Sunday, April 28, 2013

Spring Has Arrived!

At least, after 3 days of springlike weather, I think it has!

And spring is starting to appear in the garden.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Little Red Wagon #182 - Crimp My Style!

This week it's my turn to set the challenge over at Little Red Wagon.

So I decided to encourage us to dig deep into our wagons and use those paper crimpers.

I  added a crimped piece of patterned paper to this card.

So get out those paper crimpers and link up your creation over at Little Red Wagon.

We love to see what you create!

Monday, April 22, 2013

150 Best Desserts in a Jar - Cookbook Review

I'm back with another cookbook review, this time 150 Best Desserts in a Jar. I knew as soon as I saw this book on the list to select from that I would choose it.

I have already served orzo salad, trifle and creme brulee in jars so I was hoping for lots of ways to expand on that.

And I was not disappointed, Andrea Jourdan (author) has developed a wonderful array of recipes that are fun to make - everything from puddings and cobblers to pies and cakes. To me, one of the more intriguing recipes is Christmas Pudding in a jar, it is sure to be on my Christmas baking list this year.

As California strawberries were in the store I decided to make Orange Strawberry Soup.It is similar to a recipe I already had from a cooking class from several years ago, but it is just as good. I can't wait for local strawberries to be in season so I can make it again. Although I do think I'll try it with frozen berries too, would be a perfect starter to a Mother's Day brunch.

My version, below,  looks almost exactly like that in the book:

Cold Strawberry Orange Soup

This recipe is a real winner — quick, easy and delicious. As a summer dessert that virtually everyone (even those who are watching their waistlines) can enjoy, it is perfect. And it is so satisfying that no one will think it’s a “light” dessert.

Use a funnel to pour this soup neatly into the jars without making a mess.
If you like this soup as much as I do, make it all year long, using frozen strawberries.

• Six 8-ounce (250 mL) jars
• Food processor or blender

4 cups hulled fresh strawberries
1⁄2 cup confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves, divided
1 tbsp finely grated orange zest
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1⁄4 cup plain yogurt
6 mint leaves

1. In food processor fitted with the metal blade, purée strawberries. Add confectioner’s sugar and process for 1 minute. Add orange juice and process for 1 minute. Add 1 tbsp (15 mL) mint and process for 1 minute. Transfer to jars, dividing equally, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
2. In a bowl, mix remaining mint, orange zest, granulated sugar and almonds. Add yogurt and mix well. Top each jar with a dollop (about 1 tbsp/15 mL) of the mixture, garnish with a mint leaf and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Then I decided to give the Cherry Berry Smoothie a try as one of Brittany's favourite things to make is a smoothie. And this one uses almond milk which I was interested in trying too. This smoothie is soooo good! I will for sure make it again!

My version,below,  ended up being a little darker in colour from those in the book.

Cherry Berry Smoothie
This has to be the best creamy cherry dessert you’ll ever enjoy. Be aware, the yield will vary depending on the berries used. You may get three very generous servings or four that don’t quite reach the tops of the jars. I like to serve this in “drinking jars.”

Substitute an equal quantity of low-fat milk for the almond milk.
Ground almonds are often called “almond flour.” They are available in well-stocked supermarkets or natural foods stores.

• Four 12-ounce (375 mL) tall jars
• Blender

1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 cup cherry-flavored yogurt
1⁄2 cup almond milk (see Tips)
2 tbsp liquid honey
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp ground almonds (see Tips)

1. In blender, purée berries, cherries, banana, cherry yogurt, almond milk and honey. Blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Pour into jars, dividing equally.
2. In a bowl, mix plain yogurt and almonds. Top each jar with a dollop of the mixture and serve immediately.

Makes 3 to 4 servings

Excerpted from 150 Best Desserts in a Jar by Andrea Jourdan © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. May not be reprinted without publisher permission.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Have Silver, Got Tarnish Cleaning Tip

I'm fortunate enough to have a collection of silver and I like to have it out on display.

But having it out means it tarnishes fairly quickly.

I was in the cleaning section of Walmart recently and found these:

And you know what, they work great! Simply wipe on with these wipes then buff off.

I cleaned all my silver in less than 60 minutes!

So if you have silver, give them a try, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

200 Easy Mexican Recipes - Cookbook Review

I have been given the opportunity to review some more cookbooks published by Robert Rose, so I'll be featuring these books in posts over the next couple of weeks.  

I let my family choose from the list of books I was given and they , of course, chose 200 Easy Mexican Recipes.

As a family we love Mexican food and often wish there were authentic Mexican restaurants nearby so we could get our fix! But since there aren't, the next best thing is to make our own and this book is full of no-fuss recipes for authentic dishes. The recipes are delicious alone or could be piled high with melted cheese and fresh produce.  The author Kelley Cleary Coffeen has now published 5 cookbooks and has a flourishing culinary career.

It was difficult to choose what recipes to try but I finally settled on the ones below and they were yummy!

I served the huevos with the soup for dinner one night and it was so flavourful and filling too! The roasted salsa was so easy to whip up in the food processor and makes me wonder why I buy salsa when it is so easy to make my own.

The soup was light in flavour but such a nice change from heavier tomato based dishes. I didn't have any avocado on hand so just went without it and the soup turned out great.  So if you not fond of avocado don't let that turn you off this one.

I will definitely be trying out many more of the recipes contained in this book from the Chile Con Queso to Margarita Pie!

Huevos Rancheros + Roasted Tomato Salsa

Makes 4 servings
 This traditional ranch-style breakfast dish is a combination of eggs served on fried corn tortillas smothered in a cooked salsa or sauce. I serve them with a side of refried beans.
 Preheat oven to 150°F 
Ovenproof serving plates

3 tbsp oil, divided    
8  6-inch (15 cm) corn tortillas       
2 cups  Roasted Tomato Salsa (see below)         
4   eggs   
1⁄2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese            

1.Place serving plates in preheated oven to warm.
2.In a large skillet over high heat, add 2 tbsp of the oil and heat for 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully dip each tortilla into the oil until tortilla bubbles and is heated through, about 1 minute. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Place 2 tortillas slightly overlapping each other on each warmed plate. Return to oven.
3.In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat salsa until bubbly, 5 to 7 minutes.
4.In another skillet, add remaining 1 tbsp of oil and scramble or fry eggs separately, as desired. Place each egg on top of tortillas on each plate and smother with salsa. Sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is slightly melted, 3 to 4 minutes.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Makes about 2 cups 
This basic tomato salsa is delicious on just about any Mexican dish. The charred skin of the roasted tomatoes adds an earthy flavor that blends well with the roasted jalapeños. It makes a great “chip and dip” salsa.

Preheat broiler
4 to 6         tomatoes, unpeeled                            
3 to 4         roasted jalapeño peppers, skin on      
1                onion, chopped                                      
2                green onions, green parts only, chopped   
1 tbsp        minced Italian flat-leaf parsley(cilantro)            
1.  Place tomatoes on a baking sheet and broil, turning often, until skins are charred, 3 to 4 minutes.
2.  In a blender, pulse charred tomatoes, jalapeños, onion and green onions until thick and slightly chunky. Pour into an airtight container. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or for up to 2 days.

Chicken and Lime Soup

Makes 4 to 6 servings

There is a light citrusy flavor that you will love in this hearty chicken soup. Layers of garlic and lime embrace the fresh avocado garnish. I serve this during the warm summer months.

2 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 to 5 limes)
2 cups broken corn tortilla chips
2 avocados, diced
4 green onions, green parts only, minced

1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp  of the oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning once, until no longer pink inside, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let cool.
2. In a large pot, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and tomatoes. Cover and cook until onion is softened, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chicken broth and lime juice.
3. Dice chicken and add to pot. Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Ladle into individual bowls and garnish with equal amounts of tortilla chips, avocado and green onion.

Excerpted from 200 Easy Mexican Recipes by Kelley Cleary Coffeen © 2013 Robert Rose Inc. May not be reprinted without publisher permission.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Little Red Wagon #181 - Cameo

This week over at Little Red Wagon, Regan is challenging us to use a cameo.

I used my PTI Simply Jane stamp set along with several items from deep in my wagon to create this Mother's Day card:

I do have to admit that this is one of my most favourite cards ever!

So why don't you dig out those cameos you've been hoarding and link up your creation over at Little Red Wagon!

We love to see what you create.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Good Friend

I've been a reader of Mabel's House for years.

Today she wrote a post that truly resonated with me, and here's the quote I could relate with the most:

My mom always told us that we could measure a good friend not by people who were sorry for us when bad things happened, but by people who were truly happy for us when good things happened.

I so believe this to be true!  Life is not a competition!

Does Liz's post resonate with you?  I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Little Red Wagon #180 - Lovely Lace

This week at :Little Red Wagon, Tammy wants us to use lace on our projects.

I decided to show how I've used lace on some of my scrapbook layouts.

This first layout is of Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagan.

The next is of Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington.

And the last is of the gardens outside the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Please link up your lacey projects over at Little Red Wagon, we love to see what you create!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Votive Flower Arrangement

I put together some small flower arrangements for a dinner I hosted this past weekend that I thought I'd link up to Marty's Inspire Me Tuesday.

These arrangements were inspired by similar ones I saw on Pinterest. They are large votive folders filled with mini carnations that I trimmed to fit. Then I tucked in a bit of baby's breath.

Sweet and simple!

Thanks for stopping by!.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Happy Daffodils!

Is there anything more cheerful than daffodils?

And spreading them out among a bunch of jars sure makes it look like there are lots!

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, April 05, 2013

French Polynesia - Rangiroa

Although all our stops on our Tahiti vacation were interesting, one of the most interesting was Rangiroa.
Rangiroa (meaning Vast Sky in Tuamotuan)is the largest atoll in the Tuamotus, and one of the largest in the world.

The atoll consists of about 415 motus, islets and sandbars.There are approximately one hundred narrow passages, called hoa, in the fringing reef.

The island around which the reef formed has sunk leaving only the atoll. And each motu has an elevation of no more than 3 feet. Because the atoll is so low and narrow it really did feel like a large wave would wash over the motu.

Our ship sailed through a passage to the left of Tiputa  and anchored in the lagoon.

Rangiroa is known as one of the world's top diving locations and we thoroughly enjoyed snorkeling in an area  called 'The Aquarium', located near the pass the ship sailed through.

Steve and I on the beach.

The fish we saw while snorkeling.

The Rangiroa airport.

One of the hoa or passes.

Walking along the motu edge.

A view of the Kia Ora Hotel. We stopped for a drink here.

Another beach view.

And the local bar and grill where we also stopped for a drink!

And another hua.

Rangiroa is truly a remarkable place, I'd love to go back some time.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Little Red Wagon # 179 - Be A Negative Nellie

This week for Little Red Wagon Jan wants us to look at the negative side....... of a die cut that is!

I used the negative of my jar die cut layered up with some striped paper to create this card:

So if you like looking at the negative side of things, link up your creation over at Little Red Wagon, we love to see what you create!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Easter At My Sister's

We celebrated Easter at my sister's place this past Saturday.

This is her beautifully set table.

Then her homemade cream eggs that we all love, so decadent and so yummy!

We had some bunnytinis with a peep garnish.

Crocus in teacups adorned the table, so pretty.

And she has always been a baker, these are some of the sweet treats she made!

She organized a egg hunt for us which we all enjoyed (well except for the part where DH kept beating me to the eggs!). It was so nice, we spent  much of the day outside in the sunshine.

Here's Mom and Sherry walking up her winding driveway.

And we celebrated Brayden's birthday too!

I put together a crate of all of  Brayden's  favourite snacks with a movie pass too!

The Ford crate was perfect for him as he is restoring an old 60's Ford truck.

It was a terrific day!