Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday

This weeks inspiration word is LOVE. What comes to mind when I see this word is the phase ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! Isn't that a Beatles song? Doesn't that say it all? With love in your life everything seems okay.

When you say you love something, whether it be a flower, favorite movie, song, etc, it's makes you feel good. When someone says they love you it can make you smile and feel special.

Such for such a simple word, why not say it everyday!

What word inspired you this week?

Monday, March 22, 2010

What's cookin this week? Calling all Garlic lovers...

Help! Didn't cook meals for the week, so will be cookin on the run this week. Luckily today's meal was covered because I had a Southwestern Meatloaf frozen, that I made a few weeks ago. I planned ahead and made two so I would have backup on those weekends that I just don't feel like meal preparations.

Tonight when I got home from work, dinner was already cooked in the oven! Did I mention having an oven that allows you to set a timer so when you get home from a long day, the house smells amazing and dinner is ready to be served. I love that feature and would not be able to get those meals cooked without it!

So once I returned from dropping my daughter off at dance for the night, I returned to the kitchen to cook tomorrows meal. I am trying another new recipe "Chicken with 40 cloves of Garlic" from one of my favorite books " Barefoot in Paris" by Ina Garten.

Doesn't this look delicious so far..... Wish you could smell my house. It's making me hungry and I already ate dinner.

Sorry, I will have to tell you how it taste tomorrow and if it made the cut to return to our table for an encore!

Here is the recipe for those wanting to try a different Chicken recipe.

"Chicken with 40 cloves of Garlic"
3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.
Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs or a spatula; you don't want to pierce the skin with a fork. If the fat is burning, turn the heat down to medium. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.
Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

PS. Mom, I made way to much, I will make a doggie bag for you and Dad.

Bon Appetite!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pasta, Passion and Pistols Dinner Party

Have you ever hosted a Murder Mystery dinner party before? Last night I hosted a dinner party that was the scene of a Murder that had taken place a Pepe's Italian restaurant. Pepe's family all came in for the funeral and met up at his restaurant(my house) before his funeral. Everyone acted out one of the family members and friends to try and determine which one of us was actually the one who murdered Pepe. I played Mama Rosa, Pepe's widow. It was lots of fun learning about your character as your part is unveiled by clues and story lines. Everyone enjoyed a beautiful evening of food, wine and friends.

The weather cooperated so I was able to have the dinner outside under.

My table was made up like an Italian restaurant. We had Italian dinner music playing in the background.

This was my menu.

Doesn't this dessert look refreshing. The strawberries are in season and sweeter then ever!

If you have never hosted one of these parties, I highly recommend it. Lots of fun and laughter!!

Now on to my Sunday, week in review. As you can see looks like we didn't do very much this week. Work has been beating me up lately where I haven't even wanted to go to the gym. So the few pounds I did lose, I am sure they are right back where they started, on the hips!!
Glad the week is over, today I did absolutely nothing for a change. Can't handle those late nights and wine like I use to! Before I retire for the night here is our week in review photos!

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's cookin this week?

This weekend the meal planning and preparation for the week just went out the window, because I couldn't resist spending time with my family instead of cookin for the week on a beautiful day! As I told you last night, I managed to open up one of my favorite cookbooks "Barefoot in Paris" by Ian Garten and find a quick and easy meal for tonight. As for the rest of the week I will just have to improvise.

So far the results are in and they gave it a five star as in "MOM, add to the make it again list"!!!! I don't always get a thumbs up, but because it was a hit with my family, I am sharing the recipe with you all, to share with your family! It's quick and easy, made ahead and reheated, which is the way our meals have to be when you have a house of teenagers on the go!

Lentil Sausage Soup

by Ina Garten, from her book "Barefoot in Paris"

1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

In addition to tonight's meal, I whipped up a Hot Citrus dressing, that I poured over fresh Spinach, with dried cranberry, walnuts, Asiago cheese and orange slices. Perfect addition to this soup and salad dinner to start are week.

Here's what was in the dressing, 6 oz Orange juice, orange rind, 1 cup brown sugar, small diced red onion, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1tsp salt, 1/3 cup red wine vinegar, 1 cup olive oil. All blended in my blender and heated on the stove until it came to slight boil. Pour over spinach and server.

Enjoy and please share your recipes with me!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Week in Review

This week went so fast, that I barely took the time to capture our moments in pictures. The kids had FCAT testing, and I had the week off from homework! All I really remember is work and rest when I got home, in between playing taxi to Dani. Well exciting news is that Vinnie placed in Iron man competition again and is heading to sectionals that is in two weeks. He will be trying to bump up the weights in the next two weeks to ensure placement for State. Today we spent the day at a Antique car show and visited a car museum where this man bought shopping plaza to store all his cars. He only opens it to the public twice a year. When you walk thru the building, it's like being back in the 50's with little shops, drive in theather and the cars all parked at the shops! Really cool! If you love old cars this is the place to see!

See that 2010 Camaro, we came close to taking her home today! Just what we need another toy car...

Since I was checking out all the cars today at the auto show, I didn't take the time to prepare several meals for our week. Check back tomorrow for a new recipe that I will be trying called Lentil Sausage Soup.

Ready for another week?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inspiration Wednesday

Last year I took a fabric scrapbook class with Donna Downey. At that class, I learned to be free when scrapbooking and using paints. I am not an artist in anyway, but fell in love with the freedom of expression she taught us in that class. It was such a wonderful feeling walking out of that class with a project, that I made by just taking chances and let loose. I painted with what ever I felt at that moment. Donna was an amazing, inspiring artist and I was so thrilled to take her class. I purchased an Art Journal from Donna that night and finally started to break the fear and let go of perfection and just create with what is on my mind at that very moment.

Since Donna has a day called Inspiration Wednesday on her blog where you shows you a page from her Art journal, I decided to get with it and do mine too. After all I bought the journal, start using it.

Here I go.....

Today inspiration word is FUN.

Let me explain. See for some reason, the color Orange has been pulling me in lately. Don't know why but when I see something orange, I want it. Then add a little turquoise, with the orange, oh my! I want it even more! So as you can see, my page started with the Orange, then a little turquoise and wa la my page! LIFE IS TO SHORT TO NOT HAVE FUN!!!!!! Ain't that the truth.

What is your inspiration word for this week?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

What's cookin?

Spent Sunday afternoon grocery shopping and cooking meals for our busy week.

Here is some of our meals for the week
Monday - Chicken Enchilada's
Tuesday - Baked Scallop Scampi
Wednesday -Sweet and Spicy Tilapia
Thursday - Chicken Parmesan
Friday - Cheese Pizza night for Lent

Here is one of the recipes for anyone interested in an easy prepare ahead meal.

Baked Shrimp Scampi (I used scallops instead of Shrimp for this week)
2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved
2 pounds (12 to 15 per pound) shrimp in the shell
3 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1/4 cup minced shallots
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 extra-large egg yolk
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
Lemon wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a mixing bowl and toss gently with the olive oil, wine, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Allow to sit at room temperature while you make the butter and garlic mixture.
In a small bowl, mash the softened butter with the garlic, shallots, parsley, rosemary, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolk, panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper until combined.
Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Pour the remaining marinade over the shrimp. Spread the butter mixture evenly over the shrimp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until hot and bubbly. If you like the top browned, place under a broiler for 1 minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

I have to share this recipe that I made Sunday night. It was delicious! We all gave it a 5 star and will definitely be back on the menu often in our home.

Give it a try, I promise you will love it if you like garlic! Oh and if you don't like eggplant, which my husband doesn't, just try it anyway, he liked it and even ate the eggplant.

Trenette with Eggplant and Basil Pesto
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see Cook's Note)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan
1 pound trenette or other short-cut pasta
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus 1/2 cup
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 (1 1/2 pounds) medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pesto: In a blender or food processor, pulse the basil, pine nuts, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add the oil until the mixture is smooth and thick. Add the cheese and pulse until just incorporated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water. Put the pasta into a large serving bowl and add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Toss until coated.
In a large, nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the eggplant turns golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cool slightly. Add the pesto and toss until the eggplant is coated.
Add the eggplant mixture to the serving bowl with the pasta and toss until all of the ingredients are coated. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and serve.
Cook's Note: To toast the pine nuts, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until lightly toasted, about 5 to 6 minutes. Cool completely before using.

What's cookin in your kitchen this week?

Week In Review

Ahhhhh, March 1st and off to the start of a busy month. We stayed busy this week between work, running once again to kids activities and homework. Next couple of weeks no homework since it's FCAT week for the kids. YEAH for me! I just might get more quilting and crafting done. We went out to Hard Rock this weekend and met up with some old friends. It was nice to get out and do some dancing, but my legs were cramping up. You would think with all the running I have been doing, that I could have danced the night away! Guess NOT!

Here a snap shot of our week!

1. Mom finishing quilt. 2. Dad playing with his new car he bought of Ebay. 3. Buster keeping warm in his new sweater. 4. Dani coloring her FCAT shirt. 5. Dani and Dad setting up their race track. 6. Dad shopping on Ebay for more race cars. 7. Vinnie wins 1st place in Iron Man competition.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Premature Babies are born fighters

Seventeen years ago, I had a little boy born premature weighing in at 2lb 15 oz. Early in my pregnacy the doctors tried to talk me out of having him, but we took the risk and continued with my pregnacy. At seven months he came and has given us many joys and worries, as do all kids. He was a fighter from day 1 and still continues to stay strong and knows how to get what he wants.

Last night he was in an IRON MAN competition at school and this morning he texted me that he had taken 1st place and was headed to Regionals. We ran to the stores and bought up the newspaper which mentioned him as taking 1st place. His 1st time being mentioned in the newspaper.

From 2 lb baby to young man lifting 300 lbs. I say that's pretty amazing!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Old-Fashion Hospitality Quilt

I am so happy to report that I have completed all the blocks to my current quilt project "Old-Fashion Hospitality" from Kim Diehl's book "Simple Comforts". I am scheduled to take a class with Kim on March 25th and have also completed the center piece for the application section completed which is the homework assignment before the class.

This quilt has been very enjoyable as it is the first real scrappy quilt that I have attempted. Of course, I didn't have all the scraps that I needed so increasing my stash was required. Love those trips to the Quilt stores and shows to stock up on fabric for those raining days.

Don't you just loves these blocks?

If you have love warm colors, check out Kim's books. After purchasing the Simple Comforts book for this class, I just had to have her other books. I have purchased "Simple Seasons" too and have already picked out my next project. Can't wait to show you, working on cutting up the scraps from the Old-Fashion Hospitality quilt into 1 1/4 in. squares. Need 160 so it might take me a while.

Here is a review of her book: Simple Comforts if you want to check it out.

Make it a great Day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I have been working on improving my photography lately and trying to get lots of practice. I bought a new lens for my camera. 70 - 300 mm Nikon. I love that I can zoom right in and get close up shots. I am very pleased so far, but still need lots of practice. Here is a peak at some of my recent pictures. My blog header this month is also one of my new photos taken with my new lens. It was taken of a pond at Lion Country Safari. What do you think? Have any photography tips for me? Please share.

Give away opportunity!!

Do you feel lucky today my fellow bloggers? Well my friend over at "Sweet, Sassy and or so Classy" is having a giveaway that ends at midnight tonight. So hope on over to her Blog giveaway and enter to win. You just might have the LUCK OF THE IRISH!