Friday, January 27, 2012

I've been chosen for the Liebster Blog Award!

My fellow blogging friend Tara, from chose me for this unique award and I'm so thankful and honored!!

Stop by her blog and check her out, everyone!

About the Liebster Blog Award:
Liebster is German and means 'dearest' or 'beloved' but it can also mean 'favorite'. The idea of the Liebster award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers in the hopes that it will bring many new friends/followers. So, in the spirit of good fun I am passing this award on to five other bloggers.
Please stop by and visit them.

The Rules are:
1. Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal your five picks for the award and let them know.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Bask in the love from the most supportive people on the blogshare-other bloggers.
5. Finally and the best rule of all..........have fun and spread the love!

I'm passing this award onto the following blogs.  Please drop by and check them out!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Smoked Sausage with Potatoes and Green Beans

This is hands-down one of my favorite meals, any time of the year.  I make a HUGE pot, so you may want to adjust the portions to suit your own needs.  One reason I make so much of it is because it's awesome leftover, and I'm NOT much of a  "leftovers" kinda gal.

Smoked Sausage, Red Potatoes and Green Beans

3 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed and ends cut
2 lbs. (or more, I swear, sometimes I use more like 3 lbs!) red potatoes, quartered
1 large onion, sliced
1 lb. smoked sausage (again, add more if you wish) cut into 1 inch chunks
*1 tsp. salt
*1 tsp. ground black pepper
*1 tsp. garlic powder
*1 tsp. onion powder
Water to cover all

**Honestly, I fudge on ALL the spices.  I add quite a bit more salt and pepper; and I just throw in the garlic and onion powder, without measuring.  I know that's not much help, but it's how I roll.

In a large pot, combine all ingredients and simmer for abt. 45 minutes or till potatoes and green beans are tender.
Serves 8

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vermont Cheddar-Herb Bread

1 3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 oz. sharp cheddar-cheese, cut into 1/2 - 3/4 inch cubes (I just used shredded cheese, I'm lazy!)
1/2 C thinly sliced green onions
3 Tbsp. coarsely chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1 Tbsp. coarsely chopped fress dill
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C buttermilk
1/4 C butter, melted
nonstick cooking spray

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, pepper, allspice and nutmeg.  Stir in cheese, green onions, parsley, dill, thyme and rosemary.  **Suddenly, I find myself singing "Scarborough Fair"............
Sorry, brief diversion.    In another bowl combine eggs, buttermilk and butter; stir into flour mixture just until moistened.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Keep singing.  lol.....
Lightly coat a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.  Spoon batter into pan, spreading evenly.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan; serve warm*

*Note:  Bread can be made up to 2 days ahead.  Cool, wrap and refrigerate.  To serve, let bread stand at room temperature about 45 minutes to warm up slightly.  Do not let bread stand at room temperature more than 2 hours.

New England Corn Chowder

Umm, yeah I stole this photo from Pinterest 'cause I'm way busy today and anyway, this is totally how it looks!

You can prepare this a day ahead, too.  Chill, then reheat just before serving.  For a thicker chowder, which is the way I prefer it, increase the butter and flour.

1 C chopped celery (2 stalks)
1/2 C onion, chopped
6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 (15 1/4 oz.) cans whole kernal corn, drained
2 (14 3/4 oz.) cans cream-style corn
4 C milk
3 1/2 C chicken stock OR two (14 oz.) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 C whipping cream
3-4 dashes bottled Tabasco
4 C cubed potatoes (about 1 1/4 lb.) * again, I used MORE...I like a thicker chowder
1/4 C butter, melted
1/4 C all-purpose flour
1/4 C snipped fresh parsley
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

In a 6-8 qt. dutch oven cook celery, onion and bacon over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
Add whole-kernal corn, cream-style corn, milk, stock, cream and Tabasco sauce.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer, covered for 30 minutes. 
Add potatoes; return to boiling.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered about 15 minutes more or until potatoes are tender.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together butter and flour until smooth.  Add flour mixture to corn mixture.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir 1 minute more.  Stir in parsley and season to taste with salt and black pepper. 
Garnish with crumbled bacon, more sliced green onions and MORE cheese! 
Makes 12 servings

Unsavory, indeed


 While reading the Sunday paper yesterday, I came across a letter to the editor that really irked me.  I feel I must write about it and I hope you'll indulge me.  I won't take long, promise.

     The writer stated that he'd like the city to move panhandlers "temporarily" from an exit ramp that will receive heavy traffic on Superbowl Sunday.  To quote him, "every night as I exit the ramp, I have to endure the soulful looks from the panhandlers who seem to have staked out their territory.  I find it disconcerting that this is the first impression that people coming in for the Super Bowl will get.  Can we find a way to rid our ramps of these people for the week of the game?"

      Seriously, I don't know where to begin.  This is sad to me on a number of levels.  The writer signed his name and apparently lives in one of the more affluent areas.  Instead of wasting paper, perhaps he should count his blessings that he's never hit rock bottom like some of the individuals he described.  Remember the saying, "never judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes?"  Or how about, "there but for the grace of God, go I". 

     These are hard times we're living in.  I would think most people don't have to look very far to see the effects of the rough economy on someone they know; but maybe the fellow who wrote that travels in different circles. I'm not sure he realizes how many people are just one step away from a chain of events that could send them in a downward spiral.  I find his suggestion of temporarily removing unsavory people from view abominable.  In a word, I find it a selfish idea when what is desperately needed is some kind of solution.

      For every fraud who may be standing on a street corner asking for handouts, there are most certainly people who are truly homeless and have lost everything.  Yes, there are agencies that help, but they aren't in a position to feed, cloth or house anyone on a daily basis.  None of us can discern with one view whether or not another person is definitely in "need", but I have to ask, where is the compassion?

      In my mind, resorting to standing on a corner braving the elements, begging for help would have to be the last straw in someone's life, wouldn't you agree?  The bigger issue is one that cannot be waved away so that society as a whole doesn't have to feel uncomfortable.  If we're talking about the demise of some once prosperous cities, we can turn in any direction and see factories and businesses that have shut down and how the enormous loss of jobs has affected the economy overall.  If you're going to turn a blind eye, you've got to start at the source. 

      I don't have the answers.  I wish I did.  The Superbowl has been around for years and people will continue to attend wherever it's held and sadly probably won't think twice about someone standing on a corner.  What I find distasteful is the attitude that people can and should be invisible because of their appearance or what they represent.   This world needs more love, compassion, kindness, empathy.  You can't solve a thing otherwise. 



Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baker's Dozen Yeast Rolls

  The delicious honey-garlic topping turns these easy dinner rolls into something extra special.  Good with soups and chili.

Baker's Dozen Yeast Rolls

2 to 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) quick rise yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C warm water (120 to 130 degrees)
2 Tbsp. plus 4 tsp. butter, melted, divided
3/4 C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp garlic salt

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 C flour, sugar, yeast and salt.  Add water and 2 Tbsp. butter; beat on medium speed for 3 minutes or until smooth.  Stir in cheese and enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
Divide into 13 pieces.  Shape each into a ball.  Place in a greased 9 inch round baking pan.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 11-14 minutes or until lightly browned.  Combine the honey, garlic salt and remaining butter; brush over rolls.  Remove to a wire rack to cool. 
Yield:  13 rolls.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Downloadable Declutter & Organizer Calendar

     I just happened across this 2012 calendar, which breaks down organizing tips into small, daily tasks which don't take much time.  Just think how great you'll feel at the end of the year if you even do HALF this stuff!!  I've always been a super organized person who believes everything has a place and that most of the battle is just returning things to their proper "home" so you don't waste time searching for stuff.

     Having said that, I still have things I can improve on, so this week I'm working on organizing my recipes.  I have scads of clipped recipes from magazines and the internet, etc.  that I'm typing into a Word program on my computer, then printing them, slapping a page protector on them and filing into a binder.  I've had this binder system for years, but the pages had gotten splattered with food and I'd begun cramming new clippings into said binder to the point where I would open it and have to shuffle through this huge mess to find one recipe.

     The madness had to cease!!  I've dedicated an hour or so each morning to working on it, and I should be done in just a few more days.  Call me odd, but I get such a thrill when things look nice and orderly. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Like layers of a withered rose

     They wheeled her wheelchair into the waiting room and found a spot near the corner to park it. The television was on, and several people, including myself were waiting to be called back to see the doctor.  I hadn't thought to grab a book from home, and none of the magazines in the place were appealing, so I found myself observing.

     The woman's hair hadn't been combed in the back.  I had no idea her approximate age, but it was obvious she wasn't a spring chicken.  Then she began talking.  She focused on the two women closest to her, much to their dismay.  One of them chose to play with her phone, either texting or pretending to...while the other woman responded in short, one word answers.   Just when it would get quiet again, the elderly woman would ask them another question.  Had they heard the "candy bar poem"? As they shook their heads no, she began to recite a cute little poem that I could only hear bits and pieces of.
     People began looking up, kind of rolling their eyes as if to silently thank goodness they weren't the ones being bombarded with small talk.  Even the receptionist looked up a few times and laughed out loud as we exchanged glances.  I'm ashamed to admit that I was grateful I'd sat clear across the room and therefore could sit in peace.

    We all had a long wait though, and the longer I sat there the more I evesdropped on the old woman's conversations.  I guess they weren't really conversations because they were completely one-sided and I began to be embarrassed.  Not for her.  For US.   For everyone else in that room.  This was obviously someone who was ALONE.  She was waiting solo---nobody had accompanied her to the dr's. office that day.  She was probably lonely, for crying out loud.  Why didn't ANY of us ask her if she wanted to be turned around so she could view the television, or offer to bring her a cup of water or coffee, a magazine from the rack or just put that phone down and actually engage in a conversation with her??

     Why?  It certainly wouldn't have changed our wait time.  I heard her say she was 90-something.  That could be ME someday, I thought.  If I'm fortunate to live that long, I hope I'm not sitting somewhere and people are making fun of me for merely wanting to strike up conversation.  We should value our aging population instead of ignoring them.  I'm of the belief that each generation has wisdom to impart----we just have to be open to it. 

     That elderly woman represented someone's mother/sister/aunt/grandmother.  One doesn't reach maturity without learning something along the way; if we take the time to peel back some of those layers, what lies beneath may intrigue us more than we thought possible.

     They may just want to tell you a funny poem, though.  Either way, there isn't much to lose by listening.  Here's the "candy bar" poem that this dear woman shared.  I apologize in advance if it offends anyone: