Monday, July 20, 2015

Lemon-Blackberry Olive Oil Cake

As I was looking to see which post to do today, I went back to find the "One Year Ago" recipe and saw that today is the 2nd Anniversary of my blog, which means I now also get to do "Two Years Ago" and the end of the recipes/posts.  Oh my gosh, where has this year gone?  Can anyone please tell me?  I am amazed how fast time keeps ticking by me.

I perused through my photo cache of recipes from the past few months and realized I had not posted this one yet.  It's easy, refreshing and a perfect summer dessert.  In our case, also a great coffee cake for mornings.  

I changed up the Orange Olive Oil Cake that I made a few months ago to see what switching out a couple ingredients would do.  The end result was awesome.  I cannot wait to make this for my grandma when we visit her during our vacation.

Lemon-Blackberry Olive Oil Cake

Non-stick baking spray
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbls. juice, 1 Tbl. zest)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups fresh blackberries

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Spray 9-inch round cake pan with non-stick baking spray.

Mix together the sugar and eggs in a medium bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until blended and light.  Drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla and mix until light and smooth.  Add the lemon juice and zest and mix well.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another medium bowl.  Add the flour mixture half at a time to the wet ingredients and mix on low just to incorporate.  Carefully fold in the blackberries to the batter, until evenly distributed.

Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake, 25 to 30 minutes.  Let the cake cool 15 minutes.  Serve with fresh whipping cream and blackberries.

One Year Ago:  Fry Sauce
Two Years Ago: Pickling Cucumbers

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Fritters and White Sangria Sparkler

Summer is well upon us and we have had the fortunate time to be visiting our Saturday Farmer's Market and all their fresh abundance of fruit, veggies and flowers that Colorado supplies.

This past weekend we picked up some beautiful peaches and made a chilled, refreshing Sangria.

White Sangria Sparkler
Courtesy of Damn Delicious

1 (750ml) bottle white wine
2 peaches, sliced
2 kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup raspberries
3 Tbl sugar
1 (750ml) bottle sparkling white wine (like Prosecco)

In a large pitcher, whisk together white wine, peaches, kiwis, raspberries and sugar.

Let chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Serve over ice with sparkling white wine,

Angus just has to be in every photo,
especially during our patio Happy Hour time,
or should I rephrase..."Puppy Hour".

Our newest bloom in the front yard.

We also picked up some spaghetti squash to have with marinara sauce for dinner.  I ended up having one half of the squash left over and found this amazing side dish recipe for later during the week. Super easy and really delicious!

Served along side our chicken and pepper kabobs.

Bacon, Spaghetti Squash and Parmesan Fritters
Courtesy of

2 eggs
1/3 cup flour
3 cups spaghetti squash, cooked, shredded and wringed out
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp salt
3 green onions, chopped
5 bacon strips, cooked, drained and chopped
2 Tbl. olive oil

In a large bowl, using electric mixer, beat 2 eggs on high speed for 1-2 minutes.  Add flour and continue beating for about 30 seconds to combine.  To the same bowl, add spaghetti squash, Parmesan cheese, green onions and salt.  Mix very well until all the mixture has uniform consistency. Add bacon and mix. 

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat until very hot.  Only then add olive oil.  It should sizzle and smoke right away.  Using a tablespoon, spoon the tablespoon full of the batter for each fritter and crop on the skillet.  Using a spatula, correct the shape of each fitter, making it flatter and rounder.  Cook until the bottom side of each fritter is golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium.  Using spatula, flip fritters to the opposite side, and cook 1-2 more minutes.

When flipping fritters, you can use a spoon on the opposite side of spatula to help push each fritter onto the spatula and then flipping.

Turn off the heat and let the fritters sit in the skillet (uncovered) for 2-3 more minutes. (Check the bottom, if they're too dark, remove fritters from the skillet immediately.)  Do 4 fritters at a time, so they crisp up, and not steam.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

One Year Ago: Turkey Chili

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Artichoke (Addiction) Gratin

So my oldest daughter and I have been having artichoke cravings this summer...we cannot get enough of them in any shape or form.  She learned a new hot artichoke dip on Pinterest and has been making us batches of it every week.  We'll have a little nosh on it with some crackers during our family debriefing or she'll warm it up for one of her late Netflix movie night snacks.  (If) there are any leftovers, I have been re-purposing it, warmed up over mini penne pasta or I even tried it out using as the stuffing for my broiled stuffed mushrooms...served them up with a cobb dinner salad - delish!!!

Artichoke Dip Stuffed Mushrooms - oh my!!
I have also been making this gratin for a quick dinner side dish.  It has terrific flavors and goes wonderfully with steak or chicken.

Artichoke Gratin
Serves 4

4 cups canned artichoke quarters with herbs, drained
2 Tbl. shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbl. shredded Romano cheese
2 tsp. roughly chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil

Set an oven rack on the lowest position and preheat the broiler.

In a shallow oven-proof baking dish, arrange the artichokes in a single layer.

Combine the cheeses, thyme, and red pepper flakes and scatter over the artichokes.

Drizzle the oil over the cheeses.

Broil until the cheese is melted and the edges of the artichokes are lightly browned, 15 to 18 minutes.
(Keep an eye on it, as it can brown fast under the broiler, even on the lowest rack),

Served over grilled chicken and rice pilaf.
One Year Ago:  Grilled Vegetable Salad

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cracked Out Chicken Bubble Up

Our 95 degree days of sunshine have made way for more clouds, rain and thunderstorms this week. 

Another dreary event has been one of our little guys, Theo recently had surgery to remove a skin tag on his eye, teeth cleaned and a lump removed from his thigh...poor guy.  Between that and the noise of fireworks, he's had a tough couple weeks around our house.

It's time for warm comfort food again and this one definitely does the trick!  Super easy, delicious and makes great leftovers.

Cracked Out Chicken Bubble Up
Courtesy of Plain Chicken

2 cups chopped or shredded chicken
1 (10.75oz) can Cream of Chicken Soup
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1-1/2 Tbsp Ranch dry dressing mix
1/4 cup cooked, chopped bacon
1 (12oz) can refrigerated Grands Jr biscuits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Combine chicken, soup, sour cream, cheese, Ranch mix and bacon.  Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Toss with chicken mixture.

Pour chicken mixture into prepared pan. (Make sure the biscuit corners are separated from each other and placed throughout the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and biscuits are golden brown.

One Year Ago: Quick Marinated Cherry Tomato Salad

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Traeger BBQ Beef Ribs and Celebrating Our Independence

Happy 4th of July to everyone out there today!  We have been very busy decorating the yard and house and preparing for the day.  We started with a wonderful hike with the dogs to one of the rivers and they took in a well deserved swim.

The girls have planned our menu and jumped right into the kitchen preparing our evening's picnic and festivities while we watch the City's fireworks display.

All decorated and ready to go!

So very handsome!

Our patriotic pups!
The main event for tonight of course will be grilled ribs.  This recipe comes from our Traeger book, which has proven to be our go-to for smoking and grilling time and time again.

Beef Ribs
Courtesy of Traeger's Everyday Cookbook

(2) 7-bone racks beef long ribs (back ribs), 5 to 6 pounds total
Traeger Prime Rib Rub (or your favorite barbecue rub)
Traeger Texas Spicy Barbecue Sauce (or your favorite barbecue sauce)

** If you don't have a Traeger, you could certainly do this same rib on your grill and/or smoker, and cook according to your temperature's/manufacturer's directions.

Remove the thin papery membrane from the bone-side of the ribs by working the tip of a butter knife. Use paper towels to get a firm grip, then tear the membrane off.

Season the ribs with your Prime Rib rub.

When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes).  Smoke the ribs, meat-side up, for 2 hours.  Set the temperature to 225 degrees.

Continue to cook the ribs for 3 to 4 hours more, or until the meat is tender.  If desired, wrap the ribs tightly in foil partway through the cooking time.  The last 30 minutes, carefully remove the ribs from the foil and brush them liberally with your barbecue sauce, and return to grill.  Transfer the ribs to a cutting board and let them rest for a few minutes before carving them into individual ribs.

Season them up.
Set it...and forget it!

I think family "blooper" photos are my favorite!

One Year Ago:  Apple Pie Cake

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Alma's Mac and Cheese and Maddy's Mighty Minions

Our little community here witnessed the passing of a very special little girl this week, Maddy Grayless.  She was eight years old and passed away this Tuesday after learning of her terminal bone cancer only two weeks ago.

Her last wish was, she just wanted to make a difference and started a campaign of having others do good through acts of kindness.  Here is an excerpt from today's newspaper article on Maddy.

"Help Maddy's dying wish live on forever," Taylor wrote. "It has been so touching to see all of these acts of service in her name. It gives us so much comfort to know that her wish is coming true."
The Maddy's Mighty Minions page, created by a family friend, beckons people to perform good deeds in her honor and write about what they have done. Many posts borrow imagery from the animated film "Despicable Me" and the small, yellow "do-gooder" Minion characters that feature heavily in it.
To read more about Maddy and her story, you can see it here, Maddy's Mighty Minions.

Some members of the group have handed out cards featuring the little yellow characters with information about Maddy's story printed on them.
Her story is heart breaking and as a mother, I cannot imagine the pain and sadness her parents are going through right now.  Friends and family have also started a GoFundMe Page to assist her parents in Maddy's medical expenses.  

Given all the dark events and sadness we are witnessing in our world right now, take a moment to share Maddy's inspirational story with those around you and pay it forward.  I am confident that she is shining her light down on everyone right now and helping others make a difference.

I normally would not have attached a recipe to this story, but it's Mac and Cheese and it reminds me of children and smiles.  It's homemade and kids used to love it as children and still do to this day

So tonight, hug your child, family member or friend and let them know how much you love them.

Dedicated to Maddy Grayless

Ma's Mac & Cheese
Courtesy of Alma Wahlberg

1 lb. Velveeta block cheese
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1/2 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the macaroni.  Boil to packaged directions.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over low heat.  After it's melted, pour in the milk and whisk slowly until it thickens.  Add the cheese a few pieces at a time and whisk until they melt into the sauce.

Drain the macaroni when ready and return to the large pot.  Add the cheese sauce and stir together well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

One Year Ago: Fajita Salad

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Asian Shrimp Salad, Age Spots and Angeline Wine

Could someone out there please clarify and explain to me the meaning and purpose of age spots?!  I haven't even hit my half century milestone birthday age yet and I am starting to look like a Dalmatian with all my age spots.  Since I wake up with sore, achy muscles every morning, cannot remember what I did last week and continue my battle with "silver highlights" in my hair, I'm pretty sure that I don't need reminded of my age by those obtrusive spots arriving on my body every other week.

A few years ago I noticed a spot on my chest, since I wear a lot of v-neck style shirts.  I was concerned that it may be skin cancer so I proceeded to my dermatologist in California.  He took a three second look at it and said so matter of fact, "Oh, it's just an age spot".  WHAT???!!  Well, in my vain manner, I asked him to freeze it off...I mean really, I wasn't even 45 years old yet and that just would not do.  

So, he proceeded with my request and got a little overzealous with the dry ice and froze a little too deep of skin layers.  So, now instead of a dark spot in the middle of my chest, I now have a white spot.  See what that vanity got me - nothing!  Lesson learned...don't try to alter mother nature, you'll never win - just deal with it.

To take my mind off my spotty self, I came up with this salad from three other spinach-shrimp style salads I came across, plus added in some refrigerator items that needed used up.  It was so unbelievable, the girls inhaled the shrimp and asked for seconds.  The infused shrimp tasted like we were sitting at Benihana's grill table, they were that authentic. Yummy!!

Paired our pear accented salad (no pun intended)
with Angeline Pinot Noir wine.
Asian Shrimp and Spinach Salad
(Serves 4 as a dinner entree)

1/4 cup olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbl. red wine vinegar
2 Tbl. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbl. fresh orange juice
1 Tbl. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1 Tbl. Dijon mustard
1 Tbl. honey
1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails off
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 limes, juiced
2 tsp. honey
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
8 cups baby spinach
1 pear, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts, salted

For the shrimp, in a large bowl whisk the soy sauce, lime juice, honey, garlic, olive oil, ginger, cumin, salt and pepper.  Add the shrimp to the marinade, toss to coat, cover bowl with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

While the shrimp is marinating, cook and dice the bacon, wash baby spinach leaves and dice the pear (sprinkle a little lemon juice on pear to keep from turning brown).

Prepare the salad dressing by whisking all the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the grill to high.  Remove shrimp from the marinade.  Skewer and grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Remove from skewers, cover and keep warm.

Toss the spinach to coat with some of the salad dressing and place in the center of your individual serving plates.  Arrange the bacon, pears, and shrimp around spinach and spoon more of the dressing all over.  Scatter the peanuts over the salad.