 minutes or until it is golden brown. If the garlic starts to cook too quickly, reduce the heat.Add the basil, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook the mixture for 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes, increase the heat to high, and cook them for about 5 minutes, using a wooden spoon or long-handled fork to break them up, or until the tomatoes boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes or until the tomatoes break down.

Add the reserved tomato liquid. Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil it for about 12 minutes or until it starts to thicken. Stir it occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the sauce from burning.

Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set it aside for about 1 hour or until it cools to room temperature. Transfer it to a tightly covered storage container and refrigerate it for up to 1 week or freeze it for up to 1 month.Makes about 5 cups

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts on a rainy day...

Starting a new blog - I have had one before and deleted it. I had a personal web site for over ten plus years and AOL deleted that - sigh :(
I've met many interesting people along this wonderful online journey of mine over the last fifteen or so years. My web site Candleberry Cottage was all about those travels, and learnings, both magickal and mundane. I loved sharing my cooking creations season by season, my crafts and homemade gifts and goodies. Photos of my life, my small herb garden and all my magikal treasures I discovered.
As life changes and as I grow older some things no longer interest me and other things have come to replace them. So here I am at age 55 thinking it is time to start a new chapter. The season will be changing very soon here in NY. Seems as the summer winds down I feel my creativity increases and reawakens and it also becomes a time of self awarenss for me.
So this blog will be my new Candlberry Cottage, where I will continue to share bits of me, who I am and what I love to do. It won't be the same as the old website but like I said, times change, people change and sometimes you can't recreate the same magick some things once had. I will add some of the old and a sprinkle of new whenever I can.