Cheese Puffs and Moth Balls

Chocolate Extravaganza!

Chocolate Extravaganza! (Photo credit: Rachel Ford James)

The Daily prompt by Krista was too good to ignore today. She wants us to “Tell us about the favourite dish or food that you simply cannot turn down.”

I love a challenge–

1. Chocolate – but not all forms. Has to be just the right chocolate. I love a deep milk chocolate especially in combination with caramel and nuts—so I am crazy about O Henry bars. I love my Hostess cupcakes with that white filling that doubles as death by sugar; and chocolate covered almonds are to die for. But I am not crazy about chocolate chip muffins, or chocolate whip cream, or chocolate pudding.  And though dark chocolate is supposed to be good for you, it is a little bitter for my palate unless accompanied by my favourite winery’s rose.

cheese puffs, the soft kind

cheese puffs without moth balls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2. Cheese puffs – I do not indulge in these often as they are a useless snack of lost calories—but they bring back wonderful memories of childhood—but also one disturbing one: one of my grandmas always had these on hand for a snack but she kept them in the same cupboard with her mothballs. I was always so disappointed when she brought them out because I could not eat them as they seemed to taste like what I think mothballs would taste like.

3. Shrimp. Ice cold and dipped in slightly tangy shrimp sauce—I have to try to be demure at parties when these are served so as not to eat more than my fair share. I fail at this, as whenever someone asks a host where I am at a party—the answer is always “she is by the shrimp”.

4. Pineapple – I just love chunks of fresh pineapple.

5. Chili and pizza – no explanation needed.

7. Bread – it would kill me to find out that I am whatever that is that makes you eat gluten free.

8. Coca Cola – I so try to give it up. I poured it on an ivy plant once when I was in university and the plant rusted. Seriously, I did that. And then still drank it. I now have it only on occasion.

Français : Une cannette de Coca-Cola italienne...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

9. In no particular order: steak, prime rib, roasted potatoes, cheesecake, cherry pie, lamb, tomatoes out of the garden, corn on the cob dripping with butter and lightly salted, lemon chicken, scallops, stuffing, gravy, cashews, honey crisp apples, butter (shades of Paula Deen), onions, mustard, …..

10. Okay my favourite food is food except for lima beans, those cute little cabbage things—brussel sprouts, canned peas, and bad pastry that does not resemble pastry.

So, do you have a favourite food, or are you like me and just basically love food of any and (mostly) all types?

Cherry Salsa

Cherry Macro

Cherry Macro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fresh Cherry Salsa

 1 1/2 lbs. cherries, pitted and roughly chopped

1/2 cup minced red onion

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt 

Mix all ingredients together well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid. Refrigerate until serving time.

(at least a couple of hours for flavours to marinate)

Serve over grilled chicken or pork tenderloin or veal chops.

I received this recipe from a friend of mine who knows my skill set when it comes to cooking (below average) and she sends me recipes that she knows I am capable of carrying out. She always prefaces a recipe with the words “Dave can do it” referring to her spouse. I am no longer fooled by this phrase, which once comforted me, because now I know Dave’s skill set when it comes to cooking is a few steps higher than mine–but this cherry salsa sounds wonderful and so I am going to try it for two reasons:

1. my husband loves cherries

2. I love cherries

Now, tell me, does this not sound just too good not to make? What seasonal fruit, berry, or veggie do you love the most?

Published in: on July 27, 2013 at 1:53 pm  Comments (19)  
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Inspired Bliss

English: As the feel of the event was all abou...

Yes, this is exactly how my family sits down to eat every night. I may give the butler the night off! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The shared meal is no small thing. It is a foundation of family life, the place where our children learn the art of conversation and acquire the habits of civilization: sharing, listening, taking turns, navigating differences, arguing without offending.” ~Michael Pollan, from his book, “Cooked”

I am guilty of much of what Pollan is railing against in his book “Cooked”. I have been wooed by the fast food industry, courted by the industrial food moguls, and a victim of food that is not really food. And I am now inspired to cook food from scratch and not just heat up “packaged ravioli with sage-butter sauce” and consider it a “culinary achievement”.

My Achilles heel when it comes to cooking is the fact that after a while it becomes too routine, and just getting some food to the table is an accomplishment itself—no matter where it comes from—the pizza delivery guy, my freezer, or a package.

Pollan has renewed my pride in cooking, and inspired me. And real cooking can be so simple—sometimes just a quick nuking of fresh asparagus from the local farmers market with a little butter and salt and pepper will satisfy that urging; other times a full-blown meal where one has to actually touch real potatoes, chop real lettuce, and cook some fresh meat meets the criteria.

I must confess that I will still rely on frozen packaged food at times—but I am now determined to take a little more time, take it that one step further, and serve real food on a more regular basis. And I must look at it as feeding my creative beast—there are so many ways to be creative and I no longer want to limit myself to writing literary masterpieces and somewhat lame poetry (I know I am exaggerating on both ends of the scale here).

To share a meal with those you love where you have actually put some time and thought into the effort is most satisfying. If we are going to do important things like teach the art of conversation, and share and listen and navigate differences—we should do it over fare that deserves that deliberation.

Bliss is going that extra mile and fixing “real food” if not every day at least as much as possible. What do you think?

Published in: on May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm  Comments (31)  
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Starve a Little

I don't think my fridge has ever been this messy

I don’t think my fridge has ever been this messy (Photo credit: *Bitch Cakes*)

Sometimes I fill my fridge with food

And it is too full

And I cannot find anything

Sometimes my mind is the same way

It is too full

And I cannot find anything

I do not feel like cooking when my fridge is too full

There is too much choice

I cannot think when my mind is too full

There is too much choice

Sometimes we need to starve just a little

To find our creativity.

Published in: on April 25, 2013 at 9:54 am  Comments (38)  
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Politically Incorrect Wonder Years

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign

Wonder Bread Hometown Fresh Sign (Photo credit: joseph a)

As politically incorrect

as a bologna sandwich

on white bread

with mayo or mustard or sometimes both

topped with iceberg lettuce

and cut into dainty quarters

accompanied by salted potato chips

on a styrofoam plate.

Gulping down a coke

with its empty sweet but oh so delicious calories

while watching TV

a rarity in my childhood house

where most meals were served

at the dining room table ~

meals that included meat and potatoes

and a side of vegetables or two and a salad

on china plates.

Dessert

Dessert (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And in those days dessert ~

because my father

who expected little, did expect dessert.

Bliss then was

a rare sandwich for supper

instead of the usual heavy healthy fare

and the best sandwich of all

was politically incorrect.

What did you eat that gave you bliss when you were a kid (or even now) that seems out of step with our nutrition crazed (and rightly so) world?

Mystery Recipe Saturday

Raspberries

Raspberries (Photo credit: hello pedestrian)

Today I am presenting to you a “found recipe”. As I was looking through a notebook which passes for a recipe book at my house, I found a piece of paper folded into four. Upon opening it, I found a recipe—thus my “found recipe”.

You did not think it would really be any more complicated than that did you—perhaps a mysterious recipe on parchment paper in another language that tells us the secret of the ages; or a recipe for what to drink out of that golden goblet that is the journey end of those trying to find ….

Anyway it is a recipe for a salad dressing. An untitled recipe for a salad dressing which makes it all the more mysterious. So I will name it myself. Drum roll please………….

Raspberry Enchantment

1 finely chopped garlic clove

2 tsp. of raspberry jam

1 ½ tsp. grainy mustard

1 ½ tsp. apple cider vinegar

3 tbsp. of olive oil

There were no instructions, so I assume you measure the ingredients into a container, mix and pour on salad greens (I would choose  mixed baby greens or baby spinach with red onions and slivered almonds and maybe some dried cranberries).

So now, you are prepared for life—a few Saturdays ago I gave you a blueberry dressing and now I have provided you with a raspberry dressing—you are now officially ready for spring!

Published in: on April 6, 2013 at 10:23 am  Comments (52)  
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Green Bean Bliss

Whole green beans in a carton.

Whole green beans in a carton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is Saturday—and we all know what that means: Recipe Day! I can just feel the enthusiasm that this weekly sojourn into the land of the culinary elicits, but I persevere. I bought some lovely frozen full size green beans and am going to roast them in the oven using a rendition of a recipe from Food.com.  Here is the original recipe:

Roasted Green Beans

2 lbs. green beans
1 -2 tablespoon olive oil (or just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste, may substitute with Mrs. Dash if desired)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper (or to taste, omit if using Mrs. Dash)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
Put green beans on a jelly roll pan.  Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and about 8-10 grinds of the pepper mill). *Mrs. Dash may be substituted for salt and pepper as desired.
Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shrivelled.
Serve hot or at room temperature.

Of course I will not be using the original recipe as I will be using frozen green beans—so no washing, drying, and trimming will be necessary, which suits this lazy cook to a T.

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday! (Photo credit: KP_Sonny)

I am going to use this recipe for a little birthday dinner party I am throwing tomorrow night for my husband, whose birthday was last Thursday, but he has a birthday month  not day, so this is just a continuation of the celebrations (and for exactly one month he is older than I am).

I may just add some parmesan cheese to the mix to add just a little touch of bliss.

What do you add to recipes for a touch of bliss, even if they do not call for it?

Is Slow Living Bliss?

Heidi kumquat small

Heidi kumquat small, not Heidi@lightlycrunchy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 To say that Heidi @ lightlycrunchy is my favourite blogger would not be true. But she is in the upper tier of my favourites. I have never been one to have a best friend, but lots of best friends, as I never like to be exclusive. (Now whether these people feel the same about me may be a different story). Heidi is one of my best friends. Not just blog friends, as I think that is a good term, but one that categorizes people in a sort of arm’s length way. Nope, Heidi sent me a present after I admired something that she knit (a pretty Christmas-y dishcloth). No fuss, no bother—she just sent it. I have it tucked away in a drawer to bring out next Christmas to festively hand wash my dishes.

 I read every one of her posts as soon as they show up in my email, and I love her sense of humour – she turns a highly informative and useful blog into one that is enjoyable and funny. She never preaches, she just tells us what she does. She never criticizes and she is humble about her many accomplishments from cooking to sewing, knitting to growing a fantastic garden and then using the harvest in all manner of ways, to holding down a job and mothering her two girls, and bragging about her husband.

I admire her and I admire the fact that at the end of every month, no matter how busy she is she does a roundup of what the month held using terms she gleaned from Slow Living Essentials. Now when you go to her site and read her monthly round-ups, you will see that they are full of substantial entries, of things she and her family and friends and relatives did that month to fulfill the key subjects set out by Slow Living.

In my own way, I am going to attempt the same, but instead of month end, I am going to start this month of March with some goals set by using the subject titles: Nourish; Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Repair; Green; Grow; Create; Discover; Enhance; and Enjoy.

Nourish:

I am going to make a meal from a bona fide new recipe this month and not just recycle my tried and true off the cuff recipes. I am also going to continue my “If It Is Saturday, It Must Be Recipe Day” post.

International Recycling Symbol 32px|alt=W3C|li...

International Recycling Symbol (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Repair:

I am going to get my blue and red boxes to the curb this week. After missing two pick-ups (which are every other week) – I have a mound of recyclables on my back porch. By finally getting this stuff out to the curb I will repurpose my back porch—as I will be able to find it again. I will repair the back pockets on a pair of my jeans and a pair of John’s jeans, and fix my son’s game carrier—the elastic strap is broken.

Green:

I am going to recycle my recyclables. I am perhaps going to use a hint or two from Heidi, but don’t hold your breath on this one.

Remember back in the ‘90’s when all the rage was to buy green products etc? I am going to restart my earlier enthusiasm for this, and try my hand at making some green products. My sister has given me a teeth whitening recipe of 3% hydrogen peroxide and baking soda—so perhaps I will give that a whirl.  She says to only use it once a week, with your regular toothpaste.

Grow:

This one is difficult, as I have a black thumb, and not from lovely luscious humus. I will start small—maybe a violet. I have been known to be able to keep these alive. Our back garden will probably come to life down the road, but it is too soon for that.

Create:

I call writing creating, so I will continue writing. But I am thinking of getting back into my cut and paste phase—I may make some cards (something I love to do) and get back into scrapbooking. I create a lot of messes, but I do not think this counts. I love to create little vignettes around the house—and since it is time to replace the snowmen with something a little less wintry—I will be doing a little interior decorating.

Discover (magazine)

Discover magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Discover:

This one is easy. I am a curious soul, so discovering is something I love to do. I am planning on spending an afternoon in my local library to write an article about it for my weekly newspaper column. I visit the library often, but do not spend a lot of time there in one sitting. I want to discover what goes on there and what I may be missing.

Enhance (Community):

As the municipal reporter for our local paper, I like to think I enhance the community by writing up articles that inform the residents of what is going on in the town and what they should be expecting.

Enjoy:

This can take in so many things—do not think I will make a prediction here.

So, at the end of the month, I will write up an end of the month round-up, and we will see what we will see. Thanks for the idea Heidi. Join me if you like.

Can slow living (my definition: mindful living) be the answer to our bliss?

Published in: on March 2, 2013 at 8:09 pm  Comments (28)  
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Exotic Bliss ~ Saturday Recipe

super bowl

super bowl (Photo credit: sinosplice)

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that the recipe I am providing today is a bit out of my league. First of all, it has way more than five ingredients and a few more than three steps, as well as being slightly exotic. But it is so delicious I could not resist sharing it with you.

On Super Bowl Sunday, I went to a hockey game with friends, and after the game they made us this delightful meal. It hits so many high notes, I barely know where to begin~the chicken was bronzed in the sauce, and the medley of ingredients served to provide a powerful  but delicate punch.

I am not a sports fan, but have been to a couple of Windsor Spitfire games, and am beginning to understand why people enjoy hockey. It is fast-paced and exciting. I was in an arena that held as many people as my small town (6000 or so). The noise is phenomenal, but it is a companionable noise, and the feeling of community is palpable. My only argument with hockey is when they throw down their gloves and go at it, or smash into the opposite team members with anger. That is when the spirit of the game is lost (for me).

English: Tajine pot. Français : Un Tajine

Tajine pot.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This chicken recipe was so good that even I, the queen of easy cooking, am going to attempt it. We had couscous under the delectable “stew” and chunks of butternut squash on top. My hostess forgot to put the slivered almonds on top (they were ready—but like me, she sometimes forgets one ingredient when she has guests), and to be honest they were not missed—but I imagine they would provide a nice crunch.

So without further ado—I present you with:

MOROCCAN STYLE CHICKEN

12 chicken thighs, skinned and boned – cut into chunks

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons dried currants

2 tablespoons of honey

2 or 3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 and 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (or a little more)

1 and 1/2 cups bottled salsa (mild or medium)

1/2 cup of dried apricots chopped or figs or prunes or a combination of these

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup chopped or slivered almonds

Method for Crock Pot:

Cut each chicken thigh into 4 or 5 pieces. Set aside.

In a large metal bowl, mix together olive oil, garlic, salsa, water, currants, apricots, honey, cumin and cinnamon.  Add chicken pieces and stir well.

Transfer to crock pot and cook for 2 hours on high and then 4 or 5 hours on low. Stir occasionally.

Serve over couscous or rice. Follow directions on package for cooking.

Top with chopped or slivered almonds. Serve hot!

Cucurbita moschata 'Butternut'. Original descr...

P.S. You could cook some chunks of sweet potato or butternut squash and serve on top for colour as well as nutritional value.

Do you have a recipe that is “out of your league” but you would be willing to try because the results are so delectable (or dare I say it, in keeping with my theme: blissful)?

Published in: on February 9, 2013 at 11:31 am  Comments (62)  
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~ Making Bliss from the Unblissful ~

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This next recipe is for those who do not eat meat, but still eat eggs and cheese. Yes, I actually did make this recipe once. It is so unlike me, but we had an attack of Swiss chard in our little family garden, so it was in response to the abundance of green stuff that I actually turned the oven on.

Swiss chard is really good for you. Having said that, I have to admit that it is not my favourite leafy green, but it is nicely disguised in this recipe.

So, without further ado (drum roll please) here is some Swiss Chard Bliss (isn’t it amazing how I can work that word into anything?):

Baked Swiss Chard

1 lb. Swiss chard

¼ cup of butter (I probably used Becel, as that is what I usually have on hand unless it is a holiday)

1 large onion, sliced

2 eggs

Salt and pepper (to taste)

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

Cut stems from chard, then cut into ¼ inch pieces and leaves into 1 inch strips. (Let’s be honest here, I threw out the stems). Melt butter, add onion and stems and cook until onion is transparent. Add leaves and cook for three minutes. Place in greased two quart baking dish.

Beat eggs; add salt and pepper, then pour over chard. Sprinkle with cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Serves 2-4  (Recipe taken from Country Cooking, by readers of Harrowsmith Magazine, attributed to Sandra Lintz ~ p. 163)

A wedge of Unpasteurised West Country Cheddar ...

Everything thing is better with cheese!  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are not a big fan of Swiss chard you will like this recipe. If you are a big fan of Swiss chard, you will love this recipe.

So what recipe do you use to turn a vegetable which is not on your bliss list, into something that resembles bliss? And do you agree that if you add cheese to something, it automatically becomes blissful?

Published in: on February 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm  Comments (39)  
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