Saturday, January 5, 2019

Seafood Pasta

I bought  some nice "Wild Caught Shrimp" and "Scallops" for New Years Eve. I don't buy seafood very often (probably because we live in the middle of the country, with no accessible fresh seafood),  but we have been craving it lately... which I think is due to our Vitamin Sea deficiency, haha . Evidently, I bought much more than 2 people can eat in one night, so it is seafood week here at out house. Tonight I made Seafood Pasta  and oh my goodness, it was delicious, you are going to want to make some of this.

12 ounces Spaghetti and 1 Tablespoon butter or Olive Oil
1 1/2 pounds seafood, such as Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Crab meat etc.
1 cup White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio)
1 cup half and half
4 Tablespoons Butter (divided in half)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 small Onion minced
3 cloves of Garlic, crushed and minced
1 1/2 cups chopped Cherry Tomatoes
1/8 cup chopped Parsley
1/ 8 cup minced Green Onion
1/4 cup Parmesan

  1. Cook Spaghetti according to package instructions until just almost al dente. Drain and place back into pot with 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil; stir, cover and set to the side.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt half of the butter with the olive oil. Add the shrimp and scallops. Brown and cook approximately 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate. 
  3. Add remaining butter, onion and garlic to the skillet cook and stir until soft.
  4. Add tomatoes, and saute lightly
  5. Add wine and most of the parsely.
  6. Simmer about 3 minutes more, then return shrimp, scallops and add the clams or crab meat toss until combined.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir in the Half and Half and Parmesan Cheese.
  9. Add Spaghetti, and stir to combine.
  10. Transfer to a serving dish or dish into bowls.
  11. Top with Green Onions, remaining Parsley and Parmesan Cheese
  12. Enjoy!

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt half of the butter with the olive oil. Add the shrimp and scallops. Brown and cook approximately 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a plate. 

 Add remaining butter, onion and garlic to the skillet cook and stir until soft.

 Add tomatoes, and saute lightly

Add wine and parsely.  Simmer about 3 minutes more, then return shrimp, scallops and add the clams or crab meat toss until combined.Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in the Half and Half and Parmesan Cheese.

Add Spaghetti, and stir to combine.
Transfer to a serving dish or dish into bowls.
Top with Parmesan Cheese and chopped Parsley.


Oh, and this was the view out of my kitchen window, while I was cooking this afternoon.

Have a great week, Everyone!

Friday, December 28, 2018

Cranberry Sourdough Waffles

Have you sometimes wondered what to do with that left-over Cranberry Sauce beyond smearing it on the very important turkey sandwich on white bread, with mayonnaise and potato chips, (which is is a must, in my opinion), but what about after that? Well let me tell you; crispy sourdough waffles, smothered in Cranberry Orange Sauce are the answer. We unanimously "mmmed", "oohed" and "ahhed" over this combination. The tangy cranberry pairs so well with the "Sour" in the Sourdough Waffles, that it seems just flat to eat the waffles without the sauce... and now that the Cranberry Orange Sauce is all gone, but the waffles still remain in the freezer, I am considering making another batch of the sauce, so that the waffles don't seem flat... haha. But all that to say, "you're really gonna like these, so you gotta give this a try".

This sourdough waffle recipe is a recipe that my daughters have often made during their visits here. The recipe is an adaptation from All-Recipe's "Sam's Sourdough Waffles" Recipe, and it is delicious. The waffles are crisp outside, fluffy inside, with a wonderful flavor, and are perfect eaten fresh, or frozen and re-toasted. We have a whole batch in the freezer right now, and have been enjoying them all week... with the Cranberry Orange Sauce, of course.

    • 2 cups Einkorn, Spelt, or Organic All-Purpose Flour
    • 1 1/2 cups Water
    • 1 cup Sour Dough Starter
    • 1/2 cup Cooking Oil (my favorite is Avocado Oil)
    • 2 Eggs
    • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Sugar or Organic Non GMO Cane Sugar
    • 2 teaspoons Himalayan Salt
    • 1 Tablespoon water
    • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
    • 1 cup Cranberry Orange Sauce
    • 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
    • 2 Tablespoons Water
    • Organic Powdered Sugar for dusting
    • Oranges or Mandarins for Garnish

      Its best to start this the night before you want to make waffles.
      1. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups water, and sourdough starter. Mix well. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or paper towel and let sit in a warm place 4 -12 hours.
      2. Once the batter has been sitting 4 -12 hours, and is bubbly, add oil, eggs, sugar, and salt; mix well to combine. 
      3. Whisk 1 tablespoon water and baking soda together in a small bowl until dissolved. Fold into the batter with a rubber spatula.  
      4. Preheat the waffle Iron.
      5. Spoon in batter into the waffle iron, and cook until waffles are crispy.
      6. While the Waffles are cooking, place 1 cup Cranberry Orange Sauce into a sauce pan, and add 1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water.
      7. Heat until warm and well combined.
      8. Spoon hot over hot, buttered waffles
      9. Dust with powdered sugar
      10. Enjoy!

      They are so yummy, even for dinner, with sausage and eggs.

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      Friday, December 21, 2018

      Christmas Traditions

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      There is something very special about the traditions of Christmas that make it such an important part of each year. Treasured memories of our Christmas's when we were kids, are part of what we long to give to our own kids, and the joy of friendship and fellowship is sweetened by the memories we make as we celebrate in some way together through the Christmas Season.  This year, one of our daughters and her family are with us for Christmas, and as we do each time we get together with our grown kids and grandkids,  we search our memory for the list of traditions, so that we might enjoy some of them again with them, and to add to the sweet memories to our life album. I enjoy the "thought process" of deciding what we are going to do each time. Planning is part of the fun isn't it?

      So I'm sharing my list with you guys, and I would love to hear some of your list, if you get a chance to leave a comment. We (or those very close to us) have done most of the things on this list at one time or another,  You may already do many of these things, but you may find a new idea that you and your family would want to try.  Let creativity add joy and meaning to your Christmas Season, and enjoy the sweet moments with Jesus, and your family... and in case I don't get the chance to tell you later, "Merry Christmas".

      1. Have a "homemade only"  Christmas.  Sometimes it is fun to declare a "Homemade Christmas Rule" for Christmas gift giving. Tell everyone that "we will only be exchanging gifts that  each person has made themselves". It could be something they sew, something crafted, a wood project, a metal project, something from the kitchen, something planted and potted in potting soil,  or even a coupon book of services, but it has to be put together by hand. Creative people will love doing this, but non-creative people may not like it or they may even resist it at first, but once they find some interesting way to create a gift, they will surprise themselves and find that they have had fun in the process. The kids or grandkids will love to make gifts that are not only loved and treasured by their parents and grandparents, but will love the memories they make when they are creating with you or for you. Making homemade presents is something Steve and I have done since we were first married, and it has carried on through our grown children; even as I write this, my daughter is downstairs sewing a wonderful cozy (but "manly") blanket for her husband, lol.
      2. Put out Luminaries: When I was growing up, in Arizona, our  entire neighborhood put luminaries in their driveway, walkway, and side walk. It was beautiful, and Christmas Eve wasn't complete without a drive through the entire neighborhood to see the luminaries.  Steve and I both have these memories, because he lived in the same neighborhood. You can make luminaries with ordinary paper lunch bags, a little sand and small candles. Click the link above for a visual.
      3. Take a drive to see the lights: Like I mentioned above, as kids, we loved going for a drive on Christmas Eve, to see the Luminaries, but it is also fun to do it for any Christmas light display, and the kids will look forward to the tradition of it.
      4. Watch a favorite Christmas movie: I still love to watch all of the Kids Christmas movies and cartoons, such as "Charlie Brown" or "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer", but our family favorite tradition is to watch "Its a Wonderful Life", and we watch it every year in our "comfy cozies", with blankets, cocoa and popcorn.
      5. Open One present on Christmas Eve.  Some people are "Christmas Eve Openers", and Some People are "Christmas Morning Openers". We have always been "Christmas Morning Openers", but it was always fun to let the kids open one present on Christmas Eve. Are you a Christmas Eve, or Christmas Morning opener?
      6. Give Christmas Eve Jammies: For most of the years when the kids and Grandkids were/are young, we have loved giving Christmas Eve Jammies.  I like it because they have their new Jammies to wear to bed on Christmas Eve, and wake up in on Christmas Morning.  They seem to look forward to it as well, and most often it has become the "One Present" that I mentioned in #5 above that gets opened on Christmas Eve.
      7. Make a Traditional Christmas Eve meal into something special; such as ethnic food, for example, Mexican, Tamales, Christmas Ravioli, Pierogies, Cabbage Roll, Eggrolls etc and talk about how people all over the world are celebrating the birth of Jesus, or try something light and easy such as a finger food meal, or soup, and enjoy a restful and peaceful Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day dinner usually consists of Turkey, Ham, Goose, or Roast, with all the fixings, but Christmas Eve dinner is a fun time to change up a few things and add a meaningful diversity to some of our holiday traditions.
      8. Make cookie trays or baked goods for neighbors and friends: For many years, we have made cookie trays for neighbors and a few friends that live close by. If time allows, we will deliver the trays on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, We also have a friend in town, who does the same for us, and will often drive all the way out to our house bringing a most amazing cookie tray.  It is such a treat to get that tray, and also to deliver something similar to others; it really blesses us to do it. On some occasions, we have made Cinnamon Rolls, or Bread, and it is always a super blessing to our neighbors, as well as ourselves. It is moment to love and fellowship when we may not have a lot of time through the year to do so, and is a heart warmer to all.
      9. Fill shoe boxes or baskets for those in need, or adopt a family from church or ministry to share Christmas with: Samaritan's Purse is a Ministry, that in addition helping people in all countries of the world during crisis situations, also  provides Christmas boxes for children in need, all over the world. They invite any of us to help in that ministry by filling and sending them shoeboxes full of little gifts for a girl or boy. My oldest son works for Samaritan's purse in all of its various aspects of ministry. He has made some of the Shoe Box Ministry videos...including this one, which is my favorite, because my grand daughter and daughter in law and her sister are in it (my little granddaughter is the one receiving the shoe boxes in the video... can you hear my buttons busting). Anyhow, it is a great way to get involved and you can click here for the "How to" aspect if you are interested.  In Past years, our church has also put together ministries that allows anyone in church to sign up and adopt another family for Christmas. Families that are struggling to make ends meet can sign up for the program, and are then put together with families who want to help. Our whole family has been a part of that. It is very rewarding to see the faces of those children when you bring Christmas to them.
      10. Create a special day during the Christmas season, to celebrate with family or friends that you won't be able to be with on Christmas day, but would still like to celebrate with in some way. In years gone by, we have had an early Christmas with some sides of our family, when we knew we wouldn't be able to be together on Christmas. It made us feel as if we were able to have a double blessing this way.
      11. Have a Christmas Tea party: Some of my  friends and I and our daughters have done this almost every year, for either Christmas or Valentines. It is a highlight of the year to me.
      12. Celebrate advent: Start December off by creating some advent traditions with your family. I love some of these ideas.
      13. Read the Christmas Story aloud to your family: We like to do this every Christmas Eve; Steve is the one who usually reads it to us. It is a special treat, that helps us remembering what Christmas is all about.
      14. Make Birthday Cards for Jesus:  My dear friend Barbara started this tradition years ago, and has been doing it ever since. She and her family get together on Christmas Eve, and among the rest of their Christmas Eve activities, they make these cards. I have always wanted to try it, because of the joy that they have had doing it every year.
      15. Invite those that are alone to your Christmas Day celebration.  Some of the hardest times of the year can be Christmas time and the Holidays, to those who have lost loved ones.  Even when all of our children have left home, it can be lonely during the holidays. I know for us, we have experienced  loneliness when our children have moved away. We have been so grateful to the open invitation of friends, during those various holidays, and have always tried to remember others who are alone during the  holidays, and invite them to share the day with us.
      16. Make Christmas Ornaments with the Kids: We love to do this in our home, but we have also loved being a part of the various Church and Homeschool Groups over the years that have provided a craft or ornament making day for the kids. Those days have always been a highlight for the kids and for us, and we have a wonderful collection of all that they have made over the years.
      17. Have Communion on Christmas Eve: A wonderful way to keep "Christ" in "Christmas", is to serve and participate in "Communion" on Christmas Eve. Not only do we celebrate Jesus's birth on Christmas, but also we remember His life and death which was offered to us and is the greatest gift of all.

      However you make traditions every year, and in whatever way you celebrate, May your Christmas be merry and bright, and May you have a very blessed New Year.

      Monday, December 17, 2018

      Cranberry Orange Sauce with Essential Oils

      I've been wanting to post this recipe for some time, and now I'm finally getting to it.  I love the addition of orange to any cranberry sauce, and this recipe is especially good, with the addition of Mandarin oranges, orange rind, orange juice, and orange or tangerine essential oils.  The essential oils really add a pop of flavor that once you try it, you won't want to make it without it. I served this up last night with a roasted Chicken, and it was just delicious.

      1 12ounce package fresh cranberries
      1 cup water
      1/2 cup maple syrup
      1/2 cup organic sugar
      1/2 cup orange juice
      1 Tablespoon grated orange rind (reserve a little for garnish)
      10-15 drops orange or tangerine essential oils
      1 25 ounce can Mandarin Oranges (no sugar variety), (reserves a few for garnish).


      1. Place cranberries, water, syrup, sugar, orange rind and orange juice into a medium sized pan.
      2. Stir and gently bring pot to boil.
      3. Allow to boil gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally through out.
      4. Remove from heat.
      5. Add Essential oils and stir until evenly mixed.
      6. Cover the pan and allow to cool.
      7. Add Mandarin oranges, and gently stir until evenly mixed (stirring gently will help to keep them as whole pieces.
      8. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with Mandarin orange pieces and grated orange rind.
      9. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

      Delicious with meat dishes, or use like a jam, or a topping for waffles or pancakes, toast, rolls, etc and of course perfect with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.



      Friday, December 14, 2018

      Make a Lighted Topiary

      Lighted Topiary Trees brighten the house in any season.  I created this one as a "winter topiary", that is really nice to keep out and lit all through the winter season, to create a cozy cheery atmosphere in your home, even when the Christmas tree has come and gone.  Today I am posting a link to my Skillshare class "How to make a Lighted Topiary", for any one who is interested in the class.  Have fun you guys.

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      Friday, November 16, 2018

      DIY Mason Jar Candles

       I've been teaching a kids art class this year and having a great time at it.   This week we decided we should do a fun craft for Thanksgiving, and thought it would be nice to make candles to dress up the Thanksgiving table.  We loved making these, and it was really a quick and easy thing to do.  We used Paraffin, (because I happen to have a box of it from another craft) and crayons, and a few scrap candles.  If you want a more natural, clean candle, use soy wax or beeswax.  We used 1/2 pint canning jars and essential oils to scent them naturally. If you are thinking of a fun quick craft to do this week for Thanksgiving, you might really love this one.


      1 lb  Beeswax, Soy Wax, Paraffin or the equivalent of used crayon and candle pieces
      1 bag of Wix
      1 bag of Wick Clips
      Approximately 6 Crayons in your choice of color
      3 "1/2" pint canning jars or ( 6 "1/4" pint canning jars)
      Essential oils
      Glue dots (optional
      Pencils or pens

      1. Prepare wicks and wick clips by cutting the wick to fit the full length of your jar leaving enough extra to wrap around a pencil or rod. 
      2. Slip the wick through the hole in the wick clip and crimp a tiny bit of it over the edge underneath to secure. You will want to be sure that the flat side is on the bottom. 
      3. Wrap the top of the wick around a pencil, pen or rod, adjusting the length as you place the wick.
      4. Place wick into jar, straightening as needed, and placing wick clip on bottom securely         Note: You can use Glue dots if you would like to glue the base of the wick clip to the bottom of the jar.
      5. Lay the pencil over the top of the jar, straightening wick and adjusting it into place as needed.
      6. Place wax and crayons into a small pot and turn to the lowest setting.  We did this in three batches, as there were different colors we wanted to use for each candle. Each jar filled nicely by using 1 and a half of the wax squares, and 2 crayons for each jar (for 3 "1/2" pint jars: If you wanted to do it all in one color, you can put it all in the pot at once).
      7. Once wax is melted, stir well, and add 15-20 drops essential oils.
      8. Pour into the prepared jars.
      9. Allow the wax to cool and set for about 1 hour, or more if needed.  You should trim your wicks, leaving about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wick, (this is important to keep your candle from smoking; if your candle smokes, it is probably because your wick is too long. 

       Gather and prepare supplies.

      These are the wick clips.

       Slip the wick through the clip, allowing a tiny part to come through the bottom and use your finger to crimp the the wick against the bottom.

      Crimp and hold wick end as you straighten the length.  Wrap the top end of the wick around a pencil or rod.

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       Place wick in jar, and lay pencil over top.

       Straighten and adjust wick, and wick clip so that it is straight and wick clip sits flat.

       Ready to go..... lets melt some wax.

       Put wax into a pot, and add approximately two crayons to add the color you want.

      Add essential oils.

      Stir over low heat until completely melted.  This one is just beginning to melt... but already looks so pretty doesn't it?

       When wax is melted, stir well, and then pour into jars.

       This batch was made up of candle scraps, and paraffin.

       Here they are, nicely set.  You will need to trim the wicks to 1/4 -1/2 inch, to avoid smoking.

       They look beautiful just like this.... but, tie ribbons or twine around them, or decorate them any way you like.

       Note: when using paraffin wax and crayons together, the crayons will tint the wax a lovely color, then will separate from the wax, as the candle cools,  leaving a pretty multi-layered color effect.  For our second batch of candles, I used a couple of scraps of old candles mixed with paraffin. It turned out super pretty as well, although it didn't have the pretty layers that the other candles had.

       Happy Candle Making.

      Tuesday, August 7, 2018

      Double Layer Chocolate Cherry Cake Surpreme

      This cake reminds me of the big beautiful party hat in the children's book "Go Dog Go".  Do you remember that book?   I loved that book as a kid, and of course my favorite part was the party on top of the tree at the end of the book, and the last "hat" that the girl dog wore to impress the boy dog.  That was the hat that finally impressed him, and not only him but any of us who read the book.  But here is the story behind this cake.

      Two of my daughters have celebrated their birthday together for most of the last 34 years.  That is because they are twins. They are married now, and have families of their own, but have often been able to celebrate their birthday together,  and would make each other a cake.... and their cakes are always something special.  But this year, they weren't together for their birthday, and so no cake for each other... but our daughter Marie was able to be with us, while our daughter Elizabeth was able to be with our son and his family in North Carolina, which was really special for each of us who had one of them, but what about that special cake?

      I was going to make the cake this year, and  I wanted it to be special, because I had to keep up with their wonderful tradition. When they were little I had often made an ice cream cake, with layers of pound cake alternating with layers of ice cream, and frosted with chocolate frosting and then completely covered with M&M's.  They were fun, delicious cakes, although not very pretty.... always a little lopsided and messy looking, but so good.  I considered doing that again, but it seemed to me that it ought to be a little more grown up  type of cake and it should be much prettier than it was in those days.  I wanted it to be chocolate, and I decided cherries would add a variation to  traditional chocolate cake, and it should have some fun decorations, like those cakes of old, but perhaps an upgrade of the chocolate candies, with  at least a flower or two.  So here is the cake I made. I hadn't initially  intended to post the recipe, but it was so good and I did end up taking pictures of it once it was finished, soooo I decided afterwards, that I would go ahead and post it.

      I had thought about frosting the cake completely, but once I began building it, my whipped cream started seeping out the edges, and I knew it wouldn't quite work to frost it all, so I left it mostly naked, and just frosted the top. I think if I realized how it would go, I would have made chocolate ganache, and poured it over the top and let it drip down the edges instead of the frosting, then I could have had purposeful drips, and it might have seemed more planned... but oh well, maybe next year.  Anyhow it turned out wonderfully moist,  rich and chocolatey.  The whipped cream and cherry pie filling was amazing with it,  the chocolate decorations were delightful and delicious, and like the dog at the end of the"Go Dog Go" book, everyone really loved it.

       For the Cake:
      2 cups organic granulated sugar
      1 cup organic unbleached all-purpose flour
      3/4 cup almond flour
      3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
      1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
      1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
      1 teaspoon salt
      2 large eggs
      1 cup buttermilk
      1/2 cup oil (my latest favorite oil to bake with is avocado oil)
      2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      1 cup boiling water

      Instructions for the Cake:
      1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease two 8 or 9-inch round baking pans.
      2. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. 
      3. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla and mix well. 
      4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined.
      5.  Stir in the boiling water ( the batter will be very thin). 
      6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
      7. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted  center comes out clean. 
      8. Cool 5 minutes in the pan and then invert onto wire racks to cool completely.
      9. Place in the freezer, and freeze for several hours or overnight (optional). 
      For the Frosting:
      1/4 cup butter
      1cup organic powdered sugar
      1/4 cup half and half
      1 teaspoon vanilla extract
      1/2 cup chocolate chips

      Instructions for the Frosting:
      1. In a medium small saucepan, add half and half, butter and chocolate chips, stir constantly and warm over low heat until melted.
      2. Remove from heat.
      3. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the saucepan, stirring constantly to blend.  
      4. Stir in vanilla.
      5. Allow to cool about 10 minutes. 

      For the Filling: 

      Whipped cream

      Cherry pie filling

      For the Decorations: 
      Fresh cherries
      Chocolate chips
      Large chocolate bar
      Round chocolates, (Such as Lindt Truffles, or Ferrero Rocher Truffles)white, milk and dark chocolates  for variety
      Chocolate cream filled wafer sticks
      Chocolate covered cherries or chocolate covered dried cherries
      Roses or pretty flowers

      How to Assemble: 
      1.  Remove Cakes from freezer, and allow to sit at room temperature 10 - 15 minutes.
      2.  Place one cake onto a cake plate for the bottom layer.  
      3.  Spread with whipped cream.
      4.  Spoon cherry pie filling over whipped cream, (leave a little border of whipped cream on the edge, so that the cherries don't spill over and down the sides of the cake).
      5. Top with remaining cake.
      6.  Frost with Frosting
      7. Decorate by arranging chocolates, cherries and flowers over the top in one big wonderful grouping. When I shopped for the toppings, I looked for a variety of textures and shapes, all with the theme of chocolate, white chocolate and cherries.



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