Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad...Packed with Protein!

Kale must grow really well in our area as there have been bunches of kale in our veggie box for over a month!  A little kale goes a long way....I have used it in salads, in soup, made chips and if we had rabbits, I would feed it to them!  (I hear that they like it.)  When I first saw this recipe I was hooked. Why?  Because of how colorful the salad was...not necessarily the fact that it had kale in the ingredient list and was packed with protein!  It was also because I had most everything but the pomegranate seeds and the sumac.  ...and, I must admit that there was a very warm day last week so having salad for dinner would work.

The quinoa, kale, chickpeas, and pistachios add healthy fat and protein to this salad.  It is perfect to serve as a vegetarian main course or as a side dish.

Kale, Quinoa and Chickpea Salad
adapted from Foodie Crush

Yield:  6-8 servings

2 cups cooked quinoa
2 cups chopped kale, ribs removed
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
5-6 clementine oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped pistachios
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp fresh orange juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp sumac, divided
1 tsp dried mint, crushed
1 tsp kosher salt
2-3 twists of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Combine the cooked quinoa, garbanzo beans, chopped kale, orange slices, pistachios and the pomegranate seeds in a large salad bowl.

Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, garlic, 1 teaspoon of sumac, dried mint and kosher salt and ground pepper in a small jar.  Shake well.

Dress the salad with the vinaigrette and toss to evenly coat.  Dust the salad with the remaining teaspoon of sumac and the freshly chopped mint.  Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve immediately.  The salad may also be refrigerated.  It keeps well for two days.


Terry loved the salad and enjoyed it for dinner and lunch!  He was disappointed when I shared that to me, it was just okay.  I do not think I am a fan of sumac.  Anyway, everybody has their preferences.  I am glad that I tried it and it is a pretty salad.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  If you have any extra, Terry will be in line with a bowl!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Two Days of Sunsets...

I love the relaxing evenings visiting my daughter.   On the warm days we can sit on the deck, enjoy a glass of wine, listen to the toddler, Sabine, chat and watch the sun go down.  Sabine always has a lot to share.  

From the deck we can look across Puget Sound to Vashon Island.  On this day we could just see the Olympics in the distance.  

The next day wasn't as sunny.  There was a bit of a cloud cover so we couldn't see the Olympics but the rays of sun were beautiful!

I am sharing today at Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chicken, Spinach, Pasta and White Bean Soup

This may be the last time that I make soup until fall.  Today is chilly again but when the roller coaster starts climbing it will probably stay at the top until October.  That is a depressing thought.  Hot weather until October.  That is six months from now.  Oh well...I can always travel to a little cooler climate.  For now, I am enjoying the chill and the thought of a nice bowl of soup.

I was paging through The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone, a cookbook that my daughter had given me.  It has so many recipes and ideas for making your meal preparation carefree and delicious.

I had spinach in the refrigerator that needed to be used so I began looking for a soup with spinach.  It certainly didn't take me long before I settled on a recipe for Spinach, Pasta and White Bean Soup.  I did change it just a bit.  Terry likes soup to be on the hardy side, more stew-like and less liquid so I added some chicken and I am happy that I did!

Chicken, Spinach, Pasta and White Bean Soup
adapted from The Mediterranean Slow Cooker by Michele Scicolone

1 cup dried cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed, drained and picked over, or 2 cans of Cannellini beans, drained
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into chunks
1 large onion, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large potato, peeled and diced, small cubes
4 cups chicken stock
6 cups water
1 chicken bullion cube, if desired
1 sprig rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 bay leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup orzo, or other very small pasta shape
8 oz. baby spinach leaves, chopped
2-3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil

Prepare the beans by placing them in a bowl with water covering by 2 inches.  Let the beans stand for 6 hours or overnight.

Drain the beans and place them in a large slow cooker.  Add the chicken, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, tomatoes (with juice), potato, broth, water, rosemary, bay leaves, 1 tsp salt, and 2 or 3 twists of fresh ground pepper.  Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until the beans are very tender.

Stir in the pasta and spinach leaves.  Taste the broth and add a bullion cube if needed.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pasta is tender.

Stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings.  Spoon the soup into serving bowls and drizzle each portion with olive oil.

NOTE:  Be certain to taste the broth.  We found that it needed the addition of a bullion cube.  When I make this again, I will use less water and more chicken stock.  I would recommend adjusting this to your taste preference.

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Thoughts of Home on Thursday and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Sprinkle Pudding Cookies

On my recent trip to Seattle, there was baking involved.  It has become the activity of choice for Sabine and me.  This time, I needed a recipe that wasn't overly sweet but still had the "fun appeal"!
Tucked away in my suitcase were two bottles of fun sprinkles and a recipe for pudding cookies complete with sprinkles!

Sabine was really excited to be able to dump so many sprinkles in the dough and operate the mixer! She remembered using the cookie scoop and was happy to scoop and release cookies....randomly on the baking sheet.  The end result:  The cookies were super soft and met the "not too sweet" criteria. They disappeared quickly.

Sprinkle Pudding Cookies
adapted from Cookies and Cups

Yield:  2 dozen

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, plus 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 (3.5 oz) box Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sprinkles

Preheat oven:  350° F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment.  In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the egg, plus the additional yolk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Mix until combined.

Add the Jell-O Vanilla Instant Pudding and mix until combined.

With the mixer on low, add the flour.  Mix until just combined.  Then, add the sprinkles and mix until incorporated evenly.

Using a cookie scoop (about 2 Tablespoon size), scoop and drop dough onto the prepared baking sheet.  Space the cookies about 2-inches apart.  Bake 8-10 minutes until the cookies are almost set and just turning a light brown around the edges.  Do not over bake or the cookies will not be soft.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 3 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sabine enjoyed each and every bite of her cookie....actually, we all enjoyed the cookies!

I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Thoughts of Home on Thursday hosted by Laura at White Spray Paint, and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Camellias in the Garden

I have been visiting my daughter in Seattle and was so fortunate to be there the week that there was no rain!  I thought it would be a great idea to walk around my daughter's house, with my camera in hand, to look at all of the flowers in bloom.  I got as far as the camellias in the front yard!

I know I should have kept going but everywhere I looked there was another camellia that I had to capture!

I am sharing today at Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Smoked Salmon and Leek Chowder

We are on a weather roller coaster.  Trying to keep track of what to wear or what to prepare for dinner has become humorous.  I am taking advantage of the last few days...I say last few days tongue in cheek...of cold weather to enjoy some soups and chowders.

Today, to take the chill off, I am serving Smoked Salmon and Leek Chowder!  It was a chowder that I found in an old Fine Cooking Magazine.  I have subscribed for soooo many years and no, I cannot part with any of them.  I can always find something in them to enjoy and this chowder was perfect.  It was really delicious and did meet the goal....delicious and take the chill off!

And, speaking of warmth...since it was cold and I wasn't going anywhere.  I finally caught up on Downton Abbey.  We will not discuss how I could get so far behind.... Anyway, I found the ending heartwarming and fitting for the program.  I was so happy that they choose to end on a high note.  I will certainly miss all of the characters and personalities.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Chowder
adapted from Fine Cooking, #127

3 Tbsp butter, unsalted
2 medium leeks, white and green parts, halved lengthwise, rinsed, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 large rib celery, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups clam juice (2 8-oz. bottles)
4 medium red potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch dice (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 bay leaf
6-8 oz hot-smoked salmon, remove skin and bones, flake into bite-size pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks and celery, and cook, stirring until tender, about 7-8 minutes.  Add the flour and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk the milk and clam juice into the flour mixture.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the potatoes and bay leaf.  Simmer gently until the potatoes are fork tender, about 12-15 minutes.

Add the salmon, cream, dill and lemon juice to the mixture.  Cook until heated through, about 2-3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.


I am sharing today at Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage and Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Seattle's Volunteer Park and Conservatory

Every trip to Seattle is an adventure.  There are so many beautiful parks and recreation areas to visit. I so enjoy the Pacific Northwest!  On a recent tip to Seattle, my daughter suggested that we go to Volunteer Park and Conservatory.  I was amazed at the children's play structure, the lush vegetation, and gorgeous flowers.  Everything is planted with color in mind!

We first stopped off at the play structure to tire somebody out!

The Volunteer Park Conservatory was next!

The Conservatory has five sections or "houses."  The Palm House has the Orchid Collection, crotons, banana, ginger and many species of palms.

The Seasonal Display House is filled with color and fragrance.  The displays change each season. The spring display featured bulbs, lilies, cyclamen, and hydrangeas.

Did you know that all cacti are succulents, but all succulents are not cacti?  In the Cactus House there are succulents which are descendants of plants that adapted to dry hot conditions when the earth began to warm after the last ice age, as well as cacti.

The Fern House is home to many species of ferns as well as a diversity of tropical plants.  In the boggy area around the pool are papyrus as well as carnivorous plants.

The last house we visited featured Bromeliads.  Most bromeliads are epiphytes.  "Epi" is Greek meaning upon.  They grow by attaching themselves to the outside of rough surfaces like tree branches or rocks.  The plant I recognized immediately was the staghorn fern!  I did not know that it was in the epiphytes family.  I guess I never put it together....We had grown staghorn ferns years ago and it never dawned on me that it wasn't truly a fern.

After enjoying the conservatory we continued walking to the old water tower.

We ended our day by viewing the space needle through the Black Sun sculpture by Noguchi.

I am sharing today at Outdoor Wednesday hosted by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

There comes a time when one must take time to clean out the freezer.  I knew it was time as I could not stuff one more "little package" of something into any crack or crevasse.  In fact, there were no cracks or crevasses available.  Cleaning out the freezer isn't all bad.  I found all kinds of leftovers that could easily become dinner.  I found bags of lemon juice those and there are never enough.  I found multiple little bags of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce.  Then, I found a large bag of frozen blueberries.  I had totally forgotten that I had them....that's what happens when one starts with multiple bags of bag always ends up being overlooked.  The quest was on...was I going to make some amazing Blueberry Oatmeal Pancakes or was I going to make my friend Brenda's Incredible Blueberry Muffins?  Actually, neither.

The timing was perfect for me to comb through my assigned Secret Recipe Club blog for blueberry recipes!  I was in luck.  I found some delightful recipes using blueberries:  Blueberry-Lemon Ricotta Muffins, Blueberry Pie, Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake or the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies...but that one has nothing to do with blueberries, it just sounds good!

Yes, Jessie Weaver, the Vanderbilt Wife, provided me with many choices.  Jessie is a very busy lady. She started her blog as a way to make herself write more regularly.  She is a writer and an editor who uses her blog to help support women who are viewing themselves as less than perfect and desire the support of a kindred spirit who is sharing her own challenges, failures, successes and improvement stories...along with a recipe or two.   She even has summaries of books that she has read.  I found that we had read quite a few of the same titles and I appreciated the recommendations for some "new to me books," too.

On with my choice!  I seemed to fixate on the Cooking Light Five Star recipe for Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake that Jessie adapted.  She had me convinced that it was the recipe for me...goodness, if the family can polish this cake off at breakfast and if the cakes were sold and well received at a craft sale, then the cake is certainly worthy!

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
adapted from Cooking LIght Five Star Recipes and Jessie Weaver the Vanderbilt Wife

Yield:  8 servings

Preheat Oven:  350° F.

1/4 cup butter, softened (1/2 stick)
1 cup sugar
4 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 egg
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen, thaw)

1 Tbsp turbinado sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Prepare a 9-inch cake pan.  Spray with cooking spray.

Using a mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy.  Gradually mix in the sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.

In a separate bowl whisk to mix, the flour, baking powder and salt.

Fold in the berries.

The batter will be very thick.  Spoon it into the prepared pan.  Smooth the top.  Sprinkle the turbinado sugar and the cinnamon over the top.  (Adjust the amount of the turbinado sugar and cinnamon to suit your preference.)  I used less than the amount in the recipe.

Bake the coffee cake for 50-60 minutes.  Check at 50 minutes and bake the additional time if required.  Cool the coffee cake on a wire rack.

Note:  Freezes well.


The verdict:  Since I have made the cake twice within two weeks, then you know that it must be pretty tasty!  I have to admit that I was very nervous with how thick the batter was but I smoothed it out and when I cut the first slice I wasn't had a very nice crumb and tasted heavenly.  I also have to fess up and tell you that I did not thaw the blueberries.  I totally missed that line in the recipe.  I measured the berries, dumped them in, and mixed.  All was well.  All was delicious!