Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Last Week of July!! How is that possible?? Oh Well, here is the Weekly Menu

Wow this month has flown by in the blink of an eye.  We have been having a blast, entertaining and being entertained.  It has been a lot of fun and this week is going to be another whirlwind.

Last night, our niece, Stephanie, and her husband, Tom, hosted another family party.  It was a great gathering.  All the siblings, most of the kids and most of the grand-kids were there.  It is the last time we will all be together before Larry heads back next Saturday and Mary heads back on August 2nd.

Today, Nicole and Pierre are working a craft show for their Petoskey and Pine products.  We are going to go take a walk around and check out their competition. Tonight, Frank and I, Larry and Mary, and Dick and Jackie, are going out to dinner.  Tomorrow is Larry and Mary's 51st Wedding Anniversary so we will celebrate this evening.

Sunday, Mary's sister, Susie and her husband, Tony, are coming to stay for a day or two.  Our sister in law, Rebecca, will be joining us for dinner as well.

Monday we are meeting Nicole, Pierre and Anthony for an early lunch before they go to work. Between being in the restaurant business and the soap business, they were not available for either of the family gatherings.  We are meeting Mary's cousin, Michelle, and her husband, Jerry, for dinner in the evening.

Monday would have been my Pop's 101st birthday and my brother, Dan's, 64th birthday.  My brother, Dan's longtime partner and mother of his two youngest children, passed away on Thursday morning. I find comfort in knowing that they are together again.  They loved each other very much.

Tuesday we have our Angel Face so Grampy will make her spaghetti. This seems to be our weekly routine.

Wednesday is clear thus far.  Thursday night we are going to Roz and Ron's for dinner.  Friday night we are going to dinner with our friends, the Greens and the Lents' at a new restaurant that has opened in the area.  One of Rob's friends is the chef and we will be celebrating John's birthday and retirement both of which occur on Friday.

So, as you can see, there are not many meals at home but I will share what we will be enjoying on those few days.

Out for dinner

Rum Glazed Pork Tenderloins
Baked Russet and Sweet Potatoes
Corn on the Cob
Summer Squash with Lemon and Basil
Dessert by Rebecca

Out for dinner

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Casimer Rice

Dinner at Roz and Ron's

Dinner out

Friday, July 21, 2017

Gingered Shrimp and Veggie Bowl #FishFridayFoodies #BacktoSchoolRecipes

Happy Fish Friday everyone. Sue of Palatable Pasttime has invited us all to share "Buddha Bowls" this month.   Sue describes Buddha Bowls as healthy one bowl meals with protein, grains and vegetables.  Of course, since this is Fish Friday Foodies, our protein will include Fish and or Seafood today.

Fish and seafood does not have to be deep fried or drenched in butter to be delicious.  One bowl meals are perfect for showcasing a colorful and appetizing meal.

This recipe takes shrimp which is low in fat and calories and high in protein and serves it up with tons of colorful, crisp vegetables and whole grain brown rice.

Seasoned with ginger which is a health powerhouse aiding in digestion, keeping blood sugar and blood pressure in check and protecting the brain among other things.

Cooked in sesame oil and sprinkled with sesame seeds this dish also helps prevent diabetes and cancer.

All of these things are amazing in and of themselves but then add in the fact that it is mouth wateringly delicious and you are completely awe struck by this dish that is quick enough for a weeknight and fancy enough for company.

The fact that it is so quick and easy makes this a perfect Back to School recipe and on the off chance that there are leftovers they will be perfect in a lunchbox.  A quick zap in the microwave and you have a nutritious, healthy, warm lunch to see you through the rest of the day.

Today is the last day we are sharing our favorite recipes for healthy breakfasts, great lunches, sweet treats and delightful dinners to get us all through the busy weeks coming up when the kids are back to the old grind.

This party was hosted by Cindy of Feeding Big and there have been marvelous recipes being shared.  Find them all by following #BacktoSchoolRecipes on your favorite social media platform.  You will find today's entries below my recipe.

Don't forget to stop by the other Recipe Makeover Posts for more great healthy and nutritious recipes.

Gingered Shrimp and Veggie Stir Fry
adapted from The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook

2 T. sesame oil
1 lb. shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons
8 oz, asst. wild mushrooms
1 small head bok choy, chopped
5 stalks asparagus, woody ends snapped off , cut into 1" pieces
1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
2 T. coconut aminos
1 T. minced ginger
1/4 c. toasted sesame seeds
2 t. sea salt herb mix
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 c. cooked brown rice

Heat 1 T. of the oil in a wok over med high heat.  Add the shrimp and cook, stirring for about 4-5 minutes, until pink.  Remove to a plate and set aside.

Stir together the coconut aminos, ginger, sea salt and red pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok.  When heated, add the squash, mushrooms, bok choy and asparagus.  Cook and stir for 5 or 6 minutes, until vegetables are slightly tender.

Add the tomatoes and the reserved aminos mixture.  Cook and stir for a few minutes.  Return the shrimp to the wok along with the sesame seeds.  Cook and stir until heated through.

Place 1/2 c. of brown rice in one side of 4 shallow bowls.  Place 1/4 of the Gingered Shrimp Stir Fry alongside the rice in each bowl and serve.  Print Recipe

More Buddha Bowls

More Back to School Recipes

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Spinach Pasta Surprise #BundtBakers

This month's Bundt theme was chosen by Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice.  Colleen chose Untraditional Bundts.  If you know Colleen, this does not surprise you at all.  Colleen is pretty untraditional herself.  Give yourself a treat and go read some of her blog posts.  I promise that she will make you laugh.

I originally wanted to do a red white and blue jello bundt that I could serve up for Independence Day but our fearless leader, Stacy of Food Lust People Love said that while she would allow untraditional Bundts they must still be baked.  Hmmmm....that made this challenge a little more....well .....

I started considering all of the things that I bake, other than cakes, that would work in a Bundt pan.  I considered meatloaf and was planning on going with that when it occurred to me that I had a baked pasta on the menu for Meatless Monday and it could easily be converted to be baked in a Bundt pan instead of casserole.

I started out by making a simple marinara sauce.  You could always use store bought if you want but this is such an easy peasy recipe that it doesn't take much longer than opening a jar of premade.

This dish has all the flavors of lasagna, incorporating eggs, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan along with spinach in a creamy sauce.

Stir in a pound of cooked pasta.  Any kind will do.  I used penne pasta because it was what I had on hand.

Turn it into a Bundt pan that has been liberally treated with cooking spray and bake until set and golden brown.

Let it sit in the pan for about 15 minutes before trying to remove it onto a platter.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen the cheese sauce from the sides.  Flip it over onto a rimmed platter or shallow bowl and pray for the best.

Breathe a sigh of relief along with all of the wonderful aromas. The Bundt is now ready for the "frosting".

Heat up the sauce, pour it over the Bundt and listen to the family ooohhh and ahhhh as you bring it to the table.  This is a cheesy, ooey, gooey pasta bake in a fun presentation.  Cut into slices and serve, passing extra sauce for people to add as desired. Enjoy.

You will find links to all the other Untraditional Bundts following this recipe.  I can't wait to see what the others created for this fun challenge.

Spinach Pasta Surprise

3 T. olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes 
2 t. Italian Herb Blend
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta, cooked per package directions
4 eggs
1 (15 oz) carton ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. half and half
1 (8 oz) pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 T. dried basil, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over med high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and cook until softened and fragrant.  Add the tomatoes with their juices, Italian herbs, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, breaking the tomatoes into pieces with a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 45 minutes to an hour.  Set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, ricotta, cream, spinach, mozzarella, parmesan, basil, salt and pepper.  Fold in the pasta until well coated.  Pour into a Bundt Pan that has been liberally treated with cooking spray.

Bake in a preheated 350* oven for about an hour, until set and golden brown around the edges. Cool, in the pan, on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges and turn out onto a rimmed platter or shallow bowl.

Reheat the sauce and pour some over the bundt to resemble a frosting glaze.  Cut into slices to serve passing the remaining sauce to be added as desired. Print Recipe

More Untraditional Bundts


 #BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient.

You can see all our of lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about #BundtBakers, can be found on our home page.

Avocado Dip #CrazyIngredientChallenge #BacktoSchoolRecipes

Hi everyone and welcome to the July version of Crazy Ingredient Challenge.  The fun little game we play where we vote on items from two lists and the top vote from each list are united to become our Crazy Ingredients.

This month's ingredients are Avocados and Cumin.  The largest challenge was to try to narrow it down to just one recipe that I wanted to share.  I thought about making a creamy chilled avocado soup.  Cumin would be the perfect spice with which to flavor it.  I thought about making a warm cheesy casserole incorporating cumin and topping it with guacamole.....YUM.  Avocados are always great in smoothies and it would be very simple to add flavor with some toasted cumin.  I even considered an Avocado Cumin Ice Cream.  After all, it is National Ice Cream month.

In the end, my choice was made due to another event in which I'm participating.  I have been posting Back to School Recipes all week long along with a group of like-minded friends under the direction of Cynthia of Feeding Big.

I went on a S'Mores tangent and shared all things S'Mores for the past 3 days.  I turned S'Mores into Clusters, Cookies and Ice Cream......there's that National Ice Cream Month again......

When I shared the very first post I mentioned that when my kids were young I found making lunches exciting every day very challenging.  I often fell back on the old stand-bys, sandwiches, a piece of fruit and cookies.  Once in a while I would change things up with cheese and crackers, hard boiled eggs, and some carrot and celery sticks.

It was with this in mind that I made up this creamy and healthy avocado dip that my kids would have loved to find in their lunchboxes along with those fresh veggies.  I found this recipe from Cooking Light and adapted it slightly to fit our tastes and what I had in the refrigerator.

Please make sure to scroll past my recipe to find links to all the other Avocado and Cumin creations and all the inspirational Back to School recipes.

Avocado Dip
adapted from Cooking Light

2 (5 oz) containers plain Greek yogurt
2 lg. avocados, peeled and pitted, cut into chunks
1 T. low fat milk
2 T. cilantro paste
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded
1 lime, peeled (or juice of one lime)
1 T. cumin
pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

Place the yogurt, avocados,milk, cilantro, jalapeno, lime, cumin, salt and garlic in a heavy duty blender. Puree until smooth. Serve with fresh vegetables.  Also delicious with chips and as a topping for burgers or grilled meats.  Print Recipe

More Avocado and Cumin Creations

More Back to School Recipes

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

S'Mores Ice Cream #BacktoSchoolRecipes #FantasticalFoodFight

Did you know that July is National Ice Cream month?  Well, it certainly is and I can't think of a better way to beat the heat.  That is why I was so excited when Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes and host of Fantastical Food Fight chose it as our theme this month.

We are also halfway through our #BacktoSchoolRecipes event where we are sharing ideas for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks so that you are all prepared when you wake up to realize that, once again, you blinked and time flew by.  I know that Fall seems far away right now but trust me it will be here before you know it.

Fall makes my yearn for S'Mores so I have been sharing some great S'Mores recipes with you this week.  So far we've had Clusters that you can tuck into a lunchbox as a special treat and Cookies that are a great snack when you walk into the house famished.

Today, since we are celebrating all things Ice Cream, I decided to take S'Mores in that direction. I adapted a basic Chocolate Ice Cream recipe that came with my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.  The recipe calls for 1 part whole milk and 2 parts heavy cream.  I substituted half and half for the entire recipe and then added in the S'Mores goodies during the last few minutes of churning.

The ice cream is rich and decadent with a deep dark chocolate flavor that lingers in your mouth. Every once in a while you get the surprise of a crunch from the graham crackers interspersed with the smooth, soft chewiness of the marshmallows.

S'Mores Ice Cream

3/4 c. cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. brown sugar, packed
3 cups half and half
8 squares (4 sheets) of graham crackers, roughly crushed
1 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows

Sift together the cocoa and sugars bowl.  Whisk in the half and half until the sugars are dissolved. Cover and refrigerate over night.  Pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers directions, adding the graham crackers and marshmallows during the last 5 minutes of churning.  Serve immediately for soft serve or place into a container and freeze for at least 4 hours for a hand scooped serving.  Print Recipe

More Ice Cream Recipes


More Back to School Recipes

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

S'Mores Thumbprint Cookies #BacktoSchoolRecipes

Today is the second day that I am sharing Back to School Recipes at the invitation of my friend, Cynthia, who blogs over at Feeding Big.

I already went through all of the feelings I have about this event in my post yesterday where I shared a recipe for S'Mores Clusters.  I also told you that I was sharing another S'Mores recipe today because while thoughts of Fall may have parents thinking about school days it has me thinking about bonfires.  Bonfires equal S'Mores.  S'Mores equal great Back to School treats.

I found this recipe from Betty Crocker.  I loved the fact that they used graham cracker crumbs in the cookie batter.  I loved that the marshmallows and chocolate were not incorporated into the cookies but rather placed on top.  What I didn't love was that the marshmallows were simply melted and not toasted.  In my mind.....S'Mores need toasted I adapted this recipe and placed the cookies under the broiler for a couple of minutes.

Immediately after pulling them from the broiler, I topped each cookie with a piece of chocolate. After a couple of minutes I could run a knife over them and spread the chocolate to cover the marshmallows.

These cookies are absolutely amazing.  You can enjoy S'Mores all year long, even if you live in the city and never have the opportunity to sit around a campfire toasting marshmallows.  

These are the perfect addition to a lunchbox and also make a wonderful after school snack to provide a boost of energy while doing homework.

S'Mores Thumbprint Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1 1/3 c. flour
16 graham cracker squares (8 full sheets), pureed into fine crumbs
dash of salt
72 miniature marshmallows
36 rectangles of milk chocolate from 3 full size bars

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.  Mix in the flour, graham cracker crumbs and salt at low speed until a stiff dough is formed.  Using a small cookie scoop, shape dough into 36 balls and place onto ungreased cookies sheets, spacing about 2" apart.  Using your thumb, make indentations in the center of each cookie.  Bake in a preheated 325* oven for 10 minutes.  

Remove from oven and place 2 marshmallows in the indentation of each cookie and place under the broiler for 2 minutes, until the marshmallows are toasted.  Remove from oven and top each cookie immediately with a rectangle of chocolate.  Let sit for a minute or two then lightly run a knife over the chocolate spreading it over the marshmallows. Print Recipe

More Back to School Recipes

Monday, July 17, 2017

S'mores Clusters for #BacktoSchoolRecipes

We are now in the middle of Summer and while the kids are enjoying their swimming pools, sprinklers, parks and beaches, the media begins reminding us that school will be starting soon and it is time to get prepared.

The stores are filled with back to school supplies; backpacks, pencils, folders, rulers, paper and lunchboxes.  Parent's see those lunchboxes and start thinking about how to create lunches that are nutritious but still appealing to their children.  You need to get just the right balance of protein and carbs.  You want to make sure that they eat their veggies and fruit and, of course, you want to give them a treat to finish off that lunch.

With this in mind, Cynthia of Feeding Big, invited us to post our favorite Back to School Recipes.  It has been a long time since I have made kid's lunches but I spent many years doing so and I don't think kids have changed much through the years.  My kids loved peanut butter and jelly, bologna and hard salami for their sandwiches.  Sometimes they would take hard boiled eggs.  Often they would have an apple or an orange.  Carrot and Celery sticks were another favorite, especially if those celery sticks were filled with peanut butter and sprinkled with raisins.  Of course there were always some cookies or a brownie or a purchased lunch box cake to finish the meal.

Fall doesn't make me think of school any longer but it does make me think of long hikes in the woods, the smell of autumn leaves and evenings around a bonfire.  These thoughts lead to memories of toasted marshmallows, topped with a square of chocolate and sandwiched between graham crackers.  Ahhhhhh.....S'mores....I can't think of a better treat to enjoy as the weather starts to cool.

While you can't pack a bonfire for your kids to take to school with them, you can send them all the flavors of S'mores with these delicious and easy to make clusters.

I got the idea for these wonderful treats while walking through a little store in our town called "The Sweet Tooth".  This little store has walls lined with all the candies that I enjoyed as a child. Jawbreakers, Swedish Fish, Jujubes, Bit o Honey's, Black Jacks, etc.  It also has an ice cream parlor and a glass display case filled with homemade chocolates for you to drool over.  One of the chocolates they offered were S'mores Clusters.  I was so excited because I knew that I had all the ingredients needed for these beauties sitting in my baking cupboard at home.

I pulled out some chocolate melts, stirred in some roughly crushed graham crackers, folded in some marshmallows and dropped them onto a silicone mat. Since it is not Fall, but is in fact, the middle of a sweltering Summer, I put them in the freezer for a few minutes to set and then transferred them to a plastic storage bag and kept them refrigerated until it was time to enjoy them.

Do you love S'Mores as much as I?  I am so crazy about them that I'm going to share two more S'Mores recipes tomorrow and Wednesday as we celebrate Back to School recipes.  Make sure you stop by and see what the others are sharing today.  You will find their links following this easy peasy recipe.

S'Mores Clusters

2 c. of chocolate melts
Peanut or Canola oil as needed.
1 sleeve graham crackers (8 full crackers), roughly crumbled
1 1/2 c. miniature marshmallows

Place the chocolate melts in a large, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and continue microwaving in 15 second increments, stirring after each, until melted. You may add oil, a teaspoonful at a time if needed to make a smooth, creamy consistency.  

When chocolate is melted, stir in the graham crackers until coated.  Fold in the marshmallows and drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper or silicone mats.  Place on a flat surface in the freezer for a few minutes until set, if desired. Print Recipe

More Back to School Recipes