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Archive for July, 2011

Roasted Zucchini

Captain Cavedweller will only eat zucchini if it has been dipped in batter and deep fried.

Until I roasted a zucchini the other day.

Don’t ask me what is magical about the fast roasting process, but it makes the zucchini taste so good.

And talk about fast and easy. In less than 10 minutes you can make this side dish and have it ready to eat.

Basic ingredients

Pour a tablespoon or so of EVOO into a ziploc bag.

Add a dash of salt and some seasoning to the oil.

Put zucchini into the bag and shake it a few times to coat.

All nicely coated and ready to dump onto baking sheet.

Spead out the zucchini on the baking sheet.

Bake in 400 degree oven for about five minutes.

Baked, tender and ready to be devoured.

Roasted Zucchini

Zucchini, cut into slices

Dash of Salt

Dash of Seasoning

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pour a tablespoon or two of oil into a ziploc bag. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and some seasoning. Put in zucchini slices, seal and shake bag to coat slices. Place slices on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about five minutes. Serve and enjoy!

You can use this method with a variety of vegetables including carrots and beets (which will need a longer baking time).

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It’s National Chocolate Milk Day!

Woohoo!

As completely insane as this is going to sound, I’m not a big chocolate milk fan as far as drinking it straight up from the carton.

But I do love chocolate milkshakes.

And chocolate milk frozen in a cup (and a popsicle stick or spoon and you’ve got your own fudgesicle).

And poured over Nilla wafers (don’t ask, just try it!).

How do you like your chocolate milk?

Enjoy some today – it does a body good!

She Who Is Craving a Chocolate Milkshake

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It is getting to be that time of year when County Fairs are held across the country, highlighting our rural roots and ambitions.

If you want to recreate that experience at home, think about hosting a County Fair themed party. It can be a lot of fun and not that hard to put together.

Invitations

Think outside the norm for some fun invitations. You could send them on blue ribbons, use red or blue gingham cloth to cover the outside of the card or card stock shaped like a barn.

Decorations

Use canning jars filled with sunflowers or wildflowers as centerpieces. Cover your tables in red or blue gingham material. For an extra pop of county fun. Put down bandanas in the center of the table before setting on the centerpieces. You can also use bandanas for napkins if you want to go all-out country. Raffia ribbon is another great choice. If you have kids who are complaining about being bored, have them make sunflower chains by running a darning needle through flower heads and stringing together on plain white thread.

If it is an evening party outdoors, use citronella candles to not only provide some nice lighting, but also keep the bugs at bay.

Games

Create your own carnival area with a variety of fun and easy games.

Pour birdseed in a large pan and sprinkle in a few pennies. Have a contest to see who can find the first penny.

Use canning jar rings and pop bottles for a ring toss game.

Sack races or three-legged races are fun. Do a tug of war game or a water balloon toss.

You can also find inexpensive carnival-like games at Oriental Trading

Shop the dollar store for fun prizes.

Contests

Have your guests bring something to enter in a contest. It could be a vegetable, baked goods or crafts. You could have several categories to choose from. If you do have several categories, select three or so guests to judge each category, splitting up the efforts so most of your guests have an opportunity to judge.

Food

You can keep the food simple and fun. Serve hot dog and hamburgers for the easiest menu. You could also make corn dogs and curly fries, if you don’t mind the frying or the calories!  You can find mixes  for things like corn dogs, funnel cakes and more.Think about fair foods you have enjoyed. It is easy to buy a few bags of cotton candy for your guests to share. Serve caramel apples of chocolate dipped bananas or bowls of homemade ice cream. Icy cups of strawberry lemonade or sweet tea are great beverages everyone can enjoy.

However you decide to plan your County Fair Themed Party, remember to have fun with it and enjoy your guests!

She Who Needs an Elephant Ear!

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My friend Denise from Gypsy World Spice Cafe shared The Versatile Blogger Award with me. I am quite honored she did. Even though Denise and I have never met, I feel like we are friends from sharing through our blogs. If you ever want to know what to do with a spice, check out Denise’s blog. She has some fabulous and creative ideas! Really, check out her recipes. They are beyond amazing!

There are some strings attached to accepting the award… The award works like a chain letter. So by accepting the award, I have to share 7 blogs that I love, along with sharing 7 things about myself.

7 Blogs I Love

Natty Nook: Kirby and Lena serve up everything from Home Décor and DYI projects to fun recipes. And they are also fans of The Pioneer Woman – a blog I must read daily.

My Name is Snickerdoodle: Amy’s posts are fun, entertaining, endearing and sometimes make me drool as I look at her recipes.

Making Miracles: Began as a way for her to share her journey into surrogacy and now includes some delicious recipes as well as every day living that is fun, inspiring and uplifting.

Kevin & Amanda: You’ll find a variety of wonderful things on this blog from tasty recipes and scrapbooking ideas to beautiful photography and fonts!

The Magic Number: My friend Lindsay, whom I greatly admire, started writing this blog when she found out she was pregnant. She has continued writing it with much humor and inspiration. Check out her post entitled “Nice girls.” I can’t tell you how much I love it.

How Sweet It Is: Beautiful Jessica writes about food, workouts and life in a very engaging and fun way. In addition to great photos, she has some recipes you have to try!

Jamie’s Appleseeds: My friend and neighbor, Jamie, writes a lovely blog about life and love and photography. She is one of the sweetest people I know and her posts always make me smile.

 

7 Things About Me

1. This one is not a secret to anyone who knows me or has read my blog, but I love chocolate. As in, if a day goes by and I don’t have any, my world starts to crash around my ears. Growing up, my mother thought I was allergic to chocolate and for more than a decade I was not allowed to eat any. Captain Cavedweller, my wonderful hubby, decided to test the theory and offered me a bit of his candy bar. I didn’t die, or even have an allergic reaction, so I have been on a quest since that day to make up for all the years I missed eating chocolate.

2. I love the smell of sagebrush. I grew up on a farm that was surrounded on two sides by sagebrush. When the summer rainstorms would hit, the scent of sagebrush would mingle with the tang of raindrops creating a fragrance that someone should figure out how to bottle.

3. We had a calf that lost his mother when I was in high school, so he became my pet. I bottle fed him and spoiled him. Blackie would follow me around like a dog. He ran loose in our yard a good part of one summer, which made running through the grass barefoot a bit of a challenge.

4. As much as I love food, I can’t stand the taste of sweet mingling with other flavors. I don’t want a sweet dressing on my salads, don’t put a fruit salsa on my entrée (I had a mango and ham sandwich once that nearly did me in!), I don’t even like sweet and sour sauce.

5. I used to design and sew most of my own clothes. I worked in fabric stores to earn extra money in college and fell in love with the notion of creating my own patterns and fashions. I haven’t made anything for myself in years, partly due to a lack of time and partly due to a lack of desire. It was much more fun to sew when I was several sizes smaller. My patterns, now all out of date, are gathering dust in a back corner of my craft closet along with my stamp and scrapbooking supplies, my quilt patterns and a box full of silk ribbon from when I was going to teach myself to do ribbon embroidery (a skill which requires patience and we all know I don’t have any of that!)

6. Border Collies are my favorite breed of dog. Captain Cavedweller and I had the most wonderful dog when we bought our first home. We loved her to pieces, as did most of our family. When we moved, my Dad kept her for us. Following an accident she had to be put to sleep. We still miss her, terribly.

7. I call my hubby Captain Cavedweller. He didn’t like being referred to as “Most Wonderful Hubby” here on my blog. So after a bunch of name-calling, Captain Cavedweller seemed to be a perfect fit. Since his aspiration is to some day be a hermit, you can’t even know how appropriate the name is. We met 18 years ago, have been married for 17 and I never imagined loving someone as much as I love him. He loves me unconditionally, encourages my dreams and wild ideas, lets me be me and spoils me.  And I like it.

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Thanks to the Schwan’s man, I had a carton of Summer’s Dream languishing in my freezer. If you haven’t tried it yet, it is pretty yummy. They blend vanilla ice cream with orange sherbet and package it frozen under the title of Summer’s Dream.

Really, it is dreamy.

I decided to try whip up a pie using a recipe in the Schwan’s catalog as a starting point. I tweaked it just a bit and ended up with a delicious pie that even Captain Cavedweller liked (which is really saying something!).

It was very simple and easy to make. Having the patience to wait until it was frozen and ready to eat was the biggest challenge. Especially for those of us who are patience-challenged.

Ingriendent's for Orange Dream Pie

Whip cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Add in whipped topping.

Scoop softened Summer's Dream into your prepared pie crust, just covering the bottom and sides.

 

Drain Mandarian Oranges. Captain Cavedweller likes to drink the juice and then I don't feel like I've just poured something delicious down the sink.

Scoop Summer's Dream into cream cheese and whipped cream mixture. Add in Mandarin oranges and blend together.

I skipped a few steps here as the ice cream was melting way too fast in our hot house. Pour mix into pie pan. Freeze for three hours (or longer) and garnish with whipped cream, Mandarin oranges and a sprig of mint if you want to get all fancy-pants. Which I did. And it was yummy.

Orange Dream Pie

5 cups softened Summer’s Dream

1 1/2 cups freshly whipped cream

3 ounces cream cheese, softened

1 15-ounce can Mandarin oranges

1 graham cracker crust

Substitution Note: If you don’t have a Schwan’s man who brings deliciousness to your door, you can easily mix three cups of vanilla ice cream with three cups of orange sherbet. If you don’t feel like making fresh whipped cream, a tub of frozen whipped topping works just as well. If you aren’t a lazy slug like me, you can mix crushed graham crackers, a spoon of sugar and melted butter to make the crust. Pat into a pan and refrigerate 30 minutes before pouring in the filling.

While ice cream is softening, drain the oranges and set aside.

If you buy a small package of cream cheese, use it all. If you are cutting a large package in half, use three ounces. Beat it until it is light and fluffy then add in whipped cream.

Spoon softened ice cream into crust. Use just enough to cover the bottom and up the sides – probably about 1 1/2 cups. Scoop the remaining 3 1/2 cups into the cream cheese mixture along with the can of oranges. (Reserve a few orange slices for garnish, if you wish).

Pour into the crust and freeze for three hours. Remove from freezer, slice and serve with a dollop of whipped cream and an orange slice for garnish.

Enjoy!

She Who Really Didn’t Need to Find Another Dessert She Likes

 

 

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I was flipping through my Schawn’s catalog the other day and saw this idea for serving summer beverages and loved it.

You can fill a tub, cooler, bucket or whatever container you like with ice, fill jars with your beverage of choice, screw on the lid and not worry about spills. I especially liked the idea of being able to have a variety of drinks without a bunch of pitchers or containers taking up valuable counter or table space.

Most of us have some canning jars running around and even if you don’t, they are super inexpensive and you can find them everywhere this time of year.

Schwans also has a fun lemonade recipe to go along with this fabulous idea.

She Who Would Now Like a Berry Lemonade

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I love strawberries. Almost as much as raspberries.

One summer-time treat I can’t pass up is strawberry shortcake – in most any variation. Have you noticed some people use biscuits for the cake. Others use actual cake. My Mom always made shortcake from scratch. It was dense and sweet and often made me think she had baked a pan of cornbread from the look of it, but the taste was all shortcake.

On occasion, if Grandma had been baking pies and there was leftover crust, she would roll the crust into a thin layer on a baking sheet and bake until a light golden brown. Then she would break the crust into bite-sized pieces and layer it with fresh sliced strawberries that she had smooshed a bit release their juice and ice cream. I kid you not, it is delicious. Especially if you pour a little of the juice over the top of the whole thing. You could also use whipping cream. It also tastes divine but my favorite is vanilla ice cream.

So you need pre-baked pie crust. Whip up a batch with my Vodka Pie Crust  recipe. It is easy and so flaky. Then just layer it in a bowl with berries. You can put them in whole but I think they taste best when you slice them, sprinkle on just a bit of sugar and smoosh them just a bit. Then top with vanilla ice cream. Continue layers and pour a bit of strawberry juice over the top. Give the berries just a minute to soak into the crust and the ice cream to soften and then attempt to stay upright as your knees turn into a jello-like substance as bliss overwhelms you and your taste-buds start applauding.

She Who Needs to Make Some Shortcake

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