This is the first year my youngest son wouldn’t be home for Christmas. He’s a U.S. Marine stationed in California, pulling 24 hour shifts so he can come home on the second block leave.
A week before Christmas he called on the phone and reminded me that he wanted LOTS of food when he got home, especially my cookies, pretzels, and deer jerky. Little did he know a care package was on it’s way with everything included on his list.
Along with all his favorite treats was this tree , don’t know if he put it up (I hope so), but I wanted to send a piece of home his way. (His older brother, stationed in Arizona, also got a care package)
But it is my youngest Marine who got the special treatment this year. He is a corrections officer in the Brig and received the box during his 24 hr “sleep break”. He called and opened the box on the phone with me, which I love. I got to hear the excitement in his voice as he pulled out the Chocolate Covered Candy Cane Christmas Peeps, Reeses Candy Canes, and deer jerky from the stocking. When he opened the cookie tin, he exclaimed “Oh my God, this smells soooo good!!” Thank you, thank you!
I always send a Santa hat, to be worn when they open their presents and add a little frivolity and holiday spirit.
Does a Mom good to hear appreciation from her sons. Makes me want to send another box really soon. But, I don’t have to.
He’s coming home tomorrow night for a 10 day leave!
Yum, they smell so good
More and more I turn to Pinterest for recipes. I think it’s a visual thing, I love pictures of food, just makes me hungry. I had limes (left over from Margaritas) and I had honey, so into the Pinterest search I went for honey lime chicken and this is what I found. Very easy and tasty. My only regret? I didn’t make more.
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- juice of one lime
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 teaspoon Siracha (didn’t have any, left if out)
- red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- In a small bowl, combine your ingredients, through the cilantro. Mix thoroughly.
- Pour marinade over chicken breasts and turn to coat. Cover and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour. (I marinated overnight)
- Grill on medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side, until juices run clear.
A little over a month ago we had a BBQ and party. Why? Just because we could. It was a combination Pinterest party, BBQ, and excuse to feed my oldest Marine son who was home on leave. We started at noon with hamburgers and hot dogs and progressed throughout the day, moving through the meat groups. Here is just a start of the various foods we served.
My friend Beth brought fixed this wonderful delight, recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray, who else, her favorite chef.
Ready to eat Italian Garlic bread with marinara sauce
My son came outside while it was cooling and said “What is that wonderful spectacle on top of the stove? I want to eat it!” In no time at all it was gone.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound store-bought pizza dough, cut into 1-inch balls
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
- Coarse ground sea salt
- Black pepper
- 1 cup shredded provolone
- 1 cup grated Parmesan
- Tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought, for dipping
- Pieces of cooked bacon (optional, but we added it, bacon is good with EVERYTHING)
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Prepare a bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small saucepot, melt butter with garlic. Pour into a large mixing bowl and toss together with pizza dough balls, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper. Place half of the dough balls into the bundt pan, top with half of the cheeses. Top with remaining dough and finish with remaining cheese. Bake 30 minutes.
Serve with tomato sauce alongside
*This reminds me of the dessert treat monkey bread with butter and cinnamon. I’m sure thawed dinner rolls could be used in replacement of pizza dough
Tomatoes are in season and ripening at an amazing rate. Time for me to break out the stew pots and start cooking up some salsa, stewed tomatoes and chopped tomatoes for future recipes.
Step one to any tomato based recipe is to prep the tomatoes properly in a hot and cold water bath.
Step 1: Clean the tomatoes, cut off the stems and bruised spots
Step 2: Dunk in boiling water for about 30 seconds until the skins start to wrinkle
Step 3: Remove from boiling water and dip in a bowl of cold water
Step 4: Skins should then easily slip off the tomatoes
- Summer release and Salsa!! (ridingwiththetopdown.wordpress.com)
- Homemade Salsa Recipe (forthemommas.com)
Homemade sweet pickles
Our cucumber crop this year was amazing and I’ve been making pickles several times a week. For the first time I tried refrigerator pickles instead of canned. I’ve always avoided refrigerator pickles due to the lack of refrigerator space. But, we’re eating them so fast it doesn’t make a difference.
Even my daughter who only likes dill pickles likes these. She said they are sweet, but different.
The recipe is very easy and fast.
- Sliced cucumbers (about 4 large)
- Sliced sweet peppers
- Sliced onion
- 2 cups vinegar
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 TBSP salt
- Ground Garlic and pepper seasoning. (to taste about 1 TBSP)
- Pack cucumbers, peppers and onions tightly into jars. Mix all ingredients into saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves and liquid is clear (about 10 min)
- Pour into packed jars, seal and store in refrigerator.
- Let soak for 24 hours before eating to let the vinegar and flavors combine.
- Store up to three months (but they won’t last that long)
- Sweet Heat Pickle Relish (sassysusancreates.com)
- Enjoying Summer Cucumbers (simplycooking.wordpress.com)
My version of ”Happy Family” Chinese at home. We were running short on rice I used spaghetti noodles for chow mein. Very easy recipe and fun at the same time. The chopsticks pictures are my favorite and it’s a requirement that I eat as much as I can with chopsticks before resorting to a fork.
I find eating with chopsticks people slow down, and I enjoy my food a whole lot more. besides, it’s fun!
- Sliced chicken breast
- Beef (or venison, I still had some from last winter)
- Powdered Ginger
- Garlic Powder
- Cracked Peppercorns
- Sea Salt
- Sliced onion
- 2 TSP Sesame Oil (remember I don’t measure, I just add)
- 2 TBSP Wok Oil
- Sweet peppers (green, yellow and orange for color)
- 2 TSP Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Dorothy Lynch Salad Dressing (French dressing will work too)
- 1 TBSP Cornstarch
Wow, I guess that’s a lot of ingredients. As far as vegetables you can use anything you have handy, broccoli, slivered carrots. REMEMBER: Measurements are not important, you add to your taste and desire.
- Season meats with spices and toss to coat
- Prepare rice ahead of time according to directions.
- Heat a combination of above oils in wok on high
- Add chopped or sliced onions and cook until clear
- Add chicken and beef (in my case venison)
- Cook and stir on high until cooked through
- Push ingredients to the side of the wok away from the center and direct heat
- Add vegetables and shrimp on top of the cooked meat on the side
- There should be some liquid in the bottom of the wok, add soy sauce and salad dressing. Then add water until total liquid amount is approximately 3/4 cup.
- Cover with lid and let liquid boil and steam cook the vegetables.
- Mix a tablespoon (or so) of cornstarch with 1/4 cup water until creamy
- When vegetables are tender pour cornstarch mixture into the liquid and stir. Liquid should thicken slightly.
- Quickly stir the liquid and all ingredients until coated in the sauce.
Eat and Enjoy!
I never knew that broccoli fresh from the garden could taste so good. This was our first garden together, and it’s pretty successful. So far we’ve harvested radishes, lettuce, potatoes, cucumbers, a few beans and zucchini. Our most successful has been the broccoli, didn’t know the plants got so big, but well worth the space.
Broccoli in the Vegetable Garden
The heads were huge, the size of dinner plates. From what I understand when you harvest the center bunch the secondary cluster will still produce. I hope so, four out of five of us love broccoli.
Cleaning and prepping fresh broccoli
My Mother-in-law suggested I soak the broccoli in salt water to clean out any bugs. However, we didn’t have any problems with bugs, not one floated to the top. An added benefit to soaking the broccoli in salt water was the increased flavor.
Fresh cooked broccoli
I steam my broccoli, el dente, to a bright green still a little crisp, but making the florets nice and tender. Put a pat of butter and cracked pepper on top. It’s literally a fight to the last spoonful.
- Two ways with broccoli (winterbounty.wordpress.com)
- 5 quart bags of Broccoli (squashlady.wordpress.com)
- Pictures From Our Garden (rubyandwheaky.wordpress.com)
Last week I got tired of the same old thing, grilled pork chops, chicken breast. I wanted something fun and different. Shish Kabobs sounded fun, I even bought permanent metal skewers instead of the thin bamboo that burn and break in half. This means I have to fix Kabobs again, darn. (read sarcasm here)
What is it about food on a stick that is so tasty? Maybe it’s the lack of utensils, the youthful feeling you get just like when you sucked down a Popsicle sitting on the back step. Think about it corn dogs, Popsicles, and all kinds of state fair food are found on a stick. I’ll get to that on a later post.
Shish Kabobs on the Grill
Not really a recipe here. It’s pretty much personal preference. I used chicken , pineapple, sweet peppers, mushrooms and pieces of corn on the cob. After seasoning everything with a Garlic Rosemary mix I lathered it with a sweet Chinese sauce made from a mix of Dorothy Lynch (french) dressing, poppy seed dressing, soy sauce and ginger.
Soon your neighbors will be trying to pawn excess zucchini off on whomever will be gullible enough to say yes. My husband loves the stuff and would eat it fried every night. For me, I’m still learning to like it and wanting a few more ways to use this abundant vegetable that will stretch our food budget. It’s part of the squash family which I’m really trying to like.
This years first zucchini actually came from the produce stand in the parking lot at work.
Fried Zucchini is simple to make, it’s stopping that is the hard part.
- Vegetable Oil (1/8-1/4 inch in frying pan)
- Salt (I use ground sea salt)
- Pepper (again freshly ground is best)
- Slice zucchini into 1/8″ slices
- Mix cup of milk and one egg
- Soak zucchini slices in milk mixture for 30 minutes (flour sticks better)
- Dip zucchini slices in flour and coat well.
- Heat oil on medium high. Check temperature by sprinkling a “dusting” of flour in oil. If it sizzles oil is ready.
- Place coated flour pieces in oil and cook until underside is lightly brown.
- Season with salt and pepper before turning.
- Turn and brown.
- Drain in paper towels
- Eat and enjoy
Last year I sliced and froze zucchini to put in soups which really added color and texture to my soups. I’ll probably try the old stand by, zucchini bread and muffins, but those get tiring after a while. I found the following zucchini recipes which sound very interesting and a little different. This may be a new segment, my zucchini adventure, so stay tuned for more recipes.
BTW, my husband said I he will be frying zucchini every night, so I WON’T have enough to pickle etc…soooo neighbors and friends with zucchini, it’s welcome here, I’ll share my cooking experiments.
Pickled Zucchini-refrigerator variety
Bread and Butter Zucchini Pickles-cooked and canned
Breaded Zucchini Fries
Fried Zucchini Patties