Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Love Affair~With fb!

And as you read the title of today's blog, you already know what "fb" is! This is my formal proclamation, and I don't care who knows it: I ♥ facebook!
Since giving my kids (and other people's kids) a really hard time a few years ago for being social networkers (read: Myspace, and I still don't care for that one), I am now a facebook fan (which we also all know really means fanatic, but that's not always a bad thing). I was very cautious at first, as I'm sure most of us "older" folks were when we joined. And we still should be. BUT...I now "see" my up-north family and friends more than I would if we still lived in PA. I see photos of beautiful new great-nieces and nephews, my brothers and sisters, and family from Colorado, Montana & California, Chicago, Baltimore & Philadelphia. I follow blogs discussing everything from wine to cupcakes, faith to good health , travel to photography. I know when my boys are home from work, and sometimes even what their weekend plans are (they don't say too much). I know when my girl is working, having fun or studying, without being a stalker (or creeper, or any of those things she says I occasionally do). And even though Jack is not a facebooker, I have connected with his friends (now OUR friends) in North Dakota, and even from the job. Tonight, I "won" tickets to see the Plain White T's from a friend who was giving them away! (Thank you again, JoAnna!)
Now I'll NEVER get off....

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

One I Actually Didn't Like...

I was starting to think that I really never have met a wine I didn't like, till this one. (and that Lucky Duck one) Ehhh, it's ok; fairly light, which was nice, but not too much actual flavor. (by the way, these were BOGO at Publix this week. I know, I'm cheap) I'd just read that it doesn't matter if wine is stopped with a real cork, synthetic cork or screw top, as long as air can't get in the bottle. Since this one was a screw top, I thought I'd give it a try, to either prove or disprove the old "only Boone's Farm kinda wines have a screw top" theory. So, I guess I didn't really help the cause in defense of finer wines using screw tops, but I didn't really care for it. Will I finish the bottle? Sure, after my good stash is gone. No offense, Santa Rita, it's just my opinion.

Now, on to the FOOT. What is with exercise, injuries, and getting older?! I just got back into a groove, and as usual, I catch an injury. When I did aerobics years back, I suffered a stress fracture in my foot; later, lots of walking gave me plantar fasciitis. But now, the injuries are weirder and more frequent: last spring, knee swelling ended my extremely short running "career" (shut up, Brian). In the fall, an abdominal strain took me out for a few months. And now, a blast from my past, my old friend plantar fasciitis, has come back for a visit (and I just hit a four-mile goal!). So, while I take a break on walking for now (it doesn't hurt during Power Hour, thank goodness),  ice it, and wear this redonkulous looking thing to bed to keep my foot flexed and stretched, I'll just fuss a bit to make me feel better. There. Thanks for listening.

(Please DO NOT enlarge this picture. 47-year-old feet are less offensive in small doses. And are those CANKLES?!) 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Over the Berry Rainbow

What a weekend! (again!) Beautiful food and fun (I kicked butt at Trivial Pursuit) with Pete and Annie Friday night (I'll be posting her recipes soon!). Housework and a clean car for the first time in a year (I know, I'm ashamed of myself) on Saturday, along with a cool new Yuengling cooler for the back porch, compliments of a heads up from Patti and Dave - "The neighbor has one that he's putting out at the yard sale. Would you like it?" Ummm, yes, please! Today was a perfectly beautiful day, with family for breakfast after Mass, and a fruitful shopping trip with the Beckmeister (guess where we went!). Fr. Chris gave a lovely homily today about thirst and hunger in our quest for love that only God can give. But thanks to a gracious God, He gives us family and friends along the way, that make us realize his love for us!

These Double Strawberry Scones were today's happy food. Thank you, Lord!

Beautiful berries! Love that Plant City is so close, and we get wicked fresh strawberries!

The recipe called for "freeze-dried" berries to add color, but I used just "dried", and they were fine. (In what department of a grocery store are freeze-dried fruits?!)

I got everything ready the night before, so it only took a few minutes to get it ready in the morning!

Mix both berries and basil into the dry ingredients.

Make a well and add the egg and (fat free) half & half.

The mix is super sticky. -_- If you know me, you know I come from a long line (ok, not really long, just my Grandpa and uncles) of Britchers that DO NOT like to get messy. I don't eat powdered donuts or watermelon with my hands. Sometimes even pizza requires a knife and fork. Sorry, I'm just drawn that way. Anyway, I realized that the parchment paper works for you if you use it to fold the dough over. Duh.

I wanted to use my Pampered Chef small rectangle stone for the first time, but all this dough wouldn't fit! So I got out the well-used pizza stone. Perfect!

They took longer than called for (story of my cooking life), at 25 minutes instead of 16. But they were fantastic! The basil and fresh berries gave these little yummies a nice flavor and moisture, even thought scones are normally dry and crumbly. Worked for me : )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tomorrow's Catholic Dinner

What?! Ok, you can make this no matter what your religion, faith or ideology, but us (we?) Catholics gotta skip the meat on Fridays during Lent. I made these last night, and they were awesome. A main ingredient is breadcrumbs (which Jack doesn't really care for), so I didn't know how well these would go over. He took the first bite and said, "Can we make 200 of these?", which means he really liked them. (he's always looking for a new side dish for the K of C Charity Ball that he cooks for every September) So I thought I would share.

I sauteed a large box of fresh organic spinach with the garlic and onion, even though the recipe called for frozen. This seemed sooo much better. Sorry for the blurry picture, the lense kept fogging up.

Parmesan, Italian breadcrumbs and spices, ready to go. I love the little prep bowls. Also, I cut back on the breadcrumbs (you know why) to 3/4 of a cup. Worked out fine.

I used small red potatoes, and when I went to lightly mash them, the skins kept sticking to the hand masher, so I pulled out pretty much of the skins.

Dump all the ingredients together. It's really that simple. (don't forget the egg)

I mixed until the spinach seemed even throughout the mixture.

Nine griddle cakes. The recipe called for ten. So I changed the nutrition profile a little; too bad.

Nicely browned on both sides. The recipe said to brown them, then put them in the oven to heat through (contains egg) but I kept them in the griddle since I like stuff like this to be really brown. My Dad made THE best potato cakes in the world, which he made really crispy. Lots o' butter in Dad's, but I used oil.

Inexpensive and very good! Love World Market products.

This is Pomi boxed marinara (FANTASTIC!) that I added some extra fresh basil, garlic, peppers and onion to. I had them left over from the weekend's recipes. I asked Publix to start carrying the marinara, because they now carry the Pomi boxed tomatoes. Yay! : )

If this seems like an odd combination to you, it did to me too. But believe me, it really works! Yummm!
Whole foods has a free app for recipes if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yay, it's Wednesday!

There's no better way to get over hump day!
This wonderful wine, according to the bottle, is called Gnarly Head due to the old, untrellised vines that bear the fruit. Although these vines produce fewer grape clusters, the small berries yield concentrated fruit flavors. (ok, so I copied off the label) Anywho, it's super rich and fruity, and kinda spicy. I've been trying to get Jack to try reds rather than his standard pick of Riesling or Moscato (strictly a sweet wine guy), so he gave this one a shot. He picked up immediately on the oak scents ("smells like burned wood", which smells pretty much the same to me), but it definitely wasn't sweet enough. He said, "Ehhh, it's ok, I'll drink it." I thought maybe the plum, vanilla and licorice flavor layers (label again) would win him over, but no luck. Leaves more for me. I love it! : )

14.5% alcohol. Red zin packs a punch!

Monday, March 21, 2011

80 Days!!!

Ohmygosh, wait! WHAT?! Eighty days until Europe?! That's impossible! I don't have my rolling duffel yet! I need a passport holder! And a neck pillow-thingy filled with beads! What if my legs swell? Will I get blood clots?! What about the weather?! The tour site isn't telling me yet! Is laundry service available???? I can't wear those jeans for more than two days! Ok, deeeeep breath....
I made my last payment (ok, my charge card did) on Saturday. It's final. I paid, so I must really be going. Extra fuel charge and all. It's so exciting, but at the same time, overwhelming and literally unbelievable. I'm really going to visit Ireland, England & Scotland; a lifelong dream come true! The accents are so cool, the traditions so old and, ummm, traditional. I've been talking "faux British" since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, for crying out loud! (or PHILOSOPHER'S STONE; see I know my British stuff!) Doris and I meet frequently to plan our free time while we're there (but usually just end up drinking and gabbing), imagining ourselves in quaint pubs, hob-nobbing with the locals. It's gonna be GREAT! Check back at 30 days; I'll be mental!  

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Weekend Fun!

The weekend started with our girl coming home! (Thank you, Lord, this is just what I needed!) Shopping, fish tacos and a movie on Friday, while Jack and the boys were out shrimping; Saturday morning I made my four miles (yay!) & in the evening, we met with friends (one of our favorite couples in the world!) at Vintage 56 in Rockledge. Ohmygosh, the food and drinks are superb there, and we should definitely eat there more often. Today we visited with fam and friends, ate and watched the race. And ate. And had a few beers. And ate. Since strawberries are in season here in Florida, I wanted to take advantage of using them in some recipes for today. Here are some pics from the weekend, along with links to the yummy recipes. Aaahhhh, what a perfect weekend! I'm going to pretend tomorrow is NOT Monday. 

Macadamia Brie with a baguette at Vintage 56. OMG.

Brenda & Roy! ( I know you're gonna hate this picture, Brenda...the waiter told us it turned out great, so we only took one.)

This is Jack's favorite summer salad. I made it before church to let the flavors blend. Throw all the ingredients together...

Stir and let sit a bit. Fresh and low-cal!

Me and the girl, cooking. I cook, she bakes. Crap, I'm shrinking!!! : (

Jack doing what he looooves to do: make wings!

Getting the strawberry dressing ready for the Spinach & Strawberry Salad.

Again, I'll make anything as long as I get to use the processor!

I didn't add chicken since we were having wings, and I also added low-fat feta. Mmmm!

We put the dressing on top, but the recipe suggests tossing it, which is probably wiser.

This is Strawberry Salsa, which was wonderful. The recipe called for grape tomatoes, but I used Campari tomatoes, which were actually cheaper than grape tomatoes! Strawberries are in season, but tomatoes are NOT!

Piggin' out! (I love Dave's face)

Our gang! Any excuse to party! : )

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Pub Grub ~ Reuben Quiche

I don't know if this actually would be considered pub grub, because it's not terribly unhealthy, but, boy, it is yummy! I didn't know how this would turn out, so I was going to be honest either way. Happily, it's really tasty, so here's the link and some photos!


I made two quiches, so one whole box of rye Triscuits was necessary. Thank goodness for the processor, those little crackers are hard! The double recipe fit perfectly into two disposable pie pans. I made the crusts and got all other ingredients ready last night, so this morning all I had to do was mix and bake.

Layer in the cheese, lean corned beef (I used Boar's Head, and had it shaved) and saurkraut.

Oh, yeah, and more cheese. : ) That makes me happy.

Right out of the oven! (Egg recipes never have the correct baking time. This one said 25-30 minutes, but it took about 45)

Work breakfast! Debbie made red potato hash and some yummy sauteed cabbage. Who says you can't eat cabbage for breakfast?! Just DO NOT come near our end of the building the rest of the day. -_-

Janice made these Strawberry Shortcake cupcakes because she loves us. The filling inside was made with fresh berries and was INCREDIBLE! My personal fave so far!

Chocolate brownie insides and chocolate-covered shaved espresso beans were the highlights of these scrumptious cupcakes. (She made them just for me! : )

So, you can see how I spent my St. Patrick's Day so far. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I'm goin' to the gym right after work...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcome back, Wine Wednesday!

Thanks to some wine-lovings gal pals, I'm expanding my limited horizons. What started as a misunderstanding via text message, has gotten me to try some fantastic wines that I probably wouldn't have chosen on my own.

The convo went on for many more messages, and neither of us understood the gist till she said "ok, I got you two bottles". Oooh, now I get it! I thought she wanted my help in choosing, but she was picking me up a few! (Do you see how we confused each other, though?!) Gotta love technology.
I picked this Chardonnay up on one of last month's visits, and it is wonderful! Maybe since I read the label first, whatever it says stays in my head, and as I taste it, I'm thinking "This does have vanilla and carmel undertones!" Sheesh, the power of suggestion. (I bet I'd be easily hypnotized)

It really was lovely, and I look forward to enjoying it again when I'm in a "white" mood.

On another note: Yay, me! FOUR MILES! It took a "good hour" (is that a Dutch saying?), but I'm creeping towards my 5 mile goal. It may even be the one and only time I do it, so keep your fingers crossed. Really.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy Peanut Lover's Day!

Friday was a Dirty Girl's Club meeting. Saturday: birthday party, then trip planning with dinner in Orlando. Sunday: Baby shower. Yesterday: Pi Day (yep, just "pi", but a great excuse for eating PIE!) & National Potato Chip Day (shout out to Utz, the best on the planet!). Today: Peanut Lovers Day & Pears Helene Day (? I don't know either). Why are there so many reasons to celebrate with food?! I admit the last few were lame (although true), but still, when there's something crunchy, sweet, fruity, salty or fried involved, it's a celebration. Last night I was looking for something different to make on St. Pat's, and found Reuben Quiche. (can't wait to post that one!) Jack wants wings on Sunday (after all, it's BRISTOL, one of only two tracks we've actually been to, so we celebrate a Bristol race like we're Jack Roush), so add more days of celebration to this week's list. But food, mostly because we share it with those we love, should be celebrated: it's a extension of caring, happiness, comfort & well-being. I just wish National Hot Fudge Sundae Day wasn't so far away. Drat.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Official: The Dirty Girls Wine Club!

Friends come into our lives in various ways, for different reasons and seasons. I know we've all read the emails with those clever sayings, but it really is true. This lovely group of ladies is connected in different ways; but we're all just girls who enjoy being in the company of happiness (no griping allowed) , enjoy a glass (or two...) of new wines, share some food, and laugh until it's time to go home. Don't be misled by the name, our humor is all very squeaky clean and high-brow. (insert "wink" here) The Club has different members at different times, but our "meetings" are always hysterical and delicious, where we can connect with the bonds that only chicks understand. Sorry, guys. And you can't have a t-shirt, either.
(Shirts will be available for sale in the lobby after the event) ; )

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Snatch the pebble from my hand..." a/k/a Grasshopper Pie

My assignment: make something yummy and green for tonight's Wine Girls social. (I know, it's lame, we're still working on the official name) My choice: Grasshopper Pie. Mmmm, my Mom let me drink a few sips of creme de menthe on special occasions when I was a kid, although now it reminds me of mouthwash. I got most of the ingredients earlier in the week, and stopped at the liquor store(s) yesterday for the cordials: "Nope, we don't carry cordials in small bottles." (What do I do with two liters of creme de cocoa and creme de menthe?!) After some last minute texting to friends who I thought may have said ingredients (Brian, Foozer, Becky), Becky came to the rescue with the creme de cocoa, so I only had to purchase the creme de menthe (didn't want to chance mint extract and green food coloring). Ok, moving on...I KNOW I have a pie pan somewhere! It's even a deep-dish, I remember buying it! Crap, I'll just use these...(starting to worry that this endeavor may be doomed)...

Eh, I guess these will do (don't you love the one that says "Mrs. Smith's"?)...

 Cookie dust, compliments of my new food processor. Did I mention how much I LOVE IT?! All those years that I crushed cookies in a plastic bag. Ugh...

Melt the marshmallow fluff into the half & half. (weird, huh?)

Beat the heavy cream in any icy-cold bowl....

The liquers, patiently waiting to be stirred in.

Pretty! (to me, anyway) 

The cream, whipped into a frenzy...

Fold the green, fluffy, cream mixture stuff into the freshly whipped cream (Uhhh, I stirred, it wasn't folding very well)...

Shave some dark, dark, Ghirardelli for the top. (that big chunk ended up in my belly)

The finished product, after a few hours in the deep freeze. And it doesn't contain ONE grasshopper! Who knew?!

Borrowed from my blogger hero, Pioneer Woman.

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