Tomato & Cucumber Salad with Queso Blanco & Basil

Super simple salad with most of the ingredients right out of your own garden.  Pair with grilled chicken to make this a super low calorie dinner.

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1 English cucumber (thinly Sliced)

Cherry Tomatoes, halved

1 bunch scallions

1 tsp salt

fresh pepper

1 tsp sugar

2 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tbs olive oil

1/2 lb Queso Blanco

fresh basil leaves

Instructions

Wash chop and prep all of the veggies.

Toss in a small bowl with salt and pepper adding the  olive oil and vinegar.

Garnish with the cubed cheese and basil leaves.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Sangria Season

In our house, Sangria doesn’t have a season.  We drink this fruity concoction whenever we want to celebrate absolutely anything.  But with summer at its peak we cant help but make a cold, sweaty pitcher at least twice a week.  I’ll share my recipe so you too can enjoy a glass.

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Ingredients

1 Cup Strawberry’s, quartered

1 Cup Red Grapes

1 Red Delicious Apple, Chopped

1 Cup Fresh Pineapple Chunks

1 Fresh Guayaba ,pink flesh, peeled & quartered

1/2 Cup  granulate sugar

3/4 Cup Brandy (preferably Felipe Segundo)

1/2 Cup Triple Sec

1 liter Carlo Rosi Burgundy wine

1/2 Cup Orange Juice

2 Cups ice

12 oz 7 UP (or any lemon lime soda)

 

Serves 4

1.  In a large sangria pitcher, add all of the fruit, sugar and liquors.         With a wooden spoon, mix and crush the fruit a bit to masterate.   Add     the wine and orange juice, mix well.

2. At this point if you want to add ice to the pitcher, do so.  I only add         ice to the pitcher if I’m serving the entire thing right away to                   prevent it from getting watery.   I like to add the ice to the                       individual glasses instead.

3. Top off with soda, but only stir once softly.

4.  Serve & Enjoy

 

* Guayaba is a tropical fruit that is not easy to find.  It can be substituted with white flesh guayaba  or omitted altogether.

5 Degrees + Frozen Pipes + Home Full of Children = Waffle Day

Today is most definitely a Waffle Day.

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Ingredients

2 1/4 C. bread flour

1/2 C. Masa flour (Maseca)

1 1/2 Tbs baking powder

1/4 C. granulated sugar

1 tsp salt

2 eggs (slightly beaten)

1/2 C. corn oil (or canola)

2 1/2 cups  milk

 

Begin by heating your waffle iron. (I use a Belgian waffle iron that’s older than the wind but any should do)

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Start adding all wet ingredients but do not mix or stir until all 3 have been added. With a large spoon, mix until well combined but do not over mix or beat roughly as this will make a tough, doughy waffle. Grease waffle iron with butter (top & bottom) and pour about 2/3 C. or so* of batter onto griddle, close and cook until steam stops.

Garnish with butter and syrup (I like lots) & Enjoy!

 

Best Crumb Cake Ever

I PROMISE YOU WILL LOVE THIS CRUMB CAKE!!

It’s made with a delicate combination of the best and easiest basic yellow cake recipe I’ve ever made, along with a perfect crumb topping.  The cake is  fluffy, soft and just so delicious! Basic ingredients, no fancy equipment and super easy.  Honestly, I even think My BFF Marge (who has a severe allergy to the kitchen) can pull this off.   The recipe indicates that a stand mixer is recommended BUT I used my handy 19 year old hand mixer and it worked out just fine.  Try to think back to the times when these fancy mixers didn’t even exist and everything was done by hand.  Cakes and breads were still baked and nobody died.

I used my favorite cake recipe that was featured in Shanna Mallon’s blog foodloveswriting.com, but the recipe was actually Created by Chef Cathal Armstrong, owner of Restaurant’s Eve,  a restaurant in Alexandria, Virginia.

I’ve adapted the crumb topping from my friend Beth who got it from someone who I’m sure got it from someone.  Her original Crumb Cake recipe used boxed cake mix but I wanted something a bit more original and decided to use Restaurant Eve’s Cake with Beth’s topping.   So with that being said, I had to tweak the instructions a bit to make it work since boxed cake mix is denser and harder and this cake has a personality of its own.  The cake is light and fluffy where the topping is thick and heavy so timing is everything.  The cake recipe below is for an actual cake, not a Crumb Cake so I have added steps (1-5) to make the instructions for the Crumb Cake a bit more clear.  The text in Italic is what we will be changing for the crumb cake.  A bit confusing but please, bear with me here!

 Best Crumb Cake Ever

2 Cups unsalted butter (4 sticks)

4 Cups all purpose flour

1 1/3 C granulated sugar

4 tsp cinnamon

3 tsp vanilla extract

 

  1.  Start by making the cake batter (Steps 1-4).   But instead of baking the cakes in two 9″ cake pans, I suggest using one 16 x 12 inch or two 12 x 9 inch pans.  The idea is to have very thin cake so that your crumb topping does not fall through the batter.
  2. Bake your cake at 350° for 19  minutes or until the center is no longer liquid but not fully cooked either.  (Make your crumb topping during these 19 minutes).
  3. Make topping. In a large bowl Melt the butter and to it, add the flour, sugar,  cinnamon and vanilla.  Mix well until all the butter is absorbed.  Use a pastry cutter to break up large pieces if necessary or just your fingers.
  4. Remove the cake from the oven and quickly spread the crumb topping to your cake.  If the top of the cake cools, the topping will not stick.  Return the cake to the oven and bake an additional 19 minutes.
  5. Let cool and douse with confectioners sugar.  Enjoy!
First Trial Cake

First Trial Cake

 


Basic Yellow cake

Ingredients:

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus additional to grease pans
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk (may substitute low-fat or nonfat)

Directions:

Step 1        Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Step 2:       Melt butter and let it cool to room temperature.

Step 3:       Combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in the large bowl of a stand mixer (A stand mixer is preferable for this recipe, though a hand-held electric mixer may  be used.) On medium speed, add the butter, incorporating in several additions.  Beat for about 2 minutes, or until combined; the texture should resemble  cornmeal.

Step 4:         In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Add to the flour butter mixture in two batches (scraping the bowl once), and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, or until smooth.

Step 5:          Distribute the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Remove cakes from pans to cool completely. Frost the cake. It can stand at room temperature for 1 hour; otherwise, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

What a Week!

On Sunday I made Cedar shutters. (with hubby’s help)

 

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On Tuesday night I  made a fabulous Chicken Cordon Blue.

On Wednesday I did a photo shoot for my neighbor and her baby Braydon.

Baby Braydon

On Thursday I finished stripping and sanding a dresser and primed it.

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On Friday I made 3 dozen chocolate covered strawberry’s and 64 of these amazing chocolate covered Strawberry Cheesecake cupcakes.

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 I even pulled off this spinach pie for dinner!  It was amazing!!

What a week!!

Club W

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Just received my very first Club W wine delivery.  After much time of contemplating on whether to start on one of the many wine clubs available, this one finally convinced me.  I love trying different wines from different regions but I’m always so skeptical about making choices when wandering through my local wine shop.  Club W offer small batch wines from all over the world at $13/bottle (curators choice up to $23) plus $6 flat rate shipping.  For the winter we are getting here in New York, the $6 shipping sold me.
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In January new customers were offered 50% off of their first order so I got 3 bottles for a total $27.16 including the shipping!!!!  What a freaking bargain!  Each bottle comes carefully packaged with it’s own descriptive recipe card.  You can skip a month or cancel altogether at anytime.   Use this special link to get one free bottle on them just for trying them out.  So what’s there lose?  Give it a try!

 

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Be Warm With Wool Winter Wreath

 

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Being a yarn snob is not easy.   I am gifted so many skeins of acrylic yarn from family and friends who mean well but don’t understand the term “natural fiber” and continue to load me up with those all of this itchy, squeaky, mass produced balls of string.  After seeing this Be Warm Winter Pom Pom Wreath by Cindy at littlemisscelebration.com, I decided it was finally time to put them to good use.  I made balls of yarn rather than Pom Poms simply because it reflects me more appropriately.

Right after the holiday I had found this wreath on clearance at Home Depot for a mere $10.  I LOVE burlap anything so I knew right away I could do something with it.

$10 Home Depot Christmas Clearance Wreath

$10 Home Depot Christmas Clearance Wreath

Now from my experience making wreaths, I tend to stay away from foam base forms simply because they crack and fall apart very easily.  Unfortunately, this one had a foam base so rather than using floral wire and  greening pins like I would normally, I used safety pins and a stapler to attach things to the actual burlap rather than to the base. I only used the safety pins to bast the burlap ribbon until  I decided exactly how I wanted it to lay, then stapled it down to the burlap.

Supplies used to attach notions to bulap

Supplies used to attach notions to burlap

The balls of yarn were tied to the base with the yarn itself.   Mini Chalkboard, burlap ribbon and knitting needles were purchased from Michael’s Art’s & Crafts Supply and the mitten has been laying around, patiently waiting for its partner to surface, so I put it to good use in the mean time.

All together the wreath cost about a whopping $35.00    This is a steal considering I average about $100 on supplies when making a wreath.  Gotta love it!!