Saturday, November 5, 2011

An Apple A Day - Brie, Apple & Arugula Quesadillas

Pin It
Photo: Gentyl & Hyers; Styling: Kendra Smoot

I'm still finding ways to use up the bussel of apples collected from our heirloom trees.  Here's what's for dinner tonight served with artisan hard cider from Finn River Cidery.

Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas
Kathy Farrell-Kingsley,  OCTOBER 2010

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons apple cider
3 (10-inch) flour tortillas
6 ounces Brie cheese, rind removed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, divided
1 Fuji apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (about 1/2 pound), divided
3 cups arugula, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

1. Combine mustard and cider in a small bowl; stir well.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Spread each tortilla with about 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard mixture. Place 1 tortilla, mustard side up, in pan. Arrange one-third of cheese slices over half of tortilla; cook 1 minute or until cheese begins to melt. Arrange one-third of apple slices over cheese; top with 1 cup arugula. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fold tortilla in half; press gently with a spatula. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure twice with remaining 2 tortillas, cheese, apple slices, 2 cups arugula, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.


Friday, November 4, 2011

An Apple A Day - Baked Apples

Pin It
Photo: Dan Goldberg

A healthy dessert to finish a Pacific Northwest cedar-planked salmon.

Baked Apples with Crisp Topping

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped medium fine
1/3 cup pecans, chopped medium fine
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup rolled oats
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
6 medium Pink Lady or Jazz apples, or other firm baking variety
1 1/2 cups apple cider

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. In a small bowl combine walnuts, pecans, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and oats. Add butter cubes and toss to combine.
2. Peel the top third of each apple and, using a melon baller, scoop out the stem and enough of the core so that the walls of the apple are about 1/2 in. thick. Take care, however, not to break through the bottom of the apple, or the filling will leak out when baking. Make the hole a bit wider at the top.
3. Using a small spoon or your fingers, generously stuff each apple; mound extra filling on top.
4. Put the filled apples in a 2-qt. baking dish. Pour cider into the pan around the apples, cover the dish with foil, and bake 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake, basting every 15 minutes, for an additional 30 to 45 minutes, until apples are easily pierced with a sharp knife (they may split open a bit at the bottom). Serve apples drizzled with the sauce from the pan and with a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside.

Other 'An Apple A Day' Recipes: Apple Coleslaw and Pulled Pork Tortas

Have you discovered yet?  If not, check out my previous post here.

Have you had your apple today?


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Apple A Day - Fresh Apple Cupcakes with Almond Streusel

Pin It

A delicious afternoon delight - just add a cup of tea!

Amaretto Apple Streusel Cupcakes
(Source: Cooking Light Magazine October 2009)
Cooking spray
6 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups) 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)  (or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (or yogurt)
1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3/4 cup finely chopped Gala apple
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

1 cup powdered sugar
4 teaspoons 2% reduced-fat milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Place muffin cup liners in 12 muffin cups; coat with cooking spray.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add amaretto, vanilla, and egg to sugar mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Combine sour cream and 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until well blended. Combine apple and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl; toss well.
4. Add flour mixture and sour cream mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with
flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Fold in apple mixture. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
5. To prepare the streusel, combine 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in almonds. Sprinkle streusel evenly over cupcakes. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, and remove the cupcakes from pan.
6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over cupcakes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

An Apple A Day - Apple Coleslaw and Pulled Pork Tortas

Pin It

We are very blessed to have a few heirloom fruit trees on our property - two apple trees, a pear tree and several cherry-plum trees.  The critters - big and small - hooved and winged - all love our fruit trees! After a good pruning last year,  the apple trees were very fruitful this year.  The apples themselves aren't show-piece apples, but they are so tasty and aren't sprayed with any pesticides.

I thought I'd try out some new recipes featuring apples.  This past week I made pulled pork served with apple coleslaw and apple cider!  Nothing goes better with pork than apples!

A happy customer eating his third serving!

Apple Coleslaw

4 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded carrot
1 Granny Smith apple - peeled, cored and coarsely shredded (I prefer to julienne the apple)
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon pineapple juice (optional)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I prefer Miracle Whip)
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place the shredded cabbage and carrot together in a bowl with the sliced apple, and toss to combine. In a separate bowl, stir together the honey, brown sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, and mayonnaise until the honey and sugar have dissolved completely. Pour over the salad, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Slow-Cooker Pulled Pork

2 pork shoulder roasts
1-2 cups apple cider
1 bottle of your favorite barbeque sauce

Put the meat in a slow cooker; pour cider and BBQ sauce over meat. Cover and cook on low until well cooked and the pork shreds easily, 6 to 7 hours. Note: the actual length of time may vary according to individual slow cooker. Drain well. Shred pork using a fork to pull it apart.  Serve on tasty roll.

More apple delectables on their way later this week!  Keep toasty warm with some warm apple cider.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Papertrey Ink Design Challenge: Brayer Impressions #2

Pin It
Thought I'd give the Papertrey Ink challenge another go.

I'm particularly liking the color combination of
aqua and red.  Great for just about any occassion.

This little darling is planned for an upcoming birthday.

Papertrey Ink Stamps Used: Mat Stack Collection & die, Tag It's #1 & #3
Papertrey Ink Supplies Used: White cardstock (the best card stock by far!), impression plate, baker's twine, buttons, aqua mist and pure poppy dye ink (from the new manufacturer - love it!).
Border of gifts: Martha Stewart Crafts

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Papertrey Ink Design Challenge: Brayer Impressions

Pin It
Time for another weekly design challenge from Papertrey Ink.
This week, the challenge was to use a brayer to ink over an impression.
See How-To Tutorial Video Here.

Here's my take on the challenge.
With all of the snow falling in many parts of the U.S., warm mittens and
snowflakes come to mind.

A little something for my new Send Love Today assignment.

Papertrey Ink Stamps Used: Mat Stack Collection & die, Tag It's #3, Tiny Treats Christmas
Papertrey Ink Supplies Used: White cardstock (the best card stock by far!), baker's twine, buttons, aqua mist and pure poppy dye ink (from the new manufacturer - love it!).

Has the snow hit your part of the world?  I'm still enjoying the last little bit of Pacific Northwest sunshine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some like muscles - others like mussels

Pin It
Image from Penn Cove Shellfish

One of the greatest pleasures of living in the Pacific Northwest
is having delicious and fresh fish and seafood right at hand.
I wasn't much of a mussel eater until I moved here and had a bowl of

Penn Cove Mussels are those to which all others are compared when it comes to taste!  Harvested by Penn Cove Shellfish in Coupeville, Washington on Whidbey Island.  So very yummy - there are no other words to describe this delicacy.

Being a Northwest girl now, I have an arsenal of recipes featuring these little devils.  One of my husband's favorites is Mussels in a Spicy Tomato Sauce simply served with crusty bread to sop up the juice and a glass of red wine.  Add to it a beautiful pink & purple sunset over the water and past the mountains and you have heaven on earth.

Simple ingredients mostly available in your pantry.

Cook and serve in a paella pan - very festive.

The recipe I use is from one of Lidia's cookbooks. 
If you don't know Lidia, you haven't had real Italian cooking
(unless of course you happen to be lucky to have
dined in my mother's kitchen).
I recommend any of Lidia's cookbooks if you want to learn
authentic Italian cooking.  She also has cooking
shows on the PBS channel.

Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen

This is my dear dad eating his second bowl of spicy mussels.
He had three bowls in total (over 4 pounds)!
He's an eating machine!  The greatest complement you can
give the cook is to ask for seconds and especially thirds!!

Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce
(Source: Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich)

2 pounds mussels, preferrable cultivated from Penn Cove Farms in Washington State
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved) or 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
1 cup dry white wine
10 large fresh basil leaves, shredded
salt to taste

1.  Clean and debeard mussels as needed.  Remember to discard any mussels that are not closed shut or do not close when tapped.
2.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet - a paella pan is perfect for this dish and presents nicely on the table.  Add garlic and cook, shaking the pan until golden (about 3 minutes).  Slide the tomatoes into the skillet and stir in the oregano and red pepper.  Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes have cooked down (about 5 minutes).
3.  Stir the mussels into the skillet, then pour in the wine.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and cook just until the mussels are opened (about 3-5 minutes).  Do not overcook or the mussels will be tough.
4. Stir in the basil.  Add salt to taste.
5.  Discard any mussels with unopened shells.  Serve with crusty bread to sop up the juice.

I can hear my grandmother's voice still ringing in my ears. "Tutti a tavola a mangiare!  Mangia!  Mangia!"

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cheap Eats: Chicken and Lentil Salad

Pin It
Looking for more ways to put legumes in your diet.  I try to have at least one meal per week that includes legumes.

Here is a great, simple but tasty salad using lentils.  It's great as a side dish or served as a tapa.  I used the bits and pieces left over from a rotisserie chicken served earlier in the week.

Chicken and Lentil Salad


1 cup brown lentils, sorted of debris and rinsed
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice 
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 cup slivered red onion
1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves



1. Simmer lentils in 1 qt. lightly salted water in a covered saucepan just until tender to the bite, 15 minutes. Drain.
2. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, then gently stir in warm lentils.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Cheap Eats: Rice and 'Peas'

Pin It So, I'm in my kitchen yesterday wondering what to cook for dinner.
I see that I have a package of organic chicken breast (steal of a deal in my local supermarket this week) and rice in the pantry.  I'm not in the mood for my normal Arroz con Pollo, so I pull up MYRECIPES.COM (see previous post) and type in chicken tenders and rice.  Up pops two recipes  - Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken Tenders and Classic Jamaican Rice and Peas ...Add a salad and we have a delicious and healthy dinner in less than 30 minutes!

Classic Jamaican Rice and Peas


  • 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice (such as jasmine)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I used black beans in my version.)


  • Combine the first 7 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir in rice; reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 20 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat; remove the thyme sprigs and garlic, and discard. Gently stir in the beans. Cover and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Oatmeal-Crusted Chicken Tenders

  • 1 cup regular oats
  • 3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • Cooking spray


  • Preheat oven to 450°.
  • Place oats in a food processor, and process for 20 seconds or until coarsely ground. Add cheese, thyme, salt, and pepper. Pulse to combine, and place in a shallow bowl.
  • Place each chicken breast tender between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Coat both sides of tenders with cooking spray; dredge tenders in oat mixture. Place tenders on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes or until browned.

Have you tried MYRECIPES.COM yet? 


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"I Gar-an-tee" you'll love this e-cookbook

Pin It
You may remember, back in April  I set a goal to widdle down my cookbook collection (See Post).  I'm making progress, but still have a ways to go.  One of the challenges I came across was the best means to keep the recipes I love while still leting go of the paper.

One of the solutions I found was MYRECIPES.COM (link here).  In addition, to the many cookbooks in my pantry were stacks of torn out pages from magazines, mostly Sunset or Coastal Living or Cooking Light.  At MYRECIPES.COM, you can find all recipes printed in these magazines and many more!  The coolest part of MYRECIPES.COM is that you can create your own recipe file - you simply type in your recipe and there it resides in digital cyberland, ready for you to access it at any time from any where in the world.  I've started several personalized recipe files on MYRECIPES.COM - one for all of my treasured family recipes, another for Christmas favorites, and others for various themes.  This will come in so handy when I'm on vacation or visiting family and want to cook one of my favorite specialties.  You can also create menus and shopping lists! But wait, there's more ... you can even access MYRECIPE.COM if you have a smartphone or an iPad / tablet (you lucky duck).  How handy is this when you're at the grocery store, see a sweet deal and wonder what you might make with the item and what other ingredients you need to go along with that sweet deal?!

The other great tool I'm using to keep those favorite recipes until I can populate my e-recipe file, is my Neatreceipts Scanner and the Neatworks data management tool.  This little device is the best organizing tool in my arsonal (see previous post here).  I simply scan that recipe and capture it in my computer on a pdf file.  Upload it to Google documents or Dropbox or whatever database on the Cloud that you like, and there it is - available to you 24/7 from any computer, smartphone or iPad/tablet (again, you lucky duck).  Imagine the possibilities ...  you are visiting with your grandkids and they plead for your special Monkey Bread.  Alas you don't have your recipe box with you - but you do have access to the internet :)  Sweet, tasty monkey bread is only a few keystrokes away and the kids think you are the best and coolest Grandma in the whole world!

I still am keeping a binder with all of the handwritten recipes given to me by my grandmothers, my mom and mother-in-law.  This keepsake binder is stored away with all of my other treasured memories so that the next generation will have them.

How do you store your favorite recipes?  Have you integrated the digital world into your kitchen?


Friday, September 30, 2011

Operation Write Home - BLOG HOP

Pin It

Christmas Card Blog Hop today!

Here is a showcase of some of my creations from
the Otter Hill Design Studio.

All images were found at The Graphics Fairy.
She has such a wonderful collection that provides
free downloads of any of her vintage images.  I often grab
old postcard images, like those above, to incorporate
into my handmade cards.

Making cards for our heroes overseas is such a small thing but has a big impact on our brave soldiers and their families.  Have you done something to bring a little 'surprise and delight' to a military hero? Leave me a comment and share your story?


Monday, September 26, 2011

Zucchini Treats - Bundt Cake

Pin It
Photo courtesy of

The August 2011 edition of Martha Stewart Living (my all time favorite magazine) featured this bundt cake.  With a dozen zucchini sitting in the harvesting basket, I baked up this scrumptious treat for some very special guests.  It was the perfect sweet ending to a sunset dinner featuring everything harvested from our garden and beach!

My version

Zucchini Bundt Cake
(from Martha Stewart Living.  Recipe can also be found here.)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon anise seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
Coarse salt
2 medium zucchini (about 8 ounces each)
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

Orange Glaze Orange Glaze (recipe below)

Candied Zucchini Strips (optional) Candied Zucchini Strips (Instructions below)


1.Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush a 6-cup Bundt pan ( with butter, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking powder, spices, and 1 teaspoon salt.
2.Grate zucchini on the large holes of a box grater, then squeeze dry in a clean kitchen towel or press in a ricer. (You will need 2 1/2 cups.)
3.Stir together eggs and sugar, then stir in melted butter, zucchini, and orange zest and juice. Stir in flour mixture. Transfer batter to pan.
4.Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour (cake will rise quite a bit over the top of the pan but should not run over). Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cake cool for 10 minutes. Run a paring knife around edges of cake to loosen, and turn out onto wire rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
5.Brush several layers of orange glaze evenly over cake, and garnish with candied zucchini before serving.

Cook's Note:
Unglazed cake can be stored at room temperature, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month.

Orange Glaze

1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 pinches of ground cardamom (optional)
¼ teaspoon finely grated orange zest, plus 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Whisk together sugar and cardamom. Whisk in orange zest and juice, and whisk until mixture has the consistency of thick honey. If mixture is too thick, whisk in milk 1 teaspoon at a time.

Candied Zucchini Strips

2 ½ cups sugar
2 cups water
2 medium zucchini very thinly sliced lengthwise (preferably on a mandolin)

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add zucchini. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer, with a round of parchment placed directly on the surface, until zucchini are translucent, 15 to 20 minutes. Let zucchini cool in syrup.

Arrange zucchini in a single layer on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Let dry for 1 hour. Use immediately.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Papertrey Fun

Pin It
This week's Make It Monday challenge from Papertrey Ink
was to use the Frosted Image technique.

This is the little lovely that I created for my
Send Love Today assignment.

Papertrey Ink also has a Blog Hop contest going on today.
The challenge is to create something with inspiration from
this photo.

This is my creation for the Operation Write Home basket.

Have a great week!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Zucchini Treats - Cookies

Pin It

Zucchini is one of my favorite crops from the garden
because of all of the ways it can be used in the kitchen.
Fortunately, the plants are fabulous producers and every year
I just can't wait to harvest them.

My favorite way to cook with zucchini is to use it
in baking.  When grated, it makes for a lovely moist base
for cookies.  I picked up this recipe years ago and modified it
to my liking - lots of healthy goodies. 
You can't feel guilty about eating these lovelies.
Some might even call it a breakfast cookie.

Zucchini cookies are a favorite of our youngest grand-daughter who
squirrels them away in her cheeks just to make sure
her daddy doesn't take them away before she's finished!

Zucchini Cookies

1 cup butter (room-temp)

1 ½ cup sugar

2 large eggs (room-temp)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups grated zucchini

2 cups all-purpose flour (You could mix whole wheat flour with regular flour for an even more healthy treat.)

1 ½ cups rolled oats

¼ cup ground flaxseed (optional)

¼ cup chia seed (optional)

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup mini-chocolate chips

½ cup raisins

1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350deg. Cream together the butter and sugar, then beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, oats, seed, baking powder, cinnamon, salt), then add to the zucchini mixture. Stir in the goodies (nuts, choc. chips, raisins, coconut); you can add whatever goodies you like such as other dried fruit or nuts). Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown. The cookies will have a cake-like texture and store well in an airtight container or frozen for future enjoyment.

What are your favorite ways to cook with zucchini?  I have a dozen sitting in my harvesting basket just ready to bring pleasure.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hurry Up and Wait

Pin It Blogging today from my phone. How cool is that?! Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks :)

Since living in the Pacific Northwest I've learned the lesson of patience while driving. There are many opportunities to learn this lesson - the wait lines for the ferries, while waiting for the various draw bridges to close, or even while waiting for a metro bus or lite-rail. Here we are today waiting yet again on the Hood Canal Bridge while a submarine passes by. I no longer am flustered by the extra 30 - 60 minutes added to my travel schedule. I relish it! I carry a set of knitting needles and a bottle of water & treats for Maggie, and then sit back and enjoy the view. Where else can you watch the sunset over the snowcapped Olympic mountains while a US naval submarine provides a glorious show?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...