Memorial Weekend

How did you spend your Memorial day weekend?  I spent most of my mine in my kitchen. I was lucky enough to have five whole days off….IN A ROW, people!  It was awesome.  We traditionally host our Commencement ceremony the Wednesday  before Memorial Day.  I took Thursday off, well, because I totally exhausted from working an insane amount of hours Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Friday was our first Summer Friday!  So, one day off = a five day weekend, YEAH ME!

I spent Thursday running errands – grocery shopping, haircut, picking up my dry cleaning….you know all the stuff that gets put on the back burner during Commencement month…AKA….May.  I picked up two flats of vegetables and herbs for my garden.  Friday morning I planted, Friday afternoon I picked up flats of flowers.

While I was getting my flowers, I checked the local farm stands for strawberries.  Because of the rain and cooler temperatures, local strawberries are not quite ready for picking.  I was hoping to make some jam this weekend, but alas, it was not in the cards.  Never fear!  I can always find a canning or kitchen project.

hot sauce

Late last year I made a match of fermented hot sauce and it was a HUGE hit with everyone I shared it with.  I have been getting a ton of requests for more, so this weekend, I grabbed a bunch of hot peppers (jalapeno’s and habaneros), along with some garlic, and spices.  It is now fermenting away on my counter.  All I need to do is burp the jars every day and wait…

Saturday we were invited to a birthday party for two of the little girls who live next door.  Their Mom decided on a taco bar as our entree so I made a batch of mango salsa and paired it with chips as a side dish.  It went over really well, slightly spicy and sweet, it was the perfect combo and a great salsa for a party with children.

mango salsa

Sunday we were invited to a friends house for dinner.  I supplied the desserts…

confetti cookie doughconfetti cookiesderby pie

Confetti cookies, because they are just fun and taste AMAZING and Derby Pie because every rainy Sunday deserves a bit of bourbon and chocolate!

Monday, I made a toll house pie for us to enjoy as our dessert.

toll house pie

Tuesday came far too quickly, I was really enjoying my time at home.  Thank goodness we are lucky enough to have Friday’s off for the entire summer.  I only worked three days this week. It was the perfect way to ease back into the job after so much time off!

Pork Tenderloin

Pork, it’s whats for dinner!  We love pork, especially pork tenderloin, and I make it year round.  When I am in a hurry, I pick up one of packages of pre marinated loins for dinner.

pork and pots

I especially like this time of year, when we can do the whole meal outside on the grill –  well – OK – almost the entire meal!  I paired the pork with some pan roasted potatoes.  I peeled and cut the potatoes, tossed them with some olive oil and Montreal Steak Seasoning and cooked them in a disposable aluminum pan on the grill.

To finish out our meal, I made a spinach salad.  I boiled the eggs the day.  After putting the meat and potatoes on the grill, I fried up a bit of bacon, whipped up a quick honey mustard dressing and assembled the salad plates.

spinach salad

I looked almost too pretty to eat!   We were able to sit outside, eat dinner and were treated to a lovely sunset.

sunset

You just can’t ask for a better way to end the day….unless you make cake, then that is TOTALLY the best way to end the day.   I made a Raspberry Buttermilk cake for dessert.  It is a recipe I found a few years back and it is perfect.  Not too sweet, a little tart from the berries, and incredibly moist.  It makes a great breakfast cake.  Sometimes I add a bit of sweetened whip cream, but tonight, was straight up cake – and it was fantastic!

raspberry cake

Marathon Bake Session

Friday night our neighbors decided to host a cookout for a few of the families on our street.  I said I would bring a dessert, so Thursday night I made a batch of peanut butter cup blondies.  Actually, I made two batches – one for their house and one for my catering supervisor at work.  He and I had been talking about food all day, I told him I was going home to bake and he gave me these really sad eyes….sigh….I am such a sucker.  Anyway, I already had the oven on so it was a simple matter of making two batches and sliding them in the oven at the same time.

marathon bake session

While they were cooking, I also made a larger batch of chocolate chip blondies.  I was invited to join our facilities department for a lunchtime cookout on Friday afternoon.  My house smelled so amazing, it was tough to go to sleep that night, but I needed  good nights rest since I had to be at work that morning at 4 am….yes, you read that right….I was at work by 4 am. I pulled into the parking lot at 3:42 am, one hour and forty eight minutes before the Dunkin Donuts opened.   By 5:30am, I was in serious need of caffeine!

It was a busy day at work, we had four events and we were setting up for an event that was taking place on Saturday.  To say it was a long, grueling day is an understatement.  Thankfully, I had these desserts to look forward to.

All three were a hit, thank goodness! I’ve gotten requests from others to duplicate the peanut butter cup blondies again, as soon as possible, in fact.  It will need to wait until after Commencement, I just don’t have enough hours in the day to sleep in the next two weeks, let alone bake!

Happy New Year!

My goodness, 2017 was one for the record books.  I had no intention of taking a break from writing this blog, work kinda consumed my life.  Well – NO MORE!  I truly enjoy writing this blog and I refuse to allow my work life to be my only priority.  Anyway, enough about work – we need to be talking about FOOD.

2017 ended with both the hubby and I feeling under the weather.  I decided we needed delicious and healthy food to get us back on track.  Since that didn’t work, I tried bacon and guess what – it WORKED!

NYE Breakfast

After that hearty breakfast, we had a light lunch of leftover soup (you know the thing that was supposed to cure what ails me….)

chicken barley soup

I took a picture while I was cooking.  I love the colors in this photo and man did it taste amazing.  I joke that it didn’t cure me, but it certainly made me feel better, what more can you ask for when your head feels like it is stuffed with cotton?

Anyway, I was originally going to cook veal chops on the grill for our New Year’s Eve dinner, but the temperature was hovering around 5 degrees and I was afraid the grill wouldn’t get hot enough.  I decided to stuff chicken breasts with spinach and cheese and bake them in the oven.  Good choice – if I do say so myself!

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts

They turned out better than I expected.  I used a 10 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained.  To that I added a container of Boursin Garlic and Herb Cheese.  I cut a pocket in the chicken and stuffed them with the spinach mixture.   I seasoned the chicken with salt, pepper, and lemon zest.  After browning them in a cast iron skillet, I slide them in the oven to finish cooking.   Dinner was a simple affair – French Onion Soup, Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Baked Potatoes.  For dessert, I whipped up a Maple Pear Upside Down Cake – it was amazing!  I found the recipe in the New York Times https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1012862-maple-pear-upside-down-cake 

Maple Pear Upside Down Cake

I highly recommend making it if you have the time. Well, that was our New Year’s Eve – I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.  Happy 2018!

Sour Dough Starter

Isn’t just for making sour dough bread!  I have been trying to find new and different ways to use my sour dough starter.   I feed the darn thing each week, but I only use it a few times of year when I make bread.  I decided this fall, that was going to change.

banana-bread

We had some banana’s that were getting a bit too ripe so I googled to find a recipe that used sour dough starter to make banana bread.  I found a recipe on this site, Cultures for Health.  It was really simple, I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I threw caution to the wind and tried it.

The bread rose higher than any other sweet bread I had ever made, it wasn’t overly sweet, and the hubby and I really enjoyed it.  I did add a handful of chopped walnuts to the bread before baking, because  we love banana nut  bread.   The recipe is definitely a keeper and it used up some of my sour dough starter, DOUBLE WIN!

 

Apple Crisp

After I made the maple apple jam, I had seven apples leftover.  I just didn’t feel like making a pie crust, so I took the easy way out and made a quick apple crisp to have with dinner on Sunday night.

apple-crisp

I didn’t follow a recipe, I just cut the apples, tossed them in a bit of sugar and cinnamon and poured them into a baking dish.  I topped that with a combination of old fashioned oats, flour, brown sugar, butter, and diced walnuts.

I baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, until the apples were done and the top was lightly brown.   The little girls from next door came over and were very disappointed that we were having apple crisp without vanilla ice cream.  They were kind enough to inform me that it just wasn’t done – apple crisp should ALWAYS be served with ice cream.  Goodness, I guess I have learned my lesson and will be picking up a container of vanilla ice cream to serve with the rest of the apple crisp!

Zucchini Bread

You know you are a sucker when the little girls next door come over to tell you that they signed you up to make dessert for them.  Heck, I was even given instructions as to what I was making and how much…..yup, SUCKER, right across the fore head, in big red letters.

Anyway,what they wanted to zucchini bread, two loaves, for church on Sunday.  I had zucchini from the garden on the counter, but I knew I would have to make the bread on Saturday morning, before I left for work.

Thankfully, I was able to make the bread and leave it cooling on the counter.  I texted their Mom to let them know it was ready and they could pick it up anytime. Then I went upstairs to get ready and I headed out to the Jersey Shore for our annual Alumni Happy Hour down the shore.

zucchini bread

It wasn’t until the next afternoon that I saw the girls and they told me the bread was a big hit.  To thank me, and ensure a never ending supply of zucchini bread, they brought me over a HUGE zucchini from their Dad’s garden.  Hopefully he knows that they gave it to me….!