Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Throwback Thursday: Wedding Gift Still at Work Nearly 35 Years Later

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2020 is the year of Kevin and Angie. At least that’s what my honey says. He wants to celebrate our 35th anniversary all year long. I can live with that.

Our actual wedding anniversary date is June 22, 1985. Happy anniversary to us!

I realize that many of you may not even have been born yet. Wow.

I’ve also lately realized that many of the gifts we received on that sunny Saturday so many years ago we still have, use, and enjoy. If it ain’t broke, keep it and use it. Sentimental value makes these gifts even more special.

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Like my casserole dish. I have really come into my own in using this versatile beauty over the last couple of years. For one, the size is perfect for the tiny RV stove. And the lid is an added bonus which allows me to cook covered dishes or uncovered foods. Perfect! An added bonus is how easy this is to clean. Nonstick without the Teflon.

This casserole and lid were originally part of a set. There was a smaller casserole dish and matching lid. I’m pretty sure the smaller dish did not make it to the 35th anniversary year. Unless (let’s all hope so) it has been in storage so long I can’t remember what happened to it.

I’ve cooked everything from quiche to apple crisp to salmon to tater tot casserole in the larger casserole. One of my favorite recipes is a no/low carb bacon cheeseburger casserole. You serve it with relish and diced red onions! The next time I make that I’ll try and remember to take some photos. But photos will not do it justice. One must taste it, relish, dill, and all.

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Featured in this casserole dish (again, the pictures are not great) is a no crust apple crisp. Sliced apples (unpeeled), oatmeal, cinnamon, and grated cheese. I sometimes add a tiny bit of water for moisture. Bake until apples are softened and cheese is melted. My stamping and eating buddy somehow came up with the recipe. Super easy and tasty. Thanks, Alyson.

Back to my casserole dish. I love the French words and images on the side. Many memories have been made when sharing foods baked in this wedding gift. Thank you, to the thoughtful giver. Who knew I would still have it so many years later?

If I could find my “wedding stuff” box, I bet I could even figure out who gave us this set. Now that would be fun. New goal before the actual anniversary date: FIND the wedding box.

How about you? Do you have any wedding gifts or sentimental items that you’ve kept over the years? I’d love to hear about them.
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Cooking Day: Fall Flavors Give RV Oven a Workout

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Yesterday, while I was watching the Seahawks shoot themselves in the feet, I mean LOSE but with style, I gave in to my urge to bake. The day went like this.

Home from church. Make tuna salad for lunch. Clean up.

Tuna Salad: two cans tuna, drained; 1 celery stick, chopped; 1/2 red onion, diced; about 1/4 c. dill relish; 1/4 c. chopped walnuts; fresh ground black pepper; cayenne; cumin; and enough mayo to make it mix well. I ate mine over cherry tomatoes. My honey ate his on his favorite whole grain bread. No pictures of this, but it was tasty!

Bake Gingerbread Muffins. Clean up.

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I found this recipe at the What’s for Dinner Moms? blog.   I’ve found quite a few tasty treats on this blog. As usual, I adjusted the recipe to our tastes, using whole wheat and almond flour, and added allspice and cloves, and swapped out white sugar and added brown. I also doubled the icing. These are so yummy!

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Bake Oatmeal Cups. Clean up.

Okay. So the recipe calls them Granola Cups with Yogurt and Berries. I was taste testing them for a Jello Molders weekend. They came out pretty good. I found this recipe in an old 2017 issue of Cooking Light.

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Bake Mexican Chocolate Cookies. Clean up.

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These spicy little treats are awesome. The cayenne livens things up a bit. And chocolate? Of course they are delicious. This recipe is from a May issue of Martha Stewart, but I’ve accidentally torn off the year…

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Put a pot of chicken soup on to simmer. Clean up.

There are no pictures of this first soup of the season. But know I used up the rest of our Costco rotisserie chicken, celery, onions, a potato, kale from the garden, a bag of mixed frozen veggies, stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, Mrs. Dash, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and poultry seasoning. It was excellent served with a dollop of sour cream. My honey added corn chips to the top.

Eat dinner. Clean up.

I’d say for a Sunday, I spent a lot of time cleaning up! A friend and I consider washing dishes a workout. Including breakfast dishes, I worked out 6 times! You should see my buff arm and shoulder muscles. 🙂 In the RV, one must clean up EVERY time a new dish is prepared. Space and tiny sink and all.

The successes were ALL of the above. It was a tasty day. Other than the Seahawks losing.

How about you? What do you like to bake or simmer in the fall? Happy first day of autumn!

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Book Report: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

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Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

by Natalie Rompella

Sky Pony Press, 2017

 

What’s a girl to do when she is suddenly placed in a class WITH the hard-nosed teacher and WITHOUT her best friend and co-chef? The project they have been planning for years is swept off the table and the friends are paired with new partners.

Ana is devastated to learn she must partner with Dasher, a new kid from Alaska. All the new girl talks about is sled dogs. Worse, she has no culinary skills! Even worse, best friend Lily is paired with Via, another non-cook but super cool girl.

AND only Lily knows the truth about Ana. OCD dogs her every waking minute, leading Ana to obsess over germs and wash her hands to the point of cracked, chapped skin.

There are so many great things about Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! I loved the characters and the middle school angst. The finer details of friendship, making new friends, OCD, school, projects, hobbies, teamwork, trying something new – all of these important issues play together in this engaging chapter book.

I learned new information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment for this disorder. I also learned many new things about racing sled dogs and creating unique recipes. Readers will find at least one thing to identify with through the characters in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Readers looking for books about dogs, friends, cooking and creating, going to school, or OCD will love this book.

Two thumbs up for Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella.

P.S. ACTUAL recipes are shared in this book, creations by the main characters.

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I won a copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners after reading an interview with Natalie Rompella and commenting about her new book at groggorg.blogspot.com. You can read the interview here.


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Monday Mouthfuls: Corn Blueberry Salad

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Now don’t say no before you try this salad! It is so good, I had two huge servings. If you ask me, there is nothing wrong with fresh corn in any kind of salad, especially if it was just shucked and cut from the cob. Delish!

A wonderful cook and hostess (Vickie) made this lunch salad for my stamping buddy (Alyson) and I when we were spread out all over her dining room table creating cards. This wasn’t the only tasty dish she prepared, but certainly one I want to recreate. Thanks to Vickie and her bountiful garden!

And drats, the picture I took of the recipe cut off the magazine title and year, but I believe it as Better Homes & Gardens, many years back. Since I can’t adequately give the source, I will just list the ingredients. Just remember to cook the corn about 5-6 minutes, cool it in ice water, and slice if from the cob.

Corn Blueberry Salad

6-7 ears of sweet corn (shucked)

1-1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 sliced English cucumber

1/4 cup cilantro

1/2 cup finely chopped red onion

1 jalapeño, seeded and diced (less if you prefer less spice)

lime juice, olive oil, honey, cumin, a sprinkle of salt (for dressing; shake well in covered jar)

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Gently mix all ingredients (minus dressing) in bowl. Stir in dressing until well covered. The original recipe says to let it sit 24 hours in fridge, but we decided that was not necessary AND the cilantro and perhaps the cucumber would become wilted in the long soak. So eat it right away!

This salad is not only tasty, but gorgeous! Perfect for those summer barbecues. Five thumbs up!

Note: As per my usual, I’ve tweaked the amounts and added more of what I love (like red onion and cucumbers). I bet there are other tasty ingredients just waiting for a chance to join the salad party.

 

 


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Monday Mouthfuls – Breakfast Sandwiches

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We love breakfast sandwiches! Or at least I used to, before cleaning up my diet. But my honey still enjoys taking a break from muesli and yogurt to eat a yummy protein-rich breakfast sandwich. I make these at home, usually 3 at a time. They freeze very well and he can pop one in the microwave any day he feels like a little something different. The filling possibilities are endless.

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Whole Wheat Egg, Ham, and Cheese Breakfast Sandwiches

Ingredients:

3 whole wheat English muffins

3 slices ham (we prefer thinner slices)

3 slices cheddar cheese (Swiss or pepper jack are also great)

3 eggs

black pepper

olive oil

Dijon mustard

plastic wrap

ziplock bags

 

Directions:

1. Toast the English muffins. Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each sandwich. Place open-faced on a cutting board.

2. Layer ham and cheese on one half of each muffin, cheese is on top.

3. Fry the eggs in olive oil, liberally doused with black pepper. For freezing, cook the eggs all the way through. For immediate consumption, a runnier yolk is fine.

4. Place one egg on top of each cheesy muffin. The egg will melt the cheese. Leave open-faced to cool. Unless you are eating right now, then close it up and enjoy!

***If you want, quickly place eggs on a folded paper towel to remove excess oil, then add to sandwich.

5. For freezing, let sandwiches cool completely. Add muffin tops and wrap snuggly in plastic wrap. I also like to put mine in sandwich ziplock bag. Pop in the freezer until time to eat. Rewarm in the microwave.

Delish!

Other things to add: baby kale or spinach, turkey, onions, sausage patties, bacon, different mustards. For fresh sandwiches (not frozen) you can add tomato slices, thinly sliced zucchini, mushrooms, or any other fresh veggie from the garden.

The sky is the limit! Or should I say the amount of space between muffin top and bottom and what you can hold together in your hands is the only limit. 🙂

Bon appétit!

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Tara Luebbe Books & a Cookie Recipe!

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I just read this blog post over at Vivian Kirkfield’s place. Click here.

Tara’s post is on April 7 (I’m a bit behind in my emails and blogs due to spring break). I loved reading about her writing story and new books. I may have slightly drooled a bit when reading her no-bake cookie recipe. I think we will be trying that soon!

Thanks to Vivian and Tara! Congratulations!

via TARA LUEBBE: Will Write for Cookies PLUS Giveaway


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Applesauce Day ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

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Applesauce Day

By Lisa Amstutz

Pictures by Tabitha Shipman

Albert Whitman & Company, 2017

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I love Applesauce Day!

Fall is my favorite time of year, when the apples, pumpkins, squash, and other great produce is harvested. I can’t wait to sink my greedy fingers into a box of apples or a trunk-load of pumpkins.

Applesauce Day takes me right into autumn. I can just imagine the fun and tradition of gathering with family to make large amounts of applesauce. What tastes better than homemade applesauce? Nothing! Ok, maybe homemade pumpkin pie or apple cake or pear tartes or . . .

This lovely picture book tells the tale of a family traveling from the big city to the orchards to pick apples and then to grandma’s house to put those apples to good use. What’s special about Applesauce Day is the family heirloom – the applesauce cooking pot. Family traditions and passed-down items are a passion of mine, so I immediately bonded with this tale.

I found Applesauce Day to be well written and beautifully illustrated. Flashbacks! I don’t know that I’ve seen other picture books with flashbacks, but the ones in this book are adorable.

Even though apple season is at an end, boxes of apples are still available. Go ahead. You know you want to read this book and make applesauce. Just imagine the scent of warm apples and cinnamon wafting through your home. See? I can smell it from here.

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Make Crock-Pot Applesauce

Ingredients:

apples, cinnamon, water

Directions:

1. Wash, peel, and core apples. Slice into wedges.

2. Put apples in Crock-Pot. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon. Add about 1/4 cup water.

3. Cover Crock-Pot with lid. Turn heat to high and let it simmer. Occasionally stir and check apples for tenderness.

4. When apples are soft and mushy, use a potato masher to mash the apples into sauce. I love chunks, so I don’t strain it.

5. Eat warm! Cool and put the rest in the fridge. Or freeze individual containers for later.

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I love making Crock-Pot Applesauce with my students every fall. Everyone brings 2 apples, no matter what variety, and we put them all together to cook. By the end of the day, everyone in the school wants what’s bubbling in our room!

I’d love to hear (and smell and taste) how your applesauce turns out!


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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

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We do love shopping at Trader Joe’s. Alas, the nearest location is over the river(s), through many woods, and on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass in Issaquah. Still, we visit regularly and stock up on favorites each time.

What do you do when hunger strikes, you live in an RV, and you want a quick dinner?

Soups’ on!

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Trader Joe’s Potsticker Kale Soup

Ingredients:

1 T. Butter

1 T. Olive oil

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 32-oz. Trader Joe’s Miso Ginger Broth

1 16-oz. Trader Joe’s frozen Pork Gyoza Potstickers

Approximately 4 cups chopped kale (see Trader Joe’s produce section)

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 bunch chopped green onions

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Directions:

1. In a large soup pot, sauté onions and garlic in butter and olive oil until carmelized.

2. Add broth. Pour a small amount of water in the carton, swirl to rinse, and add to pot. Stir and bring to a boil.

3. Add frozen potstickers, kale, and peas. Return to boil. Cook 4-5 minutes, gently boiling, until heated through and kale is wilted.

4. Ladle into bowls and top with chopped green onions. Makes 2-4 servings.

 

This was so yummy! Next time, I would add julienned carrots to the onion and garlic mixture. Ohhh, julienned red peppers would be great as well.

Super fast, fantastically delicious. Too bad there are no leftovers.


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Snow Cream

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Today is it, folks. At least for the Yakima Valley. Maybe.

Time to get out there and grab a bowl full of clean fresh snow before the rains hit tomorrow. Let’s make snow cream!

Snow Cream

  1. Fill a cereal bowl with clean snow. If you are doing this with kids, give them each a bowl to fill.
  2. To each bowl add about: 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. sugar, and enough 1/2 & 1/2 or milk to desired consistency. Mix with a spoon. This is very light sugar, as I don’t care for syrupy sweet stuff, but you can add more sugar if you want. This would also be great with fresh fruit.
  3. Eat, enjoy, repeat.

My mom used to make snow cream for us when I was a kid. I think she used to add eggs. But I’m not a big fan of raw eggs, and I was a kid. I could be way off base. Either way, no eggs.

Brain freeze!

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RV Cooking – Tater Tot Casserole Revisited

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Creamy tater tot casserole (without the tater tots)

Living in the RV, I am constantly challenged to adapt old recipes or create new combinations. With winter upon us, well literally in a few short days, plummeting temperatures – single digits next week! – care must be used when cooking in the electric skillet. As we creatively balance what can be plugged in, turned on, and vice versa in regards to heaters placed below the RV to maintain water flow, let me say the breakers have been tripped on a daily basis.

That being shared…here is a fun new way to make a classic.

RV Electric Skillet Tater Tot Casserole

(1 dish cooking)

Ingredients:

olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 carrots, diced

a small scoop of minced garlic

2-3 small potatoes, diced

1 lb. ground turkey

1 can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 head broccoli, cut into small florets

1/2 cup frozen peas

Mrs. Dash, about 1 T.

black pepper, about 1 tsp.

dried sage, about 1 tsp.

crushed peppers, optional

chicken broth

grated cheese, optional

 

Directions:

1. Add olive oil to electric skillet and heat it to about 250-300 degrees. I constantly adjust my temperature setting depending on speed of cooking, so play with your temps.

2. Add onions, garlic, and carrots. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and cook until browned.

3. Add potatoes, cream of chicken soup, 1 can of water, and 1 can of chicken broth. Note: I like my casserole creamy as opposed to thick. Add more broth as needed to taste.

4. Add black pepper, crumbled sage, Mrs. Dash, and crushed peppers to taste. We love spice, so I am heavy-handed with the peppers. Stir, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes. Stir often.

5. Add broccoli, beans, and peas. Adjust liquid content with broth, again to taste.

6. Cook until all ingredients are heated through and potatoes are soft, perhaps 5-10 minutes more.

7. Serve immediately with grated cheese.

 

There you have it. Tater Tot Casserole without the tater tots!