HAPPY LABOR DAY – LET’S HAVE A PICNIC..OR SOMETHING…

It’s sad I suppose that summer is on its way out and well Labor Day is the punctuation mark that heralds the end of the season.

Did you know that in a galaxy long ago and far far away that there was this rule that you mustn’t wear white after Labor Day?

So what’s on the menu for your Labor Day picnic – fried chicken, two maybe three kinds of potato salad, sandwiches and lemonade? In that case, these recipes are sure to please.

And don’t forget the cocktails

If  you’re planning to stay home and do some serious binge watching on Netflix or Amazon Prime, check out Ray Donovan, Bosch, Luther, Gilmore Girls Reboot, House of Cards, The Man in the High Castle, all the Star Trek iterations and more…

If you want to get out and about and live in the L.A. area check out the top weekend events, fairs, festivals, fun in the sun and lots of eats

Or just stay home in your jim-jams and read a good mystery

Whatever you plan to do or not do as the case may be – be well, be happy, and be safe.

And say a little prayer for our firefighters out here in CA, presently working 24/7 to knock down the La Tuna Canyon fires – and our friends struggling with the havoc of Hurricane Harvey.

 

Annie

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Quick and Easy Summer Dessert Recipes

Summer has hit my town with a vengeance and I’m always in the market for something cool and tasty on a summer day. Following are a couple of easy desserts you can make when you’re in the mood for something sweet, light and cold:

Quick Blueberry Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen blue erries
¼ cup Splenda granular (or sugar)
½ cup milk or ½ cup cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Pulse frozen berries in a food processor until chopped fine. Add sugar or Splenda while the fruits are processing. Add milk or cream and vanilla (toward the end). Process until mixture is of ice cream consistency. Serve immediately.

You can use other fruit, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blackberries and so on. Be creative.

Blueberry Fruit Ice

Ingredients:

16 ounces frozen whole unsweetened blueberries
1 orange, juice and zest of
1 lemon, juice and zest of
1 cup Splenda granular (or sugar)

Thaw the blueberries slightly by letting them sit in a bowl at room temp for about 20 minutes.

Remove wide strips of zest from the orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler or zester. Combine the Splenda with ½ cup water in a small saucepan and add the citrus zests and juices. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Allow the syrup to cool a bit, (for faster cooling, put the pan in a bowl of ice, it should cool off in about five minutes) and then strain the mixture, discarding the peels.

Put the semi-thawed blueberries in the food processor and pulse for a few seconds, then add ½ cup of the citrus syrup, and pulse until a nearly smooth. Add more syrup as needed to get the consistency you like. Then transfer the puree to a bowl or individual serving cups and freeze 2-3 hours, until firm. To serve, let stand at room temperature 15-20 minutes to soften slightly, scrape across the fruit ice with a large spoon, and place into serving dishes.

Again, you can change up the fruit and if you have Popsicle molds this might be a real hit on a stick.

Enjoy!

Writer Chick

The Mashed Potato Diaries – #TaterRage #iluvtaters

mashed potatoes

Creamy, dreamy fluffy mashed potatoes – there is no better comfort food in the world. Seriously, starch and fat all folded into a billowy mountain of goodness just can’t be beat.

In fact, about a week ago, one of my Twitter friends bragged about being awesome at making smashed spuds. I couldn’t take that lying down and mentioned I was pretty damned awesome at making them too. Then another mashed potato fan joined the fray. It was probably the most animated conversation I’ve had on Twitter. Not sure what that says about me, but I do love me some mashed taters, so who cares?

We mused about having a contest but got stuck on how to compete in the virtual world. So, for those who are interested here’s my best recipe:

2 pounds whole Yukon gold potatoes
1 stick of butter
2 cloves of diced and lightly sauteed garlic
½ cup warmed half & half
½ cup sour cream
2 TBSP of mayo
Salt & pepper to taste
Paprika

Peel and quarter potatoes and steam in steamer for approx 20 minutes until just tender.

In a saute pan, saute the garlic until golden, not brown or it will be bitter.

In a large bowl, add potatoes, sauteed garlic, butter, salt & pepper. Work the butter into the potatoes with a masher. Slowly fold in sour cream and mayo. A little more mashing to blend. Pour in warmed half & half, as you blend with hand mixer on low. Mix only long enough to create a fluffy mound. Don’t over mix or you’ll end up with a gelatinous mess. Sprinkle with paprika and serve hot.

Variations:

For a mashed potato meal, add a ladle of chili for chili-mash

For a California flair, add shredded jack cheese and ripe avocado slices

For a classic American kick, add shredded sharp cheddar and real bacon bits – heat under broiler for a couple of minutes for a nice crusty top.

For Midwestern mashed potatoes, instead of gravy top them with creamed corn.

For dirty mashed potatoes leave the skins on.

If that isn’t enough for you, here are 50 mashed potatoes recipes to check out.

What’s your favorite smashed tater recipe? Feel free to share below in the comments.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

Thanksgiving Recipes

I can scarcely believe that Thanksgiving is a mere couple of weeks away – but it is. I don’t know about you but I love the traditional foods eaten at Thanksgiving – still, I also like to try new things… So in the spirit of something different, why not give one or two of these a try for Thanksgiving?

PUMPKIN SOUP

2 tbsp. butter
1  onion, chopped
1  potato, pared and diced
3 c chicken broth
16 oz can pumpkin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp white pepper
1/2 pt heavy or light cream
Croutons or chopped chives

In a large pan over medium heat, saute onions and potatoes for 5 minutes in butter. Add chicken broth and cook to boiling. Cover and reduce heat until vegetables are tender. Ladle 1/2 of vegetable mixture into blender; blend until smooth.  Add remaining mixture and repeat. Return mixture to saucepan. Add pumpkin, salt, nutmeg and pepper. Over high heat, heat to just below boiling. Cover; reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes. Stir in cream; heat through.  Ladle into  soup bowls and garnish with croutons or chopped chives.

PUMPKIN COOKIES

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1 c softened butter
1 c sugar
1 c canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 c chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and allspice. In another bowl cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, with electric mixer at medium speed. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla; beat for 1 minute.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed until well combined. stir in chopped nuts. Drop by large tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. flatten lightly using the back of a spoon.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool.

CORN PUDDING
1/2 c sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
2 eggs
1 lb cream corn
13 oz can evaporated milk
Butter

Oven at 350 degrees. Lightly grease medium baking dish. Combine sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl. Add eggs, corn and milk and mix well. Turn into baking dish and dot with butter. Bake until center is almost firm, about 1 hour.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE

2 boxes frozen green beans
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp grated onion
1 c sour cream
1/2 lb grated cheddar cheese
Parmesan cheese

Melt 2 tbs butter, add 2 tbs flour. Cook until it forms a paste over low heat – remove from heat. Stir in sugar, onion and sour cream. Fold in cooked green beans. Place in 2 quart casserole. Cover with cheddar cheese. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake at 350 degrees until cheeses bubble.

THANKSGIVING PUNCH

1 qt water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp coriander seed
2  cinnamon sticks
2 qt cranberry juice cocktail
2 c pineapple juice
4 c grapefruit juice
1 c raisins

Combine the water and spices in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the juices and bring just to boiling. Remove from heat and serve.

SCALLOPED POTATOES

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Butter
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a saucepan, heat up the cream with thyme, chopped garlic and nutmeg. In a buttered casserole dissh place a layer of potato in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat, then pour a little over the potatoes. Top with some grated Parmesan. Make 2 more layers. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

HUSH PUPPIES

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup  flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbs butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 450. Lightly grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan. In a medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the onion, milk, eggs and butter. Fold the egg mixture into the flour mixture until  just moistened. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into each of the muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the hush puppies are firm to the touch and golden brown around the edges.

A Day to Remember

Memorial Day is that first big picnic and three day outting holiday of the year in the states. And I have many fond memories of the family gatherings at local parks, the smell of burgers and hot dogs on the grill – juicy watermelon dripping down my chin, mom’s macaroni salad and of course the waiting for nightfall so we could light our sprinklers. It’s all part and parcel of this holiday.

Though, I would ask, that we all take a moment of silence to thank God for those who have spilled blood and given their lives so we can celebrate this holiday. And to say a prayer of thanks and Godspeed to all our troops worldwide – who carry on the tradition of standing the watch.

It’s days like these that I wish I had the wherewithall to send a home made bbq to Iraq and Afghanistan – with vat’s of mom’s special macaroni salad on ice. Unfortunately, I haven’t so…I offer the recipe instead. I suppose it is possible that one or two of our troops might find the recipe and be able to convince somebody to make it for them???

Okay –

2lbs of large elbow macaroni

1/2 small brown onion, minced fine

3 stalks minced celery

1 very small jar of pimentos

2 large dill pickles, minced fine (are you sensing a trend here?)

3 large hard cooked eggs minced fine

1/4 cup of dill pickle juice

3 TBS yellow mustard

paprika

1 can of tuna (optional)

1-2 cups of whole egg mayo (depending on how dry or wet you like your mac salad)

Cook elbow macaroni and drain and rinse. Place in large bowl in fridge and let completely cool. Once mac is cooled pull out of fridge and set aside (it works well if you make the mac the night before and leave in fridge over night – cooled mac does not absorb the liquids as much and keep the salad much more moist). Take mayo, mustard, pickle juice and mix in separate bowl, set aside.

To the mac, add the celery, onion, egg, pimentos, pickles and tuna (if you are using) and toss thoroughly. Then again, put in fridge for about an hour. This lets the flavors marry and seep into the mac first.

Then pull out of fridge and add ‘sauce’, again tossing thoroughly. Sprinkle with paprika on top, cover with plastic wrap and keep cool until ready to serve. If you find that the mac has absorbed the liquid too much and is a little dry, just add a little water to bring it back up. Quite yummy.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day.

WC