Crema

noticing joy on the surface of simple things … the evidence of holiness happening in the daily grind.

Pizza Floats August 24, 2014

I have an issue with getting started.  Its just plain hard to get going on anything.  My issues shows up first thing in the morning; getting out of bed; putting on my swimsuit to do laps; getting all the necessary car paraphernalia together to go somewhere; sitting down to write something; dialing a phone to call a friend; the full list would bore you.  So today it was not a surprise that it was hard to get myself going EVEN to go kayaking with the hubby.  I normally overcome the getting started issue and did today – thankfully.   This morning paddle was a chance for exercise, enjoyment, and fear facing.

 

And I found out that pizza floats.

 

Calvin the dog and I mutually enjoy one anothers company.  He made it clear that he would like to be with me on the kayak.  So, he got strapped into the a dog life vest I recently purchased.  Don’t laugh – today it did just what I needed it to do.

Before the hubby was seated on his kayak, Calvin fell/slid/losthisbalance/jumped out of the boat.   Know that I am not afraid of the ocean, but am afraid of this sting-ray, big fish, gigantic iguana infested intracoastal water.  For the dog, I am afraid of not getting him back in the kayak, and that he might swim away from me in front of another boat or too close to the razor sharp barnacles.  Reasonable Fear.

Calvin went out of the boat twice (the second time followed the pizza sighting).    We did not capsize.  I did not go in.  The handle on top of the dog life vest made it possible for me to pull his soggy 80 lb body onto the kayak.  I Am No Longer Afraid…to kayak with the lab…who whined the entire ride.   I now know if he ends up in the intracoastal, I don’t have to join him.

Halfway through our mostly delightful yak paddle, we came upon a large slice of pepperoni.  Pizza Was Floating, I never wondered before if pizza floats, but I am here to let you readers know – it does.  Pass it on.  Eat it, throw it away, but please don’t put it in the ocean. Yuck.

Dinner tonight – Pizza.  My Adie-foodie-friend shared this recipe via her son who prepared it for her.  It apparently has the WOW factor.  Looks simple enough to make.  I make my own pizza crust because its yummy, easy, & inexpensive.  No special recipe for that part.  Here is the  recipe for Malaysian Chicken Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons natural-style chunky peanut butter
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (12-inch) Basic Pizza Crust
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 500°.

2. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; stir well with a whisk.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.

4. Pour rice vinegar mixture into pan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook 6 minutes or until slightly thickened. Return chicken to pan; cook 1 minute or until chicken is done. (Mixture will be consistency of thick syrup.)

5. Sprinkle cheeses over prepared Basic Pizza Crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with chicken mixture. Bake at 500° on bottom oven rack for 12 minutes or until crust is golden. Sprinkle with green onions. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Note:  This recipe originally ran in Cooking Light September/October, 1991 and was updated for the November, 2012 25th anniversary issue.

(more…)

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Summer Yum – Just Liquid July 2, 2014

Keepin it real…

Last week, the hubby had  24 hours of a ‘just liquid’ diet.  This was preparation for a middle-age event the following day.  No more explanation needed for folks over 50. We perused the suggested liquid food options, most of them sweet, and set up a plan for the day…night…middle of the night..  Dinner was a large bowl of turkey broth that had been waiting in the freezer since last thanksgiving.  The hubby declared, “This is so good.  Thank you dear.”  EASIEST meal I’ve made in all our married life.

Keepin it green…

Months ago, we added the Vitamix to our kitchen counter.  It has been a source of great joy and delicious liquids.  The number one liquid Vitamix makes at our house is green smoothies.  The other color smoothies IntaJuice, Jamba Juice , etc make are delicious, but we have grown to love the green fruit/veggie breakfast made in our home.  I will admit, I’m not a fan of the brown smoothie.  It looks like p__p.  If I close my eyes, it tastes fine, but the color turns me off.  Red and purple fruit plus green veggies equal brown smoothie.  No thanks.

We’ve experimented and tested a long list of recipes and suggestions.  Below is our favorite liquid green breakfast (with options!)

Going Green Smoothie (SAVOR recipe book from Vitamix; pg 37)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup green grapes (i keep mine in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks (I buy fresh, which is in abundance here, and freeze chunks)
  • 1/2 medium banana (i also freeze these, but fresh works too)
  • 2 cups lightly packed spinach
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes

NOTE:  if using frozen pineapple, omit the ice cubes

NOTES from Laura: I use mostly frozen fruit because then it takes seconds to throw together.

  1. Mangoes are overflowing here and I often use in places of the grapes or 1/2 mango, 1/2 pineapple.
  2. I substitute kale for spinach or use 1/2 and 1/2.
  3. Also – to keep it simple, I use the Vitamix to blend my spinach or kale with a bit of water, pour into ice cube trays and use those in my smoothies.
  4. This recipe makes 2 tall glasses.  I drink one, pour the other in a glass and JR takes it the next morning.  Just needs a quick stir and tastes great.
  5. I do often add chia seeds, flax seeds, or a little protein powder on occasion.  But the recipe as is – just perfect!

Let me know if you try this green liquid for the first time!  And feel free to share your favorite summer liquid breakfasts.

 

 

Summer Yum June 30, 2014

We’ve crossed the official starting line of summer.  Though South Florida is close to perpetual summer,  there are still specific summer elements that happen even here.

It’s hotter.

It’s humider.

We get to spend time with Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they are not in school.  Though they are working, so we don’t get ALL summer.

We get to see friends who are on vacation.

We get vacation.

I bought 2 new sundresses.  Well, the dresses are not completely related to summer.  See when you really enter the middle part of your life, there are certain changes your body has decidedly embraced.  Those changes, plus the fact it is perpetual summer here,  have influenced the style of  clothing I find myself choosing.  Shorts are functional for power walking the dog, yoga, cleaning the house.  But with leg skin that could use some ironing, skirts are my new shorts.  On the occasion I go out in public, capris were acceptable options until real summer showed up.  I might as well wrap my legs in Saran – for capris are capable of turning me into one hot drippy momma.  Enter – the Sundress.  Thing One, designated fashion police in our house, went shopping with me and I returned home with properly mid-life-bodystyle-fitting sundresses.

Pool parties.  I do so appreciate the pool in our little neighborhood.  It sits on a wide part of the intracoastal, one mile from the inlet.  It provides a place to swim laps, cool off, boat watch, and enjoy friends – especially friends with kids!  Water makes everyone hungry.   There must be snacks.  In an middle-of-life-eating-change, we are opting for a little less; sugar, fat, meat, junk, amount on our plate.  Food is my love language,  thus making and serving patio party snacks important.  I’m always on the lookout for both yummy and on the good-for-you list recipes.  I found this Spicy Black Bean Hummus (from Maureen Redmond, Easley, SC; in Cooking Light magazine, 2009) when wandering through older magazines a few months ago.  After the first taste – it became a “keeper.”

I’m sharing this summer yum with others who gather people around pools, lakes, oceans, or  backyard sprinklers and want to feed their hungry swimmers.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 2 Tlb fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tlb tahini
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Dash of ground red pepper

Place garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped.  Add lemon juice, tahini, cumin, salt, black beans, jalapeño, and crushed red pepper; process until smooth.  Spoon bean mixture into a medium bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with ground red pepper.  Serve with pita chips, pretzels, carrots, sliced peppers, sugar snap peas.

(or if you are the owner of a Vitamix, throw all ingredients in and blend!)

Let me know if you and your people like it.  Feel free to pass on your summer snack “keepers!”

 

Day 25: Help My Heart November 1, 2013

Final Button 3First of all, I know that it is not October 25th today.  It is the 31st, but I am finishing my challenge of 31 days even if I spill into November.  This is Grace to me and bending the un-stone-like rules.  I had to pause for travels in soup country where the colors were brilliant and the weather required shoes AND socks every day.  And yes, I did eat Reuben soup at Russ’ restaurant. I was unable to get a recipe from them, but found one online by Taste of Home.  One reader said this recipe reminded her of Russ’ so it might be worth a try.

Celebration and food making happened in soup country, including  cooking with college kids and nearly failed chili, but more on that another day.

I’ve been stressed to the point my chest hurts.  It may be due in part to trying to keep up with all the people, paperwork, decision-making and deadlines required to buy property in South Florida.   Add a dose of worry about friends and family who are working through illness and recovery; a dollop of slow re-entry; a dashed hope of Thanksgiving in MN and a bit of being plain old tired and crabby.  On top of chest pain, some organ of mine under the ribs, twitched all day.  Deep breathing helped.  A long walk and a long night of sleep helped.  Holding my baby friend Emma today helped.  Prayer helped and so did food.

Last night I made a new cookie recipe, put a new chicken recipe in the crockpot and pulled out the rice cooker for my favorite short grain rice.  I chopped up a wok full of fresh veggies from The Boys.   Today I use many of my thinking moments deciding what I want to make for a One Year Celebration meal tomorrow night.  Food thoughts displace stress with anticipation.  Food’s preparation and planning are positively distracting and that helps my heart.

Less stressed thoughts are that no one is being mean or unreasonable and its ok if we close on the 7th or 8th or the 10th.  Calm thinking allows me to boldly bring my family, my friends near and far to the Throne Room and I’m reminded I am not God, but God is in charge and He is good.  This helps my heart.

Whilst I wax thoughtfully, I shall include that this month of putting  words about the love language of food on virtual paper has also helped my heart.  Now, off to feed the dog (he just reminded me that it’s 5:03, just 3 min late for dinner), and make Massaman Curry for the first time, with my planned over chicken from last night.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Interview with Mother Mary.”  I can hardly wait to share!

PS…opening this out of the blue gift from Tammy P. last night also helped my heart.  A reminder that when you cook tasty food, you will also dry the cooking dishes and that is part of the love.

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Day 22: Comfort Food October 23, 2013

Final Button 3“You must go to bed and rest” said the doctor, many many years ago.

How many days in my life have I longed for someone to tell me I had to go to bed and rest, just for a day or two. This edict long ago, was the requirement for the rest of my pregnancy.  I was only 20 weeks along.  I was headed to bed for a LONG winters nap.  A friend from church called  to see if she could set up a schedule of people to come and help out.  My response:  “O thanks so much but we are going to be just fine, really.”

This was the reality of my bed time – less like rest, more like jail.  I was allowed to get up to go to the bathroom which was steps from my bed.  I was allowed a shower or two – quick ones – each week.  That was it.  There would be no walking up and down the stairs.  Walking the dog, emptying the dishwasher, even standing to pour a glass of waters was out of the question.  There would be NO COOKING.  Sure, “we” were going to be just fine.  HA!  I was young, inexperienced, a little stupid, certainly unrealistic and fiercely independent.  Until…Mother Mary said these life changing words:   “Laura, think about what you would do if you’re friend was sent to bed for a long time.  You would want to help.  When you say no, you take away the opportunity for people to be a blessing.”  Who want’s to take something away from someone?  I called her back with a different heart and answer.

My jailbed became a sweet spot for friend time, visits from the scheduled people, small group gatherings,  and the christmas tree.  I met another lover of old musicals and we watched them while eating pb&j.   One lady would bring her handsewing, being productive while she visited.  The dog got let out, the dishes put away, the fridge filled up, and JR could still work at his job!  We would not have been just fine without people blessing.

When I hear of someone laid up, down and out, having a baby or a rough season of life I always think food is something I can do.  I can’t fix broken bones or broken hearts, and I know how impossible it is for new parents to do much beyond take care of a tiny human who needs everything all the time from them.  What I can do is find out what they like and don’t like, will and won’t eat and what’s the best time for drop off.  Then I go to the recipe books and look for my best Comfort Food.

Comfort Food recipes are often the very ones someone brought me once upon a time.  When you come home from the hospital and there is a beef brisket, a bowl of coleslaw, and a pan of brownies on your porch waiting for you, they are the very best brownies you’ve ever had, 5 star coleslaw, and brisket that ought to be served in heaven.  Comfort Food has superpowered deliciousness.  That is why you ask for the recipe.  If recovering from a surgically fixed something you may make that recipe in the near future.  If you come home with two tiny humans, the reproducing of delicious food will happen some day not soon.

Brother Jim is also bilingual:  english and food.  He has a killer special recipe burger named after him, the Jimburger.   It’s worth every single calorie of your day.  I’ve never left his home hungry as his wife can cook like The Pioneer Woman.  We are so loved when we are with them!  Yet, when I, his sister, returned home from surgery hungry for only one thing, he was able to put aside his mad grill skills and show up on the doorstep with a large, Strawberry hand scooped real ice cream shake, topped with whipped cream and cherry.  Comfort food specific…thanks Brother Jim.  (I never told you this Brother, but that act of kindness erased your debt for the not kind gift of black roses on my 40th birthday!  You were finally forgiven…Just keepin it real man.)

Even if your love language isn’t food, it still is a simple, practical, doable way to do something when you hear of a need.  Cheese and crackers, a platter of fresh fruit,  take and bake pizza, Thai take out, or Costco roasted chicken all work real well.    That little kindness in your world goes for miles in the world of someone in need of comfort food.

I’ll share the number one recipe of my Comfort Food list and take this moment to say thank you from the bottom of my toes to the tip of my noggin to anyone who ever brought our family food.  You are a blessing.  Glad I said yes.

Chicken Pot Pie (a la Pat J)

  • 2 cans cream of potato soup
  • 1 16 oz bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 cups cooked diced chicken (or turkey)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 – 9 inch pie crusts 
  • S & P

Directions:

Combine first 6  ingredients.  Place one crust in pie pan.  Spoon filling into prepared pie crust.  Cover with top crust and seal top and bottom crusts together.  Slit top crust.  Bake at 375 degrees about 60 minutes.

Now, go and be a blessing!

 

Day 14: Newspaper Recipes October 15, 2013

Ahhhh…memories of our corner kitchen table.  Upholstered orange and brown benches ran along 2 sides, mom and dad had spinning chairs that were on the other sides.  It was a comfortable  place you would sit and stay awhile.  Unless you got stuck in the corner.  The table at breakfast time had people coming and going.  Mother Mary was and is a lover of early morning so we had homemade muffins, pancakes, eggs, or bread-pudding for breakfast.   Sometimes we had cold cereal or toast but I never remember needing to figure out what to eat.  Dinner time our whole gang sat and shared something home-cooked by Mother Mary.  It is a rare meal that we didn’t care for.  Certain vegetables of course didn’t get the thumbs up, but we ate the required amount because there was always dessert.

On regular occasions a newspaper recipe would surface.  Those didn’t always go well.  If we were told Mother Mary was trying out a newspaper recipe, us rascally kids would make each other try it first and let the rest know if it was safe to eat.  There may have been a time or two the feedback was not shared with kindness.

Sorry mom.

Newspaper recipes have shown up on my personal family dinner table for over 20 years.  However, the main recipe finder has been my hubby.  When living in Boulder CO, the Daily Camera had a weekly section where people would write in for a “Recipe Request” from a local restaurant.  JR cut out a lot of those.  When I would make them, our family voted either: “it’s a keeper” or “you don’t need to make that again.”

Tonight I want to share 2 of my long time favorite recipe requests from The Daily Camera.  These are from restaurants who have stood the test of time and Boulderites are well acquainted with. The first is Turley’s Tomato Parmesan Soup.  Even if we would go to this place for breakfast, I would order a cup of Tomato Parmesan soup because its that good.  It’s also simple to put together!   Just made a batch this past week.  The original recipe is restaurant quantity so I have cut it in half.  I will include the original amounts at the end if you love it and want to make it for a crowd.   Otherwise, this makes about a 5 qt potful.  We had it for 2 meals, I shared with 2 people and still have a bit left over!

Turley’s Tomato Parmesan Soup:  ‘hot, steamy, creamy’ (that’s what the newspaper headline said!  I’ve had this since January 12, 2000)

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground rosemary ( I have substituted tarragon or thyme if I’m out of rosemary)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 32 oz vegetable stock
  • 1/8 cup Maggi Seasoning
  • 2 – 32 oz cans diced tomatoes ( I can only find 28 oz cans…so I add a whole fresh tomato cut up as well)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Directions:  In a large soup kettle, saute onions, rosemary, and black pepper in butter.  Add flour, vegetable stock and Maggi.  Whisk until smooth and bring to a boil.  Add diced tomatoes and bring to a boil again. Keep stirring.  Add Parmesan cheese and whipping cream and remove from heat.  (DON’T BOIL ONCE YOU PUT IN THE CREAM – NOT WHEN YOU REHEAT EITHER!)    Stir and serve.

The second recipe comes from Walnut Brewery.  It has 2 parts – the dip and the dipping vehicle.  Go for both…

Walnut Brewery’s Beer Bread (the paper I have says Wednesday, October 18, 1995!)

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup green onions, sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tlb salt
  • 32 oz beer
  • 8 cups flour
  • 2 Tlb baking powder
  •  oil as needed

Directions:  Spray loaf pans.  Mix cheese, green onions, sugar and salt together.  Mix flour and baking powder together.  Add beer to cheese mixture.  Add flour mixture until all thoroughly combined (by hand).  Place in loaf pans and brush tops with oil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Rotate bread and finish baking for 40-45 minutes.  Makes 2 large loaves.    You can slice and toast under the broiler, then cut into strips for dippin – though you don’t have to!

Walnut Brewery’s Asiago Cheese Dip

  • 1 cup Best Food mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tlb shredded Asiago cheese
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, dried
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced

Directions:  Reconstitute sun-dried tomatoes in hot water. Combine the rest of the ingredients.   After tomatoes have soaked, squeeze all the water out of them, julienne into fine strips and stir into dip.  Place into oven proof container.  Top with remaining 1 Tlb Asiago cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until bubbly, serve immediately with toasted (or not toasted) beer bread.

Have people over – love them and serve them this tasty food.  

p.s.: original amounts for the soup, just to make it easy for ya.

  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/4 tsp ground rosemary
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 gallon vegetable stock (64 oz)
  • 1/4 cup Maggi Seasoning
  • 4 – 32 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 cups whipping cream.
 

Day 9: Come and Get It October 10, 2013

Final Button 3I am zealous about sharing great recipes.  One of the positive results of the move to South  Florida is all the time I have to cook.  That includes trying new recipes and reviving old ones.

Last night I made a fantastic crock pot meal that I simply have to pass on.  Credit goes to RealSimple magazine, May edition.  But I made a few simple changes.   Here’s why I loved it:

  • You can make it with your eyes closed….almost…well it really is easy peasy lemon squeezy.
  • It is healthy.
  • It is vegetarian – but a hearty main dish.  However, if you are married to a wholehearted meatatarian, he will most likely suggest a side of meatballs as mine did.  Not because the recipe needs it – because his DMA (the meat gene) needs it.
  • Crockpots act like food fairies who cook for you.  I am in love with mine.

Here it is:  Baked Spinach and Mushroom Rigatoni.

Hands on time 15 min (if you’re slow)/Total time:  4 hours 15 min/Serves 6 – per the magazine.   They didn’t actually say ‘if you’re slow.’   And it’s ok to be slow.

  • 1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes  (I used crushed)
  • 2 Tlb olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (more…)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1/2 pound rigatoni
  • 1 red onion sliced
  • 1 pound mixed mushrooms trimmed and sliced (I used baby Portobello, hoping to satisfy the meatatarian’s  need for at least meat-like texture).  The magazine suggests cremini, button, and shiitake.
  • 2 10 oz packages frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid.  (FRESH is best!  I used 2-3 handfuls per layer.  Plus, who in the world likes squeezing spinach?)
  • 1 15 oz container ricotta
  • 8 oz mozzarella, grated.
  • My addition:  red pepper flakes and italian seasoning for the top.

My Instructions:  

MIx tomatoes with garlic and olive oil.  Pour 1/3rd of it in the bottom of the crock pot.

Then layer in this order:  1/2 the pasta, 1/2 the onion, mushrooms, spinach.  Another 1/3rd of tomatoes.  1/2 Ricotta (plop on in spoonfuls, and spread a bit if you want to) and 1/2 the mozzarella.   Repeat.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and italian seasoning.    Cover and cook on HIGH for 31/2 to 4 hours.

Tell your people…”come and get it.”

ps:  Their instructions:

Break up the tomatoes and their juices in a medium bowl with your hands or a potato masher.  Add the oil, garlic, 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the uncooked rigatoni, onion, and mushrooms.

Spread a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a 4-6 quart slow cooker.  Top with half the pasta mixture, half the spinach, a third of the tomato mixture, half the ricotta, and half the mozzarella; repeat.  Cover and cook on high until the pasta is tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.   Serve with parmesan.

 

 
followingthewatershed

wa·ter·shed (noun) 1. an area or ridge of land that separates waters flowing to different rivers, basins, or seas. 2. an event or period marking a turning point, a change of course.

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