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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Salad of the Day-Grape Tomatoes

 Today's Sala of the Day!!

I found Organic Grape Tomatoes at the local co-op. They looked juicy and flavorful. I made my salad with zucchini, finely chopped Purple Kale, couscous, cheddar cheese, purple cabbage, shredded carrots and the lovely grape tomatoes.

I topped off the salad with homemade croutons! I used the heel of my just made No Knead bread!  (Tear into pieces, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Toast in toaster oven till brown and crispy!)

I am enjoying the hunt for different, colorful and yummy ingredients for my salads!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Salad of the Day-Sprouts!

Since we are now in the lovely season of Spring (FINALLY! What a long, hard winter that was!!) I am craving salads. Since I did the "Salad of the Day" post, I have been wondering what I could put on my salads to make them different. So I went to my local co-cop: Clintonville Community Market

I found these amazing sprouts! I see these added often to high end dishes featured in fancy restaurants. I'm not even sure what they are called! (more research on that soon Also, instead of slicing carrots I decided to add fresh grated carrots.

I decided to add a few slices of cucumber and small slivers of Cheddar Cheese.

The final touch is homemade Croutons!! I made these with a piece of whole wheat bread. I tore up a piece of bread, drizzled it with Olive Oil (more olive oil that I used two days before!) and then sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. I put them into the toaster oven on "Broil and Fan" Finally I added some Goddess Dressing and my beautiful, colorful salad was ready!! I have to say that this salad is especially filling. I eat it slowly over a 7 hour shift while I'm at work. I am very full, and sated. I don't want for junk food, candy or sweets. I love getting my vitamins and minerals each day in a colorful, delicious salad. If you have some unique salad toppings, feel free to add comments and share!

UPDATE! After doing a bit of searching, I discovered these are probably Alfala Sprouts

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cake! (From SCRATCH!)

The pineapple Beauty!!

For some reason while at work I decided to look for a Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe. I had a fresh pineapple sitting at home waiting to be used and thought this might be a good way to use some of it.
(of course I can always use it in smoothies or with my Juicer!!)

Then, this evening after work our neighbors called and said they were having people over to cook out. I knew time was short but I decided to put this together and start it in the oven. We were close enough that I could pop over after 45 minutes and pull it out. (And my stepson was home to keep an eye on it for me.)  So I thought why not go for it?
I wanted to use fresh pineapple and I did not want to bake with a cake mix. I had to look at a few recipes before I found this one: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

First I started by preparing the pineapple. (which is actually pretty easy!) You need a large, sharp knife.
First you slice off the top. Then, you cut down each side leaving as much pineapple as you can but making sure to get off all the outer husk.   

Then, slice the pineapple and cut out the core. A VERY small cookie cutter would work well for this. Since I couldn't find a tool that would do what I wanted, I just used the knife. (If you wanted to use canned pineapple rings they would also work very well-and would be uniform!) 

Now to make the cake. 


Now to make the cake. First, melt a stick of butter and measure out 2/3 cup of firmly packed brown sugar.

Mix the brown sugar into the melted butter. Pour that mixture into the bottom of a well buttered cake pan. (I used a round one) Press the pineapple slices onto the butter/brown sugar mixture.

For the dry ingredients mix the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

This next section is copied directly for the recipe. 
In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat well after each addition. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. 

Here is the batter on top of the pineapples.

Here I am. (DORK!)  lol I was so excited to bring over my yummy dessert to share with friends!

Folks reactions were quite promising! I didn't have a cherry to put into each pineapple ring but noone seemed to care!  And I can report that the cake is 100% GONE! I got only one slice!  There was one slice left when we left but we brought that home so Calvin could eat it. After all, he kept an eye on the oven for me!  :)

Overall, it was a GREAT first Upside Down Cake from scratch. :)
I think the next time I have a party or event to go to I will make another one!!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Salad of the Day: Croutons in 10 minutes or less!!

For today's salad, I had lots of the same ingredients in the salad I made two days ago. However, I wanted to add more photos today AND add something to the mix. I used the last two slices of my homemade bread for a tunfish sandwich. As I contemplated how to make my salad different I noticed the heel of my loaf and thought, "hmmmmm.......croutons!!"

I tore up the heel into chunks, drizzled olive oil and sprinkled them with Sea Salt. I put the bread into the toaster oven on "Broil and Bake" for about 10 minutes. While those were working, I continuted with making my lunch.

The red cabbage is so beautiful and vibrant I HAD to add it again. I liked it so much I even chopped a little extra to add into the tuna.

My GORGEOUS salad so far. Adding the color makes it so lovely I can't wait to eat it1! The salad so far contains lettuce, more of the couscous I made yesterday, and the red cabbage.

hmmmm croutons! It only took 10 minutes to have croutons! I tested one and for future making-I would add MORE olive oil and also sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese. However for this first attempt (and because I totally just winged it!!) I am pleased!!

The finished salad. Carrots, lettuce, cheddar cheese, celery, red cabbage, Israeli couscous, and the croutons complete the salad. I added a biggish dollop of Godess Dressing and this is a delicious salad that I can't wait to eat!!

Salad Porn!

Next up: Tuna salad sandwich. I used extra of the celery, red cabbage and slices of cheddar cheese. I loaded the tun onto the last slices of the White Loaf Bread made a few days ago. Another part of my lunch that I can't wait to eat!!

Finished sandwich. Yum!!!

All packed up and read to go! I added in a pear and apple. I have a rule: If I am craving sugar or something from the vending machine-I have to eat at LEAST one of these fresh fruits. If I'm still really craving junk food then I allow myself to look. So far, when I do this I'm no longer hungy. (Good rule, huh!?!)

Salad of the Day

Salad Porn!
Close up of all the goodness.

One has to pack SOMETHING for lunch. Since I work nights really it's my "dinner" but I still call it lunch. You pack your lunch so I call it lunch. Here's what I took for "lunch" on Wednesday night.

carrots, celery, zucchini squash and more!
I LOVE to make salads when the weather is warm and sunny. Last year, by taking salads to work everyday I lost 10 pounds. The KEY is to add only a little bit of dressing and leave the bottle AT HOME!  You need a lot less than you think and if you can't add more you save yourself the temptation to do so. Periodically, when I have an extra yummy salad, I will share.  If you have a delicious salad combination-let me know! I would love to find new and exciting things to add!!

Goddess Dressing from Trader Joe's. YUM!

Salad Ingredients:

Leaf lettuce
string cheese cut into bite size pieces
couscous (adds fiber!)
zucchini squash (this veggie is amazing raw-did you know that?)
red cabbage

If I am making a juice to take to work to drink, as I'm preparing the veggies for that, I go ahead and cut some of them up for a salad. Even if I'm not ready to put my full salad together, I have ready the tin I like to use for packing my lunch and will put the chopped up veggies in there. Then, I just pop it into the fridge and later when I'm getting ready for work I just add some lettuce, cheese and dressing and then I'm all ready to go!!

Black Cats get a Bad Rap

For five years I rented a duplex before I got married. A wonderful couple named John and Elizabeth  used to rent the same duplex before they moved out and bought the house next door. John is an artist and a very creative guy. His Mother, Linda Apple is also an artist. Together, they had an art gallery. We used to host some lovely parties and events at the art gallery. Some of my fondest memories of living here include our fabulous parties and my neighbors who all worked together to plan and execute such fun events.

After a few years, John and Elizabeth (Even Elizabeth thinks outside the box-she runs a Matchmaking service! bought a different house and Linda moved in next door to me. Linda was really amazing to live next door to! She loves to sit outside and paint. Each day she would complete a small painting. I really enjoyed seeing her create such whimiscal portraits and would pop over as often as possible to visit and chat as she painted. I loved getting a preview of that day's creation. Some were realistic- (bicycles seemed to sell really well!) folks carrying out their every day life, people looking at art in galleries, or animals that owners had commissioned her to make.
Go here to view her daily painting! 

While some of Linda's paintings were realistic, others where more fanciful and imagainative where she would create characters or jolly representations of times past made a little better with bright cheery colors and delightful details.

NOW John and Linda have paired up to make a children's book entitled "Black Cats get a Bad Rap"
You can buy it here: Black Cats get a Bad Rap

Here's John's website with even more information on the book and more illustrations!

Lily checking out our copy of Black Cats get a Bad Rap
I ordered us a copy right away!  The story is in rhyme each page matching a special cat picture.

"I'm a black cat who wore a witch's hat. They saw I was part of a curse. I say I just got caught up in a verse."
If you or someone you know loves cats, this is a great book to share with them. The illustrations are so delightful. It is even more so for me because I can just imagine Linda on her front porch with her small dog nearby creating each one. 

Lily enjoys the all the cats and kittens.

Winging it with Couscous!

My dinner!

I have about four boxes of Israeli Couscous in my pantry and I decided today was the day I use some of it!!  So I made this lovely Couscous salad!  I can't wait for dinner! I started with this recipe and then just went on my own based on my available ingredients. Greek Israeli Couscous salad

Israeli Couscous from Trader Joe's


Prepare the couscous according to the package
1/2 a chopped cucumber
1/4  finely chopped yellow onion 
1 stalk celery chopped
1 sprig of Cilantro chopped 
3/4 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
Sea salt to taste

Mix and let sit for a few hours for the flavors to meld. The larger shaped couscous almost POP in your mouth. Such a light and delightful dish. It would compliment Steak beautifully!  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bread-No Knead vs Kneaded

No-Knead bread

Here is where I saw the recipe originally-No Knead Bread recipe
I pinned it to Pinterest and I revisit this recipe over and over. It is not a difficult bread to make but here are three important points-
1. You need a covered dish like a dutch oven or a covered casserole dish that can go into the over at 450 degrees for an hour
2. Prepare the dough overnight. It has to sit for 6 to 8 hours so the easiest thing to do is start it at bedtime and baking it in the morning
3. Use BREAD flour. Regular flour doesn't work very well. In fact it's stringy, sticky, hard to work with and doesn't rise enough. Make sure you have Bread Flour.

(The following recipe is copied from Steamy Kitchen)


3 cups bread flour (I like Harvest King bread flour)1/4 teaspoon instant yeast1 teaspoon fine table salt (or 3/4 tablespoon of kosher salt)1 1/2 cups warm waterCovered pot (five-quart or larger cast iron, Pyrex, ceramic, enamel...something that can go into a 450F oven.)


1. Mix dough: The night before, combine all ingredients in a big bowl with a wooden spoon until the dough just comes together. It will be a shaggy, doughy mess. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 12-20 hours on countertop.
2. Shape & preheat: The dough will now be wet, sticky and bubbly. With a wet spatula, dump the dough on a floured surface. Fold ends of dough over a few times with the spatula and nudge it into a ball shape. You can use your hands if you like, just keep your hands wet so that the dough does not stick. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on counter. Plop your dough onto parchment paper. Lift parchment paper up with dough and place into a large bowl. Cover bowl with a towel. Let it nap for 2 hours. When you've got about a half hour left, slip your covered pot into the oven and preheat to 450F.
3. Bake: Your dough should have doubled in size. Remove pot from oven. Grab the ends of the parchment paper and lift entire wobbly dough blob out of bowl into pot. Doesn't matter which way it lands. Shake to even dough out. Cover. Bake 30 minutes. Uncover, bake another 15-20 minutes or until the crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210F. Remove and let cool on wired rack. If not eating right away, you can re-crisp crust in 350F oven for 10 minutes. Best way to eat it? Smear a warm slice with some good butter (Kerrygold and Lurpac are both found in your grocery stores, usually on top shelf)

Pizza porn! After the bread was all baked and cooled, I cut two thick slices. I covered in pizza sauce, and mozzarella. I added cut up Kalamata Olives (obsessed with those-btw) and fresh chopped Cilantro.
Sprinkle with a little Oregano and now that I think of it-I should have added some Parmesan Cheese!
Bake in toaster oven till warm and cheese is a little brown and bubbly!

My lunch!! 

White Loaf Bread
Here is the recipe:  Classic White Bread

My two loaves both baked today. Which is better? The White Loaf Bread is sweeter and more dense whereas the No Knead Bread has a lighter bread but lovely golden crispy, crunchy outer crust. Both are excellent for eating!  

First Time Pizza Dough-A Failure?

Homemade pizza-It has to be easy.  Right? Well……
I borrowed a recipe from my favorite baking cookbook. (for now-I have an amazing one on it's way to me from Amazon right now!!)

Here's the book. You can get it here : kids Baking by Williams-Sonoma
Here is the recipe from the William-Sonoma website: Pizza Dough recipe

all purpose flour- 2 1/2 cups plus extra for kneading
Rapid-rise Yeast-1 package
sugar- 2 teaspoons
salt- 2 1/2 teaspoons
olive oil-2 tablespoons

In a large mixing bowl use a wooden spoon, mis flour, yeast, sugar and salt.
Add warm water- must be between 115 and 125 degrees Farenheit. (Use a thermometer to check the temperature)  When water is the right temperature add to the mixture along with the Olive oil. Mix till a rough, shaggy dough forms.

Cover clean work surface with extra flour to prevent sticking

Kneading. This is the "hard" part. I usually turn on the TV or music to distract myself because otherwise 10 minutes can feel really long. Keep flour on the area where you are kneading and also on your hands to prevent sticking.
Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.

Lily wanted to help so I gave her a small piece to knead with me.

Gather dough into a ball. Wipe out a bowl with Olive oil or vegetable oil. (I prefer Olive oil) and place ball in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Seat aside in a warm spot and let rise for 45 minutes until doubled in size.

This is after 45 minutes. You poke to see if it's done. If the indent stays (as shown) the dough is ready. If it springs back then let it sit for 10 more minutes.

Once done, flour clean work area again and roll out dough (flour your rolling pin so it won't stick) into a large pizza pie shape.

Add sauce!

Add toppings. We didn't have an mozzarella so I used mozarella slices, string cheese, and Babybell individual cheeses sliced thin. I topped with salami (reasoning that it's almost, pepperoni-right?) and some cheddar cheese. I also added Oregano for seasoning and cut up a few Basil leaves.

The verict-meh
I think I had too much salt. I prefer a sweeter pizza dough so I think I might use less salt next time and maybe a little more sugar. The dough was pretty thick so I would roll it out thinner next time. Also, I definitely would add more sauce and for SURE wait until I had real mozzarella!!  So overall, was it a failure? Well it was all eaten so I think no. I'm going to call it a learning experience!  I WILL try it again.
On the good side-the Basil-YUM!!