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Anything is good, in moderation. I cook because I love to and because I can share with those around me. I crochet for the same reason.

Do what you want to do, enjoy what you do and use it to touch those around you.

Sep 30, 2011

Shin Pain No More

Walking is great exercise, but if you don't stretch well enough or as your add mileage and or speed, you may find yourself with muscle pain.  While I am an advocate of a good massage, it can be costly to get them regularly enough to relive ongoing muscle knots.  Enter The Stick - A Toothbrush for Muscles.  I received mine for my birthday and today, for the first time in some months, I walked without excruciating shin pain in the first mile.  I did not have shin splints, the pain went away.  It turned out that cramping and knots in my calves was causing my shins to ache.  Once the muscles warmed up, the pain went away.  Since I received The Stick last Saturday, I have used it every day.  This morning, when I stopped for my stretch at the mile mark, I realized that my pain went away.  Thank you, ladies, for the birthday present.  It has gone to good use.

The Stick comes with a guide for how to use it on various muscle groups.  I have used it on all the groups recommended and found knots that I didn't know I had and relaxed muscles that I didn't realize were taxed.  This is a wonderful tool for anyone with muscles. 

Sep 29, 2011

2011 Birthday Cupcakes

I am truly blessed with a husband who can cook.  I asked Hubby to make Salted Caramel-Chocolate-Bourbon Cupcakes that I stumbled upon on the Better Homes and Garden website.  He agreed and they are WONDERFUL (he used Jack Daniels Whiskey on my request). Check them out.

Sep 27, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

It feels like it has been raining forever in Pennsylvania, so soup was very comforting.  I got fresh broccoli and potatoes in my CSA, so soup it was.  Very warming.

  8 Cups Chicken Stock                                              1/4 Cup Flour
  3 Cups Broccoli, Tops Only                                      3 Tbl Horseradish Mustard
  1 Cup Broccoli, Stems                                              1 Cup 1% Milk
  3 Cups Potatoes                                                       2 Cups Cheddar
  1 Tsp Dried Oregano                                                Salt, To Taste
  3 Tbl Butter                                                                            

Chop broccoli tops, set aside.  Dice broccoli stems and potatoes.  Put broccoli stems and 1 cup of the potatoes in a pot and cover with stock.  Boil until vegetables are soft.  Puree with an immersion blender or carefully put in a stand blender and puree, return to pot.  Add remaining stock and bring to a boil.  Add remaining potatoes and broccoli, cook to soften.  While the potatoes cook, melt butter in a small saucepan.  When melted, whisk in butter.  When fully incorporated, slowly add milk, a little at a time, stirring each time until fully incorporated.  Remove from heat, stir in mustard and then add to the soup.  Add the cheese to the soup and stir until melted.

8 Servings - Per Serving: 349 Cal (47% from Fat, 27% from Protein, 26% from Carb); 24 g Protein; 18 g Tot Fat; 11 g Sat Fat; 6 g Mono Fat; 23 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; 3 g Sugar; 340 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 1841 mg Sodium

Sep 25, 2011

Chicken Chili with Summer Squash

I had a summer squash to use and we were just getting a taste of fall, so this Chili made a nice, warm supper.

  15 Ounce Cannellini Beans                                                     1 1/2 Lb Chicken Breast, Boneless,
  15 Ounce Great Northern Beans                                              -Skinless
  1 Tbl Oil                                                                                  4 Cups Chicken Stock
  1 Tbl Cumin                                                                            3 Medium Chili Pepper
  1 Tbl Chili Powder                                                                   1 Lb Summer Squash
  2 Cloves Garlic                                                                        12 Ounce Frozen Corn

Drain and rinse beans, set aside.  Cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside.  Mince garlic, add oil to the bottom of a soup pot and soften the garlic.  Add the cumin and chili powder and stir, add chicken and cook until browned.  Add beans and chicken stock to the pot and keep on medium heat.  Cut squash into 1/2 inch pieces and add to pot.  Chop the chili pepper (can use a small can of chopped chilies), add to the pot.  Keep on medium heat until simmering, reduce heat to keep it at a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.  Add corn, return to a simmer, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Serves 8 - Per Serving: 329 Cal (15% from Fat, 43% from Protein, 42% from Carb); 36 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 2 g Mono Fat; 36  g Carb; 9 g Fiber; 4 g Sugar; 103 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 989 mg Sodium

Sep 24, 2011

Chocolate Chopped Strawberry Cheesecake

  Crust                                                                                    3 Large Eggs
  2 cups crushed Nilla Wafers                                                    3/4 Cup sugar
  3 Tbl Unsalted Butter, melted                                                  1/2 Tsp vanilla
  Filling:                                                                               Topping:
  24 Ounce Cream Cheese, softened                                         2 Oz semisweet chocolate
  16 Oz Frozen Strawberries, thawed                                         2 Tbl butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Crust:  Mix together Nilla Wafers and butter, press into a 9 inch spring form pan.  Set aside.    

Cake:  Drain berries and puree, set aside. Prepare filling using an electric mixer. Beat cream cheese on low until smooth, then add eggs one at a time. Next add sugar slowly until mixture becomes creamy. Add vanilla and thoroughly combine.  Add berries and mix well.  Put 1/2 cup of cheesecake mixture in each cup.  Bake cheesecake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Cool in pan  about 15 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.  Refrigerate until completely cool.

Topping:  In a small sauce pan melt dark chocolate and butter together until smooth and creamy.   Drizzle melted chocolate over top of cheesecake. Chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

Sep 22, 2011

Cantaloupe Ice Cream

I had an abundance of cantaloupes this year - both the American and the true cantaloupe varieties.  This recipe helped with that abundance.

  3 Cups Cantaloupe, Diced                                                       1/2 Tsp Orange Extract
  4 Cups Half & Half                                                                4 Tbl Lime Juice
  3 Large Eggs                                                                          1/2 Tsp Salt
  1 Cup Granulated Sugar                                                          

Puree the cantaloupe with 1/2 cup half and half.  Add remaining half and half and puree until blended.  In a medium pot, cook the cantaloupe on medium heat until warm.  DO NOT BOIL.  Turn off heat.

Beat together the eggs, sugar, orange extract, lime juice and salt.  Temper the egg mixture with the warmed cantaloupe mixture then return it to the pot.  On medium low heat, cook and stir occasionally until it gets slightly thick (should coat the back of a spoon).   Cool in the refrigerator at least four hours up to 24 hours.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. 

Sep 20, 2011

Peach Glazed Salmon

A combination of salmon portions being on sale and a friend asking for new and different salmon recipes led to this experiment.  All I can say is YUM.

  4 Salmon Fillets (6 ounces each)                                             Pinch Salt
  2/3 Cup Peach Jam                                                                Pinch Pepper
  1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce                                            

Mix together the jam, soy sauce, salt and pepper in a zip top bag.  Add the Salmon fillets and marinade for 30 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray an oven safe pan with cooking spray, arrange the fillets in the pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until fillets are flaky.

Sep 19, 2011

Zucchini Cornbread

There are two types of cornbread - moist and sweet OR Dry and crumbly.  Some people like both and some have a preference.  While I typically like a moist and sweet kind, this recipe was tasty.  I have to admit, however, that I may tweak it a little more the next time to take it to the moist and sweet level.  Rest assured, if I do, I will share it here.

  1 Cup coarsely chopped zucchini                                            1 Cup all-purpose flour
  1 Cup milk                                                                            2 Tbl white sugar
  2 eggs                                                                                  4 Tsp baking powder
  1/4 Cup vegetable oil                                                             1 Tsp salt
  1 1/4 Cup cornmeal                                                               1 Cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake pan.  Place the zucchini, milk, onion, eggs, and vegetable oil into a blender, and pulse 5 to 8 times, until thoroughly mixed and the zucchini and onion have been chopped into very small pieces.  Mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Pour the zucchini mixture into the cornmeal mixture, stirring to combine, and gently mix in the Cheddar cheese.  Carefully pour the batter into the hot greased skillet, smooth it out with a spoon, and bake until the cornbread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes  out clean, about 40 minutes.

Sep 17, 2011

Crazy Cat

One evening, I was playing a hidden object game and it got our cat's attention.  At the time, I thought it was cute.  I have since gotten over that opinion.  No matter where in the house Izzy is, when we turn on the computer, he comes running.  I don't think he got the memo outlining the difference between a REAL mouse and a computer mouse pointer. 

Izzy vs. the Computer Mouse on You Tube

Sep 15, 2011

Corn and Poblano Chowder

Now that the cooler weather has started to set in, Soup Season is upon us.  I had some Poblano Peppers from my garden, a freezer full of frozen sweet corn and a craving for soup, so this is what came of it.  Enjoy!

  2 Medium Poblano Chilis                                                       5 Cups Chicken Stock
  2 Medium Bell Pepper                                                           3 Tbl Unsalted Butter
  1 Lb Turkey Sausage                                                            4 Tbl Cake Flour
  1 Tsp Cumin                                                                         2 Cups 1% Milk
  3 Cups Corn                                                                         Salt, To Taste
  2 Cups Potatoes, Diced                                                         Pepper, To Taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Halve and seed the peppers.  Coat with oil and roast in oven for 40 minutes or until starting to brown.    Remove and cool until cool enough to handle.

While the peppers cook, in a large pot, brown the turkey.  Drain and set aside.  Add the stock and cumin to the pot and stir in the potatoes.  Cook until they begin to soften.  While they cook, melt the butter in a small sauce pan.  Whisk in the flour until smooth.  SLOWLY add the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until fully combined after each addition.  Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Add the milk mixture, sausage and corn to the chicken stock.  Dice the peppers, stir into the Chowder and add salt and pepper to taste.

Sep 10, 2011

Ephrata Main Theatre

Last night, Hubby and I discovered Ephrata Main Theatre.  This is a cozy, small, regional theater that offers a variety of options.  Last night, one theater was showing Apollo 18 while the one that we were in was featuring live comedy with Paula Poundstone.  The theater itself was built in the 1930's and went through a few improvements through the 70's.  As time passed, the theater fell into disrepair until the lot was purchased and the Brossman Business complex was built.  This business complex was very forward thinking and incorporated many elements from the original theater into their complex.  This, combined with the restaurant Lilys on Main make this a great place to have a date night.

Sep 8, 2011

Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

If you like stir fry, this is a different one that gives you a nice change.  If you cannot find Ponzu Sauce, you can use a low sodium soy sauce.  This will serve 4.  Serve with rice noodles or brown rice.

  1/4 Cup Peanut Butter                                               1.5 Tbl Garlic Clove, minced
  1/3 Cup Orange Juice                                                1 Lb Sirloin, Trimmed And Thinly sliced
  3 Tbl Ponzu Sauce                                                    2 Cups Cabbage, thinly sliced
  1 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar                                             3 Tablespoon Water
  2 Tsp Sugar                                                              1 Cup Carrots, Grated 
  4 Tsp Canola Oil, divided                                                        

Whisk peanut butter, orange juice, Ponzu sauce, vinegar and sugar in a medium bowl until smooth, set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds.   Add steak and cook, stirring, until browned and barely pink in the middle, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium. Swirl in the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add cabbage and water; cook, stirring, until beginning to wilt, 3 to 5 minutes. Add carrots and cook, stirring, until just tender, about 3 minutes more. Return the steak and any accumulated juices  to the pan, then pour in the peanut sauce and toss to combine.

Sep 7, 2011

Mussel Bisque

Over the weekend, Hubby and I attended several cooking classes at The Kitchen Shoppe in Carlisle.  This recipe was shared by Chef Jim Lupia.  Try it, try some classes, enjoy!

The MTG Fruits de Mer Seafood Stock is a puck of concentrated stock available at the Kitchen Shoppe.  If you cannot find this concentrate where you live, replace the water and pucks with a commercially available seafood stock.  If you steam your own mussels, use the water from steaming them in place of the water called for in the recipe (unless, of course, you are using a seafood stock).

1 Lb Mussels, Weigh Out Of The Shell                    1/2 Medium Red Bell Peppers, Seeded & Chopped
1 Cup White Wine                                                  2 Medium Tomatoes, Skinned, Seeded & Chopped
2 Cups Water                                                         4 Garlic Clove, Crushed
3 Ounce MTG Fruits De Mer Seafood Stock            1 Tbl Fresh Parsley, Chopped
2 Tbl Butter                                                            1 Tbl Fresh Basil, Chopped
1 Small Red Onion, Chopped                                    2 Tbl Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
1 Small Leek, Thinly Sliced                                      1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Small Carrot, Finely Diced                                    Salt, To Taste
1 Small Celery Stalk, Thinly Sliced                           Pepper, To Taste

In a pot on medium high heat, melt the butter.  Add the onion, leek, carrot, celery, pepper, tomatoes and garlic and sweat until soft.  Reduce heat to medium and add wine, water and MTG seafood stock.  Add the parsley and basil, simmer for 10 minutes.  Add the pesto, mussels and cream, season to taste and serve.

Sep 6, 2011

Terry Goodkind

A few years ago, I saw a book marked - Special $1.99.  The title?  Wizard's First Rule.  Well, being frugal, I will admit that the price grabbed me, but the description and first few pages took hold and would not let go.  To my delight, there were at least 5 other books by this author.  The books tell the story of Richard - a young woodsman who lives with his grandfather and comes to the aid of a young woman - Kahlan - when she is being stalked by assassins.  This series is enchanting to read and, if you have seen a television series titled Legend of the Seeker, you are already somewhat familiar with it.  So go to your bookstore or the author's website and get lost in the world of Richard and Kahlan.

Sep 5, 2011

Tomato Bruschetta

Some nights, this is supper for Hubby and I.  Fresh tomatoes out of the garden and maybe some fresh fruit, a lovely light summer supper.

  1 Tbl olive oil                                                                        1 Tsp red-wine vinegar
  8 Oz plum tomatoes, cored and                                              1/2 Tsp red-pepper flakes
  -halved lengthwise                                                                4 thick slices country bread
  Coarse Salt, To Taste                                                           1/4 Cup fresh basil leaves, cut
  Pepper, To Taste                                                                     -into thin strips
  Oregano, To Taste                                                               1/2 Cup Mozzarella, Shredded
  2 Cloves garlic, minced                                                          

Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high, spray with olive oil.

In a large bowl, toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season generously with garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Arrange tomatoes on grill, cut sides down first. Cover and grill until soft and charred, 5 to 10 minutes per side. With a metal spatula, put tomatoes on cutting board and cut into large pieces and put in a large bowl.  To this, add garlic, vinegar, and red-pepper flakes; season  with more salt and pepper.  Stir in basil.

Reduce heat to medium. Brush bread olive oil; grill on both sides until beginning to char, about 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle  cheese on bread then divide tomato mixture evenly over each.

Sep 4, 2011

The Kitchen Shoppe - Carlisle

Another weekend full of cooking classes has led to a desire to repost an oldie but a goodie:

If you like to cook, like to eat, or just like learning, then classes at The Kitchen Shoppe in Carlisle are for you.  From lunch and learn to partial hands on classes, they have a variety of participation options.  That, combined with varied food types (Pirogi, Dim Sum, Candy, Sweet and Savory, etc) offers endless options.  It doesn't matter if you are a beginning cook - just take the class "Help, my apartment has a kitchen" or any other class they offer.

When you take a class, you get 10% off any regularly priced items you purchase that day.  They have a nice selection of kitchen tools as well as food items.  Check it out - you will be happy you did.

Sep 3, 2011

Roasting Eggplant

Roasting eggplant is a wonderful way to have it shine on its own or incorporate it into other dishes.  To Roast Eggplant:

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds (peeling is optional).  If using in an application such as lasagna, stop here.  If you are using it in something like risotto, cut into large cubes.

Spray an oven safe pan with oil and put eggplant in the pan.  Sprinkle with seasoning of your choice.  I usually use an Italian blend - oregano, basil, thyme - and some salt and pepper.  Freshly minced garlic is also good.

When the oven is heated, drizzle the pan with olive oil and put into the oven until the eggplant begins to brown - 20 to 30 minutes.

When cooked, you can use it for a multitude of things:

Eggplant rollatini, replace layers of lasagna noodles with eggplant, vegetable risotto, add to homemade hummus....let me know what you use it for.

Sep 1, 2011

Kobo E-Reader

Last fall, I explored the options for e-readers.  Kobo, Sony, Kindle, Nook - so many options.  I opted for the Kobo Wi-Fi e-reader in lavender.  Not a touch screen, but that was not a priority for me as I would not like having fingerprints where I was trying to read.  Yes, Border's was in trouble, but Kobo is not a Border's product - it is an independent company for which purchasing at Border's was one option.  You can purchase books anywhere that offers the epub or Adobe formats.  This was why I did not opt for a kindle - they use a proprietary format.  Recently, I discovered the Gutenberg Project and downloaded a free book from there. I If you purchase books directly from Kobo, you can just sync them via Wi-Fi or a computer connection.  For the Gutenberg download, I put it on a SD card and put that into my reader.  That was it, done.

I have been very happy with my Kobo.   All I wanted was a reader - not e-mail, not magazines, no bells and whistles.  I have to say, however, that having the built in dictionary is a nice feature.  I used to just guess on the meanings based on context, now I can select the word and get a definition.  I still prefer paper books, but there are times that my e-reader can't be beat.  Doctor's offices, waiting rooms, traffic jams, waiting while Hubby gets a scope - all times that an e-reader is much easier than a book that you have to use a bookmark for.

So no matter what choice is best for you, find a book a lose yourself.