akawest

11/29/12

Rosemary Quick Bread


This recipe for Walnut Rosemary Oat Bread, which I found on the Whole Foods Website, is for a mix in a jar. While it would make a wonderful gift, it is too tasty just to give away. Make yourself a loaf of this savory bread, and a jar, or two for gifts.

The flavor is fantastic. It is one of those breads where you aren't tempted to spread butter on a slice, thinking it would enhance the taste. Nope, this quick bread is perfect just the way it comes out of the oven.  My only issue with baking, was running over to the oven, opening the door, and inhaling the amazing rosemary scent.


I added fresh rosemary in a flower pattern. After baking, the pattern was a bit wonky. Next time I think I will sprinkle rosemary all over the top.

The Rosemary Corn Muffins that I so adore, have met their match!


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11/14/12

Firmoo

Prescription Sunglasses from Firmoo!

When Firmoo approached me about reviewing a pair of glasses, I was very excited. As an eyeglasses wearer for over forty years, I was very curious about ordering glasses online. 
Firmoo makes the ordering process extremely easy. You just choose your frame, and send in your prescription.


About Firmoo:
"Firmoo is the world's most popular online eyeglasses store. Vision and Fashion the Frugal Way is the ultimate goal of Firmoo, so it has always committed itself to providing customers with high-quality and fashionable eyewear at the most affordable prices. Years of expertise in optical industry enable Firmoo.com to offer varieties of prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses in a frugal way and to be the ultimate fashion events guide. Since the establishment of our company, we have served over 300,000+ customers and now we also have 540,000+ fans on Facebook. We have always been committed ourselves to offering customers the best quality products at the most affordable prices, 85%~90% lower than that in the brick-and-mortar optical stores. Moreover, all our glasses are free for first-time customers."

I needed a pair of sunglasses, so that is what I chose. Although the frame I picked is being phased out by the manufacturer/designer, there are plenty of other styles available.

I am very pleased with the sunglasses I received. 
They are lightweight, well made, and dark enough to protect my eyes from the bright sun.

I will definitely order again from Firmoo.

Check out Firmoo's great selection of glasses, and order your first pair free!

Disclosure:  I was sent a pair of glasses by Firmoo in exchange for my review.
All opinions are 100% mine.

10/29/12

Pumpkin Chili

 Pumpkin Chili


The pumpkin adds flavor, and vitamins, as well as a lovely, creamy texture to this chili.
 I served it with Rosemary Corn Muffins, for a wonderful autumn meal.
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 1 can (15.25 oz.) black beans, drained
  • 1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
  • 1 can (15 oz) whole-kernel corn
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  •  
    Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Add turkey; cook until browned. Drain.

    Add tomatoes with juice, pumpkin, tomato sauce, beans, chiles, corn, chili powder, cumin and black pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover; cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
          I adapted a Libby's Pumpkin recipe a bit.




Even better the second day with
cheese, and plain yogurt on top! 



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10/24/12

Rosemary Corn Muffins


 

Since I have been growing rosemary, I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it into recipes.  Adding rosemary to corn muffin batter, proved to be a winner. We ate the muffins with bowls of pumpkin chili, for a perfect autumn dinner.


The garden in October
Potted rosemary, jauntily growing near marigolds, mint, and lantana
How did I do channeling my inner Martha?

Rosemary Corn Muffins

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar and enough skim milk to make one cup (let sit for five minutes)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Mix together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and rosemary.
Combine milk mixture, egg, and oil in a small bowl. Add to flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling three-quarters full. You should fill 10-12.
Bake until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean, 15 to 17 minutes.

Let cool in tin on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Turn out muffins onto rack.

Adapted from Martha Stewart



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10/17/12

Halloween Painted Pot




Happy Halloween! 



Instead of a messy pumpkin carving session, I decided to go the paint route.
On my pumpkin colored potting bench, 
I spotted an already spray painted pot, which could serve as a base.
The metallic color would be perfect, since I could let bits of the paint show through.



 Using a small brush, I dabbed on orange, and green paints.
I mixed some yellow and red together, as well, and made a second shade of orange.
I left the saucer alone, since if I do use it, 
it looks pretty with the bits of metallic paint that shine through.

While I was in a half squat, wearing only a nightgown, and painting,
I finally realized why people enjoy nude beaches.
 The sun, and wind were hitting the right spot.
This was an unexpected discovery, which makes me happy we have a fence.
Moving right along...
After the pot was dry, I painted on a face.
I used a pencil to draw the face, 
and filled it in with black paint.

I plan on sealing the pot with an acrylic spray, but it has been windy,
so that step will have to wait a bit.



 I added a plant that can be easily removed after the holiday.
The plant stand is too big!
So I tried another location..


Much better!
Happy Halloween!



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Visit thecsiproject.com




10/9/12

Jack-o-Lantern Jello

Scarface Jello for Halloween


This Jello Jack-o-Lantern was adapted from a Pillsbury recipe that I have always enjoyed.
By using fat free plain yogurt, the dessert is relatively healthy, and very yummy.

Without the candy, this would make a lovely addition to any table.
Yogurt is not pictured, because I forgot.

Yummy! The yogurt has been added.


Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges







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1 (6-oz.) pkg. orange flavor Jello
2 cups boiling water
1 3/4 cup fat-free plain yogurt
(or vanilla, if you want it to be sweeter)
1 (15-oz.) can mandarin orange segments, well drained
1 (8-oz.) can pineapple tidbits in unsweetened juice, well drained

Gum drops,  and/or chocolate bars to decorate

In a medium bowl, combine Jello and boiling water, stir until Jello is dissolved.

With wire whisk, beat in yogurt until mixture is smooth.


Refrigerate 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or just until slightly thickened.


Stir in orange segments and pineapple. Pour into a 9 1/2 or 10-inch deep-dish glass pie pan.

I used a regular pie plate, and a cereal bowl for the extra.
Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.

Do not push plastic wrap into the Jello, unless you want your jack-o-lantern to look like she slept on creased sheets, or was in a knife fight. The bubbles resemble acne scars on my poor pumpkin. They made me love her just a little bit more. 

Just before serving, arrange candies on Jello
to resemble a jack-o'-lantern.













10/4/12

Thighs Be Damned Coconut Cake

While it took me over a year to come up with a birthday celebration (no one I know aged this past year???) excuse to bake what can only be described as the most amazing coconut cake in the world, I held onto the taste memory ever since I willed myself to eat only a bite of my friend, Mrs. Magpie's, birthday cake.

When the cake was presented, I told myself to think of my thighs, which since birth have not grown in proportion to the rest of my body. This is not an exaggeration. Had my mother kept a baby book photo record of my growth, along with my weight record, I would be sharing the proof. Never mind the fact that I reached my adult height of sixty inches at age fourteen, my thighs did not receive the full growth achieved message.

As soon as my taste buds met the cake on that fateful day in 2010, all thigh thoughts went out the window. I knew one day we would meet again. SH's birthday (the hubby, if you're new to my blog) was the excuse to bake.

Mrs. Magpie's friend, Nancy, graciously shared the recipe. Had she not, I would have pestered Mrs. Magpie unrelentlessly. Yes, the cake is THAT good.


Betty's Sour Cream Thighs Be Damned Coconut Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 16-ounce container of sour cream (light sour cream worked well for me)
2 cups sugar
1 8-ounce container of whipped topping, thawed (After saving calories with light sour cream, I went for full fat whipped topping. We all have our limits, you know.)
3 6-ounce packages of frozen coconut, thawed and divided (Frozen coconut was a new to me product. It was found near the frozen fruit)



Bake cake according to directions in two 8-inch round cake pans.
Freeze cake.
Three days before you are ready to serve, slice horizontally into 4 separate layers.

 Two of the four layers

Combine sour cream and sugar in a bowl, and then mix with 12 ounces of the coconut.

Combine one cup of this coconut mixture with your with your whipped topping in a separate bowl and set aside.

Spoon and spread remaining coconut/sour cream mixture evenly on the layers of your cake and stack.

Ice the top and the sides of the cake with the coconut and whipped topping mixture that you set aside.

Cover and chill in the refrigerator for three days. Cover the cake with a plastic or glass cake lid, whichever you have. If you don't have either, put toothpicks in the cake and make a tent out of tinfoil to cover.

When you are ready to serve, take the remaining 6 ounces of thawed coconut and pat that on the top and sides of the cake.

Eat a slice of cake. 
Repeat until you see noticeable thigh expansion.
Trust me, it works.

This cake, according to my family of coconut lovers, is the best cake in the entire world.  According to Nancy, it is from the Lighthouse Society cookbook. My guess is the St. Augustine Lighthouse, although my Google search came up short.

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10/1/12

Barbecue Shrimp Chili



Please vote for Barbecue Shrimp Chili!!

Shrimp and  lemons might not be the first ingredients that pop into your mind when you think of a great bowl of chili, but they should be. After your first taste of this spicy seafood chili, you will be picturing the oceans full of shrimp wearing cowboy hats, and mermaids wrapped in bandanas, with a boot on their tails. No, I swear, there are not any hallucinogens in the recipe. The taste just excites your senses, and makes you conjure up whimsical tales.

My first bites of this yummy dish had me asking a party hostess to share the recipe. She graciously did so, and I have been whipping this up ever since. I serve it over brown rice, but white is equally good.

 
Barbecue Shrimp Chili

1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled, and cleaned
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 can mild chili beans
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, sliced very thin
 

In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter and oil. Cook the garlic until it is soft.
Add shrimp and cook until pink.
Add beans, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, liquid smoke, red pepper flakes, pepper, and chili powder.
Simmer for 10 minutes. Add parsley and lemon slices. Continue to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. 
Serve chili over white, or brown rice.
Serves 4-6

This seafood chili is my entry at the Texas Star Chili Cook Off
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9/30/12

Cheese Souffle


It is a bit more work than macaroni and cheese, but if you're into dinner guests thinking that you really care about them, cheese souffle is the ticket. Served with a salad, and a simple dessert, this would make a romantic meal for your sweetie.  It can also be used as teaching moment for the kids. It teaches important lessons about how buying a stand mixer can save one's wrists from fatigue, or how incorporating air into egg whites makes them all pretty, and cloud-like.

 Cheese Souffle


4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
dash ground red pepper
1 cup skim milk
2 cups shredded cheddar


 Allow the egg yolks and egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

For cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan melt butter; stir in flour, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper. Add milk all at once.

Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. Add cheese, a little at a time, stirring until melted. In a medium bowl beat egg yolks with a fork until combined.

Slowly add cheese sauce to egg yolks, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold about 1 cup of the stiffly beaten egg whites into cheese sauce.

Gradually pour cheese sauce over remaining stiffly beaten egg whites, folding to combine. Pour into an ungreased 2-quart souffle dish.

Bake in a 350 degree F oven for about 40 minutes or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

Recipe mildly modified from BHG

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Butterscotch Brownies


Grandma Bethie's Butterscotch Brownies
These butterscotch brownies are one of the cookies that I remember baking, and enjoying as a young girl This is a perfect recipe for teaching a child how to bake. What fun it is to pack a cup full of brown sugar! I sound like a book from the 1960s, which is when I was learning to cook, and read. See Lisa crack an egg. Crack Lisa, crack. Hey, that sounded better than my initial thought of Dick likes cookies. Eat Dick, eat.  Okay, enough Dick. It's recipe time!


 My mom's recipe is torn, and tattered from heavy use. 



My daughter, BG, copied it onto a recipe card when she was a child. 
(Thanks to Lori for noticing that BG copied the butter amount incorrectly.
It is 1/4 cup butter NOT 1/2 cup.)
These are simple, yet delicious.

Grandma Bethie's Butterscotch Brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped 

Melt butter in a saucepan, remove from heat.
Stir in brown sugar.
Stri in egg, beating well.
Add dry ingredients, and mix well.
Stir in nuts, and vanilla.

Spread in greased 8 inch square pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes.
Cool. Cut into Bars.
Yield: 16-20 bars.

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9/27/12

Shaker Table

 Side Table Revamp

BEFORE and AFTER

 

This little lamp table was in dreadful condition when I found it at Goodwill. I knew with some wood filler, sanding, and a few coats of Rustoleum Heirloom White, the scratches, and hole would be replaced with cuteness.


I can see you shaking your head, wondering why I didn't use chalk paint. Am I the only chalk paint virgin left? I know I need to try it, and I will, but I am still loving the results of the old standbys - Heirloom White, and Oil Rubbed Bronze, not to mention plenty of plain ol' black.



After removing the lamp portion, I taped up the hole's underside, and filled that baby with wood putty. I then went after the deep gouges with more wood putty.  Rain prevented me from finishing, so I parked the table next to my dolly, ignoring her disdainful looks, as she wondered how many weeks, or months until I got around to finishing the table. We won't go there, since it is finished now!


The table top is perfect enough for me, i.e., some of you perfectionists might have worked harder, but it looks great to me. I was all set to sand a bit, and go for a cute distressed look, but I was liking the solid color, and put down the sandpaper. Should I go back, and rough it up a bit? Would the knob look better in a different color?


A potted fittonia, which is proving extremely difficult for me to grow, despite taking it in the shower with me for added humidity, is perched upon a gift wrapped book. Dolly Parton's bio completes the look. Dolly P. seems sweet, but I really chose the book for its gold cover.


This room is also known as the Halloween room, ever since a mover agreed with BG that yes, the walls were reminiscent of his last Jack-o-lantern. No, exploded pumpkin was not the look I intended when I chose Desert Caravan by Behr. It looks better at night. It really does. Camels, and sand are often make appearances in my dreams, so perhaps the paint was correctly named.

Halloween 365 days a year. 
or
a sweet reading nook?
Don't answer that, question, please.


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Metamorphosis Monday @ Between Naps on the Porch