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I recently returned from my first-ever trip to Baltimore, MD.

WOW!

There is so much to see and do in downtown Baltimore!

I was there for the Sweet Adeline International Competition!

Baltimore Welcome

My chorus, Top of the Rock, was invited to compete in the Harmony Classic portion of the contest! For those of you unfamiliar with Sweet Adelines–it’s a BIG DEAL!

The entire week was full of activities and contests. However, I was unable to stay the whole week, so I had to do my touring FAST!

We arrived late Sunday night. Our first rehearsal wasn’t until Monday afternoon, so we had time for a little exploring!

breakfast sandwich

Breakfast was at Potbelly. We discovered Potbelly on a trip to Houston a couple of years ago. They have yummy breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. They are very reasonably priced, which is a good thing!

I saved my little Potbelly bag just because it had a “P” stamped on it. Yes, I’m a nerd!

Camden Yards

Our hotel was right down the road from Camden Yards–where the Orioles play baseball! My husband is a big baseball fan, so I had to snap a couple of pictures for him!

Oriole Park

The Baltimore Inner Harbor was really cool! Tons of restaurants and shops. I would have loved to tour the Domino Sugar plant! Boat tours of the harbor were available. Some of my friends took the tour and said it was great! I just didn’t have time.

Domino Sugar

This was not their tour boat. I guess it could have been though!

paddle boats

Some other friends hit the National Aquarium later in the week. I picked up some t-shirts for the kids at the Hard Rock Cafe.

Hard Rock Cafe

The McCormick World of Flavors shop was a fun little shop in the Inner Harbor, lots of Old Bay seasoning! Mom and I enjoyed the salt sampling we did there. Our favorite was the lime salt. I asked if they had any other samples we could try. One of the gals working there is a cupcake maker. She brought me some samples of her frosting. They weren’t bad. Here is a link to her Facebook page.

McCormick World of Spice

Off to rehearsal-the reason we came! Weeks prior to our trip, chorus members exchanged words of encouragement and small gifts with a Secret Sis. Look what my Sis gave me at the big reveal–a Baltimore scrapbook! What a unique and thoughtful gift! She included all kinds of scrappy Baltimore goodies in it. Thanks, Becky! You were a great Secret Sis.

secret sis

At one of our rehearsals several of us decided to dress alike–unintentionally.

black shirts

Later, we all dressed alike–on purpose this time!

with mom

Why do we girls always squish our faces together in pictures?

about to hit the stage

stage ready

friends

red costumes

in the lobby

Can you tell we are excited to hit the stage?!

bus ride

We did GREAT!

Guess what? We came in 3rd place–IN THE WORLD!!!!

Bronze medal

You can see for yourselves…

I have a couple more tidbits to share with you from my trip so stay tuned.  I can’t wait to go back to Baltimore one day when there is a little more time for exploring!

I did make it home in time for Senior Night with my girl! I even managed to make it though without tears.

senior night

It was a dark and stormy night…

Hmmm, I guess that intro has been done.

We did have some storms last weekend.

Nothing says homecoming half-time show like soaked band members. There had been a sprinkle here and there. But half way through “Crazy Train” the sky just opened up! To their credit, none of the band quit marching until the drum major, my daughter, gave them the signal! Thanks to my friend, Sheri, for sharing this video. (There must have been another band parent sitting behind her while she was filming. Either that, or he was really excited to be in the rain.)

The next day was cool and gray–perfect for Corn Chowder.

Mom used to make Corn Chowder for us all the time when we were kids. As a new bride, 22 years ago, I knew I had to have the recipe.

tattered recipe

Here is the copy she gave me. Photocopied from what looks like a novel. I don’t know if her copy was a photocopy or she actually had it in a book.

You can tell I’ve had it a while by how the paper has aged.

For some reason I keep this recipe tucked in a cookbook. I suppose when I got it, I didn’t really have a stash of recipe cards or cookbooks. Seemed like a good enough place for it. I still know where to find it 22 years later! I probably put my hands on this recipe faster tucked in this cookbook than I could if it were in my recipe box! ugh!

The recipe is written in paragraph form. I’ll gather it all together in one place for you at the end–but first, some photos.

The first thing I did was cook up the 8 slices of bacon.

frying bacoon

I fried the bacon first so I didn’t have to dirty up a skillet in addition to my soup pot.

bacon

Set your yummy bacon aside while you proceed with the recipe. Do the best you can to keep your family from passing by and nibbling on the bacon. (Good luck!)

Of course you are going to save all that lovely bacon grease for later use–green beans, fried eggs, grits, etc.

bacon grease

The recipe calls for 12 potatoes! TWELVE.

Since potatoes come in all shapes and sizes, I found that measurement to be vague. I used about 6-7 cups. Yes, still a little vague but a bit more manageable.

cut potatoes

Next the recipe says to cut up 6 onions–SIX ONIONS! Good grief!

I used two. I actually had to have my husband cut up the second one for me. My eyes were watering so bad after one! I can only imagine my condition if I had to cut SIX!

I topped off my 8 cup measuring bowl with the onions.

Potatoes and Onions

Dump your potatoes and onions in the same pot you used to cook the bacon. It is perfectly fine if there is a little bacon grease still in there.

Add water to cover the potatoes and onions. I used about 6-7 cups. Boil until veggies soften.

Potato broth

Add the bacon, 3-3 1/2 pts. of milk, and a “tin of corn”.  A tin? What the heck?!

I’m sure that means a can of corn but what size???

corn

I used 4 cups of frozen Schwan’s frozen corn. Their corn is the yummiest! Four cups is probably more than “a tin”. I figured this was CORN Chowder. I would be okay if there was lots of corn.

By the way, 3 pints equals 6 cups.

Once everything is about to boil again, add 1/4 cup cornstarch that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup cold milk.

Finally, add a lump (approximately 2 tablespoons) of butter to the soup.

lump of butter

Salt and pepper to taste. I like lots of pepper in mine. I also added some leftover chicken I had in the fridge just to make the soup a little more substantial.

Serve it up in fancy orange bowls.

pouring soup

or blue. : )

filling soup bowls

I love these little crocks!

blue soup bowl

Aren’t they cute with their little lids on there?

orange soup bowl

I hope you enjoy this recipe–no soggy band members required!

 

Corn Chowder

6-8 strips bacon cut up and fried (I used thick bacon.)

6-7 cups russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 medium onions, diced

6-7 cups water

4 cups frozen corn

6 1/4 cups milk, divided

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 Tablespoons butter

salt and pepper to taste

(Optional-diced chicken can be added along with the corn and bacon.)

•In a large pot, cook bacon until crisp. Save drippings for another use. Drain bacon on a paper towel.
•Add potatoes, onions and water to the pot. Boil until potatoes are tender.
•Add bacon, corn and 6 cups of milk. Heat until almost boiling.
•Dissolve cornstarch in 1/4 cup of cold milk. Add to the soup. Keep stirring to avoid scorching the milk.
•Stir in the lump of butter.
•Salt and pepper to taste.
Goes really nicely with salty crackers!

 

Chip and I enjoy having a lunch date every now and then.

I have wanted to try out The Root Cafe for a while. It is on South Main in Little Rock, AR. The Root has several fun neighboring shops and restaurants.

The Root Cafe

The Root is all about “Building Community through local food!” They use as many products as possible from small local farms. Their menu even notes where items originate.

Locavore Sign

I arrived at the cafe before my date. There was quite a crowd, so I jumped in line.

The place is small. It used to be a dairy bar. Being elbow to elbow with other customers, I felt a little rude whipping out my phone to snap photos.

Keeping a sharp eye out for my date, I studied the menu while I waited in line.

I ended up having to let several folks jump me in line before Chip arrived.  Fortunately, we had studied the menu options on-line a bit the night before, so I knew what he wanted.

He showed up just as I was about to order his Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich and fries.

Deviled Egg Salad Sandwich

French Fries

The bread for the sandwich came from one of the fun neighbors I mentioned, Boulevard Bread Company.

I had the Praline Salad. It was full of praline pecans. The dressing was a spicy cumin vinaigrette and it was very yummy. The salad was served with “seasonal” fruit. So, yours might look different when you go.

Praline Salad

Dining indoors was a little cramped. We ended up on the side porch. There is also a front porch dining area as well as a small garden area. All were full!

porch dining

I really enjoyed the atmosphere at The Root. It felt very urban.

The food was really good. I loved the salad dressing on my salad. I stole a couple of Chip’s fries. They were quite tasty, too. I think next time, I will have a burger and sweet potato fries. I saw several being delivered to tables. They looked amazing.

Chip enjoyed the bread and the egg salad. However, being an egg salad connoisseurs, he was disappointed with the way the egg salad squished out of the bun. He recommends toast.

They had a display case full of lovely desserts. Sorry, no picture of the case. I did snap a shot of the HUGE Chocolate Chip Cookie we split.

Huge Chocolate Chip Cookie

After mowing down the cookie, we headed across the street to MOXY Modern Mercantile. It is a fun little shop with lots of unique gift items…

like this giant pencil!

Giant Pencil

 

The Root Cafe is a fun lunch date destination. Check it out!

I was pleased with how some of my pictures turned out from the Moss Mountain tour Mom and I took. You can read about the tour here.

Since Mother’s Day was the following Sunday, I decided to make Mom some notecards from my photos.

Moss Mountatin Farm notecards

I should use “I” loosely. Actually my sweet hubby did most of the work. I did take the pictures! I did some of the layout, too. And the cutting–I did the cutting!

selection of notecards

photo cards

DIY notecards

notecards

garden notecards

homemade notecards

cards as gifts

Check out the back. That was my idea.

back of the card

Cellophane wrapping was my idea, too.

cards with envelopes

Everything looks better in a cellophane bag!

farm equipment

I was pleased with the way the cards looked in the little bags with envelopes. Mom loved the cards, especially since there was nothing like it in the gift shop.

packaged note cards

Surely you have some photos worthy of becoming a gift. Start printing! Just don’t forget your cellophane bag.

With only about 30 minutes left in our self-guided tour window, Mom and I made a mad dash for the Rose Garden. We felt like we had to make a decision between the Rose Garden and the Vegetable Garden. Roses won!

Rose Garden at Moss Mountain Farm

I so wished for my great aunt to be in the rose garden with us. She had the most beautiful roses in her backyard in Atlanta! She always sends gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and such wrapped in rose paper. The same rose paper! She must have a ton of it.

I’m sure Auntie could tell you the names of all these different roses. I just know them by color.

pink rose bud

large yellow rose

They were so sweet-smelling.

peach and yellow rose

yellow rose buds

red and yellow rose

Raindrop on roses–now one of my favorite things!

single pink rose

rain-kissed roses

The color and fullness of these double peach roses was incredible!

double peach rose

After the roses, we peeked over a fence to see the back-side of the vegetable garden. We still had the Summer Kitchen and Art House to see!

I failed to take any pictures of the art house. Wouldn’t you love to have a private little get-away place to go create?!

Wouldn’t you love to have a second kitchen?!

You may see a little reflection on these photos. I was shooting through the window!

Summer Kitchen

peeking through the kitchen window

Time was just about up on our Moss Mountain tour.

One last look at the roses on the side of the house. These are the same roses you saw from the upstairs bedroom here.

small rose garden

photographer

dinner bell

I guess the only thing we saw on the tour that we didn’t like was this…

garden snake

Yikes!

Move along!

Mom and I took some selfies on the front porch-which all turned out horrible! So, here is a picture of just Mom on the porch.

I love the coral benches. I would have never thought to use that color.

coral bench

Allen and Laura were busy heading to Allen’s next engagement. Mom snapped this picture of Allen taking a picture of peonies under the big tree out front.

tweet

Later I saw where he posted the picture that we saw him taking on Facebook. Kinda cool!

See it here.

As we headed toward the car, we stopped at the barn to take a picture of the carriage.

buggy

More cool lighting…

outdoor barn lighting

We enjoyed our tour so much. We were sad it was time to leave–

Moss Mountain Farm–or was it?

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Well, we got some freezing rain and sleet today. So, being the good Southern town that we are, everything is shut down for the day.

Here is the view out my back window…

icy trees

I’ve been saving this recipe for Rosettes for a day such as this! They are best when eaten fresh. With the kids home from school, they were able to gobble them up at the opportune time!

I remember my Mom making Rosettes for us when we were kids. It’s not like she made them all the time or anything, probably on snow days. I guess that is what made them so special.

Rosettes with Powdered Sugar

A Rosette is a similar to a funnel cake you get at the fair. While a funnel cake is squirted into hot oil in a random shape, Rosettes are a specific shape.

Making Rosettes does require specific tools, well, mainly one specific tool. A Rosette Iron!

Rosette Iron

This one belonged to my grandmother. I suppose you can still find them. Long ago, our iron had different shapes you could screw off and on the end of the iron. Today, we just have the one shape. Who knows what happened to the others. (If you don’t have a Rosette Iron, you could squirt the batter in a random shape into the oil.)

The Rosette Batter is simple enough:

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Rosette Batter

Beat together eggs, milk, sugar and salt. Add flour; beat until smooth.

Heat 2 1/2 inches of oil to 375˚. Do be careful!

While you are waiting for the oil to heat up, lay several paper towels on a wire cooling rack. This is where the finished rosettes will drain.

oil temperature

Once the oil is hot enough, place the rosette iron in the oil for 30 seconds.

prepping the iron

Blot the iron on a paper towel, then dip it in the batter.

Dipping in batter

You only want to dip the iron about 3/4 of the way up the sides. DO NOT let the batter go over the top.

Immediately place the iron with the batter on it into the hot oil.

into the hot oil

This part gets a little tricky. Don’t try to multi-task while making Rosettes! I had to have my daughter take pictures for me.

Okay, so the iron with the batter is in the oil. It will not take long for the sides of the Rosette to loosen.

Remove with fork

As soon as you see this happening, use a fork to pry the Rosette off the iron.

TaDa!

Rosette in oil

Now, quickly grab some tongs, or I guess you could use that same fork, to flip the Rosette in the oil.

Flipped Rosette

It really goes fast, folks!

Snatch the Rosette out of the oil and place it on the paper towel to drain.

Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Fried Rosettes

Rosette back

Lots of Rosettes

Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.

Rosettes with Powdered Sugar

This was quite the perfect snack for a wintry day out of school.

Do you have a special “snow day” snack you like to prepare?

Sometimes I just get tired of “normal” food. This soup recipe is not your regular run-of-the-mill soup. It has meatballs in it! I tend to think of meatballs with spaghetti or as a party food, not in soup!

I saw this recipe it the October issue of Southern Living. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but I think it turned out delicious!

soup

First, make the meatballs.

Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. lemon zest

1/2 tsp. rosemary

Combine these ingredients and shape into approximately 30 meatballs. Sauté meatballs in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until browned.  Remove meatballs and set aside. You’ll want to do this in a couple of batches. Just use a Dutch oven so you don’t have to wash a skillet.

Next, make the soup.

Lemony Soup

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

3 carrots, sliced thinly

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 (32 ounce) containers chicken broth

5-6 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp. rosemary

3/4 cup orzo pasta (I didn’t have any orzo. I substituted broken spaghetti for the orzo, and it was still yummy.)

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves

Sauté onion, carrots, and garlic in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until tender.

Stir in broth, lemon juice, lemon zest and rosemary. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Add orzo (or spaghetti). Reduce to a simmer for 7-9 minutes, or until pasta is almost tender.

Stir in the meatballs. Simmer another 5-7 minutes or until meatballs are thoroughly cooked.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Top with cheese and parsley.

Meatball soup

This soup was so yummy and fresh tasting! I reminded me of this recipe a little.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: This may be the first time I’ve ever had a lemon-flavored soup, but it was fantastic. All of the ingredients worked together well for a unique flavor that was really good.

Megan: It was too lemony for my taste.

Katie: It was rather yummy, but it just had too much of something.

Yes, I realize we are more than half way through January! I guess it isn’t “cool” to say Happy New Year at this stage in the game.

This is the first time I have actually sat down at the computer to write a blog post all year. I’ve been thinking about doing it. For some reason it just has not happened.  I just have not been able to get in the groove.

I have enjoyed everyone else’s posts about how they are cutting back on their social media time, mostly Facebook and Twitter. I have seen all the obligatory “Best of 2013” posts. I have heard about your goals and resolutions for 2014. All the while, I have written nothing! I have made new recipes, taken pictures, even loaded the pictures! Still nothing.

You know blogging is a funny thing. When it was new, everyone was excited to just share. Now, like anything, folks have discovered there is money to be made in the blog world. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people making money off of their blogs. It is, however, a different approach to blogging.

In my “time off” I have been considering why I blog anyway. To start with, it wasn’t even my idea! My husband talked me into it to share recipes and such. While that is what I do here, I wanted, and still want, more. I want that COMMUNITY feeling. I don’t want the sharing to be a one-way street.

I really like Pinterest. Ironically, most of my traffic comes from Pinterest. I have read recently that it is not as “shiny and new” for some bloggers. I still like it! For one thing, I can see people whose tastes are similar to mine. However, if I am in “Pinterest Mode” I am bad about just pinning something to my board and not leaving a comment for the blogger. I do try to go back and leave a comment once I have tried their recipe, project or whatever.

I’m not very good at Facebook and Twitter, especially Twitter.

Mentally, I am still back in the fall. Did the holidays ZOOM by as fast for y’all? I suppose I have just been in a rut. Well, here at Pork Chop Tuesday we are all about rut-bustin’!

I think this is the most I have written in a blog post without adding a picture. Weird.

I realize I rambled a bit here today. That is just where I am. Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, maybe I will be able to actually do some “normal” blogging.

Obligatory Most Popular Post of 2013 (click for link):

Amazing Banana Pudding

It’s not too late to make Christmas goodies. I made Cranberry Pistachio Bark for my hubby to take to his Christmas party at work.

It was very easy and very yummy!

Christmas treats

I’m convinced that you can glam up anything by placing it in a cellophane bag!

Cranberry Pistachio Bark

Recipe: Okay, it is not really a recipe. It’s just instructions. I doubt you really even need that!

Line a 10×15 pan with waxed paper. Be sure to let the paper hang over the edge.

Melt Almond Bark. I used the vanilla. You can use chocolate if you like.

Spread the melted Almond Bark into prepared pan.

Immediately sprinkle with chopped pistachios and chopped dried cranberries.

Let it sit until set.

Cut into pieces.

Package in cellophane bags. (optional-only for glamorous gifts)

packaged candies

I was inspired by Ina Garten’s version of this bark. She added apricots to hers.

It’s not too late! Head in the kitchen and whip up some Cranberry Pistachio Bark for your friends!

Christmas candies

Yes, I know Lemon Spaghetti sounds a little weird. I came across this recipe in a cookbook I picked up at the library. I clearly do NOT have enough cookbooks and recipes and recipe pins on my Pinterest board! I NEEDED to check out a COOKBOOK at the library!

French Women Don't get Fat Cookbook

You will need to chop up TWO onions for this recipe. I know it sounds like a lot of onion. Trust me on this one. The first time I made it I only used one onion. I thought my family might freak out if I use two. It was good, but not as good with two onions.

chopped onion

I used cooking wine rather than the real deal.

olive oil and wine

You will need the zest and juice of one whole lemon.

lemon zester

If you don’t have a zester, go get one! You need the zest! Don’t skip the zest!

Add lemon zest

I also recommend that you squeeze your lemon over a strainer of some sort. I tried to do the catch-the-seeds thing the first time I made this. I ended up picking seeds out of a hot pan.

juice a lemon

The recipe didn’t call for chicken. I added it because I thought my husband family would like it better if it had meat! It did call for Parmesan cheese, which I forgot to add. It was fine without it, probably because of the chicken! I cheated and used pre-cooked chicken. I’m not really sure how much I used-about a half a bag. Sorry to be so vague.

add chicken

I served the Lemon Spaghetti with a side of baby broccoli.

Lemon Spaghetti

I think we all ended up mixing the broccoli into the spaghetti. I was told, however, to never mix it in to serve it that way. Everyone should be able to add broccoli or not add broccoli! Okay!  The lemon and broccoli were a nice complement to each other.

Lemon Spaghetti with Broccoli

Lemon Spaghetti

12 ounces spaghetti

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, peeled and minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

Zest and Juice on 1 lemon

Cooked, diced chicken (optional)

Steamed broccoli (optional)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (evidently optional)

1. Cook the spaghetti

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onions. Cook until softened.

3. Add the wine, lemon zest and lemon juice. Season to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium, simmer for 5 minutes

4. Drain pasta and add to the skillet along with remaining olive oil, chicken, and broccoli. (if your family will let you) Season to taste. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Critics’ Corner

Chip: I love lemon-flavored dishes — lemon-peppered chicken, lemon cake, lemon ice box pie ice cream, lemon cookies — so I was excited about this dish from the minute I heard about it. It was incredible. The citrus added a real zing that made this dish unique. It is an instant favorite with me.

Megan: It was a little lemony-er than I expected. But, I loved it anyway. I think it tastes best with broccoli mixed in!

Katie: What’s chicken-y, lemony, and just plain yummy all over? If you know what this comment is about, then you know the answer.  : )

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