Saturday, May 28, 2011

Avocado Salsa

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It’s kind of hard for me to believe that I haven’t posted this recipe yet. It is somewhat healthy and fun to make when you need something that serves a lot of people. And it tastes great.

In one of my many former lives, I used to play a lot of tennis. After the matches we would all gather around to eat and drink back all of the calories we had just burned off. :) I got lots of requests to bring this to our tennis functions and I pulled it out to make for our Friday night Happy Hour Get Togethers. It makes for perfect party food.

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Salsa :

2 11 oz. cans of sweet corn, drained

2 2.25 ounce cans of sliced black olives, drained

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, diced (I like Vidalia Sweet Onions for this)

2 cans of black beans, rinsed

2 ripe Avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced (Add before serving).

Dressing :

1/3 cup olive oil

3 large cloves garlic (or 5 small cloves) minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 Tbsp. cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix all of the salsa ingredients except the avocado in a non-metal bowl. Wisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salsa and mix well. Cover and chill. Add the avocados just before serving. I like to spread this out on a platter or serve in a decorative serving bowl. Mexican theme dishes if you have them are nice for this. Serve with corn tortilla chips. I like to serve this with Tostitos Scoops.

I am linking this post up to Foodie Friday over at Designs by Gollum.

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Out With The Old, In With The New


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It only took us 10 years to find a Handyman. You know the drill.  You get a name, you call him.  He takes days to call you back, if at all.  If he calls you back and he says he’ll stop by, he usually doesn’t.  It’s so aggravating.  Honestly,10 years. But, we finally found him and now all of those projects that we have been putting off are slowly getting checked off the list.  I love my husband, but “handy” he is not.:) Our new Handyman has already fixed the rotting wood on the bottom of the front porch columns, a damaged door frame on the deck, and today he replaced the front porch lights! 

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BEFORE                                                                                                             AFTER

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What do you think?  Like em?  Just in time for Memorial Day!   We are starting the weekend off  with a Happy Hour with some friends/neighbors and our daughter is coming home from school for the weekend.  I have a big long grocery list to take care of today and two cheese stops to make.  I love three day weekends!  Hope you all have some fun plans and have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5 Question Friday on a Thursday

I just came across a blog today called My Little Life  and found a feature called 5 Question Friday  and since I find doing the questions fun and a nice and easy break from a regular blog post, I thought I would go ahead and participate even though I am more than a few days late or early depending on how you look at it.  But really, that’s nothing new for me. :)  Here we go:

1. Do you and your spouse go to bed at the same time?

Usually we do.  Sometimes during the week I’ll stay up later if he goes to bed early because he has an early morning phone call or has to be in the office early.  I like to unwind after 10pm with either Bethanny or the NY Housewives.   And he doesn’t.   :)

2. A question for the ladies...What kind of facial hair do you like on your man?

None.  I like my men clean shaven.  My son shaved his face for me for Mother’s Day.  It was the best gift!    Although I did have a thing some years ago for that close shave shadow look but you don’t see that much anymore these days.

3. What's the worst vacation you've ever taken?

Hilton Head S.C. about 5 years ago.  And let me start by saying we LOVE Hilton Head.  But one particular year we went down with a big group and there were lots of teenagers who were allowed way more freedom than we felt comfortable with for our own two kids.  They could basically come and go as they pleased.  I was a nervous wreck the entire time.  Oh, and then my daughter saw a rat/mouse in our condo.  I didn’t see it but it did gnaw through my beach bag where I had some crackers and chewed them all up.  I was told it was either a rat or a very well fed mouse.  Luckily that happened towards the end of the week.    We have been to Hilton Head before and it’s always been wonderful but this particular year it was a nightmare.    We’ll go back but not to that particular condo complex.  You get what you pay for!  Oh, and my husband got stung by a jelly fish.

4. What's the first-ever blog you followed?

I think it was Rhoda’s blog Southern Hospitality.  She inspired me to do a Makeover on my Laundry Room.   You are welcome to take a peek if you like. :)

5. Do you enjoy amusement parks?

Not as much as I used to.  The last amusement park we went to was Bush Gardens in Williamsburg, VA.  We had a fun day but learned the lesson that we are too old to enjoy the rides any more.  The rides make us nausious and light headed.    The kids loved it though. I don’t like walking around in the heat either.  But the Strawberry Belgian Waffles with whipped cream were divine.    And of course it was really fun doing Disney when the kids were little. 

I can’t believe we are looking at Memorial Day Weekend already!  Have any fun plans?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pickled Radishes


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 Before you say “What?” or “No Way!”, I have to stop you and tell you to open up your culinary mind. :)  Yes, these are pickled radishes and they are delightfully delicious! 

I planted a row and a half of radishes in my garden this year even though I really don’t like radishes because a few weeks ago I saw a garnish made to look like those cute mushrooms that are red with white spots.  Do you know what kind I am talking about?  In case you missed it, here’s a link to my post called “Growing a Garnish” where I posted a photo of them.  Anyway, they were made out of a radish and so I decided to plant some so that I could make them myself.  And then yesterday as I was looking through some old magazines I came across a recipe for pickled radishes. 

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Radishes grow surprisingly fast.   The recipe intrigued me so out to the garden I went to pick enough for one batch and give the recipe a test run.  I also cut the recipe in half and it worked out perfectly fine.  I got three small mini jam jars out of the half recipe.

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Here is the recipe:

Pickled Radishes

8 oz. radishes (about 22)

1 small onion, cut into thin wedges and separated (I diced mine)

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Thinly slice your radishes and onion and mix them together in a bowl.  (About 2 cups)  Divide the radish and onion mixture into clean canning jars.  I like to use the mini jelly jars.

Mix together the sugar, white vinegar, and salt until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Then spoon the mixture and pour it evenly over all of your jars.  Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours before serving.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.   

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The recipe says that “ The radish mixture will have a very pungent aroma”.  Let me tell you, they are NOT kidding.  But don’t let that scare you away.  Truly, they are very tasty.   I will probably try they with some grilled meat off the BBQ and maybe try them with something Asian  Somehow I think they have an Asian flare to them.  Have you ever had pickled radishes before?  And please let me know if you have any ideas.  Thanks!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cheddar Wafers

Cheddar Wafers 019 One of the perks of my job, if you can call it a perk, is that once or twice a year I get to attend a cheese seminar where I learn lots of interesting things about cheese and how it is made, and I get to taste lots of new cheeses.  This past week I attended a seminar and tasted more cheese than is natural for one person in the course of one day.    And the best part was at the end of the day were able to take home some of the samples and all of the leftovers.  I went home with a huge bag of cheese.

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One of the samples I went home with was a big hunk of  Lemon Cheddar cheese from England.  It was so different from the Cheddars I am used to.  This one was sweeter and had a delicate lemon flavor to it.  I found a recipe not too long ago for Cheddar Wafers and decided that I would experiment with the Lemon Cheddar and make a batch of the Cheddar Wafers using the lemon cheese.  Delicious!   

If you can’t find Lemon Cheddar, just go ahead and make these wafers with a nice sharp Cheddar.  That is what the original recipe calls for anyway.  These freeze perfectly.  I placed about 15 crackers in some individual cellophane bags and pull them out of the freezer as needed.  

Here is the recipe:

Cheddar Wafers

2 Cups all-purposed flour

1/2 cup butter, cut up

1 tsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. curry powder

Dash cayenne pepper

2 Cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz.)

3 Tbsp. water

In a food processor, or in a mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, sugar, salt, curry powder, and cayenne pepper.   Mix well.  Add the water 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition, until mixture is moistened.

Gather the mixture into a ball, divide in half.  Shape each ball into a 10-inch long.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet.  With a knife, cut the logs into 1/4 inch slices.  Place slices on the baking sheet.  Prick slices with a fork.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until wafers are starting to brown on edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.   My batch made 43 wafers.

These are great served with some pepper jelly and fun to nibble on while sipping a glass of your favorite wine.

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I am giving a bag to some friends and keeping a bag to enjoy this evening along with my favorite bargain wine from Trader Joe’s called L’Authentique.  It’s about $4.99 per bottle.  A great table wine for everyday.   I certainly wouldn’t pull it out to impress the boss but for every day, it’s just fine.  And I’ll be sure to drink it out of my favorite mermaid wine glass with the wine glass tag that looks like a wedge of cheese at the bottom.  :)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Today’s Questions

Another episode of  Today’s Questions” compliments of Mannland5.  Here we go.

 1. have you ever gone to see a movie by yourself?

Yes, twice.  The first time I went was when my kids were little and the new Brady Bunch Movie came out.  There was no way my husband was going to pay a babysitter to see that!  So I went by myself.  The second time was a few years ago when they did the version of Pride and Prejudice with Kiera Knightly.  I went to the matinee during the week when my kids were in school.  Lot’s of other Moms just like me doing the same thing.  Not a man in sight!

2. would you rather go through a tornado or a hurricane?

Hurricane for sure.  Tornados were very scary when I was growing up in Michigan.  Especially if we were at school.  They made us sit cross legged and bent over with our head tucked down as far as we could go up against the wall in the hall.  It hurt!  I’ve been through several here living in North Carolina.    We have never been a direct target .   It rains sideways, the sky gets all crazy looking and the wind is horrible.  But give me a hurricane warning over a tornado warning any day. 

3. have you made summer vacation plans?

No!  Want to.  Need to.  Have to figure out what to do with the dog. 

4. what's your favorite accessory?

I love my silver jewelry and lately I’ve been known to wear a few scarves.

5. have you ever been thrown a surprise party?

Once, after we were first married, my husband had some of my friends meet us for dinner at my favorite restaurant and that was a very nice and  big surprise.   But no big “jump out and yell surprise” parities for me.  I’m not big on surprises.   I like to se the train coming!   I did throw two big surprise parties for my husband.  The first was a few years after we were first married.  The second  I threw about 4 years ago.  That one had an 80’s theme.  Great music and I asked that everyone come dressed as their favorite person from the 80’s.  Hillarious!  We had a Pee Wee Herman,  Slash, Madonna, Magnum PI, and Long Duck Dong from the movie 16 Candles.  :) 

6. are you friends with your neighbors?

Yes, when we first moved in it was party city around here.  Thankfully, we have all kind of mellowed out.

7. what's the last movie you saw in the theater?

I think it was the movie “It’s Complicated” and that was more than a year ago.  Oh, and I saw “Eat, Pray, Love”….what a disappointment after reading the book.

8. what's your favorite food network show? 

I have to say Barefoot Contessa.   I always have great success with most of what I have made from her show or books.  I like Cupcake Wars too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Brownie Trifle Parfait

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I had big plans for a great blog post with a recipe that was supposed to be quick and easy and used a store bought brownie mix.  Well, I couldn’t get the brownies out of the pan.  So I did what any enterprising cook might do and I scooped them out of the pan with a spoon and stared at the bowl of crumbled brownies until I could think of a way to not let them go to waste.  Individual Brownie Parfaits.  A giant trifle would have worked here too but since my son doesn’t like strawberries (I know…who doesn’t like strawberries???) and my daughter is away at summer school, and I didn’t want to be the one picking at a gigantic trifle for days on end, I decided to make individual sized servings.   I did something similar to this a few weeks ago just minus the brownies.  Here you go.

Brownie Trifle Parfait

1 brownie mix

Jello Pudding Cups  (chocolate or vanilla)

Whipped Cream or Cool Whip

fresh sliced strawberries

Bake up your favorite brownie mix.  Let cool in the pan.   Cut a serving sized piece of brownie and break half of it  into your serving dish.  I like to use my goblet glasses.  Scoop half of the pudding on top of the crumbled brownies.  Slice 3 or four strawberries and put on top of the pudding layer.  Then add a layer of whipped cream or Cool Whip.    Repeat with another layer of brownie, pudding, strawberries, and whipped cream/Cool Whip.  Top with a strawberry sliced in half. 

Easy.  Happy Husband.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Deck and Garden

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Found some cute pillows for the chairs on our deck at of all places….Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  And I actually had my 20% off coupon with me when I found them.     The pillows were made by Solarium Fabrics and  I thought they might help brighten things up out there.

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Oakley likes them.

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We found some new chairs a couple of weeks ago.  I like them very much but I do miss my old ones.  The old chairs were heavier and had really comfortable cushions.  But they were looking bad!   They were at least 7 or 8 years old and it was time to freshen up.  I think I mentioned that the birds were pulling the stuffing out of them to make their nests because they had started to fray and come apart.  We donated the chair frames which were still in great condition to the Kidney Foundation and they sent a truck and picked them up last week.  We are still shopping for a new table.  But as I said before this one is still fine till we find something we like.  It’s getting harder and harder to find round tables anymore.  We might get one more year out of the market umbrella.

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  And here is a shot of this years Pride and Joy.  My garden.   I like how my husband lets me call it “My Garden” when he does most of the tilling and hoeing. :)

Those are red skinned potatoes in the back.  spinach, lettuce, Swiss chard, a rogue yellow squash that popped up on it’s own, and at the far end are the radishes, basil, and a couple of tomatoes. 

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I’ll be planting more tomatoes soon.  Cucumbers and beans too.  I’ll have to wait till the lettuce and spinach are done.   They can’t take the heat in the summers here so when they start to bolt, I’ll take them out and plant some peppers, beans and cukes.    I love looking out at the garden this time of year.   Later in the summer it starts to look like a jungle but right now it’s a pleasure to look at. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Anti-Theft Lunch Bags


This really is genius.   And hilarious.  :)  Who hasn’t had someone steal their lunch at least once in their school or work career?  You can buy them here.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Nail Polish


I can’t remember the last time I had my nails professionally done.  I might have to pick up some new colors as I keep seeing great photos of polished nails lately on Pinterst and have started to collect them.  I LOVE this coral color. 


How fun to go strawberry picking with your nails looking like this?  Ha!

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Then later in the summer I could switch to watermelons as my fruit of choice.


And these tye-dye nails are fun.  The “recipe”  on Pinterest said this is how to do it:

“get a bowl of water, pour little bits of all the different shades you want, it should float on the top, swirl with a toothpick or something like it and when it looks like you want on top of the water, then dip your nails through the water..”     I wonder if this works?  Anybody ever try to do this?


And these silver nails are pretty.  Makes we want to break away from the Cotton Candy Pink that I’ve been wearing on my toes for the past few summers.  Polish on my fingernails doesn’t seem to last very long on me between having my hands in the sink at home and in cheese display cases around town, my nails take a beating.   But I am feeling more “girly” than usual lately so maybe this weekend I’ll pick up some new colors or maybe even go and have a little something more professional done.  That would be a treat alright!


Have any color suggestions for me?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cinema Verite


We watched Cinema Verite  which literally means “Truthful Cinema” on HBO on Demand the other night after I read about it on one of my favorite blogs Cinema Style. If you are looking for something new and different to watch it’s well worth it to check this movie out.   In a nutshell, it’s based on a show called “An American Family” that was aired on PBS back in 1973 and is widely credited with being the “First Reality Show”.  It had never been done before but the cameras followed the Loud family from Santa Barbara, California.  It was supposed to be a glimpse into the life of the average American family but as the cameras roll, the viewer starts to see this family unravel.  It was ground breaking stuff.  One son was openly and proudly gay, the husband is unfaithful and out of touch, and the wife decides to use her moment in the spotlight to ask her husband for a divorce.  All of it captured by the cameras.  It was fascinating to watch and has made me now want to go dig up the original PBS series that the movie is based on.

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Tim Robbins and Diane Lane play the parents and James Gandolfini, (completely unlike his Sopranos character) plays Craig Gilbert, the filmmaker with the then-unusual idea of recording someone's private life.  It’s fun to watch for the 1970’s fashions, style and decor alone.    As always, I am a little late to the party since this started airing back in April.  Did any of you see it already and what did you think?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

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I tried a new recipe today for these sweet, chewy, delicate, and lemony cookies. I originally saw them on Pinterest and then followed the links. They are the wining recipe submitted by Lauren Brennan at Lauren’s Latest. Com for a cookie recipe contest held by LDS Living Magazine. I thought if they were good enough to win first place they were good enough for me! I made them today and they are VERY GOOD.

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(This is the original photo of the cookies. They are much flatter than mine. The original recipe calls for softened butter. I used cold butter right from the refrigerator and so mine are a bit fatter. Either way they will taste delicious.)

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Makes 2-3 dozen
½ cups butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons baking powder
⅛ teaspoons baking soda
1-½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte {not melty or shiny}. Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
*If using a non-stick darker baking tray, reduce baking time by about 2 minutes.

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I got about 32 cookies from the recipe. Next time I make them I will double it and then put some in the freezer. Also, after the cookies came out of the oven and they were cooling, I used my powder sugar shaker and gave them a quick dusting.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Someone Teach Me How to Knit Please!


So that I can make something as cute as this.

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And then once I got he hang of that then someone could teach me to how to crochet and then I could make these too.

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  And these…..


And how cute is this set?  It’s the Garden Party Baby Beanie and it’s available on Etsy.  The next girl baby that I need a gift for is getting this.  I can’t stand how cute this is!  (Click on any photo to go to their source.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Boursin and Spinach Quiche

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I have been wanting to make this forever.  I can’t remember where I saw this originally but I liked the idea of making a quiche with both spinach and Boursin cheese so much that I made up my own recipe when I couldn’t find the original one I saw earlier.  I haven’t made a quiche in  a few years so this really was a treat.

Boursin and Spinach Quiche

1 refrigerator pie crust (I like Pillsbury) Let it sit out at room temperature for a few minutes before you try to put it in your quiche dish to minimize tearing.

1 package of original flavor Garlic and Herb Boursin cheese

1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach

3 dashes of Texas Pete Hot Sauce

4 eggs

1 1/2 cups of milk (I used skim)

pinch of nutmeg

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Place your pie crust in you quiche dish and set aside while you mix the other ingredients.


Microwave your spinach and then when it is cool, squeeze out as much water as you can out of it.  Break it up into a bowl.  Add the Boursin cheese by using your fingers to break it up into the bowl.  If it is too creamy, use a fork.

Add the four eggs, the milk, salt and pepper, nutmeg, and Texas Pete Hot Sauce and mix well with a fork.  Pour into your quiche pie shell.  Bake for 15 minutes at 375 degrees and then reduce the temperature to 325 degree and continue baking for another 30 minutes.

Check with a cake tester to make sure the center of your quiche is firm before you take it out of the oven.  About half way through baking, check to make sure the edges of your crust are not browning too much.  If they are, cover the edges with some foil strips.

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So here is a photo of some of your ingredients and here it is ready to go into the oven.

I did not prebake my pie crust.  Next time I think I will because although the sides of the crust were nice and flaky, the bottom was not.  Simply follow the directions on your refrigerator pie crust box to bake the crust off in advance. 

I know that most quiche recipes call for cream but I have always used skim milk and have had good results.  A quiche made with cream is a little too “heavy” for me and I like the lighter taste I get from the skim milk.  But feel free to use whatever milk you have or even cream.    Also, I mixed in 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese because I like the color it gives the quiche.  Adds more flavor too.   I couldn’t really even taste the Texas Pete in the finished quiche so next time I might double the amount.  If you like a little heat too go ahead and add a few extra squirts.  But not too much that you overpower the flavor of the Boursin cheese.  Adds to the color of the finished product too.  You could also make this a bit heartier by adding some chopped up ham or bacon too.

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Smells wonderful while it is in the oven and while it is cooling too.  You can also make and bake this one ahead and it freezes well.

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And because I am such a tomato freak, I cut up a couple of Campari tomatoes and scatter them across the top.  This was delicious!!

If you are a quiche lover you might want to give this one a try.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Royal Questions…The British Edition

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I thought I would give “This Week’s Questions” a go compliments of Mannland5 since I have had a lot on my plate this week (mostly good things) and the questions are usually fun, easy, and a change of pace.  Between the Royal Wedding, which I have become way more obsessed with than I expected to, and the Osama Assassination (God Bless America and our military), working cheese, a friend being in the hospital, prepping son for an AP exam, extreme gardening, and my daughter being home for a few days before she goes back to finish her exams, I thought the questions would be an easy way to go.  :)

1.  Did you watch the royal wedding?

Yes I watched all of it. Couldn’t get enough!   I even took the day off work.  However, I have to admit that I did not get up at the crack of dawn but instead got up at my regular 7am only to find that I had missed a good chunk of it “live”.  I watched from that point on and then when the live coverage faded I picked up bits and pieces jumping channel to channel.  Then the next day,  I watched it start to finish on BBC America.  Loved every minute of it! 

2. Tea and crumpets or coffee and a scone?

I do like a good crumpet and tea, but the coffee addiction would probably steer me to to the coffee and scone.

3.   Who's cuter...Prince  William or Prince Harry?

Both are handsome and William is sweet.  Did you catch it when he finally saw Kate when she came down the aisle and he leaned over and told her she looked beautiful?  Harry is very good looking, he definitely has more swagger, is probably a lot of fun at a party, but is probably more of a heart breaker.  William is marriage material and Harry is a good time.  Don’t make me pick!

4. Can you speak in a English accent?

Of course, Cockney and Proper British.  I practice all the time when I talk to my dog Oakley.

5. Do you own a fancy hat?

Sad to say NO.  I don’t rather fancy myself in a hat. :) Could be a problem if we ever move to the UK.

6. Would you rather live in a castle or an English cottage?

Hmm…that’s a tough one.  I would probably pick the English cottage. 

7. How old were you when Prince Charles and Princess Diana got married?  Were you even born?

I was in college when Princess Diana married the Stuffy Old Charles.  I remember watching all of it and being just as obsessed with it all as I was this time around.  It was fascinating. 

8.  Have you found your prince?

I have.   He is handsome, smart, funny and kind.  And we are living happily ever after.  I wish the same for the Newlyweds William and Kate.