Advertisements

thinking about posting regularly again..

Advertisements

puppy love.

I’m blessed to have 3 amazing pups.   Technically, one is my son’s pup  who both live with us, but I’ve trained her and so I consider myself at this moment to have 3 pups.
My eldest is 13.5 years old. And a boxer. On the heavy side of a boxer’s lifespan.  It’s killing me. She’s nicely medicated and her vet and I check her organs regularly just to make sure she’s handling the meds ok
Her tail wags all the time
She begs for treats
She’s eats and drinks
She BEGS for treats ( this stated again for emphasis)
But

She cries. A lot. It kills me. I honestly think it’s just because she wants a treat (because she jumps right up if I do ) but I also think she’s hiding her pain.   Only because I am an expert in this.

How do we do this?  She’s almost 14. With multiple issues.  I cannot imagine her pain. Why the fuck can’t our pets talk to us?

…’twas the night before Christmas 

Is not what my family reads on Christmas Eve..  grab a beverage, curl up in your favorite chair and indulge my inner storyteller as I share my story with you.

The year was 1995. I was 25 years old, working full-time and had 3 young children.  My oldest,Jason was 7, Ryan was 3 and Ali was 1.
As most you you know, I was a cosmetologist.  I worked for 20 years at the same salon.  It changed ownership 3 times, but like the toilet, I was a fixture there.  As a result, I developed a lot of great friendships with my clients.  I’m still friends with many even today. 

A lot of my clients were older and gave me some excellent advice over the years.  I honestly learned so much from these ladies.  I’ve shared This story before, and today I have another. 

Jason was at the age where he was starting to question Santa.  It was breaking my heart.  I had missed the Christmas before because I had complications with my pregnancy with ali and spent Christmas in the hospital..
I desperately wanted just 1 Christmas where all 3 of my kids believed in all of the magic of Christmas. 
I was telling my client, Eileen about my delemina.  She took my hands and said, ‘Michelle, listen to me.. you need to go buy the book The Polar Express’
Eileen never had kids of her own, but had nephews that she treated like her own. She had given them this book the year prior and said it worked magic. 
I called around to find a bookstore that had it, and there was one that was 20 miles away. It was Christmas Eve day and time and money were tight.  She made me promise that I would find a way to go get it. 

And she told me a few other things too…
I bought the book, wrapped it and put it under the tree and told the kids they could open that one goat on Christmas Eve. 

( I feel the need to add that this was years before the movie came out, which honestly, I can’t stand) 
I snuggled with all 3 of them and read them this beautiful story and put them to bed. 
Christmas morning, Jason came running down the stairs screaming..”santa was here!!!  He left his bell on my pillow!!”
I was so happy that I remember tearing up.  It was all that I wanted for Christmas, and I got it. 

A few years later,  a good friend gave my the polar express whistle. Every Christmas Eve, I read the story, my youngest niece blows the whistle at the right moments trhoiout the book. And every year, santa comes!

Moving across country has been hard, especially around the holidays.  Today is the day that my family is celebrating Christmas 1,834.3 miles away.  Through the wonders of modern technology, I will still be reading this to my family. My neices have the book and later tonight, we will all snuggle in our pajamas and FaceTime while I read this story to them 
We also throw reindeer dust. Each and every year 

Here I am sharing a glass of wine with my mom and sister!
Merry Christmas, my friends..  

May you always believe

….spicy tomato-ginger jam 

I forget where I first tasted tomato jam, but I can tell you that I instantly fell in love with it!
I’ve been searching for a recipe for a few years, and the few times I attempted to make it, it did not come out well🙁
I’ve been doing a lot of research ove the last few weeks, giving that I have SO many tomatoes! (You can see just how tall my tomatoes a in my previous post) 

I played around with a recipe yesterday and I have a winner!  I based it on This recipe, but made a few changes.
 I didn’t take too many photos because honestly, I wasn’t too optimistic after my previous failed attempts. 
It’s not a quick recipe.. but it is super easy.  
And the flavors..
Oh.

My.

Goodness!

spicy tomato-ginger jam 

4 pounds tomatoes, cored and peeled ( for details on how to do this see This post)

3 cups sugar 

1/2 cup lemon juice 

1 jalapeño, halved and seeded

3 pieces of crystallized ginger 

2 cloves

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes 

1 tsp cinnamon 

Sea salt

Ground pepper 


Place all ingredients in food processor of high-speed blender and pulse until chopped up to the point just before puréed 


Add mixture to heavy non-reactive pan.  Bring to a boil and the reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 


It’s starts out pretty soupy, but slowly thickens. It took my batch close to 5 hours! 



As it gets close to the end, it will start getting glossy looking and thick.  You have to stir more often as it gets close to being done.  Essentially, you’ve condensed the sugars and don’t want it to burn. 



You can store it in a jar in the fridge, or you can process it, like I did 

It’s amazeballs on crackers with cream cheese… ( these are my favorite crackers, btw… they are amped right here in Denver, they are super thin, tasty and figure-friendly!) 

It would be incredible on bruschetta with a thin later of ricotta.. and maybe some prosciutto on top.. 

And it’s a good thing that I don’t have bread right now, because this would make a most excellent grilled cheese with white cheddar cheese 😍
Maybe I’ll treat myself later this week…
The jam has what I’d call a ‘sweet heat’. Think jalapeño pepper jelly ( which I made and processed last week) 
It’s elegant enough to have on a special occasion/ holiday.
I’m going to make another batch and process from holiday gifts.  I think it’s that good! 
On another note… I don’t think I’ve mentioned it here, but I’d like to introduce you to our newest family member 

Meet my Jersey Girl 🐾😍❤️️

roasted tomato dip 

It’s that time of year! There’s an abundance of produce locally grown just begging to be presrved for the long winter ahead.
My Grandparents always grew tomatoes.. and to carry on their legacy, I grow them every year now
look how tall they are!!!
I’ve been making sauce with them, canning them, and having unlimited caprese salad.

Last weekend I decided to make a dip for the game and used my cherry tomatoes as inspiration!

 

 

Roasted tomato and garlic dip

about 1 cup cherry tomatoes

3-4 garlic cloves, skins left on

1 scallion, chopped

1 tsp olive oil

sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup cream cheese

about 3 tbsp milk

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

-parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Toss tomatoes, scallions, whole garlic cloves, olive oil, salt and pepper .  Roast for about 15 minutes or until tomato skins blister.

carefully remove from the oven and squeeze softened garlic from jackets into cream cheese.  Mix well.

Add  milk to tomato mixture and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to get all of the flavor


stir cream cheese mixture in and top with mozzarella

return to oven to bake until cheese is all melted.


Garnish with parsley and serve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

lentil & white bean stuffed delicata squash 

oh my goodness… I don’t think I could fully express just how much I love fall!  

Everything is just so beautiful.  We started our day at our local farmers’ market yesterday 

Just look at that color! 


I scored a great deal on tomatoes

So that means it’s canning time!

I love the process of canning.. because it is a process. It also brings back nostalgic memories of my amazing Grandparents. Gosh, I miss them😓. 

I spent yesterday prepping the tomatoes, and started canning this am. 
My first jar broke when I put it in my canning pot 😂. I sputtered many not-so nice words. ( who meee?)

I tend to be very careful about following the proper procedures when I’m canning so I was really very upset when this happened. After doing a little research I actually think that I might put a little bit too much liquid in the jar before I sealed it either that or I filled it to tightly so I am currently waiting for my water to boil again so that I can try this again.
In the meantime while I’m waiting for the water to boil I figure this is a great time for me to share a recipe. Wayback in the beginning when this blog was brand-new one of the reasons that I started it was because we had joined CSA and there I had been introduced to a most amazing squash call Delicata.

I actually love all winter squash however the thing I love about Delicata is that the skins are edible making prep work next to nothing. 

This, my friends, is a delicata squash.  It is in season right now. You can find it at your local farmers’ market as well as most grocery stores. 

Lentil & White bean stuffed delicata Squash 

1 delicata squash

1/4 cup dried brown lentils

2 garlic cloves, peeled 

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup low sodium canned white beans, rinsed and drained 

1 tomato, chopped

About 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tsbp olive oil

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese




Preheat oven to 325 degeees

Wash the squash, half the squash and remove seeds. ( I’m finding that a grapefruit spoon with serrated edges makes easy work of this) 

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast upside down on a baking sheet in the oven for 20-25 min depending on size. ( mine took about 22 minutes) 

It is done when a knife can be easily inserted into outer skin.


Using tongs, carefully flip squash over 

While squash is cooking, prepare filling.

Cook lentils according to package directions, adding the whole garlic cloves so that they soften.( I’m enjoying sprouted lentils, because they are easily digestible and cook quickly.. if you can’t find them dried brown lentils work just fine)

Once lentils are cooked, remove garlic clove and mash together with the white beans. Add back to pan and stir in tomatoes and parsley. Season with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from the lemon into mixture. 

Divide mixture between both halves and fill 


Sprinkle the cheese on top,drizzle with the olive oil and return to oven for about 10 minutes or until the cheese melts

This makes a perfect make-ahead dish, take-away lunch or side dish for dinner! Enjoy!

Click here for another delicata recipe from a few years back
Keeeping Florida and all in the path of hurricane matthew in my thoughts.  Including my son and Daughter-in-law and 2 of my grandpups, and many friends in the area.  Please be safe! 

one-pot creamy pasta

Happy Friday, friends. 
The recipe I’m sharing today is not my own.  It was in Martha Stewart’s magazine a few years back.  It was one of those pull-out recipe cards. 

I must admit, I didn’t think much of it when I saw the recipe, but a snowy afternoon with limited ingredients in the house led me to try it.
Holy cow batman!  Is at as good as fettuccini alfredo?  Nope.  Pasta, cream, cheese butter garlic..  not much can compare with that. 

Was it amazing? YES!

Was it easy?  YES!  Easier than making a box of kraft mac and cheese ( which, btw.. it also kind of amazing it it’s fake orange cheese nostalgic way ☺️) 
Here’s the original recipe for One pot orecchiette, chickpeas and olives

Admittedly, I’ve followed her recipe to a tee… but I’ve also used it as a guideline to play a little. 
Here’s her original recipe, just subbing the kind of pasta I used 

12 ounce dry pasta ( I had bow ties, so I used bow ties) 

* note..  many companies make ‘no bake’ pasta these days.  For this recipe, just use your regular pasta.  I haven’t tried it with GF pasta, but I’d imagine it would work, just keep an eye on it and add more water if  needed) 

1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed 

1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted ( you can buy them pitted.. don’t fret )

3 cloves garlic, smashed ( or 1 tsp garlic powder ( make sure not garlic salt) 

Sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried

3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil 

2 TBSP tomato paste ( buy the tomato paste in the tube.  It’s in the canned tomato isle.  Believe it or not. Whole Foods has one of the least expensive tomato paste tubes.  I believe Trader Joe’s also has one) don’t pay more than 3 bucks for it

( optional.. but I always use in any soup or stew.. small piece of Parmesan rind) 

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Sea salt

Ground pepper

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese ( I also added a bit on cheddar ends that I had in the fridge )

2 cups baby greens 
Place everything up to cheese in a stockpot. 

Add 5 cups of water 
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium, stirring occcasionally. Check pasta in 12-15 minutes ( thicker pasta will require longer.  Check at 15 min to see). It should be mostly cooked, with just a slight bite to it. 

Turn off heat, but leave pan on burner 

Add the cheese, replace cover for 5 min so the cheese can melt. After 5 min, stir and if cheese still needs longer to melt, cover for additional 5 min.  Discard rosemary sprig, if used. If sauce seems a bit thick, stir in a bit more water until you get a creamy consistency 


Serve with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes 


Please try this!  I have a lot of friends who are just learning to cook.. a lot of girls just on their own, either senior year in college or just out on their own.  This is a great recipe to start to learn to cook 

You can assemble in the morning and add water and cook when you get home from work
You can play with the ingredients…sub out broccoli crowns and cooked chicken for the chickpeas and olives

Or chopped red pepper and cooked sausage for the chickpeas and olives

Or ground beef and onion,  and pepper jack cheese for a Tex-mex flair

Or you can eliminate the cheese to make this vegan. 
Full credit of this recipe goes to Martha Stewart.  I just wanted to share it because it is insanely easy and tastes like it took a lot longer than it did to make. Try it! 
Enjoy!
Ps…. happy birthday to my long-time friend, Laurie! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🍷🍰😘

caramel-apple sangria

as I mentioned in my last post, my oldest son and  Daughter-in-law Amanda were in town for 3 weeks. ( click Here for more info on why such a long visit )
Last fall she was telling me about a sangria recipe that she stumbled upon somewhere that required caramel apple vodka.  My son drove all around Jacksonville looking for it.  When she finally made it, she said she couldn’t wait to visit so that we could make it 
( she also makes a mean citrus sangria that’s usually waiting for me when I visit them ) 

For the first part of their visit, alcohol was off-limits, but near the end we were able to enjoy this 

She couldn’t find the actual recipe (I think?) so we improvised 

When we first made it, it was a bit strong… So we tweaked it just a bit
1 part white wine

1 part caramel apple vodka ( Denver friends, I found it at Target in Glendale on the corner of Colorado boulevard and Virginia) 

2 parts apple cider 

Sliced apples

Cinnamon stick (which we didn’t have, but I’d add one next time)
Add the liquids together in a pitcher.  Slice the apples and add the cinnamon stick. 
Refrigerate overnight. 
I rimmed a glass magarita-style with apple pie spice and filled with ice. 

This was sooo tasty! Another friend of mine was just telling me about a fall sangria that used fireball candies!  Doesn’t that sound fun?

I’ve been taking pictures and writing recipes down..  I’m trying to get better about sharing them with y’all.   I also have a few ideas for fun giveaways! 
fall is my favorite  time of year!  I come to life in autumn 😎

 Here’s some of my past apple recipes

Cream of butternut and apple soup

Apple pie
Easy apple butter 
And came across This which has me nostalgic for days gone by… 

So.. What’s your favorite thing about fall? 

family time~corn maze style

howdy friends! 
My oldest son Jason and daughter in law, Amanda Sue been visiting us from Florida for the last 3 weeks.  (you can read more about why they are here for so long in her blog as I know it

Yesterday we decided to go to a local corn maze..  We’ve done this in the Past, but it’s been awhile. 


The maze itself had 6 pictures of ‘lost’ farm animals.  We divided into teams of husband and wife. Our challenge was to find all 6 animals, take a selfie with each of them and be the first couple to do so And find our way out!

Let’s go!

I’ll spare you all 12 photos of us with the animals, but here are a few of them.  Y’all are super smart, I’m sure you can imagine the rest☺️

There was a SCARE pumpkin crow ~ looking thing and although it wasn’t part of our challenge, we both took a photo with it 

Great minds think alike!


My crazy kid…

Guess who won! 


But just by a few minutes 😎

If you have a corn maze in your area, I highly recommend! 

Next up…. Amanda made us a fall sangria.  

vacation recap

 

hello, friends!

 

If you are friends with me on Facebook   Or Instagram  then you know that I’ve travelled more than normal this summer.  We recently went on a cruise that was planned rather last minute.

Scott and Ali planned it and I honestly knew none of the details. Which was kind of cool!

 

Since we planned the trip so late, Scott told us that he couldn’t get 4 seats next to each other on the plane, so he had to buy 1 first class ticket and 3 coach.  We played board games every week and kept score to see which one of us would ‘win’ the first class seat. Ali won!

Side note.. This is our favorite game

as we were boarding the plane, Scott handed each of us our ticket. He used miles from work travel to book all of us in first class!  Wow.  It was amazing!

image

 

 

I could totally get used to this!

 

image

The view from the plane as we approached San Juan

 

 

The next morning, Scott and Ryan toured an old fort while Ali and I hung out at the hotel.  We boarded the ship around noon.

image

Our home for the next week.

As we headed to our stateroom, this was the chosen featured artwork in our halI was convinced that this guy was going to come alive at night.  I checked each and every time we walked by him. Trust me, he didn’t move.  By the end of the trip we were buds. He was my homeboy. We were tight. Rock on, buddy.. Rock on.

image

 

 

our first port of call was st. Maarten.

we participated in an America’s cup race.

image

 

Everyone on our tour was divided up into 2 groups with 3 crew members on each boat.  We were each given a specific job to do and the crew members directly us.  Ali was our captain!  I was primary winch.  I’ve never been on a sailboat before. It was hard work!

 

image

 

 

imageYes.. That’s a hockey stick ☺️

 

image

 

 

We ended with rum punch!

 

The next day we wen to st. Kitts. I chose our excursion here. Stand up paddleboarding!  I’ve been  dying to try this!  Ali and stood on one last summer at the river fest downtown, but this was my first time doing it for real.  I’m hooked!  It was so much fun!  I fell a few times, but that’s ok.  It was really windy in the cove and therefore it was wavy and challenging.

 

I don’t have photos of us actually doing it, but this is where we were{

image

 

could this be more beautiful?

Our guide was from Denver! Small world.

 

After paddleboarding the rest of the fam went snorkeling.

 

image

 

 

For or whatever reason, I felt claustrophobic when I put my snorkel gear on so I opted for this

image

image

When they were done snorkeling there was more rum punch!

image

 

 

in Antigua we did a cameraman ride and Ali and Scott did some more snorkeling

 

image

We we had some Boston folks on our boat, so it was cool to tall Boston stuff.

And ended with rum punch!

 

 

 

 

In in st Lucia we boarded a pirate-themed spanish galleon and sailed out to volcanos ans volcanic mud baths

image.png

We didn’t take  pic of the boat, but I found one of the boat we were  on that World Wide Web thing.

image

 

After ali and I coated ourselves in mud and soaked in super hot natural spring water, we had a buffet lunch , then boarded boat and began to sail back.  We stopped about halfway back for a swim

image

With noodles! (I’m not a strong swimmer, so I was thrilled with the noodles)

 

we headed back to the ship listening to reggae and yet again, more rum punch!

 

(Notice a theme here? 😎)

 

in barbados we just walked off the ship and did a tiny bit of shopping.

 

it is SO much fun hanging out with your adult children!

 

I’ll leave you with random photos in no particular order

 

 

 

 

image

image

image

Peace out, my friends!

 

 

Next up.. Homemade ramen!

%d bloggers like this: