Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peaches!



Peaches . . .

Yesterday was the first day of school at our house.  A tradition at our house is to celebrate that day with “First day of school ice cream”. We try very hard around here to celebrate whenever we can with homemade ice cream! Doesn't everybody?

Since the Colorado peaches are in at Smith’s Market, and I had made a peach pie for a friend last week, I thought why not a peach crisp for the family along with peach ice cream.

Then, my mind wandered to other uses of peaches and I thought I would share them with you.

I use basically the same filling for several recipes, that is my idea of a good recipe...many different uses.

Follow the recipe below and with a little variation, you can use it several ways – pie filling, crisp, cobbler, or a topping for ice cream or yogurt.

Basic Peach Pie Filling (for a 9” pie)

8 good sized peaches  (cut in ½” slices and then halved crosswise)
½ cup firm packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
½ tsp. cinnoman
½ tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. salt
¼ cup flour

Peel and cut peaches and place in bowl.  Mix the next 5 ingredients and then add the flour.  Pour the dry ingredients over the peaches and lightly mix together.

For a pie:  Preheat oven to 425. Make your choice of crust (or buy one, I won’t tell). Line bottom of pan with crust.  Put in fridge, along with top crust so it doesn’t get warm.  Fix the filling recipe above.  DO NOT fix the filling recipe before you have the crust ready.  It will accumulate to much liquid.  Place filling in bottom pie crust and then add top pie crust. Seal top to bottom as you usually would. Make a few slits in top of pie. Brush with egg wash and put in freezer for 15 minutes (trust me on this).  Then, bake at 425 for 10 minutes and then at 350 for 30 – 40 minutes. The time in the freezer tends to help make it flakier.

For crisp or cobbler:  Make your streusel for your crisp or your pie crust and put into fridge.  Then make the filling above and place in 8 X 8 greased pan.  Sprinkle streusel over top and bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes.  For a cobbler, put filling in an 8 X 8 pan and cover with crust.  Brush with egg wash and bake for 30 – 40 minutes.  An easy streusel topping can be made with 1 cup oatmeal , ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tblsp.
flour and 2 tblsp. softened butter.  Mix these all together.

For a yogurt or ice cream topping:  Place peeled and cut peaches in saucepan. Stir remaining ingredients together and then add to peaches and stir.  Heat on stove top on medium low until begins to lightly boil.  Stir the peaches occasionally so they do not scorch.  Once they lightly boil, turn to low and continue to cook for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the syrup to thicken.  Take off heat and mash with a potato masher or fork (whatever you have).  Let this cool and there you go . . . wonderful topping for whatever you want . . ice cream, yogurt, pancakes, waffles even a cream cheese block for an appetizer with crackers.  If there are no children in the house, add a little amaretto or peach brandy when it is done cooking!

Aren't peaches wonderful!  Enjoy them while they are in season –

Happy Eating,

Julie

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chipotle Peach BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

With another school year officially started I am always on the lookout for quick and easy things to throw together for dinner after a busy day of running from one kid's activity to another.  I finally have one who is old enough to drive which I am thrilled about, and that should help to lighten the load some.  Although she is my first to drive and this causes gray hair, but that is a problem for another day!  Back to quick dinners.  I love to use this glaze on grilled meats.  It has the wonderful combination of sweet and hot.   The recipe will make more than you need for the Quesadillas and it keeps well in the fridge.  It is also yummy spread over a block of cream cheese for a quick appetizer. Don't let the Chipotle peppers scare you away if you don't like spicy foods.  The combination of the peppers with the sweet peach preserves and BBQ sauce topped with melted cheese mellows it out.  You can whip up the glaze early in the day and when you get home dinner can be on the table in a flash!

Chipotle Peach BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
2  teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil
1/2  cup red onion, finely chopped
1  clove garlic, minced
1  (10 ounce) jar Peach Preserves (about 1 cup)
2  Chipotle peppers finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of liquid
2  tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2  tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4  teaspoon cumin
1/4  teaspoon paprika
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/8  teaspoon pepper
2  tablespoons fresh cilantro plus more for garnish if desired
8  flour tortillas, about 8 inches in diameter
2  cups cooked and shredded chicken
4  tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce
2  cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1  tablespoon butter, softened


Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a medium saucepan.  Saute red onion for about 2 to 3 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute.  Add peach preserves, chipotle peppers, lime juice, red wine vinegar, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.


Mix shredded chicken with the Chipotle Peach glaze, you will use about 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup depending on how "saucy" you like it. 
Line a cookie sheet with foil (for easy clean up) and spray with cooking spray.  Place 4 tortillas on the cookie sheet.  It is fine if you have to use 2 cookie sheets you can just rotate the pans halfway through cooking.  Top each tortilla with 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce and spread with back of spoon, not going all the way to the edge.  Then top each tortilla with 1/2 cup of the  chicken mixture and 1/2 cup cheese.  Place remaining tortillas on top and press down firmly.  Brush tops with softened butter.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes until tops are lightly browned.  Quesadillas can also be browned flipping once in an skillet or on a griddle, and then kept in a warm oven while you cook the remaining Quesadillas.  I prefer to bake them all at once so I don't have to mess with flipping them and I find they crisp up just fine in the oven.  Let them sit a few minutes before cutting each Quesadilla into 6 wedges.


Cooks note:  


You won't use the entire can of chipotle peppers.  Line a cookie sheet with wax paper and place individual peppers with some juice in portions on the cookie sheet.  Put it in the freezer for a couple of hours.  You can then place the individually frozen peppers in a freezer bag.  Just pop out and thaw however many you need!


Also, the recipe will make about 1 1/4 cups Chipotle Peach Glaze.  Any leftover can be used for dipping or it is yummy brushed on chicken or pork at the end of grilling.


Enjoy!


Kim 

Linked to the following parties:
Gooseberry Patch Goodies for Game Day




Friday, August 19, 2011

Grilled Shrimp with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Ginger Rice

The last weekend before school starts for my family is upon us.  I am ready for the kids to go back to school and to get my family back on a schedule.  However, the end of summer is kind of sad.  Don't get me wrong, I am definitely ready for the kids to return to school, but I really do enjoy the lazy days of summer.   Sleeping in, swimming at all hours, playing with friends, camping in the backyard, chasing fireflies and all the things that kids like to do in the summertime will soon give way to the activities of  fall.  School, cooler weather, the Kansas State Fair, football games and tailgating, to name a few.

This dish is a little more involved, but so worth it.  The ingredient list is long, but it really isn't as complicated as it looks.  My older kids have always loved shrimp.  I think it had something to do with living on the gulf coast of Florida when they were little.  We would take trips down to the local fish market quite frequently and they have always loved it.  The younger girls won't touch shrimp with a ten foot pole.  This recipe works just as well with chicken, you can even do a mixture of both.  I would highly recommend mixing up a batch of your favorite tropical drink, trying this recipe, and savoring the final weekend of the summer!

Grilled Shrimp with Peanut Sauce and Coconut Ginger Rice

Marinade:

1 cup coconut milk (you will need 2 cans total for this recipe)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


Peanut Sauce:
1 cup dry roasted-unsalted peanuts
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark molasses
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoons crushed dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 coconut milk
1/4 cup water

Coconut Ginger Rice:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 sweet onion, minced (about 3/4 cup) 
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 cups Jasmine rice (rinse and drain until water is no longer milky)
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups chicken broth
2 heaping tablespoons coconut
2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger root
1 teaspoon sugar 
1/4 teaspoon salt


Other ingredients:
2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I get the shrimp at Walmart that is already peeled and deveined, and it is actually only 14 ounces.  Get 2 packages, it is close enough.)
1 cup pineapple chunks

Marinade:
Mix marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Place 2 pounds large shrimp that have been peeled and deveined in a gallon ziplock bag.  Pour marinade over shrimp and place in refrigerator for 1 hour.  While shrimp is marinating make your peanut sauce and get your rice ready to cook. 

Peanut Sauce
Place peanuts in food processor and pulse until finely ground.  Place peanuts in a small saucepan and combine with soy sauce, molasses, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime juice, brown sugar, coconut milk, and water.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Sauce will thicken as it sits, you can thin with a little water or chicken broth if you like a thinner consistency. 

Coconut Ginger Rice 
In a medium saucepan heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for about a minute. Add rice, coconut milk, chicken broth, coconut, ginger, sugar, and salt.  Stir to combine and bring the rice to a boil stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and cover, let simmer about 15-20 minutes until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Turn off the burner and let rice sit for about 5-10 minutes.  Fluff with a fork before serving.   

After about an hour drain shrimp and discard marinade.  Thread the shrimp and pineapple alternately onto skewers.  Grill on an oiled grill (we use the PAM grill spray) for about 7 to 8 minutes, or until the shrimp turn pink, turning once.  Take about 1/4 cup of the peanut sauce and baste the shrimp while grilling.  If presentation is not a concern you can thread the shrimp on skewers and put in a shallow dish, pour marinade over them, cover and put in fridge.  Then when ready to grill just thread pineapple chunks on separate skewers and grill.  This is a little less messy!

Serve coconut rice and shrimp with toasted coconut and chopped peanut for garnish.

To toast coconut, heat a dry skillet over medium high heat.  Put coconut in pan and toast until light brown.  Watch closely, it will burn quickly!

Enjoy the last weekend before school!

Kim

     

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Little Tip for You... and an Easy Appetizer Recipe



Here's a little tip for you . . .

One of my favorite things in the summer is fresh Mozzarella cheese – well, as fresh as we can get it here in Kansas!

I use it all different ways – with tomatoes, in omelets, on homemade pizza, salads and on a bagel or heck, sometimes just by itself.  It is just something I use all the time.  I hope you do too!

 I shop all 3 local grocery stores here in Hutchinson and, I do a lot of grocery shopping.  I think if I were on the Price Is Right, I could hold my own.  You may be asking yourself why you should care – well, you should because whenever I see a good deal, I am going to share it with you. Aren’t you lucky, another benefit for reading this blog!

The buy right now is at Dillon’s, and yes, it is on fresh mozzarella cheese.
A one pound package is on sale for $4.99 (regular price is $8.99).  That is a HUGE savings and cheaper than all other stores in town.  And, the tag stated this sale is going on through October 11th.  You will find this in the deli department – not with the cheeses by the eggs (just a little tip).

What a deal – at that price you could try all kinds of recipes and ideas.  If you have any favorite ideas, I would love for you to let me know. 

Here is one idea for you.  Kim and I just catered an event and we used fresh mozzarella in mini caprese skewers.  Just thread grape tomatoes, diced fresh mozzarella and a basil leaf  on mini skewers or toothpicks.  Drizzle your tray with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  We marinated ours in a balsamic dressing.  Very light and refreshing!


Another little tip I have – since I have sliced pounds and pounds of this stuff, I find using my steak knife with those little teeth works wonders!  I keep a steak knife in my kitchen just to slice my cheese – give it a try, you might find it handy!

Happy shopping and stay tuned for the next great buy I come across!

Julie

Monday, August 15, 2011

Childhood Memories and Spaghetti Pie

Kids are curious little creatures.  If I tell my kids we are having Spaghetti for dinner I am more often that not met with resistance.  But, tell them we are having Spaghetti Pie and it is a  different story.  Who wouldn't want to have "pie" for dinner?  This was a very popular dish during my childhood.  I'm sure many of you have made it a million times and it was on your dinner rotation at one time or another.  My mom made this often when I was growing up and my brother and I loved it as much as my kids do.  Whenever I have this I am taken back to a simpler time, and as a busy mom to 4, any kind of simple is great.  Julie and I made this last week for our Supper Club clients and thought it might bring up some fond memories for you too. 


A disclaimer - I used to make this in a deep dish pie plate when my kids were younger, but as they and their appetites grew I doubled the ingredients that went into one pie and put it in a 9 x 13" dish.  I just found it easier than making 2 "pies."


Here is the recipe I use for a 9 x 13" dish:
1 pound Spaghetti
3 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 (16 ounce) package Mozzarella cheese, divided
2 pounds ground beef or sweet Italian sausage, I mix both
1 onion, chopped
1 (24 ounce) jar Spaghetti sauce or your homemade sauce. I use 2 1/2 cups of my homemade sauce I make and freeze.
1 (16 ounce) Ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, we use Ricotta


Cook and drain spaghetti, mix in a bowl with butter, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and 1/2 of the mozzarella cheese.  



While pasta is cooking, brown ground beef and/or sausage with onion.  Add your pasta sauce and let simmer.  We like it thick and meaty.  If you like a thinner sauce you can use less meat or add a little water or tomato sauce. 


Press spaghetti mixture into the bottom and up the side of your 9 x 13 dish forming a shell.


Evenly spread the ricotta on top of the pasta and top with sauce mixture.  Top with the remaining 2 cups of Mozzarella.


Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.


Enjoy!


Kim

Linked to the following parties:
Gooseberry Patch Recipes from home
Carole's Chatter Food on Friday







Sunday, August 14, 2011

Easy Microwave Chicken and Bean Meal or Appetizer

The heat has broken here in Kansas, but it still seems like having the oven on in the kitchen makes one very warm.  So, lighten your load and your energy bill by using the microwave for this recipe.

This recipe was given to me by my good friend Pam.  Some of you may already have this recipe.  I demonstrated it at a women’s retreat at our church a couple years ago.  But, if you haven’t tried it, you should!  Five easy ingredients and no oven involved.  How simple is that?


Here is what you'll need:

1 bag spinach
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 can drained black beans
1 large can chicken or you can cook your own, but remember we were going for EASY!
1 small jar salsa
1 package of corn or flour tortillas, if you are making it a meal.

Tear the spinach into somewhat large pieces and place in bowl with 1 tablespoon water.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave about 1 ½ minutes.  Pour off any liquid.  Add the cheese, drained black beans, drained chicken and jar of salsa.  Stir together and microwave for about 2 minutes.  Stir again and microwave for an additional couple minutes (this depends on the strength of your microwave).  There you go – you are done.  Meal  or appetizer complete – whoo hoo!




Enjoy!

Julie

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Perfect Glass of Lemonade

Summer is winding down and we don't have many weekend days left.   I thought I'd repost this recipe for Perfect Lemonade that was on our facebook page earlier this summer.  The secret to the perfect batch of Lemonade is making a simple syrup, which is just combining sugar and water and heating it to dissolve the sugar.  Why not make a batch and enjoy the final lazy days of summer!


Old Fashioned Lemonade
Recipe Source~Christy Jordan
1 cup water
1  3/4 cups sugar
1  ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
additional water
ice
Sliced lemon for garnish

Combine water and sugar in  a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Whisk to dissolve sugar.  Remove from heat and let cool.  I often make a double or triple batch and keep it in the fridge to sweeten tea or other "adult" drinks.  If you are making extra you will need about 2 cups for this recipe.

Pour the simple syrup into a 2 quart pitcher along with the 1 1/2 cups lemon juice.  Stir and add enough water to make 2 quarts.  Stir and serve over ice.  Check for perfect blend of sweet and tart.  Just add more simple syrup if you want a sweeter lemonade or more lemon juice if you find it too sweet.

Cooks Notes:  

To juice lemons:  Put the lemon in the micro for about 15-20 seconds and then roll on counter pressing firmly and it will release more juice.  It will probably take 8-10 large lemons.  If you get extra just freeze in ice cube trays.  You can also juice extra lemons and freeze in 1 1/2 cup increments so all  you 
have to do is thaw the juice and you would be ready to go!

I have a handy lemon/lime juicer that I got at Williams-Sonoma that catches the seeds.  I do juice the lemons into a bowl with a strainer over it, because my kids have a strong dislike of pulp.

We sometimes mix with a carton of partially thawed strawberries to make strawberry lemonade.


Enjoy!

Kim

Friday, August 12, 2011

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

I've been thinking about the Kansas State Fair a lot in these past few weeks.  I can't believe in a month the fair will be rolling around again.  The kids will have been back in school for a few weeks and my house should be clean again. Well, I can dream can't I?  This recipe isn't necessarily "fair food" but it can be fried and it's a great appetizer. These egg rolls are a knock off of Chili's restaurant's Southwestern Egg rolls, which I have had a love affair with since they appeared their menu.  If you look, there are so many versions of this recipe on the internet.  We made our own that we think is even better!  Most versions of the recipe are made with flour tortillas, but we prefer them with traditional egg roll wrappers.  The ingredient list looks long I know, but they are chock full of yummy things.  This recipe makes a lot and you can freeze them unbaked and have them ready for another night.   We sometimes serve it with a salad and make it a meal.  My family likes them fried, but I think they are equally as good baked in the oven, saving you the mess, fat and calories of frying.  The egg rolls are definitely crisper if you fry them, baked they are "chewy." 

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

2  boneless chicken breasts, cooked and finely diced 
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies, drained
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 cups cheese- can use cheddar, Monterey Jack, Mexican blend (what I used)
5 green onions, chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle chile pepper powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 packages (15 count) egg roll wrappers, found in produce section

Chipotle Dipping Sauce:
1 cup ranch dressing
¼ cup salsa
1 tsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (can freeze leftover from can in ice cube trays)

Combine all of the ingredients except for the egg roll wrappers in a large bowl and gently mix well.  Place an egg roll wrapper on counter with a point facing toward you.  Place ¼ cup of the mixture toward the lower 1/3 of the egg roll wrapper and fold the point up away from you.  Roll tightly away from you and fold the sides in.  Dip your finger in a little bowl of water and run it along the other point and finish rolling eggroll pressing to seal the point. 


At this point you can freeze the eggrolls.  I put on a baking sheet and put in freezer for an hour or so and then remove to freezer bags.  Don’t thaw before baking or frying because the egg rolls will become soggy.  When baking or frying frozen egg 
rolls, follow instructions,  just cook for a little longer.

To Fry:  Heat oil to 375 degrees.  Fry in batches not crowding the fryer.  It doesn’t take long so watch carefully until they are a golden brown, just about 2 minutes or so.  Remove to a rack to cool and let the oil drain for 2 minutes before eating.

To Bake:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place a cooling rack in a jelly roll pan and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  Put eggrolls on cooling rack and coat the tops with cooking spray.  Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. 

While eggrolls are baking mix the ingredients for your dipping sauce.

Chipotle Dipping Sauce:  Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.


Enjoy!


Kim

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life Lessons from the Garden



I worked in my garden yesterday morning.  I think I killed 7,000 weeds.  And, I was reminded of a good life lesson.  I often am in my garden.  It has that effect on me.

With our garden, the rototiller keeps the weeds under control until we put our soaker hoses down. You see, soaker hoses only water where your plants are plus a little around the plants.  This summer, we put our hoses down on June 17th.  From that day forward, all weeds are controlled by a hoe and not a mechanized machine – in other words, manual labor!!

Weeds are kept to a minimum without water, so in general,  you only have to weed where you water.  After you get a rain, in about 3 days, you need to hoe little tiny weeds that have sprouted in the aisle.  In a normal year, this would occur several times during the season.  Grumbling sometimes is accompanied with this task – from guess who.

As I was out there yesterday, it occurred to me I had not been out weeding with the hoe since June 17th.  That’s right – no rain means no weeds popping up in the path.

What I would have given to have killed a new crop of weeds a few times this summer.  With so many other things dying due to lack of rain, I realized what a blessing it is to be able to hoe the weeds in the summer.

So, my lesson remembered – there is always a positive side to every situation you find yourself.  When grumbling, just step back and ask yourself what you might be missing in the whole equation.

Yesterday when I finished in the garden, I was smiling because “I GOT”
to do some manual labor!!  Who would have thought weeds would be my friend!!!

Happy Gardening,



Julie

An added note:  It rained here last night and yes, by the weekend I will probably need to weed the exact area I just finished yesterday.  And you know what, I am quite happy with that!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Creamy Corn and Tomato Risotto with Roasted Poblano

I have been craving comfort food.  I don't know if it's the break from the extreme heat (we'll have a "cold front" this week with highs in the 90's) or that school will be starting soon and that makes me think of fall.  This is a great creamy "comfort food" dish that uses summer corn and tomatoes and goes well with just about anything.  Pair it with grilled meat, fajitas, or just add a salad.  Be sure to use fresh corn and tomatoes.  This recipe is a little more work because you have to roast the pepper, but it is worth it!

Creamy Corn and Tomato Risotto with Roasted Poblano

1 Poblano Chili Pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped fine
1 cup Arborio rice
1 ½ cups fresh corn, about 2 medium cobs
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
½ tsp minced garlic
2 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups whole milk
½ cup parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the Poblano pepper on pan and broil on all sides until it is black and blistered.  Each side takes about 2-3 minutes.  Remove from oven and place in a paper bag to cool.  While the Poblano is cooling finely chop your onion, seed and dice tomato and cut corn off of cob.  Remove the Poblano from bag and take off black blistered skin, remove the seeds and dice.

Combine chicken broth and milk in a saucepan and heat until almost boiling.  Keep warm.

Melt butter in straight sided large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and the poblano and sauté until onion is soft, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add Arborio rice and garlic and sauté stirring constantly until rice is opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. 

Add ½ cup hot chicken broth and milk mixture.  Continue cooking over medium heat adding broth ½ cup at a time after liquid is almost absorbed.   Stir frequently.  Add corn with the last ½ cup chicken broth and milk. 

Add tomatoes and stir until heated through.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Remove from heat and add cilantro.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Let sit 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Kim

I've linked this to the following link parties
Weekend Potluck.
Gooseberry Patch Recipe Roundup
Family Fresh Meals Recipe of the Week
Addicted to Recipes Scrumptious Sunday Link Party
Katherine Martinelli Rice Blog Hop
Hammock Tracks Saturday Dishes

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hope in a Flower





Kim and I just finished catering a wedding rehearsal dinner. We
visited with the bride back when the wind was cold and snow was on
the ground. She wanted a cheery look and we both thought of
Zinnia's as the centerpiece flower. I thought it would be fun to try
and grow them in mass and provide the centerpieces as our gift to the
bride and groom - harmless, I thought.

The first part of May came and I planted 10 packages of Zinnia seeds,
all of varying shapes and sizes, in a row in my vegetable garden.
Expecting a bumper crop in everything in the
garden, I set out in early spring with high hopes - just like every
gardener does every spring.

Then June came - and extremely high temps for Kansas. Pulled the
radishes, peas and green onions. I lost my broccoli and cauliflower
to moles (I guess they need to eat too).

Then July came - my cucumbers provided a few cucumbers before the
plants gave way to the heat. My tomatoes (24 plants) had 5 tomatoes
on them. I have yet to pick a tomato. Oh, also for
the first time in my 30 years of gardening, a mole - or a family of
moles - ate 7 of my tomato plants. (This is a good story for another
post)

Now, do I sound pessimistic? I hope not. Just the way life was this
year.

Now to the real star of the story - my ZINNIA row. Oh my goodness,
every time I went out to my garden there was my Zinnia row. Always
looking happy, always growing and now blooming
like they had not a care in the world. I would talk to them and tell
them to hang in there until the wedding, I would cut their blooms so
more would grow for the wedding. And you know what,
they listened - they were the perfect garden flower. They were my
hope for my garden.

We tried to keep count of how many blooms we have picked this summer
and I think we are up to over 700. And, my little flower of hope is
still going strong. As you can see by the pictures
how can they not put a smile on your face. For fun I am going to
keep track of how many flowers I pick out of the 10 packets of seeds.

So, if next Spring comes and you happen by the garden section and see
a little packet of Zinnia seeds in the stand - pick one up. For
around $2.00 and little care, you can harvest "hope"
all summer long!!









Happy Gardening,

Julie


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Southwestern Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Here is another recipe to keep your kitchen cool.  You can also add some grilled chicken and make it a complete meal.


Southwestern Pasta Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


9 ounce package cheese tortellini
8 ounces rotini 
1  15.25 ounce can corn, drained
1  15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1  red bell pepper, chopped
1  2.25 ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1  4 ounce can diced green chilies, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6-8 green onions, chopped
1  cup tomatoes, chopped


Dressing: 
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/3 cup salsa or picante sauce
3  tablespoons cilantro, minced
1  tablespoon dried basil
2  cloves garlic, minced
1  teaspoon cumin
1  teaspoon salt
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.


Cook pasta and rinse with cold water, let drain and place in bowl.  Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the pasta and stir gently to combine. 


Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour over salad and toss.  Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving so the flavors can blend.


Enjoy!


Kim

Linked to the following great parties:
Hammock Tracks Saturday Dishes