Thursday, July 31, 2014

Apricot Tart

With company in and some cooler temps and some fresh fruit- it was the perfect time to make a tart.  If you are expecting sweet - don't make this tart.  We like desserts that are lower in sugar (except my kids of course).  Sprinkle confectioners over top if you like.  We thought it was perfect.

We took a ride to Letchworth State Park.  It was a beautiful day for being at the park.  We have spent many a days picnicking there. Lots of reunions visiting there.  Days spent with my cousins in from out of the town exploring the area. Lots of dates (in my single days, of course) there at the park as well. It holds significant meaning there and fond memories. Here are a few pics of the beauty you can find there.

Apricot Tart
Adapted from this recipe at Tartelette.

6 to 10 apricots, pitted and halved

pastry crust:

1 1/2 cups flour
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1 to 2 tablespoons water

8 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup almond meal or ground almonds
2 eggs
1/4 cup half and half

In a processor or with a pastry blender combine flour and salt, stir.  Work in butter.  If using a processor drop by pats into the flour as the machine is running.  Add in egg yolks and then a couple tablespoons of water (or a little more, depending on the humidity in the air). As soon as the dough forms a ball turn off the processor.  Gather all into a ball and place in plastic wrap, form into a disc and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a couple days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll in between sheets of plastic wrap to make a large circular shape to fit your tart pan (or square, rectangle- whatever you have).  If dough should tear, repair with bits of dough from edges.

Pierce dough with fork tines repeatedly. Fill with beans or pie weights and bake in a 350 oven for fifteen minutes. Remove.

In a large bowl beat butter and honey, add in eggs one at a time.  Add in almond meal. Remove beaters and gently stir in half and half.

Arrange apricot halves over tart crust and then pour filling over top.  Bake in a 350 oven for 30 to 35 minutes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mexican Style Quinoa Bake

When life gives you leftovers, make Mexican food.  It's no joke.  I can hide a multitude of leftovers in a Mexican casserole.  Flavor it up with all those delicious Mexican flavors, throw in some chips, salsa and cheese and none of the people in my family even notice.  (Well, my one daughter did pick the peppers out of it- and that wasn't even the leftover part).  I did see this amazing recipe on Pinterest and said- dang, I pretty much have all of that in my fridge at this very moment.  You can find the inspiration recipe here at Half Baked Harvest and believe me, it is totally drool worthy. The only thing I was missing was some cheddar.  I decided just to use some feta because I had a lot of it.  Its not nearly as pretty as molten cheddar cheese.  But equally delicious.

Dip a chip into that top it with some pico de gallo and we were good to go.

Mexican Style Quinoa Bake

1 can of black beans
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tablespoon oil
2 onions, chopped
1 pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon taco seasonings
2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of cheese- cheddar is best but feta is nice too

Sauté onions, peppers and garlic in oil in a large skillet that you can throw in the oven (if you like).  Once translucent add in the remainder of ingredients except cheese. Cook until all ingredients are heated through.  Once combined sprinkle cheese over top.  Either place under a broiler or you can cover and the pan and it will melt nicely.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Radish Avocado Salad

Very simple, very easy. I am embarrassed to post this because it is so simple.  I just don't want to forget this idea come next summer. And I like to share it with you because that is why I visit blogs, to get ideas.  Not that I always do an exact replica, but it's all about ideas and sharing ideas.

Radish Avocado Salad

8 fresh radishes, chopped
1/2 of a Haas avocado, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon walnut oil
2 tablespoons grapefruit vinegar (one of my faves)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
s and p to taste

Mix together and enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dog Pill Hide Ems

My unsuspecting mutt. I kind of feel guilty, look at that face!

How do you get down a dog pill... undetected? See those three globs... "one of these things is not like the other, one these things just isn't the same" ( inserting Sesame Street here).

You see, my dog is no longer interested in taking her medicine.  I think they changed the formula.  Before the company had a quite a long hiatus my dog loved these things.  Now that this company is back in action she can not stand them.  I tried to give them to her in her food bowl, which before she would eat the tablet first, not now, she some how ate around it.  Like how do they do that?  They dont have fingers, they just eat with those big snouts and just how do they eat around something that is exactly the same size as the rest of the stuff in their bowl?  They're brilliant, I tell yah.

If I cover them with cheese then, by Joe, she will figure it out.  She will eat all the cheese and leave the pill lying on the floor, looking at it incredulously. Like how could I even think of giving her something like that to eat.

In comes peanut butter.  Her favorite.  I mean her favorite all time thing to eat! One time the kids and I did a taste test.  We put some peanut butter on the tile floor and a piece of meat.  We had bets on which one she would eat first.  She walked over to the meat, smelled it. Went to the peanut butter, ate it then promptly ate the meat as a chaser.  I won.   

Its becasue of this knowing that I had to try this tablet in peanut butter.  It worked.  Has worked many times since.  She is none the wiser.  I know some of you purists may balk at the use of wheat flour but I imagine it would work equally as well with oat flour or rice flour.

Pill Hide Ems

1 generous tablespoon peanut butter
1 equally generous tablespoon flour (your choice- rice, oats, wheat)

Stir together flour and peanut butter, mashing it out to mix it.  Make three balls, inserting the tablet into one.  Feed the dog a tablet free one just in case they decide to do an investigation.  This way if they check it out they will see it is just pure yum.  Give the tablet one next.  Usually my dog catches this one mid air because she already has realized its something yummy and since they look exactly the same way there is no need to do an investigation.

Then maybe you wonder if the dog is getting the pills total benefit if they do not chew.  I asked my vet that question and she said, yes, it is made to get absorbed fairly quickly.  It really doesn't matter for my dog though because there ain't no way in God's green earth that she would ever chew the thing anyway.

(Action shots of pill consumption, in a dimly lit kitchen, below.)

She's licking her lips, doesn't that say it all.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

What do you do when you have been running all day and don't know what to make for dinner?  Well, that is totally my plight in the summer.  Fortunately, on this particular day, I knew exactly what I was going to do when I looked in the fridge.  I had some grilled chicken, which by the way in the summer - is a totally great thing to have on hand.  Matter of fact I am going to grill up a bunch of chicken this week for quickie meals. I also had some greens that were given to us by some friends of my parents, some pita that was drying a bit... and bingo it came to me.
All this little wrap is- pita, rolled with some fresh greens, grilled chicken, blue cheese dressing and of course the all important Franks Red Hot Sauce (the regular one and no, this is not a paid endorsement). If you don't live in the USA then a hot, vinegary sauce will work equally as well.  It wont be like the original but it still will be darn good.
 Roll it together.
Thats a wrap!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spicy Korean Zucchini

Beautiful summer days.  I know some of you that like it hot-hot-hot are dissapointed so far this summer.  Not me.  Its a perfect summer for me. We have been going all kinds of places.  We recently went to a Civil War reinactment.  We went last year but it was so rainy- we were drenched and really unable to truly enjoy it. We decided to go again this year.  I had a blast.  This summer my husband was able to go so it was even better for me.  We also took along our friends daughter.  This makes my girls happy.

I have to share some pics of the day with you.  I love the feeling of going back in time.  So neat!

At a seemingly random turn from summer activities to food... I quite literally stumbled on this recipe from You Tube.  Here is a link to it.  Great tutorial.  

Korean Spicy Zucchini
Because I did not have the right kind of chili flakes for this recipe I adjusted to what I had in the house.  If you have the right kind, then you can follow her recipe to a "T".

1/2 of a guajillo chili (dried) pulsed in a spice grinder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 medium sized zucchini
3 green onions (chopped or sliced)
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon of salt ( for sweating the zucchini)
1 teaspoon of mirin (optional) (can substitute white wine if you like)

In a collander toss the zucchini with the salt.  Let sit for about 30 minutes- depends on the freshness of your zucchini).  You want the zucchini to be bendable.  Rinse with water.  Drain. Repeat.

Toss everything together but the mirin.  Sauté in a large frying pan until tender.  The picture below shows how I became a bit distracted and cooked it a bit too long. It still was delicious. Anyway, once the zucchini is tender, add the mirin.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Zucchini Ribbons

I bought a new kitchen toy- a zucchini ribbon maker- Pampered Chef. Since I love doing zucchini this way I was totally jazzed about buying it. 

  This is what the gadget looks like.  You can click here to go to the Pampered Chef web site.  I am not being paid to say any of this- just wanted to let you know about my new kitchen toy.

After you are done making your pretty ribbons.  Note: you could also use a vegetable peeler for long thin slices.  Toss with the dressing below.  Refreshing and delicious. You could add a little olive oil and arugula leaves as well.

Citrus and Herb DressingLargely adapted from this recipe from Shirl Cieutat, New Orleans, Louisiana, AUGUST 2004.

3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk together.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just Like The Boxed Stuff Granola Bars


Ask me what recipes I have tried like over and over again and I would have to say brownies, chocolate cake and granola Bars.  I have shared a lot of granola bar recipes on my blog. Here is my go to one.  Now, I shall share a new go to one. Mind you I will still make my old go to but this is a very nice change up.  Albeit a lot more butter...

Just Like The Boxed Stuff Granola Bars
You can halve this recipe and use a 9 x 13. It will be a longer baking time and the bars will be chewy.

5 cup quick oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a 22 x 16. Beat butter with brown sugar and salt. Add in the vanilla and honey until combined.  Add the remainder of ingredients. Press into a full sheet baking pan with clean damp hands.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Score the bars when they first come out of the oven then let them cool completely and then cut into bars. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sauteed Zucchini with Tzatziki

I love zucchini.  And you know it kind of makes my mother giggle to think about how much zucchini I consume.  And the family of course.  But I just love it.  It is so versatile. But alas, I have a sad fact to admit.  I can not grow the dang things.  Shiver me timbers, I have tried.  Really, I have tried.  Year after year.  I get lots of blooms and no fruit.  Is it a bee problem?  Is it a mold problem?  Do I have a black zucchini thumb?  You see I can grow other things.  I am not daft.  Not zucchini.  I get all kinds of jealous reading all these blogs that people have - oh-so-much-zucchini-that-they-dont-know-what-to-do-with-it-all.  Blessed be, what pray tell am I doing wrong?  Should I pollinate?  I dunno.

Can you tell I am pretty exasperated?

Anyway, thank God for Maier's Farm.  I buy there zucchini, all I can cook. I have found yet another delicious way to have zucchini.  This recipe reminds me a bit of the Mexican Calabacita recipe here, except it is Mediterranean style. Delicious.  Finger licking good.  If you don't have the za'tar- not to worry, it is still pretty amazing without it.  The za'tar just kicks it up a notch.
Now, if you have these type of things in your house because your Greek or like Greek food, then this recipe is pretty darn quick. I have to say, I totally enjoyed this dish and will make some more tasatziki just so I can have this again.

You see that book under the dish.  That is a reminder how I have had to pull my daughters teeth this summer to get her to read.  It has been, oh, so, challenging.  I don't want to forget how challenging it was this summer (so far).  Just so you know, never have a dragon over for tea.  He will catch your house on fire when he sneezes.

Funny, my other daughter, it is like pulling teeth to get her to STOP reading.  Hello, daughter, I am calling you.  Sirens could be going off and there she is with her face planted in her latest and greatest book.  I love it.  Yes, I love that she loves to read.  But, dang girl, can you hear me calling you when it is time to put the dishes away? (I already know the answer to that question.)

Zucchini with Tzatziki

3 zucchini's sliced into crescents
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups yogurt, Greek style
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
2 regular sized cucumbers (about 2 cups), shredded
2 tablespoons fresh dill

Shred the cucumbers and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Place in colander. The salt will pull moisture from the cucmbers.  Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Sauté onion and zucchini in olive oil.  Resist the urge to turn it.  Let it brown before you stir.  When you stir make sure you let it brown again.  If you keep stirring it, it will lose its shape and get all scraggly real quick.  The browning real makes the sweetness and flavor of the zucchini come out.  Add the garlic and cook at least one minute more.  (I find that if add the garlic in the beginning it just gets sticky so I wait until it is close to being done.)

Remove from heat, plate and place a dollop of tzatziki over top.  Sprinkle with za'tar. Stir it in on your plate and enjoy.
My tomatoes and herbs in this garden box.

My arugula- love this stuff!

My zucchini, yes I see I need to address the mildew-ish leaves.  I have my spray all ready.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


I am one spoiled margarita drinker.  Ask any of my family or friends who I have made margaritas for- they love them.  I am not saying this because I am boasting.  I say this because with the right ingredients, anyone can make a stellar margarita.  It takes some time and dedication to do it right.  Here are the keys to your margarita-licious success: limes (real limes), simple syrup, good tequila and Grand Marnier or Cointreau, salt on the rim and lots of ice. 

I can no longer order a Margarita from a restaurant anymore without first asking some questions about its origins.  If its sweet and sour mix- made-margarita, ick, yuck! I would rather have a beer.  Sweet and sour mix givens me a wicked sore throat.  Am I alone in this?  Does anyone else get a sore throat from sweet and sour mix?

Whenever you have extra limes and dont want to use them for whatever reason, juice them and freeze them in ice cube trays, this will make a very handy Margarita starter.


1 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed, not bottled
3 ounces tequila
1 ounce Grand Marnier
1 cup simple syrup
Kosher salt

Rub a lime around the rim of a Margarita glass.  Place a couple tablespoons of Kosher salt on a plate.  Dab the rim in the salt, circling the glass so that you coat the entire rim with salt.  Alternately, if you have frozen lime juice, like I did here- use a dab of simple syrup around the perimeter of the glass.  Set glasses aside.

In a blender, mix the remainder of the ingredients together. Add the ice as desired. If you don't want it frozen just do it the usual way, shaking it up. Pour into prepared glasses.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Ice Cream Cake

At the end of school I usually make the kids some special treat to mark the day that school ends and summer begins.  (Yes, I am way behind posting this.) This was the quick and easy ticket! They agreed.
Grab your 9 x 13, lay your ice cream down, smoothing it out the best you can.  Chop up some chocolate cookies or use chocolate rice cereal or do like I did and chop up some granola bars into little pieces and sprinkle over top.I found after a while that a icing knife is a great way to smooth it out.
Lay down your next layer- I used vanilla.  Make it smooth. Then for a final layer, use whipped cream (like I did) or use non dairy whip creamer. Decorate with sprinkles or cherries. Or whatever your little heart desires.  Pop it in the freezer.

My husband bought my one daughter roses to celebrate her winning an award at her "Moving Up" ceremony. We are so very proud.  She went from struggling to read and write to being an avid reader and a darn good story writer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cinnamon Bars

Summer is full-on at our house.  Running around like a banchee, keeping the kids occupied so there is less fighting, doing chores at any moment we are home because the place looks like a cyclone hit it, freezing, preserving and canning at every opportunity I can because Harvest time is always fleeting and time is precious in the summer.  Dealing with some family health issues has also shortened my home time too.  At this moment I am pretty jazzed to have a moment to blog.

As if the last cinnamon bars were not good enough I had to make some again.  This time using a different recipe.  

I saw some similar bars on Pinterest.  They looked so good.  But I read that some people that they were oh so sweet so I changed it up a bit.  I am totally happy with the results. 

I just want to say I LOVE these bars.  Yes, I like the last ones too but these bars are less sweet and they have that melt in your mouth effect.

Cinnamon Bars

When I measure the brown sugar, I dip into the jar with my measuring cup and have it heaping then I press it against the side of the container.  So it isn't loose but it isn't really packed either.  I guess next time I make this I will weigh it for a more accurate amount.

2 3/4 cups flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 generous teaspoon of cinnamon
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

cinnamon sugar topping:
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9 x 13 pan.

Mix dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a large bowl beat butter and brown sugar together.  Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla.  Stir in dry ingredients. Spread into prepared 9 x 13 pan. Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.