Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Remodeled Kitchen

I just realized that in my attempts to keep up with the garden and all the veggies, I am seriously lacking on my internet and blogging time! Sorry for that.

How about an update on the remodeling project we started last winter?? Sound good? Well, if you remember, things got a little messy and walls were missing. The Destruction post, was my recap of the chaos that occurred during Truckin' Mans time off from trucking. 

We are by no means done, and will resume with finishing and a lot of the missing components and details this winter.

We now enjoy one open space between the dining room and kitchen. 

I had to take odd angles on these photo's due with the light coming in the windows. But, you get the idea. No, more boxy square rooms. Open space now!

So much more room to work and move. It's a much more enjoyable space to be in.

Now, time to get back to my veggies! 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Back to the 50's

Back to the 50's is an annual event held in Minnesota at the State Fairgrounds.
I attended my first Back to the 50's 20 years ago. 
Yikes! Really??? Hardly seems possible, but it's a fact.

This year was the 42nd year of the event.
Only the 2nd year attending for Truckin' Man.
I think he is hooked on it.

There were almost 12,000 cars that were 1964 or older. 11,816 to be exact.
Truckin' Man wanted to try to see at least 11,000 of them. (We didn't)

This event seems to always be on the hottest day of the year, but this year the temps were on our side.

Truckin' Man has dreams of building a Rat Rod, so I snapped this picture for him.

This truck was up next to the diner we stopped at for lunch. Had to do a double take on the logo!

Have you ever been to Back to the 50's
If you are even in St. Paul, on Father's Day weekend, I highly recommend checking it out!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Good Year in the Garden

Well, it's darn near Mid-July and we are still thrilled with our garden, and keeping on top of things. It sure has made easy work of it for me this year, with Truckin' Man being so involved, and also with our investment of a tiller!

Green cabbage was the first vegetable we had ready. They thrived!

Bell Peppers are coming along wonderful. We will have an abundance this year. We still are sure why we have so many plants, but I know for a fact that I wasn't the one that bought them all!

 I finally picked this glorious head of cauliflower today. It weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces. 
Not the biggest ever, but I am very proud of it!

Peas... We battled so hard getting them to grow. It took three different plantings... I don't even know what variety these are. What they are is what the last store I looked in had on the shelf.  
They aren't the most flavorful pea, but it's raised in our garden, so I am going to savor every last one of them!

Beans were a bit of a battle as well. I had planted a three bean mix. Yellow, purple and green. We had to replant once, yellow and purple beans are now happy as can be. Only a couple plants producing green. Oh well... just happy we have fresh beans!

This was everything I picked on my day off this week. Beans, red onions, banana pepper, broccoli, kale, cabbage, and carrots! Super happy :)

 Not in the garden, but still in the fresh produce category on the farm... Raspberries are ready! 
We didn't think we were going to have a good season, but guess what? We were wrong! 
Great season!

How is your garden?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Quinoa & Bean Salad

Quinoa. I was so far behind everyone jumping on the quinoa boat. I just hadn't jumped on board until one day... my friend had brought a quinoa salad to work. I took a sample of this salad and LOVED it.  It was a great salad with bright flavors, the perfect introduction to this lovely grain. I am a big quinoa fan now, and it's always on hand. 

This recipe is the one that my friend shared. You really can't go wrong with this. Even my reluctant husband has requested this dish. Yes... It's that good! I love using as many bright colored onions and peppers as possible to keep it pretty!

Quinoa and Bean Salad (Adapted from: The Cafe Sucre Farine)

1 lemon, juiced and zested
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups quinoa, cooked
1 15 oz can black beans
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 cup bell pepper, chopped (use as many colors as you have on hand... yellow, red, orange, or green)
3/4 cup cilantro, choppped

In small jar add lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, honey, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper.  With tight fitting lid on jar, shake until vigorously for about 1 minute.

Combine remaining ingredients into large bowl. Add about half cup of the dressing, and toss to combine. Let set for at least 30 minutes, but a couple hours is better. Add remaining dressing as needed before serving.


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Monday, July 6, 2015

Barbecued Slow Cooker Beans

When a friend (or their husband) is cooking up a batch of something delicious, and I have a chance to try it, I am all over it! So, when my foodie friend Mary, from All Things Food ~ Cooking with Mary and Friends, shared that her husband, Curt, was making another batch of his barbecue sauce, I wanted in! In my world of foodie friends, this sauce is darn near famous. Curt and Mary live in South Carolina, and you know what I think about foods from South Carolina... it's all amazing!

Mary is always trying to get as many foods from local farmers as she can. I really admire the effort she puts into sourcing and learning about where her food comes from. So, when they put a recipe together, I have no doubt that the best ingredients are being used.

Truckin' Man and I really fell in love with this barbecue sauce, and that is rare for us to agree on a sauce. Usually, one of us is complaining that it is to sweet (me), or to spicy (him), but this sauce was just right! We enjoyed it so many nights on different pieces of meat, and even on a pizza one night.  I really wanted to create a special recipe to enjoy this amazing sauce, and a baked bean dish seemed like the answer since we have been on a bean kick lately. So glad my taste buds dictated the creation of this dish.

The day I made these, we were going to be gone for quite a few hours. So, in a last minute nervousness, I added a bit more broth, just for good measure. Of course, we were gone longer than I had planned. I had never made dried beans in the slow cooker before, so by the time we walked through the door, I was convinced that this was not going to end well. I walked through the kitchen, made a bee line to taste test, and just stood there holding my spoon in awe. Barbecued Bean goodness. The beans were cooked to perfection. Not to sweet, not to spicy, just good ol' barbecue goodness! 

Barbecued Slow Cooker Beans

8 oz dried lima beans
8 oz dried northern beans
1 lb ground beef
3/4 pound bacon, diced
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
3 1/2 cups beef broth
2 tsp barbecue seasoning
1 tsp salt
2 cups barbecue sauce (Use a sauce that you love!)

Sort through beans, discarding any stones, or shriveled beans. Place in large pot, and cover with water; let soak overnight.

Drain beans. In large skillet cook ground beef until cooked through. Meanwhile, in separate skillet, cook diced bacon; cook until lightly browned. Removed bacon from skillet with slotted spoon, add to slow cooker. In skillet with bacon grease, add onion and jalepenos. Saute until onions are softened. Add to slow cooker along with beans, ground beef, beef broth, barbecue seasoning, salt and barbecue sauce. Stir until combined. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Berry Shortcake Cookies

For July's "Fill The Cookie Jar", I found a cookie that covered the "Summer" theme, as well as "Patriotic". This cookie seemed to always track back to a Martha Stewart recipe for Strawberry-Shortcake Cookie. Since she is the original "Martha", I followed her recipe, with just one tweak, I also added some blueberries to the mix. Why not, right?

I honestly never considered enjoying strawberries in a cookie before this recipe. I have been mising out! These are amazingly delicious! But, this is one cookie that definitely is at it's best when fresh. 

Please take a minute to scroll down and see what all the other bakers are sharing this month!

If you are interested in joining Fill The Cookie Jar group on facebook, fill out the form that can be found at Fill The Cookie Jar. Each month we bake a different theme for the cookie.
We bake, we share and we enjoy our cookies!

Berry Shortcake Cookies  (Source: Martha Stewart)

2 cups strawberries
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup, plus two tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp butter, cold
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freeze dried blueberries
sanding sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

In large bowl, mix together 1/2 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces then add to flour mixture. Cut in with pastry cutter, until coarse crumbs form.  Stir in cream, mixing until dough forms. Dough will be VERY dry. Add strawberries and blueberries, mix well.

Using a medium scoop,  drop dough onto prepared sheets about two inches apart (these will spread). Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until light golden color. Cool for 3-4 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool for 30 minutes.


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