Thursday, August 30, 2012

Italian Sausage Stuffed Peppers

My garden was generous with the peppers this season and it's been a race to use them up before they go bad. I decided to make stuffed peppers, a hybrid of the traditional type made with ground beef and rice and my version made with croutons and cheese. 

I made a box of Stove Top Stuffing and chopped up some onions, added some additional croutons that I had made from old baguettes and tossed in a pound of cooked and crumbled Hot Italian Sausage.  We are in love with that Hot Italian Sausage from Sam's Club and can't seem to find another brand that's as good, or spicy!  

I stuffed the concoction into my peppers halves and just stuffed the few cubanelle peppers I had whole. 

Poured some spaghetti sauce over the top and popped it in the oven for while to cook at 350 for about 50 minutes.

It came out of the oven looking and smelling delish, and strangely had the whole house smelling like pizza!

I served it with some buttered egg noodles with some freshly shaved Parmesan cheese,salt and fresh cracked pepper.  

It was yummy!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pretty Petunia

I love Petunias.

I think they are my favorite summer garden flower and my choice for hanging baskets.  These purple star petunias we picked up  from Aldi's and were in need of a good watering and a good home. 

These hot pick petunias were stunning this year too, they almost look like they've been tye-dyed!  

These beautiful flowers have made me smile all summer, and I'm grateful. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Homemade Ketchup-Project 50

One of my blog-hoping stops is the girls of The Pinterest Project and when I saw Jamie's post on homemade ketchup  it stopped me in my tracks. 

Whoooa Nelly!  You can make ketchup?  

I suppose I knew it was do-able, just didn't think about actually making it!  I pinned that baby and just waited until I had enough tomatoes to make it.  Waited...and waited.  My tomatoes didn't do so well this summer, not like usual but we've had enough for sandwiches and salads etc...  My cherry tomatoes however just exploded!  I figured why not?  Since they're not very meaty I thought I'd roast them first thinking it would reduce the liquid reduction time.  I sliced them all in half and threw them on two cookie sheets.  Of course I didn't take a picture...even though I thought I should since they were so beautiful once they were all roasted. 

(Just pretend there is a mouthwatering picture of 
two pans of roasted cherry and grape tomatoes here)

I threw those roasted tomatoes into a pot with some onion and cubanelle peppers from the garden and simmered it all till the veggies were nice and soft.  I plunged my immersion blender in the pot and blended it up.  After looking at the recipe again I realized I needed a sieve or a food mill.  Great!  I have neither.  But I do have a splatter screen! 

I smooched all those bits and pieces through that splatter screen over my pot and ended up with lots of skins and seeds.  To my beautiful seedless skinless tomato puree I added the cider vinegar, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper to the pot.  I didn't have celery seeds like the recipe called for so I just left them out.  Surely it couldn't hurt the taste much right?

I read the rest of the recipe..."Combine the cloves, mustard seed, allspice and crushed cinnamon stick in a cheesecloth bundle or tea ball and add to pot."  cheesecloth?  Really?  I know, I'm a foodie...I should have some of that around somewhere's me.  I did however have a cotton skirt I'm shortening so I used a piece of that material to make a bundle of  allspice and cinnamon stick pieces.  I didn't have cloves or mustard seeds so I added some garlic and black peppercorns to the bundle and threw it in.

 See my skirt floating in the boiling cauldren? it's not really a cauldron and it was simmering not boiling but you get the idea.  Jamie said that this, like other canning projects was a process of cooking and waiting...and waiting I waited.  Till the liquid was reduced by about half.  The ketchup was thick and saucy, very ketchup like so I turned it off and waited...again...till it cooled. 

Like my fancy-pants container?  Just pretend it's one of those pretty quilted ball jars.

Works for motto is 'Use what you have' and I just happened to have an empty mayo squeeze bottle.

Of course I had to make some fried potatoes to try it out and the verdict...

It tastes a bit like Open Pit BBQ sauce more then ketchup.  SF even agreed it was pretty good so it's a win for me! 

Thanks Jamie for inspiring me to tackle this project.

It makes me happy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The War of the Thistle

Remember when I boasted about my wonderful daughter and the great job she did with the mulch in my  front flowerbeds?  

Well the ugly truth beds are overrun with this crap trying to disguise itself in my zinnias!


I tried to be all Mother-Earthy one year and feed the birds through the winter.  I fed them seed that was apparently loaded with thistle and it volunteered to take up residence in my flowerbeds!  I hate it!  It's horrible and thorney with running roots which means it could care less how many of it's heads I pop off because as long as theirs a piece of live root it will rise a zombie!  They are everywhere and even run out into the lawn.
I have to don my protective armour to pull them out and it's a delicate procedure!  The ground can't be too hard or they just break off at the ground level.  If they are too small I can't get a good grip on them so they break off too.  I wear 2-3 layers on my hands so I can firmly grasp the think stalk and pull them out, hopefully with enough of the root still attached to make me think I'm actually killing it! 

One year I was so disgusted that I pulled out all my flowering bulbs in this bed and took the tiller to it.  You know what that accomplished?  You betcha...every one of those chopped up bits of roots regenerated and it came back with a grudge!  Even commercial strength Round-up only knocked it to it's knees for a while...Sure it all turned brown and shriveled up but within a few weeks the small fresh green sprouts of fledgling thistle began to a bad nightmare.

About an hour later they are all pulled out and my flower beds are recognizable once again.  Luckily the layers of newspaper and mulch made pulling them out a little bit easier so it didn't take me long.  My butterfly bush and my miniature rose bush are both in need of a good 'haircut' as my Mom says.

What a difference!  Pulling weeds makes me happy.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Coffee with Liz

We do an annual camping trip with a group of friends every year at the end of summer and last year my friend Liz left this coffee mug behind.  I grabbed it when I found it during my final sweep of the grounds and brought it home with me and even though I love this beautiful handmade mug I had every intention of returning it to her.  When I told her I had it she pffft'd me and said "keep it" cause she had plenty.  REALLY?  Sweet! Yay for me!

Now I have coffee with Liz every weekend.  I get to enjoy this mug as I indulge in two of my guilty pleasures.  Animal Rescue and Jack Hanna on Saturday mornings and reruns of Mad Men in the wee hours of my Sunday mornings.  

*shhhh* Don't tell those I have convinced I don't get up early in the morning!

This mug, and the friendship it represents makes me happy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

My Great Michael Tour

Being a product of the 60's and 70's most of my life is influenced by TV, movies and music.  My co-worker and I, as well as her husband who works here too can get to laughing and carrying on having whole conversations with movie or TV quotes.  One of our favorites things to reenact is Steve Martin's "The Jerk" and the whole scene when he's leaving the house saying "All I need is this...this object is all I need"..grabbing the stapler or some other object as we leave.  I also have to fight the urge to recite "I was born a poor black child. I remember the days, sittin' on the porch with my family, singin' and dancin' down in Mississippi..." whenever someone asks about me and my background.  Every once in a while I let it fly though when I think the company is

I mentioned my love of the movie "Phenomenon" in my post here and although I'm a John Travolta fan since his Vinnie Barbarino days on Welcome Back Kotter, some of his movies touch me more then others.  Another of those movies was "Micheal" which came out the same year as "Phenomenon". 

In the movie "Frank Quinlan and Huey Driscoll, two reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid, along with Dorothy Winters, an 'angel expert', are asked to travel to rural Iowa to investigate a claim from an old woman that she shares her house with a real, live archangel named Michael. Upon arrival, they see that her claims are true - but Michael is not what they expected: he smokes, drinks beer, has a very active libido and has a rather colorful vocabulary. In fact, they would never believe it were it not for the two feathery wings protruding from his back. Michael agrees to travel to Chicago with the threesome, but what they don't realize is that the journey they are about to undertake will change their lives forever."  Micheal agrees to go to New York with them but only if they drive...across America...and stop at every one of the "worlds biggest" attractions along the way.

My mother worked for the airline industry and I was very blessed and fortunate to be able to travel extensively as a child and young woman with my mother, however it meant traveling by air.  We never got to do those everyone-pack-into-the-stationwagon-for-18-hours road trips  like the Griswalds and every once in a while I get the itch for one.  Of course at this point in my life it looks a whole lot more like "RV" then "Vacation"

On my Bucket List is what I call my "Great Micheal" tour across America where I get to visit all those places too!  Since it doesn't appear that I'll be retiring with a big fat wallet any time soon in my lifetime my dream of doing it in a decked out RV is out the window so I seek out the opportunities as they come.  I've had the chance to see two things already!  The Worlds Largest Washboard which we got to see while Honeymooning at Hocking Hills in Ohio, in a little town called Logan. We got to visit the factory where they still make each one by hand by our guide, who stopped her work to show us around.  She walked us through the whole process, talked about the history and materials and then let us wander around.  It was awesome!  One of the best things I discovered there was their program for our Troops!  They sell a Troop Kit that contains everything someone would need to wash but the water for just $25!  I realized that the chore I hate to do, and the clean socks and underwear I put on my butt and feet every morning is a true luxury to so many people in our world. 

 In northeast Ohio, is a little town called Austinburg and just off I90 there is this giant chair!  Hubby is originally from this are so he was familiar with it and once he heard about this bucket list item he took me there to see it.  I immediately heard Edith Ann in my head and wanted to jump in that chair and look at my husband and say "And that's the truth!" and blow a raspberry. 

Needless to say, there was no ladder, no way to climb into the chair to get a picture in it so we did the next best thing, took pics of each other standing by it!  I know...we're dorks.

What's next in my quest...the worlds largest Gavel

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Burger Bliss

About 20 miles down the road is Indian Lake,a resort type lake which is rockin' during the camping and boating season.  This past weekend SF and I popped into our favorite dive at the lake called the Tilton Hilton where they have the best burgers!  It's a half pound of fresh ground unadulterated ground beef with chedder  Add a nice icey cold beverage and some people/bike/boat/bird watching and I can't think of a better way to end the afternoon with my favorite man. 

It makes me happy and I'm grateful.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Prize Delivery

My prize box came today and I'm so excited!  

I can't wait to dig in and start playing with all my new stuff!  
Thanks again Gail and her Blog!