Saturday, November 22, 2014

Crustless Cranberry Pie


The Cranberry, or as I like to think of it ~ nature's ruby!  This little power fruit is packed with all kinds of excellent benefits!  Lots of phyto-chemicals that support good heart, immune and anti-cancer health!  

Before I knew anything about that, I bought them simply because I liked them!  Below are a few reasons why I enjoy them!  Oh, they keep well in your freezer too!!

A few of my favorite things!
Cranberry relish
Cape Codder drink
Cranberry sauce
Pies 


Below is a recipe for a super simple crustless cranberry pie!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

photo from Allrecipes


INGREDIENTS:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease one 9 inch pie pan.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts, and toss to coat. Stir in the butter, beaten eggs, and almond extract. If you are using frozen cranberries, the mixture will be very thick. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice 
Two Years Ago
Cranberry Relish



Three Years Ago



Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Birthday . . .

This little sweetie celebrated her 3rd birthday this week and all she wanted was for her daddy to come back from heaven to play Play-Doh with her for the day.  How I wish he could have.  

The big family celebration will be next week!  I can't wait!  I love this little girl so much!


"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart" - Winnie the Pooh



Friday, September 26, 2014

My Heart is Broken


I don't even know where to begin, but I thought I would let all of you wonderful friends know that my beloved Godson & nephew passed away two weeks ago.  A poor decision accidentally cost him his life.  Our family is devastated, we will never recover from our loss, but we will learn to live with our loss.


Billy & I at a birthday party
My nephew was 29, and a father of two.  Billy had a fantastic hug, smoochy kisses, a great smile and an equally great sense of humor. Billy loved spending time with his children, camping, fishing, body surfing at the beach, going to sporting events, especially watching his son play football, and he loved sharing "gold-fish" with his baby. 


April 2014
Please keep our family, my nephew and my nephew's children in your thoughts and prayers.  His children are only 9 & 3 (next month).

“When the cold rains kept on and killed the spring, it was as though a young person had died for no reason.” Ernest Hemingway

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Watermelon Salad




I have to tell you, I was surprisingly shocked at how good this was!  We had a huge family party for 3 of my nieces this past weekend.  Two of them are leaving the country, one for medical school, one to teach, and the third niece received her masters degree.  I will also tell you that there was only a one cup serving left!  This recipe is from Food & Wine.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!



1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Tabasco (I forgot to add this)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
One 8-pound seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (10 cups), chilled
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
1 1/4 cups pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves


In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta, olives and onion and toss gently. Garnish with the mint and serve.


In the top photo; the front row middle and far right girls are leaving the country and in the back row, in red, received her masters degree.

Those same girls are from left to right the 2nd, 3rd & 4th young ladies. xo



Thursday, July 17, 2014

An Old Orchard Beach Evening

There's something mysterious about Old Orchard Beach (OOB) in the evening, she takes on a whole different persona.  I love a good mystery.  Don't you?

She was THE vacation resort in the 1800's.  It's where President Kennedy's parents, Rose and Joe fell in love in 1907.

There are 7 miles of gorgeous sandy beach and I thought I'd share it with you!


This view is a 7 minute walk from our cottage.


 When we walk down Old Orchard Street, this is what we see.


I love all the "party" lights in this photo!


We can hear all the screams of excitement in the evening as they waft up the hill.


Swimsuit styles have changed too!  LOL!!!


More on OOB to come!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Magical Monday ~ Garden Renovation

Don't you think Monday's should be magical?  I do, so I thought I'd show you a few photos from our seaside garden renovation.  This area was rife with bamboo & weeds.

What we did.  We had a cedar fence installed - the chain link just wasn't doing it!  We bought some granite curbing and dug trenches and sunk it, some of that stuff is down pretty deep and very heavy to move!

Along the back we planted a white Rose of Sharon in the middle and then planted Little Lamb Hydrangea's on each side of it.  In front of the Rose of Sharon are white peony's.  I love my white garden.



Our lots are tiny, only 40 feet wide by 100 feet deep!  Here you can see the little granite bird baths flanking the back garden wall, and the solar lighting, which is awesome!


Then we planted the side garden with some herbs, and perennials.  The white fence to the right is my brothers yard.  He has a small stone wall and patio, give me grass any day!  It's cooler!  The only advantage is it doesn't have to be cut!





We added a granite bird bath, a lighthouse bird house and a little cedar trellis.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

Cape Porpoise, Maine

Wishing a very Happy 4th of July to each of you!  

We are so blessed to live in this amazing country, to be free, and to be who we want to be! For the last few years I have enjoyed reading the Declaration of Independence - where else are we guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?


"When in the Course of human events . . . all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights . . . for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

To read the entire Declaration of Independence, click here.  

If you are in hurricane Arthur's path keep safe. We are expected to feel the brunt of the storm in Maine tomorrow.  The BBQ & fireworks have been postponed until July 5th!  We can roll with it!  

Be happy & safe!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Do you Shuck or Shell . . .


. . . Peas?

one down . . . 


It's a simple question.  So I thought I'd ask.  I've used both terms, but truthfully I've never really sat down and shucked/shelled peas - until I bought a bagful the other day.  Which by the way ended up only being 3 cups!!!  3 cups!!!  Did you hear me?  I sat for what seemed for like hours!!!


Truthfully, I really enjoyed it!  I think it was because I had lots of company and the time really did fly by!  But, I was thinking that if I hadn't had all the visits from family and friends, it could have been a very tedious job!  I hope to get some more and package them and put them in my freezer.  I love having local produce in my freezer - especially in January!


What I've learned - I will never complain about the price of peas.  Like clams, I never complain about the price of clams, have you ever watched people digging for clams in the mud flats?  Nope, there are some things you just don't complain about paying for!

What are your favorite pea recipes?  How do you like to use them?


I bought these beauties at a farm stand in New Hampshire with my friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window.  From there we went to a farm in Dracut, MA, and bought some veggies that they grew in their greenhouse, and then to Carlisle, MA in the hopes of purchasing farm fresh eggs - sadly they were on vacation, but it was a beautiful day for a drive!  Susan and I always have fun when we are out and about!

Thank you for your friendship, I truly appreciate your comments and your visits.  Have a wonderful week ~ and for my U.S.A. friends a very Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chive Vinegar

After 1 week

So very simple, and so very delicious!

First, I have to thank my good friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window for this recipe.  I have made many batches of this vinegar.  I happen to have a lot of friends who like vinegar - who knew!

Just made


Ingredients
White distilled vinegar
12 -20 chive blossoms, snipped right beneath the head
Rinse the flower-heads

Directions
For a quart jar I add 20 chive blossoms
For a pint jar I add 12 chive blossom

Pour the vinegar over the blossoms leaving a little head room.  Secure the lid, and let it sit on your sunny window sill for two weeks.



After two weeks or one if you can't wait, your can remove the blossoms (they will loose color) 
pour the vinegar through a cheesecloth and then re-pour into a lovely decanter or add it back to your canning jar.

You'll notice a color change within a few hours!  

Uses
Potato salad
Macaroni salad
Bean salad - this is how I used it (or how ever you like to use vinegar)!

See the color difference
This make a great hostess gift, shower favor or a just because gift.  Enjoy!

P.S. I had to enable word verification, I've been getting LOTS of SPAM for some reason!!!  Hopefully it won't be on long, because I don't like it!  Thank your for you understanding.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Gratitude Pie


So, are you wondering what a "Gratitude Pie" is?  My pie is a mix of blueberry, blackberry and raspberry, and it's a pie that you bake and give away to your coworkers because they have so generously bought raffle tickets week after week since November for a good cause.  The good cause - was to raise funds for our 8th grade end of year activities.  Thanks to their generous support, we raised $1,014.00 for our students!

November - Election day bake sale, no school, but I dropped a pie off!

It started innocently enough - bake two pies and bring them in for a Thanksgiving raffle.  Who wouldn't be happy to have a home-made pie for Thanksgiving?

Then it was 3 more pies until Christmas (one a week) - gee, this money is starting to pile up!  Maybe I should bake one a month for special occassions.

January - Martin Luther King's Birthday
February - Super Bowl Sunday Apple Pie
February - President's Day & Valentine's Day - Cherry pie with white chocolate hearts
March - St. Patrick's Grasshopper pie
March - MCAS Pie (to cheer everyone up after the high stakes testing)
March - Family game night
April - Kentucky Derby
April -Easter Chocolate Cream pie with cocoanut crust
May - Mother's Day Apple Pie
May - Apple Pie for major school fundraiser
June - Gratitude Pie

Who knows, there may be one more in store, school's in session until the 18th!

Now, my question to you is this; do you think I should continue this for next year?  Or will people get bored buying raffle tickets for home made pies?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

White Iris


This stunning beauty took my breath away as I turned on to our side street.  This was the first time I've ever planted white iris's and I look forward to planting more of these beauties!  

What I've learned is that it takes its name from the Greek word for a rainbow, referring to the wide variety of flower colors found among the many species. There are between 260 & 300 species!

They just scream Spring to me!  How about you, what's your favorite spring and summer flower?  My favorite summer flower is the Casablanca lily!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thankful Thursday ~ Nieces

There is so much to be thankful for, let me start with these little gems!  I still can't believe the four older ones, were flower-girls at our wedding, and now are young women who are beginning to launch their careers and their adult lives! Their accomplishments make me smile with pride.


From left to right, "M" going off to medical school in August.  "L" completing her dental hygiene program last spring. "C" going on to 9th grade. "C" graduating June 1st with a Masters in Forensic Psychology, and "S" graduating this weekend with a Masters in Special Education.

From left to right ~ "L" on the floor, "C" & "M" on the left & right & "S" leaning against "M" - my oldest nephew is also in this photo.


My favorite photo, taken at Old Orchard Beach, Maine - from left to right - "L" ~ "C" ~ "S" ~ "M"

These girls simply fill my heart!




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Blind Baking


No, it's not baking with your eyes closed or wearing a blindfold!  Goodness, can you imagine what a mess you'd make!

What I'm talking about is rolling out a pie crust and pre-baking it in the oven.  Have you ever done that?  Only to find your pie crust has shrunk like a wool sweater washed in hot water then thrown in the dryer? Blind baking is typically done for cream, custard, pudding and some fresh fruit type pie fillings that do not have to be baked (most of the time).

The secret is, freezing the pie shell once you've rolled out your crust and nicely placed it in your pie dish, then crimped your edges.  I've listed the steps below, I hope you find them helpful!

  1. Dock the bottom of your pie shell with a fork, as you can see I dock the bottom quite a bit.
  2. Dock the sides around your pie shell.
  3. FREEZE your pie shell for 5 minutes!!!  
  4. Put a piece of parchment paper on the bottom and up the sides a little.
  5. Use a pie weight on the bottom. I use dry beans.
  6. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes depending on your oven
  7. Take the shell out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper with the beans, be careful, the beans will be hot.  Once cooled store them for later baking use.  I use mine over and over when baking pie shells.
  8. Place the pie shell back in the oven for another 7 - 10 minutes, keeping a watch on it.

I hope you enjoyed this helpful pie baking tip!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for following!  I truly appreciate your friendship!




Saturday, April 26, 2014

Quiche ~ Basic & Delicious



This is the best quiche recipe I have ever made!  It was light, fluffy and melt in your mouth delicious.  I did make three changes, I substituted the bacon for leftover spiral Easter ham, I added parsley and I used 3/4 cup+ 1% milk and 3/4 cup+ of light cream (because I didn't have half-and-half).

I would make it again in a moment! I have bolded, italicized and made notes for critical steps in preparing the dough and cooking the quiche.

I apologize for the photo, I realized at the last moment that I should post this recipe, and it was the last piece, it was hot, and it was my breakfast!

Also, my friend Susan at From Beyond My Kitchen Window suggests freezing individual leftover slices for lunches!  Great idea!  I've got one in the freezer!

Enjoy!

Classic Quiche
The recipe states that you can substitute various ingredients which I noted above.  The recipe very nicely tells you the quantity to use if you substitute vegetables for the bacon in the quiche filling, such as cooked small broccoli florets, sautéed sliced leeks or chopped cooked spinach. Use about 1 1/2 cups vegetables.

Ingredients:
1 flaky pastry dough disk, at cool room temperature
8 bacon slices, chopped (I used leftover spiral Easter ham)
1 1/2 cups shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese (I used Swiss)
4 eggs
1 3/4 cups half-and-half or milk (I used 3/4+ cup 1% milk & 3/4+ cup light cream)
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
Directions:

Partially bake the pastry shell (I used my homemade pastry)
Preheat an oven to 425°F.


On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough disk into a 12-inch round. Fold the dough round in half and transfer to a 9-inch pie dish. Unfold the round and ease it into the dish, patting it firmly into the bottom and up the sides. Trim the edges to form a 1-inch overhang. Fold the overhang under itself and pinch to create a high edge on the rim of the dish. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the dough a few times (I also prick the dough along the sides too). Freeze for 5 minutes (this step is critical, it keeps the dough from shrinking and keeps your crimped border).

Bake the pastry shell until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.

Prepare the filling
In a saucepan over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.

Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly over the partially baked pastry shell. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Whisk in the half-and-half, nutmeg and salt. Stir in the bacon and the remaining cheese. Pour the egg mixture into the pastry shell.

Bake the quiche
Bake until the filling is set and slightly puffed and the crust is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes (I had to add 10 minutes to this cooking time). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool briefly. Cut the quiche into wedges and serve warm. Makes one 9-inch quiche.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Baking, by Lou Seibert Pappas (Oxmoor House, 2006).





Thursday, April 17, 2014

Chocolate Coconut Easter Pie



This recipe came out of my Martha Stewart Pies & Tarts Cookbook.  I've made some notes below before you begin.  Mostly because sometimes the recipes fall short of my expectations.

-I made one tweak, you really need six cups of coconut.  
-You will need to make a foil ring for the crust or use a pie crust ring.
- Use convection if you have it, and you will want the bottom lightly browned before you take the pie shell out of the oven.

Ingredients
For the crust
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
     6 cups of sweetened shredded coconut

For the filling
    1 cup heavy cream
    8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped

Directions
1 Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process butter and one-third of coconut until mixture forms a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining two-thirds coconut over mixture and combine with your fingers.

2 Place a 9-inch pie plate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy. Place a foil ring over edge to prevent burning. Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes; remove foil and bake until edges are browned, 4 to 5 minutes more. Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 Make the filling: Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is combined. Pour into coconut crust. Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Makes one 9-inch pie.

Ya baby, it's that easy to make & it's gluten free!

Happy Easter!

P.S. I can't wait for school vacation at 3:35 p.m. today!  Eleven glorious days off to catch up on blogs!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy 10th Birthday Duke



Looks who is wrapped up in an afghan and who turned 10 on March 29th!  We find it hard to believe that this sweet, intelligent, cuddling little guy has been with us for a decade!  It seems like yesterday when I held him in the palm of my hand - he was so tiny!  Now, he's 20 pounds of joy and terror!

Watch out intruders!  Grrrrrrrrr!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Lump Crabmeat Omelet



We drove up to our cottage in Maine after I got out of work yesterday.  I wanted to celebrate this glorious sunny spring morning with a special breakfast for my husband and me!  I didn't want pancakes or an egg sandwich.  So as I was hanging on the refrigerator door it came to me as I was doing a visual inventory of it's contents - lump crabmeat, farm fresh eggs, block of cheddar, milk, strawberries . . . ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!  Lump crabmeat omelet's!


Ingredients
2 fresh large eggs
1/3 cup of milk
1/3 cup lump crabmeat
1/3 cup fresh grated cheddar cheese
olive oil

Directions
Beat the eggs & milk, add oil then egg mixture to a hot skillet.  When the egg starts to cook loosen around the edges, and continue to loosen the egg, little by little.  Add the crab, put the cheese on top of that, fold over the other side of the egg.  Sprinkle some looks cheese on top and enjoy!

Serve with a cup of hot tea, an English muffin and a small piece of fruit and enjoy!

The only way I can think of improving this delicious meal is to add fresh asparagus to the omelet!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Grasshopper Pie for St. Patrick's Day!


Sláinte! 

I was looking for a green pie to make for St. Patrick's Day. As you all know, to quote Kermit, "it's not easy being green." I searched the Internet for grasshopper pie, I came across this recipe from the Brown Eyed Baker, and it is delicious.  She adapted this recipe from Cooks Country, a favorite website of mine.  

I have been baking pies steadily for about three years now.  As some of you know it was because I was trying to win a pie contest - who's kidding who - I was consumed!  Last year I received a second place red ribbon for my Lime Blueberry Pie, and I was thrilled.  Occasionally, when I'm talking to my sisters about pies, I have to, from time to time, remind them that I am an award winning pie baker!  LOL!!!  They are NOT impressed!  Maybe it's because I wear the ribbon . . . hey, I'm channelling my inner Julia Child!

Then this past Thanksgiving I made two pies to raffle off at work (I teach at a school), and I donated the proceeds to the end of year activities for our 8th grade students.  The pies raised a lot of money!  I was so impressed that I thought I'd have a raffle every Friday until Christmas.  Then January rolled around and I didn't want to stop, but I didn't want to bake one every week, so I picked the Friday before our long weekend, next February vacation and after that, St. Patrick's Day.  To date I've raised $670 for our students end of year activities, and I'm having a blast!  There will be a pie for Easter and one for the Kentucky Derby!  On the last day of school I plan to bring in a pie to give away as a thank you to my generous co-workers for supporting our students.


This pie is so easy to make it's unbelievable! You can decorate it with whipped cream (flavored with mint extract) or chocolate curls! I used Wilton editable shamrocks.

Yield: 8 servings Prep time: 7 hours Cook time: 15 minutes Total time: 8 hours

INGREDIENTS:

For the Crust:
24 Cool Mint Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
3 egg yolks
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, divided
Pinch of salt
¼ cup green crème de menthe
¼ cup white crème de cacao

DIRECTIONS:

1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs and the melted butter in a medium bowl and toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch pie plate. Press the crumbs evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, forming a crust. Refrigerate the lined pie plate for 20 minutes. Bake for 10 minutes, until the crust is fragrant and set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

2. Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until foamy, about 30 seconds. Stir together the gelatin, sugar, ½ cup of the heavy cream and the salt in a medium saucepan and let sit until the gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Cook over medium heat until the gelatin dissolves and the mixture is very hot but not boiling, about 2 minutes. Whisking continuously, slowly drizzle the gelatin mixture into egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the crème de menthe and crème de cacao. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until it thickens to a wobbly consistency, about 20 minutes.

3. Beat the remaining 1½ cups heavy cream on medium-high speed until it holds stiff peaks. Gently whisk 1 cup of the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture until completely incorporated. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining whipped cream into the gelatin mixture until no streaks of white remain. Scrape the mixture into the cooled pie shell, smooth the top, and refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Serve with whipped cream and topped with chocolate curls, if desired.

Notes:
  • The pie will keep in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 3 days.
  • The alcohol in this pie has no way of cooking off, so keep that in mind if serving to children or anyone who can't have alcohol.
  • If you can't find Cool Mint Oreos, you can use regular Oreos and add a little mint extract to give the crust that extra zing!