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Enough said… Let’s get to work.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1-2/3 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 6oz white chocolate chips  or 1-1/2 bars coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 cup of seedless jam (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, boysenberry… whatever floats your boat!)

Turn on and set the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray, or a small cookie sheet which is what I’m doing in this post. I like thinner bars. And the crumb mixture will spread.  After spraying the pan with cooking spray, line with parchment paper making sure there is enough overlapping the edges to easily remove the bars from the pan later.

In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder

Put butter in bowl an cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter, or mix in with your hands

until the flour mixture looks like coarse crumbs.  Add oats, coconut, and pecans

Mix well it should look something like this

Sorry for the close up… but it smells REALLY good!

OK, I’ve got it together.

Press just over half the mixture into the bottom of you pan. If you’re using a cookie sheet, form rectangle that is approximately 9×13  like pictured below.

I know. But I did say approximately. I say it a lot.

Here’s where it starts looking amazing.  Sprinkle the white chocolate over your crumb mixture and then spoon the jam over everything.  You may need to warm up your jam in order to spoon it easily.  20-30 in the microwave works wonders. Then crumble the remaining crumb mixture on top.  Wait until you see the next picture!

AWWWWWYEA!  Going in for the close up

Place you pan on the top rack and bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Let your bars cool completely before removing from the pan using the parchment overhang, then cut into squares and enjoy!!!

If  you’re not a fan of white chocolate, you can take out the jam, substitute 4oz of semisweet chocolate and add an 1/4 cup of coconut.

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I’m pumping myself up for my “A” game.  Every year I plant a zucchini, and it’s inevitable. I always end up with way more zucchini than I need, even after freezing.  I never learn my lesson, although this year, I planted a gray zucchini in hopes to keep the harvest down. I have become a firm believer in the ” Leave a stack of Zucchini on your Neighbors steps in the middle of the Night” day. Oh yeah, it’s an actual day. Look it up. Or make this bread… you may never have to get rid of zucchini again!

Ingredients:

  • 3-1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 3/4 cups sugar plus
  • 1/4 cup sugar divided
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or 1-1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup wheat flour
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp melted butter (about 3/4 of a stick)

First thing first… the  trick to a good tasting zucchini bread is to get as much water out of the zucchini as possible. There are two ways to do this. One is to freeze shredded zucchini, and when it thaws, squeeze out the excess water. Or you can stir sugar into freshly shredded zucchini which will help it release water.  Just like strawberries.  I opt for number two since in the case of zucchini, fresh is better.  The more water you get out, the more zucchini you can pack into this bread. Which means that you’re getting zucchini bread, not bread with some zucchini in it. And another this is that you get to use up more of your zucchini harvest! YEA!! OK, enough with the babble

Heat your oven to 375 degrees.

Shred that zucchini-

Yup, I use a regular old cheese grater. Unless I plan on making a lot of bread to give away, and then I bust out with a food processor.

Next mix the shredded zucchini up with 1/4 cup of sugar

and place into a colander to drain.

I place my colander over a bowl just to see how much liquid drains.  Plus the kiddos think it’s a pretty color. I agree!

While the zucchini is draining dump the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a big bowl, and stir until combined.

In a second smaller bowl, whisk together the rest of the sugar, eggs, lemon juice, yoghurt, vanilla, and melted butter

until combined.

Now you have to decide if you would like one large loaf or two smaller loafs, then grease  and flour your pan/s. I chose to make two, since my father caught wind that I was baking and had already called to make sure he had a loaf reserved.

Return to your zucchini and squeeze out as much remaining liquid as you can. It doesn’t have to be completely dry, But you should have a nice amount of liquid in your bowl.

Look at all that zucchini juice!

Mix the squeezed zucchini in with your egg mixture …

Then pour into the big bowl with your flour mixture, and fold (if you want to add 1 cup of nuts, chocolate chips, or what ever floats your boat, now would be the time)

until just combined.  You DON’T want to mix it too much! Mixing too much will make a dense bread.

Pour the batter into your pan/s

And bake on middle rack in the oven until golden brown for 40-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool down for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and finish cooling on a rack.

or eat it immediately while it’s still warm.

YUM!

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Good mixed in with scrambled eggs, or on bagels, baguette, and crackers. This spread is great to have around to for an impromptu get-together or just to enhance your favorite bread. It reminds me of a certain cream cheese that my friends and I would DEVOUR when visiting a local coffee shop. Try it, it’s that good.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts sliced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced or squished through a garlic press
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh dill, or 2 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dill seeds
  • 1/2 tsp whole caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp milk

Mix cream cheese and milk together until fairly well blended

Dump in the rest of the ingredients

And mix well.

Now put it into a container and refrigerate overnight so that the flavors blend. And you’re done!

To showcase the cream cheese (instead of the herbs) , half the amount of dill and green onion.

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Yet another swarm decided grace us with their presence. But instead of landing on a tree or a bush, they went straight for our roof. I was getting ready to go get the mail, and heard the tell tale buzzing outside. AMAZING. I was able to catch a few pictures before they picked a spot to land.

And they’ve landed…

Then the beekeepers came

Four swarms in one week. Five swarms in a year.

The beekeepers get excited when I call now. They know my number!


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I love the smell of fresh majoram. I have a thriving patch of it outside. It’s one of the herbs that I brush when I walk by just to smell it on my hands. I recently noticed that my one of my kiddo’s broccoli plants was ready to be harvested, and knew exactly what I was going to do with it. Not that she wasn’t telling me exactly what she wanted me to make with it anyway.  Yep, ordered around by a two-year old. That’s me!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups broccoli, chopped (you can include stems and leaves, I do!)
  • 2 cups cauliflower, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (chop those leaves in too!!)
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh majoram or 1-1/2 tsp dried majoram
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 4 cups chicken broth (beef if you’d like a richer flavor or veggie for my vegetarian friends)
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2/3 cup of shredded parmesan or shredded Italian cheese blend OR
  • 1-1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1-2/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • pepper to taste

Put chopped broccoli and cauliflower into steamer basket, put it in a pot, and steam until soft but not overdone, about 10-12 minutes. The broccoli should be about this color:

I would normally chop the broccoli and cauliflower up smaller, but I had a kiddo bugging me about soup.

Pull out the steamer basket and set it aside, then pour out the liquid in the bottom. Or use it in the soup, just set it aside.  I have.  It’s good stuff.  Use the same pot to cook your soup in, which equals less dishes, which in turn equals me happy.

Melt your butter in the pot,

I’m sure I didn’t need to include this picture, but I am a dairy addict, and look how pretty that melted butter looks!

Now add in your onion and celery

and cook until soft but not browned, about 7 minutes.

Add the broccoli, cauliflower, and flour to the celery mixture and stir well to make sure the flour is well blended. Then add majoram (If using fresh, strip the leaves from the stem), bay leaf, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the pot.

and give another good stir.  Pour in the broth, and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pull out the bay leaf and puree the soup in a food processor, blender or with a hand-held blender (mine went kaput a few months back), using whatever is easiest for you.

Then pour puree back into the pot, and make sure your stove heat is set on low. The soup should look something like this:

Notice it still has texture? YUM!

Pour in the cream and the cheese,

and stir until the cheese is melted. Then eat up!! I don’t think I could ever eat a plain broccoli soup again. The majoram enhances the soup flavor so well.  Feel free to omit the cauliflower and use only broccoli.  It’s just as delicious!!!

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bzzzbzzzz

With the onset of spring comes quite a few bugs, and in my case, three different swarms of honeybees on three different days. They seem to love my yard, which has me stumped since the only things that are blooming in my yard are two small blueberry bushes and two flowers (pretty little things) on one of our snowpea plants. We had one swarm make itself content on a small, bare, crepe myrtle in the front yard. Actually, they were on almost the same branch another swarm had landed the year before. The other two swarms were happily hiving on the bradford pear tree (yes, the same one I was supposed to cut back and haven’t yet) in our backyard.  One of the swarms had moved on before our local bee keeper could get to it.  Luckily they were able to get to the second backyard swarm and safely cart it away.  With this being the second year we’ve had swarms, I think a hive or two may be in my future.  I’m not sure if  I should take on another new hobby though. I will be doing a a lot of research before I decide.  Hmmmmm…    I really like bees. I liked the sound of  the hive buzzing happily away.

Darn.

I think I’m hooked.

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Not to toot my own horn, but I’m pretty good at making crab cakes.  At least I’ve come up with what I think is a darn fine recipe.  Moist and crabby on the inside, and crunchy on the outside…  Mmmmm.  So when we went to a crab feed the other night, I couldn’t get these off my mind.  I cracked and picked out the meat of a bunch of extra legs, then quietly smuggled my booty (as in pirate…  well both actually) out of the door before the crab police would take it away.  Oh yeah! It’s on!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of lump crabmeat picked over to remove shell and cartilage
  • 25 butter crackers, crushed
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped parsley or 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 tbsps mayonnaise
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp spicy brown or stoneground mustard
  • 1/4 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • canola or olive oil for frying (I use a little of each!)

Have I told you how much I adore crabmeat?? I have to take a moment…

My mouth

is watering!!

Ok, I’m finished now. Let’s make some cakes!

Get a medium size bowl and dump in the butter cracker crumb, green onion, red bell pepper and parsley.

Mix together until it looks like this-

Looks purty already, and smells good to boot! Now add in the egg, mayonnaise, hot sauce, lemon juice, mustard, horseradish, Old Bay seasoning, onion and garlic powder.

Stir until completely combined.

It may look a little drier than this and that’s fine!

Now gently, oh so gently stir in your crabmeat.

Wrap a sheet pan with parchment paper, and using a heaping 1/4 cupful at

a time (an ice cream scoop will work wonders!), scoop out and form patties directly onto the parchment paper.

You should get anywhere from 6-8 regular sized patties. Once patties are formed, put the entire tray in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.  The wait is hard, but it is a really important step.

Heat up your oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pan) until shimmering, but not smoking about 5 minutes. Using a spatula and pick up each patty and place in the panko bread crumbs.  Individually bread the top and bottom of each patty

and place into the pan gently with flat spatula. Brown over medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side, until golden brown and center is cooked.

Put the cooked crab cakes on a paper towel to drain for a minute or two, and serve!

Yum mmmmmmmmmm, I can’t resist…

Look at that crab!

Serve with lemon and tartar sauce, or a roasted red pepper aioli. Gotta go finish this up!

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What do you see?? It’s so amazing what nature can show us, and amazes me on how much we miss when we don’t take the time and look.

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