So much work, So little time…

Why is it, I always bite off more than I can chew? The blueberries need picking and peaches are in season, so of course I’m on my second basket of those.  Our next door neighbor shared a big bag of his cucumbers with us, as well. The dogs are out of dehydrated pork treats; I had to buy a pork loin for those, and while they are on sale I bought an extra one for us. AND we’re out of ground beef, so I picked up a couple of sale chuck roasts for that.  (If you follow this blog you might remember that I never purchase store ground beef.  You just don’t know where it came from.)  Now, where do I start?

The dog treats take the longest, so I guess that’s as good of a beginning as anything. It takes a while to trim all the fat off a boneless pork loin, then cut it into thin strips and load those into the dehydrator for a 10 hour stint. Why do I bother? Well, Bella has food allergies and can’t have any chicken in any form, not even “animal fats”. Try finding commercial dog treats that fit that bill. I guess she could go treat-less, but what fun is that? Our dogs aren’t spoiled! I guess I’ll save the second piece of pork for next week.  It’s dated out that long.

While I’m working with treats, let me tell you about Hot Garlic Dills. These slightly spicy dill pickles come together in about a week and are the perfect use for those cucumbers that “got away”. You know, the ones that manage to hide in your garden until they are too large and seedy to enjoy as is. After I cut the cukes into spears I trim away the seedy core to produce flawless pickles.  Of course, you can also start with smaller cucumbers and keep the seeds, but just in case…

When ever I’m trimming up pork loins for the dogs, there always nice meaty portions that don’t lend themselves into cutting fat-free strips.   Waste not!  Those chunks go into the meat grinder.  I usually wind up with a good pound of ground pork for meatballs or burgers.  I have my standard recipes for Meatballs and Rib Burgers, but this time I think I’ll try something new. I recently ran across a recipe for Swedish meatballs prepared in the Instant Pot. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ll let you know how it goes.

I do have one new summer recipe to share with you: moist and tender Zucchini Meatloaf. You can make it any time of year using grocery store produce, but add this recipe to your arsenal for using the garden’s bounty of this prolific squash. You might even be able to sneak an extra serving of veggies by your picky eaters.

And that second basket of peaches? There are so many options! Michael always enjoys Peach Turnovers. These simple treats call for frozen puff pastry. It doesn’t get much easier than that, so off I go.

Be thankful for what life gives you.

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Ready for the Forth?

Before I get started, it looks like someone may have hacked into this account. If you received a post about a new recipe for homemade Marinara, that post didn’t come from me! I’d like to know if you did receive it.

Anyway, every year, our Forth of July menu stays pretty much the same, just as do Thanksgiving and Christmas. You know, ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, and corn on the cob. Same old, Same old. Maybe it’s time to change things up a bit.

Let’s start with the protein selection. Grilling is still a requirement. After all, it is the Forth of July! Do your kids love their hot dogs? Make those hot dog buns do double duty with Bacon Cheeseburger Rolls. No need to buy a second bag of hamburger buns. The way these all-in-one burgers fit right into those hot dog buns help your condiments stay put. No sliding off the bun.  And besides, this presentation is kind of fun!

Not a fan of red meat?  How about trying Grilled Bruschetta Chicken? Fresh basil and home grown tomatoes are both coming into season about now, so use them to pack fresh flavor into not so boring chicken breasts.  For the juiciest chicken, take it off the grill just before it’s done and tent it with foil.  Carry-over cooking will take care of the rest.

Now, about that potato salad…Gotta have it, right?  Let’s twist it up a bit and cut out some of those carbs with UnPotato Salad. While this salad still has that old fashioned potato salad taste, the base of it is actually cauliflower, but you’d never know it. Amp up that potato taste and texture by mashing one boiled potato into the dressing. If you’re a mustard fan you can add that, as well.

And now for the kid’s favorite Mac ‘n Cheese. Let’s twist that up a bit, too by serving Mac and Cheese in a Bacon Bowl. Any recipe for mac and cheese will work here, but I like my Low Guilt Mac and Cheese. It’s super creamy, but stands up well in the bowl, Bacon bowl, that is.

Cole slaw?  Turn it green by serving a crispy Broccoli Salad in creamy sweet and sour dressing instead.  Crumbled bacon and dried cranberries or raisins add interest to the palate.  I think the key to this salad is cutting the broccoli into small bite sized pieces. Larger florets are difficult to manage without a knife, and who wants to cut their salad?

If you prefer your broccoli hot, try Grilled Broccoli.  The slightly caramelized florets carry a subtly smokey flavor, punched up by a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and a squeeze of lemon.  You just can’t get this flavor out of your oven!

That corn on the cob?  Try using grilled corn cut off the cob instead of the canned corn called for in a batch of Southern Caviar. This addictive appetizer recipe does make a large amount, but it stores well in the fridge IF you have any left. Try using diced homegrown tomatoes instead of the recipe’s canned “Ro-Tel” for a wonderful fresh taste.

Of course, no Forth of July celebration would be complete with out dessert! The possibilities are endless. One of our favorites is Fresh Fruit Custard Ice Cream. I make it with whatever seasonal fruit looks the best at the farmer’s market. Dark cherries are available at the grocery this time of year, too. Finely dice or puree the fruit for the best result, and don’t forget the secret ingredient, vodka! Just a tablespoon doesn’t change the taste or make the ice cream alcoholic, but makes a dramatic difference in the texture. Your ice cream scoop will thank you!

Have a happy and safe Forth of July, and don’t forget to be thankful for what life gives you.

The Latest and Greatest!

I’m sorry to admit that I’ve had a bit of blogger’s block lately. OK, a major blogger’s block, but finally I’ve got a few new recipes I’m excited to share with you.

Michael and I both love Mexican inspired food. Somehow, pork is always in abundance in my freezer, and thus Porky Poblanos came to be.  Sort of a pork filled version of a chile rellenos,these are filled with seasoned ground pork and cheeses, including queso fresco.  While traditional rellenos are battered and fried, my Porky Poblanos are baked in a mild enchilada style sauce that’s made partly with V-8 vegetable juice, so they skip much of the fat and sneak in a bit of veggie nutrients. Nothing wrong with that!

My second new recipe is Cashew Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner. Now I know, sheet pan cooking is all the rage, but I haven’t really gotten into it. That is until now. This recipe lives up to all the hype. It’s fast, filling, full of fiber and, most importantly, full of flavor. I served it over hot brown rice to catch all the pan juices.

Strawberry season is almost over,but I think this new dessert recipe is a keeper.  Fresh Strawberry Poke Cake with Cream Cheese Icing  starts with a simple box cake mix but that’s just the beginning. The warm cake is poked all over with a fork or skewer to allow the strawberry topping to permeate the cake, thus the name “Poke Cake”. After the cake has cooled, a luscious layer of cream cheese and whipped cream is generously spread over the top. The hardest part of this recipe is waiting the minimum of an hour for the cake to set. This strawberry cake could also be made with frozen berries, but why would you while these little red jems are in season?

The last recipe I have to share with you is Broccoli Salad. This salad is a cool and crisp addition to any summer meal. Remember to shock the broccoli, then drain it well. Raw broccoli is just a bit too crunchy for most tastes, but briefly shocking it leaves just the right snap. Drain it well so you don’t dilute the sweet and sour creamy dressing. You can plan on this salad lasting a couple of days in the fridge. I enjoyed it for a light lunch the next day.

I hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend.  Folks call it the beginning of summer, but before you know it we’ll be celebrating the Forth of July, and the next time you turn around summer will be over!

Be thankful for what life gives you.

The Saga Continues!

I’m typing and printing as fast as I can! If you read my last post you’ll know that I nearly lost ten years’ worth of work when my hard drive suffered a catastrophic meltdown. Although all my recipes, (nearly 3,000 of them), were backed up on a memory stick the main organizational program, Living Cookbook, was lost and no longer available. I had no way of accessing those recipes. Luckily, with the help of a computer repair genius, I got them back. I had many recipes, but not all, in print. Well, I’m taking care of that! Soon all those recipes will be in print and filed in notebooks, as well as copied into a new organizational program. Live and Learn!

Anyway, here’s a new recipe for you, White Cheese Chicken Lasagna. This recipe, like most lasagnas, does take a bit of work but I think it’s worth the effort. One of my grocery stores recently started carrying fresh pasta sheets that substantially cut the assembly time. (YES!) I think I prefer those sheets over the traditional lasagna noodles for their texture as well.

I have close to another 500 recipes to rescue, and then I’ll be through.  Whew!  From now on, each new recipe will be printed and filed immediately.  Now, where to store all those darned  notebooks?

Be thankful for what life gives you.

I’m Back in Business!

And gosh, am I a happy camper. Now, “Back in Business” doesn’t mean I get paid for this blog, I don’t. What it does mean is that everything is working again. If you read my last post you would know that my whole system suffered a catastrophic blowup. Had it not been for a very savy computer wizard, all would have been lost. I’m still in a reconstructive phase, but everything is well under way…Yea!!!

To celebrate, here is a new recipe for Happy Shrimp. I hope it will make you happy, too.

Be happy for what life gives you.