Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Snapshot!

Harper is 4 years old.  She was born on a book club night.
Today she came to the Lit Wits book club meeting at my house.  I told her I was SO EXCITED because-- I am in a book club with her mom, her grandma and her great-grandma!  And now she and I could start a book club of our own.

I'm not sure how excited she was about that.
But I certainly am.

I'll tell you more about our book later, but for now, I'm just glad I have a 4th generation to share a book club with!

And that, friends, is my Saturday Snapshot

Friday, January 30, 2015

Mini Meat Loaves and Cookbook Countdown #71!

Cook Book #71!
in my own personal cookbook countdown

If for any reason you want to take a look at all the cookbooks I've 'counted down' so far, 

I guess what you can say about me is that I am slow but steady.
It wins the race, right?
But the finish line gets further and further away, as I keep adding new cookbooks to my collection.

I was very excited to get this one in the mail,  "Come for Dinner, Memorable Meals to Share with  Family and Friends".

I love to cook for family and friends.  I love to have people over.  I love to entertain.
I would much rather have the setting of a home kitchen and living room than out in a restaurant -- most of the time.

I love this cookbook. It has tons of menu ideas for entertaining small groups.
It gave me tons of ideas for dinner at home with people I love (and like).
Nothing has to be fancy, just simple, like meatloaves.

Meatloaf is one of those things that you either love (I do) or you don't really like.
I have a go-to meatloaf recipe that I ALWAYS use (check it out here, but the blog post was 7 years ago. I was blogger young and dumb.  It's like watching old movies of yourself--no one really likes it.  I mean, I would have done a different post than that if I did it today.) and I am proud of that meatloaf, because it lives on in the daughter of a friend, who had it 25 years ago and will make it and write to me saying "I made your meatloaf last night"
I tore the recipe out of a Cook's Illustrated magazine about  25 years ago.
There you have it. My secret.

I got off track...

....oh yes,  even tho we have a favorite meat loat
(we do argue about the sides tho.  My mom made a baked potato and Waldorf salad, The Handyman's mom made mashed potatoes/gravy and a vegetable)
and even tho I do love this cookbook, the mini-meatloaves looked EASY, and I was in a hurry to do some cooking from my cook books for the countdown.

Guess what?
Truly, honestly, seriously...
They were so moist and so flavorful  (chopped up bacon inside).
They are good for company, family, cold winter nights, whenever.
Great meatloaf!
I say you should give it a try.
And you can choose your own sides.

Mini Meat Loaves

1 1/2 pound ground beef chuck
2 1/2 T butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 slices of white bread, crusts removed
1/3 to 1/2 cup milk
1 egg
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 T ketchup
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3 thin strips of bacon halved lengthwise and cut crosswise in 1/4 inch wide pieces
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 T soy sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 425F with a rack in the center.  set a medium heavy skillet over low heat with the butter.  When the butter has melted, cook the onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until the onion is  light brown and slightly translucent, 3-5 minutes.
Let cool to room temp.

2. Meanwhile, tear the bread into small pieces into a small bowl. Mix in enough milk to thoroughly soak it and set aside to soften.

3. Break the egg into a large mixing bowl and whisk it lightly.  Whisk in the mustard, 3 T of the ketchup, the Worcestershire and the thyme.  A handful at a time, squeeze out the softened bread and add it to the bowl, tearing it into smaller pieces as you do so.  Amalgamate it with a whisk and stir in the bacon, separating the pieces if necessary.

4. Break the meat into small pieces as you add it to the bowl. Add the browned onion mixture, the chopped parsley and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  combine lightly but thoroughly -- hands do the best job -- and form a teaspoonful into a patty.  Set a small skillet over low heat with a few drops of oil and cook the patty.  Taste it and add more salt and pepper if it needs it.

5.  Divide the mixture into 4 parts ( about  9.5 oz in weight) and pat them into slightly  flattened loaves about  4 1/2 inches long and 1 inch high.  set them in a roasting pan or other oven-proofed pan, separated by 1 inch of space.  In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ketchup and soy sauce.  Spoon the mixture equally over the loaves and spread it to coat the tops.

6. Bake the meat loaves until just cooked thru, 20- 25 minutes. Transfer them to a warm platter or plates, garnish with parsley if you'd like, and serve hot.

 This is a review off of Goodreads for the Cookbook:

Make every meal a feast and every moment with loved ones an occasion with Come for Dinner 
"Before chefs became philosophers, trendsetters, and TV stars, there was Leslie Revsin, a cook whose instinct for flavor is matched only by her sense of nurture. She has never stopped cooking from the heart, and I have never stopped wishing I could cook just like she does every night of the week. Now that she's written a book, I can." 
-Molly O'Neill, host of the PBS series Great Food and author of the New York Cookbook 

I am going to link this post to

Kitchen Flavours

Love, Laughter (and a touch of) Insanity

Beth Fish Reads

Ms. enPlace

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Outdoor Wednesday

This is going to be a weird, "Outdoor Wednesday" because my pictures aren't really taken out of doors -- we were in the indoor events center-- BUT this thing that I took photos of does take place out of doors, so I'm stretching the limits and just linking up to Outdoor Wednesday anyway.

Cow Dogs.

I think they are AMAZING.  I LOVE them.
They are the smartest things alive.
Just by the littlest, teeny-tiny whistle or click, a cowboy can get a message across to their Cow Dog (usually a Border Collie) who then herds and cuts the cattle into groups/pens or where ever the cowboy wants them.

I am not even a cowgirl.  
I do live in the middle of Nevada in the middle of nowhere, and I love, love, love the rustic outdoors, BUT I would never ever want to work as hard as the ranchers and cowboys and farmers work.
I, basically, am lazy.
As you know-- give me a good book, a good meal, warm cookies, hot coffee, a nice walk or hike.
Do not give me country work to do!

I love these dogs tho and it seems like they do all the work!!

Remember, as you look, no cows or dogs were harmed in the process.
The dogs nip and snap at the cows to get them into a pen, but never really bite them.   They are really gentle dogs.

Every year in late February- early March, our Fairgrounds has a "Ranch Hand" Rodeo.  
It's quite popular -- Ranch hands (or cowboys) come from near and far to participate.
The Cow Dog trials is the only thing I make time to watch.
I took these pictures at last year's event.  
I can't wait until this  year!

Our trial welcomes dogs and their handlers from across the West. Cow dogs are an essential part of a ranch operation. Our trial provides a venue to demonstrate the agility and functionality of our canine companions. Watch how quickly these dogs move cattle through a timed obstacle course! The Winnemucca Cow Dog Trial runs Wednesday and Thursday of Ranch Hand Rodeo Weekend. The Cow Dog Finals take place Thursday evening.

Chocolate Chip Cookie #14 and hello/goodbye Cookbook Wednesday

Today is Cookbook Wednesday.  The last one (for a while anyway) hosted by my friend Louise at  Months of Edible Celebrations.
I am always late to the party.
No, no that's not right --  I went to the party, I just left and came back later... as it was ending.
Never mind!
I LOVE Louise's blog!  Her trivia and attention to detail.
I just wanted to let you know that.

With that in mind -- that it is Cookbook Wednesday -- I am going to post my Chocolate Chip Cookie#14 recipe.
(remember I am making my way thru this cookbook, as well as other good Chocolate chip cookie recipes I find)

Big Batch Chip Cookies

I have to tell you the truth...
...this was a really good cookie.
The past couple of recipes from this book have included almond extract and I'm just saying --  I really like it.

I did not use the option of nuts and coconut this time.
I was caving to the wishes of the Handyman.  He doesn't like nuts in his cookies.
But I love him, so I made them  'his way'.
I'll do that once in a while.

Big Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies
from "the Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie"

4 cups flour
1  1/2 tsp baking soda
1  1/4 tsp salt
1  1/2 cups butter - softened
1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract (optional)  (but I would leave it in)
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1/2 cup coconut (optional)

Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside.
Cream butter, sugars, eggs and extracts. Stir in sifted ingredients. Gently stir in ch. chips, nuts and coconut.
Drop by rounded tabelspoons onto greased baking sheets.  Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Do not overbake; cokies will continue baking after being removed from the oven.  Allow to set a few minutes on trays before moving to racks to cool.

Have a great day!
Nothing better than a warm cookie and a good book.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Audio Book Challenge

I can't believe I did it!  I signed up for a challenge.  A few years ago, I decided not to sign up for challenges because I, not being as dedicated as most of my book blogging friends, SUCKED at finishing them!
But--this doesn't seem too hard.  After-all, I've already finished  3 audio books this month.

Let me share them with you ---

A quick, easy read.  I really enjoyed it  and loved the ending!

Some magical realism in this one.  I liked it too.

Loved this one!

Started slow but I ended up loving the characters!

and I am 1/4 of the way thru this one:

Okay, so that is more than 3.
Geez, I was going to sign up for the 10-15 book challenge  
(Stenographer --can listen while multi-tasking)
But now I feel I should really 'challenge' myself and sign up for:
15-20  Socially Awkward (Don't talk to me) level.

What do you think? 
Do I have to declare right now?
Or, rather, do I just become whatever level I end up?

I think this will be fun.
The 2015 Audio Book challenge is hosted by:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Friday Friend Recipe #38 -- Spinach Dip

Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.

What is the Friday Friend cookbook:   I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county).  At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions,  exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts,  had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND,  we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
Which brings me to this... recipe #38

My mom, Bev's
Spinach Dip

There is nothing new about spinach dip.  I'm sure my mom got this right off the box of Knorr Vegetable soup....BUT,  as you know,  I'm just making my way thru the Friday Friend Cookbook, and this is one my mom liked well enough to include.  I think it's a given that we all like it.  It's pretty good.  I had not had it in years -- isn't it funny how food trends come and go?   I used to see this at every event and dinner party I went to, but now?  Rarely. 
It's too bad, because it's really good.

A few years ago I wrote a little essay to my original group of Friday Friends pondering the cracker.
As you can see the crackers below are just your average pedestrian cracker. Not fancy, not elegant.  You can find these--Tiscuits and Wheat Thins -- on one side of the cracker aisle, with the Ritz and Chicken in a Biscuits, but  the more 'upper-class', gourmet,  type of crackers, they segregate on the other side of the aisle.

I guess I'm just a hum-drum, uninspired cracker buyer.
What about you?

Actually, most of the time, you use bread chunks for this dip.  
(I think we already ate them all by the time I took these photos)
Either way, the dip is yummy and I am going to serve it the next time I have guests over.

Spinach Dip
1  10-oz pkg frozen chopped spinach  (thawed & drained)
1 pint sour cream
1 cup mayo
1 pkg Knorr dry vegetable soup mix
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped

Mix all together.  Hollow out round loaf of sour dough bread.  Use the bread for dipping.  
Put the dip into the hollow of the bread and serve with bread chunks or crackers.

This is the part where I usually introduce you to the Friday Friend who contributed this recipe.  You already know from above that it is my mom who sent this in.
My mom passed away on December 19th.
And that is pretty much the reason I've been absent.
It was expected, but still --- it's my mom.
We are lucky tho, as we are strong in our faith and very rich in family and friends who make the journey of life much brighter.

The  story about my mom?  
She had five grandsons and she made every single one of them feel like they were the special one.
Even as grow men and one still a teenager, they all had special relationships with her.
I hope I'm that kind of grandma

Here are a few pictures of my mom --

My mom and dad when we went on a river float with them a few years ago.

A few years ago, I had a Friday Friend vacation and invited all from far and near, and we had a great time.
One night we had a traveling cocktail party ---
When my mom passed away, my friend Shelly sent me this picture. She said she didn't know them well, but this is how she'll always think of my parents --- having a great goofy time at the traveling cocktail party!
(my dad passed away in April of this year)

My mom

These are the last photos I took with my mom  this past fall.

Feel privileged that I am sharing photos of myself.
(the camera adds a million pounds,  you know)

Friday friend recipe number 274 and 275-Grapefurit Shrimp Salad and Crispy Potato Chicken

  My Friday Friend Cookbook Countdown #274 and 275 My Mother-in-law's Grapefruit Shrimp Salad and Crispy potatoes . and you know all th...