Friday, May 29, 2009

Hooked on Perennial Gardens...

My perennial garden is beginning to come into full bloom.
And once it gets going, I really get hooked on gardening.

Wondering what will pop up next.
What flowers survived the winter,
after being planted the year before.
And what new flower would I like to add.....

This picture is just a short shot of my small side garden.
You can see that we have a lot crammed in,
and some things should have been split.

I've decided to take some pictures,
and draw a diagram so I will know what to split in the fall.

Perhaps my awesome red poppies.....

or huge peonies, which have been around for decades....

Beautiful Irises......

And of course, the traditional daisy!

I'm sure I'll find many of you who are hooked on gardening this time of year. As weeks come up I will be posting my backyard garden. And our suburban vegetable garden....So stayed tuned for more.

To see what others are Hooked on, check out.....

Julia's Hooked on Fridays

Fifi Fashionable Friday
(because every Fashion Queen needs her flowers)

Melissa's Beautiful Life
(because these flowers are just beautiful!)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Daring Apple Strudel....

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge is hosted by Linda of Make Life Sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caf├ęs of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

I don't know if you have taken the time to make this before, but let me tell you, it is quite the challenge. If your short on time, like I usually am, phyllo dough will work perfect when making strudel. The usual dough can be quite tricky if not made right. You want it to be see through thin when stretching it out. It is alot better to was a pastry cloth to do that on.

And the breadcrumbs the filling calls for, acts as a sponge for the apple liquid when baking. Overall, the the strudel was delish. You can change up the filling to different fruits or make a savory one...spinach, onions, ham, ect. If you have trouble figuring out how to maneuver the dough , check out YouTube.

Apple Strudel
2 Tbsp. rum, optional
3 Tbsp. raisins, optional
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted & divided
1 cup bread crumbs
strudel dough * recipe follows
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
4 large granny smith apples (2 lbs), peeled, cored and sliced thinly
**Mix the rum and raisin in a small bowl. In another separate bowl mix the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
**Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely. **Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (I just sprayed with cooking spray).
**Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands. Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs (this is to ensure that the layers stay separated). Spread the walnuts about 3 inches from the short edge of the dough in a 6 inch wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum, if used), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.
Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself.
**Carefully transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter (2 Tbsp).
Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown (I baked mine for about 45 min). Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked as the dough will get soggy after sitting overnight.
Serves: 6-8

Strudel Dough
1 1/3 cups flour
1/8 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary. Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.
Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer is better as the gluten needs time to rest).
It would be best if you have a work area that you can walk around on all sides like a 36 inch (90 cm) round table or a work surface of 23 x 38 inches (60 x 100 cm). Cover your working area with table cloth, dust it with flour and rub it into the fabric. Put your dough ball in the middle and roll it out as much as you can. Pick the dough up by holding it by an edge. This way the weight of the dough and gravity can help stretching it as it hangs. Using the back of your hands to gently stretch and pull the dough. You can use your forearms to support it.
The dough will become too large to hold. Put it on your work surface. Leave the thicker edge of the dough to hang over the edge of the table. Place your hands underneath the dough and stretch and pull the dough thinner using the backs of your hands. Stretch and pull the dough until it’s about 2 feet (60 cm) wide and 3 feet (90 cm) long, it will be tissue-thin by this time (It is ok if the dough has holes, there are enough layers that it should not matter). Cut away the thick dough around the edges with scissors. The dough is now ready to be filled.
Makes: 1 large strudel

Friday, May 22, 2009

Love me some Laundry......

I know, it's pretty strange to be hooked on these. I just think they look so sleek.... When we moved into our new/old house, the washer and dryer came with it. And the set was well over 20 years old. So of course you don't replace something that isn't broke. I waited until two years later when the washer broke down. And then I researched for the best deal and the best reviews. I ended up with a Kenmore Elite HE3. And I must say that I have loved it so far.

It just didn't seem like my laundry room was complete without a matching set. So of course I waited until the dryer was going on the blink. The HE3's have already changed their looks, so there would be no matching set...... I looked on Craigslist to find a matching dryer, and finally found one at a great price. And the owner had the matching washer and it didn't work. He was just looking to get rid of it. For $200 I got a new dryer and all the parts off the washer, should mine breakdown. What a score! Oh how I love my shiny white and black pair, as a do a load or two everyday.

Isn't crazy what fashionable colors they come in now. Remember when it was white standard, and Bone or Ivory was extra. This SS set is so sleek....

Or Slatelike Blue is lovely....

Or perhaps a Chocolatety Brown....

Or Burnt Orange or hot!

I know if you don't have a set already,
your jealous of those who do!
To see what others are hooked on check out
(I'm sure she'll agree their very Vogue!)
(Because they sure make laundry seem more beautiful)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Spicy Chicken Cakes with a Zing!

For those of you who cannot eat seafood, and those Crab cakes that you see at the beach town restaurants look so good. I have a solution for you! I am one of those who have a allergy to shellfish. And I wanted to replicate those delicious looking cakes. So I adapted this recipe from a crab cake recipe that I had found, and added the zing of the crushed red pepper.

This is a favorite at our house during those hot months. They are super easy to make if you have a food processor to chop up the chicken for you. The other night I served it with a yellow rice and salsa, and steamed corn. Roasted corn on the cob would be perfect with this too!

And definitely serve the Aioli sauce with it,
It is so tasty!
Spicy Chicken Cakes
Aioli (see recipe below)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (approximately 1 pound), cut into chunks*
1/4 cup sauteed onions and celery
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. dries red pepper
2 large egg whites
1/2 c. breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or olive oil

**Place chicken pieces in food processor; pulse just until ground. Be carefully not to process too long.

**In a medium-size bowl, combine ground chicken, onion/celery, mustard, Cajun seasoning, red pepper, egg whites, and breadcrumbs; mix well (mixture will be wet).

**Divide mixture into either 8 small patties, approximately 1/2-inch-thick each.

**In a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat, add vegetable or olive oil and heat. Add chicken patties; cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Remove from heat.

Serve with a dollop of Aioli on each chicken cake.

2 tablespoons light or low-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1 clove garlic, minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
**In small bowl, combine mayonnaise, horseradish, garlic, and salt.
**Refrigerate until ready to serve with chicken cakes.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Look what arrived yesterday......

The postman had a little package for me today.
It's always fun to get gifts in the mail.
especially when their from blog buddies who are super sweet,
and have a whole lot of creative talent.

This cute candy heart bracelet comes to me from Saucy
who lives in the far reaches of Canada.
Thousands of miles from me. I have been watching her from a far,
as I stop by her website almost daily to see what she and her daughter,
Loopy, are up to. She recently asked her readers what they
thought about her blog and should she re-categorize herself?

I felt she showed her readers a little bit of everything.
Sprinkles so to speak, of her life, adventures, crafts,
and of course her new obsession of cupcakery.

That is when she decided to change her name to

Saucy's Sprinkles!

And because I reminded her of what she really is to me...
She sent me this sweet little bracelet of candied hearts.
I was dying to know how she put these together,
then she gave a tutorial on her site.

But it is even nicer having it in person.

Then just a few days later, she had a little contest running on her site.
The first 5 to post a Jonas Brother's Giveaway post,
could win these very cute earrings.
They are just the cutest, and remind me of all the baking that I do.

What a sweet little lady she is!

Thanks so much for my little package of Happiness!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tropical Mango Muffins....Yummy

Tuesday again, can you believe it the week goes by so fast, and just when you turn around, it's Tuesday.....This week's choice comes by way of Kelly from Baking with Boys. A mother of two living in Kansas City, who is a self proclaimed fruit crazy gal. And Mangos are at the top of her list. That is why she chose Mango Bread. I made mine into muffins, just because their easier to pack up on the go, for lunches or baseball games.

I decided to change mine up a bit and make it even more tropical. I used Kelly's lower fat version HERE. And then I added 1/2 c. chopped pineapple, 1/2 c. shredded coconut, and 2 tsp rum extract.....I also omitted the raisins, because they just didn't fit into the theme I had in mind.

And I have to tell you that with a bit of tea, either iced or hot, they were super tasty. I'm glad I made the changes, because I love tropical. So give them a try...and if you can't find fresh mango in your supermarket, I am sure you will find canned. Which isn't bad to work with . And if you want to see what others are up to at TWD check it out here!

We give this 5 glasses of milk,
for Tropical Goodness!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

You go Girl!

A Female comes in first after 85 years
at the Preakness Stakes.

A filly jumps into the race at the last minute and beats out 13 strong colts.

What a accomplishment for a young lady
which was recently bought 10 days before.......

Here's to womanhood in any form it takes!

You Go Girl!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hooked on Thursdays....

Each Thursday night, if I am not working, you will find me glued to the TV. One of my favorites that night is Grey's Anatomy. I have been there from the beginning, all the ups and downs, and comings and goings. I, like many others, am hooked on this show. Nothings better than drooling over Dr. McDreamy, a quirky actor back in the early 80's. Never thought he would amount to much. But look at him now, commercials, movies, voice overs....he never had it so good. And he grew up not too far from here, in Maine. Then there is the sexy McSteamy, who says he was a nerd in high school, never had much luck with girls. I think it's the distinguishing grey flicks in his hair, that had me at Hello!

SPOILER ALERT!!!....And tonight with the finale it really had me hanging. Two primary players dying at the same time, could that be? Did they both want off the show. I know Dr. Stevens was looking to get out. She wants to focus on her movie career. I hear she can be a Diva on the outside.....But, Dr. O'Malley, what a sweetheart. What will be his next stop if he leaves? He is such a cutie in his own way too!

I'll have to wait now until late September to find out what happens. And of course I'll watch this episode again when they rerun it on Saturday, like they usually do. That's just how ABC is. So what do you think happens, are both characters gone?

To see what others are Hooked on this Friday..
Check out
(because I think she would agree with Dr. McDreamy)
(because all these Doctors are beautiful)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

News Flash....This just in!

My sister from another mother, Shanna,

just sent me a notice that I was mentioned on CNN News Station.

Check out the link HERE to see what they are saying...

It's the cutest thing ever!

Thanks Shanna,

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Hooked on a Butler's Pantry....

I realize that a lot of you, like me, are
Hooked on the Butler's Pantry.
I would love to have one of these in my old home now, but there just isn't any room. I believe that my main floor half bath was originally just that. With a pass through window into the dining room. I guess only the house knows now, circa 1880. I used to have a nice one in a old apartment I rented in Providence. I thought it was very cool....the glass doors, the small sink...

I hear they're making a come back in new homes being built.

And it seems like the most popular color of choice is white....

With beautiful subway tile...

Of course, this is a nice dark wood one, with some
nifty drawers for storing linens.

This particular pantry seems to be the most popular
one on the web. I see it everywhere...

I'll leave you with this lovely, large pantry. It was found in one of those huge mansions. I like the fact that you can see all your glass pieces and china. Not just stored away in boxes like mine are.
To see what others are hooked on this week check out:

Melissa'sBeautiful Life

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tiramisu Cake

It's Tuesday with Dorie.......

The recipe this week is chosen by
I like me some Tiramisu, and so do alot of others I'm guessing....
All the pieces to the puzzle of this cake came out well.
Although, the topping was a little runny.
I used Kahlua for the liquor, because that it was I had on hand.
And for the espresso powder, I used instant coffee.
Marscapone can be expensive, and I understand that you can find it at Trader Joe's cheap, or go online and find a homemade recipe. I poured my batter into (2) 8 inch pans, which seemed to be the perfect amount. We ate half tonight and will eat the rest in the next couple of days. Everyone in this house loved it, and would ask for it again I'm sure...
Check out the recipe here or in the Baking with Dorie book on pages 266 - 268.

We give this 5 glasses of milk, for udder goodness!