Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Autumn's glory

I do love autumn...but I am sad when summer caresses my cheek and bids farewell.  I stubbornly hold on before turning to caramel apple lattes and comforting soups.  I recently discovered the wonderfulness of homemade boursin cheese.  To me, it is sitting barefoot on the porch with a plate of apples and crackers and breathing in the heady scent of basil and rosemary.  Here's one recipe for boursin that I love:

Homemade Boursin Cheese
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 small garlic clove
1/2 t dried oregano
1/8 t dried basil
1/8 t dried dill
1/8 t marjoram
1:8 t dried thyme
1/8 t dried chives

I saw a recipe that also called for grated parm.  Parsley is kind of a must for me too.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Yummy pizza recipe

Here's the recipe I just need to try next... minus the sage.  I am sadly allergic to sage.  sigh.

Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Fall Harvest Pizza w/Roasted Butternut, Cider Caramelized Onions + Bacon.


  • Pizza Dough
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Toppings
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (or pumpkin)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 sweet onions, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 large chipotle chile in adobo, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 small apple, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2-4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1 large bunch fresh sage
  • roasted pumpkin seeds, for topping


Pizza Dough
In a large bowl, combine water, yeast and honey. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in the flour and olive oil stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but is still sticky. Using your hands, on a floured surface, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour into the dough if needed. All of the mixing and kneading can also be done in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Next, rub the same bowl with olive oil, then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.
!To assemble
About 40 minutes before the dough is done rising, start assembling the pizza. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.*
In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, cinnamon, honey and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Spread the veggies out in a single layer on one or two baking sheets. Drizzle the olive oil mixture over the veggies and toss well to coat. Roast until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring the veggies halfway through. Remove and set aside.
While the veggies roast, caramelize the onions. Heat a large skillet with high sides over medium-high heat and cook bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove all but one tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan and then add the butter. Add the onions and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. At this point you want to slowly add the cider, let it cook into the onions, add more and let it cook some more. Do this until the 1 cup of cider is gone or the onions are caramelized to your liking and the cider has evaporated.
In a bowl whisk together the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil, chipotle chile pepper in adobo, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, cumin and a good pinch of salt + pepper.
Once the pizza dough is ready, lightly flour a counter. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll the dough out until you have a flattened disk. Place the pizzas on a greased baking sheet and then use your hands to gently tug, pull and push the pizza dough into your desired shape. Spread the chipotle olive oil mixture over the dough. Add the caramelized onions and half the roasted butternut squash. You may not want to use all onions if you feel like there is just too many. I used probably about 3/4 of the onions. Add the cheddar cheese and then the sliced apples and remaining butternut. Sprinkle with the blue cheese.
Bake the pizza for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is all melty and gooey. Remove from the oven and top with crispy sage (below) and roasted pumpkin seeds. EAT while melty and delicious!
Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add about 1/2 inch of olive oil. Once hot, add the sage leaves and cook 30 seconds per side. Remove from the pan and set aside. Serve over the pizza.
I got the recipe from halfbakedharvest.com  ...  it is an amazing website!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer 2015

Wow, it has been a long time since I have been here!  I have been busy busy with work and book club and..just life, I guess.  I had the most amazing weekend. Friday was the end of school and a year of transition in my job.  We celebrated surviving the year with a get together fire pit gathering.  Lots of laughs.  The next day I went to a crawfish boil.  Yum!!!  Sunday, my church celebrated Pentecost with 'fire roasted pizzas' social Sunday.  I am now on a quest to find the perfect pizza.  My favorite was pear with gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and caramelized onion.  Yum... After that, I went to the farm for an afternoon of laughter at my friend Adele's.  We enjoyed a spirited archery competition which was hilarious.  It did require the use of a metal detector to find missing arrows.  My young niece is getting married this week.  I love hearing about all the pre-wedding stories and can't wait to hear about the wedding.  Tomorrow begins the first official vacation day for me and I intend to find the perfect summer read and attend a baseball game.  Check back later for the next weird pizza combo I intend to try!

Friday, November 23, 2012

All Aboard part 2

Our tour bus was the first group to pull into the little train station.  In fact we were an hour and a half early.  Imagine our joy in 100 degree weather.  Thankfully the bus driver left the air on and we were free to sit and visit or wander around the field surrounding us.  Finally we were allowed to board the train.  We excitedly clutched our tickets and promptly got into the wrong line...  the VIP line.  When we realized our error, there was nothing more to do but make no eye contact and stand aside while those with reserved seating were ushered inside.  At last we were able to enter the train and troup to the back of the train where our party was assigned.  Naturally, we had to trudge through the VIP cars where champagne was flowing freely.  We, on the other hand had to wait for our waiters to come and take our orders.  When the train lurched foward with a jerk, it was surprising how much it swayed from side to side.  People walking around to the gift car had to struggle to stay on their feet. 
The tour was an hour and a half of gazing out the windows, hoping to see some wildlife as promised in the brochure.  Mostly it was miles and miles of sagebrush with occassional antelope and prairie fowl.  We passed through several Ghost towns and heard the history of those little towns who were once so important to Eastern Montana.  During this time we enjoyed a wonderful Prime Rib dinner with green salad and yummy desserts. 
The first trestle came out of nowhere.  I heard someone gasp on the other side of the train and leaned over to look out my window.  The ground immediately dropped out of sight and my stomach literally hit the floor.  I went instantly into panic mode and gripped the skinny little dinner table like it was a lifesaver.  Everyone else was enjoying the trip, but all I could focus on was the Trestle is a hundred years old and 1,884 feet long.  The cows grazing below looked like ants.  I tried to hide my terror, but other passengers noticed and had a lot of fun at my expense.  In retrospect it was embassingly funny to remember yelling at someone to stay on her side of the train so we didn't tip over.  Or telling my friend to stop talking because she was using up oxygen and I needed it.  sigh.
When we finally got back on land, I actually gulped in air and began laughing at my own silliness.  That is, until I noticed the second much longer and much high trestle approaching at an alarming pace.  I had lots of time to panic while I watched it grow closer and closer.  I found myself staring at some cowboy's boots, trying to ignore what was looming in front of me.  When we crossed that trestle reasonably safe and sound, I began to relax.  I do have to admit the Judith River Valley and rolling prairieland were spectacular (when I wasn't yelling at people) and the mountain ranges in the distances were beautiful.  Next came the Hoosac tunnel.  It was so eerie going along.  They turned the lights on in the train but I still began to suspect I am uncomfortable with enclosed spaces as well as heights.  The tunnel is an impressive 2,014 feet long.   When we reached the town of Denton, Montana, the train came to a stop and the engine unhooked and went to a roundabout to reattach to the other side of the train.  It was at this moment when I realized I would now be going backwards through that tunnel amd over those historic trestles...but to my surprise I handled the trestles reasonably well and even leaned over to take a couple of pictures.  The tunnel was another story- this time they left the lights of the train off and I hurtled through space...  enclosed space... in total darkness.  It was an eerie feeling.  2,014 feet of eeriness.
When we emerged into daylight we approached the Ghost Town of Ware, Montana there was a sudden burst of gunfire as cowboy bandits raced along the train, forcing it to stop. The bandits came aboard collecting the fake money we were given and any other treat we chose to give them.  Dance Hall girls also boarded the train, and left bright red lipstick prints on bald heads and cheeks.  They posed for pictures and then took off with their loot.  Outside the train, we were treated to a fun drama as the cowboys began fighting over the money and the girls.  Finally one cowboy was left and he swooped in with the money and the girl and they rode into the saloon. It was a great day - one we will remember for a long time. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

All Aboard!

Recently, I had the opportunity to go on the Charlie Russell Premier Dinner Train.  My friends were all excited about going and after agreeing and canceling several times, I finally decided to go.  It was pouring rain when we packed up and headed out to the local college, which is forty minutes away.  From there we were going to board a bus and drive four hours to the train stop.  Four hours.  On a bus.  Four hours.  Luckily it was a team bus and was very comfy.  We traveled through hundreds of miles of Sage Brush country, saw a huge Golden Eagle and not much else.  There was lots of conversation though and a few stretching stops, so that made the time go much quicker than I thought.  Finally we arrived at Lewistown and had to go through someone's pasture for a detour around part of the highway that washed away in the flooding last year.  The Dinner Train is a five car 1950s design that travels through Charlie Russell Country.  When the transcontinental railroad was completed in 1883, a small stretch of railroad was needed in this remote area of Montana, which included the Judith Basin area.  Thus the need for the huge trestles which then linked eastern Montana to Helena and Great Falls.  The trestles were completed in 1912.  Passenger trains were eventually phased out and a few years ago, the people of Lewistown decided to create a magical dinner tour through their beautiful part of Montana.  I'm glad they did.  It was an interesting (and terrifying) experience!  more to come... 

Charlie Russell was born in 1864 and  came to Montana with a friend when he was 16 years old to work on a ranch for the summer and ended up staying for the next 46 years.  He became an artist and his paintings of the American West can be seen in Art Galleries all over Montana.  They are amazing.  So to celebrate the American West, here's a recipe for Montana Wildfire Chili.  I credit Taste of Home for this recipe.  Enjoy!


Montana Wildfire Chili

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sweet yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) chili beans, undrained
  • 2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup tomato juice
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • In a large skillet, cook the beef, onion and peppers over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain.
  • Transfer to a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato juice, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne. Cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours or until heated through. Yield: 8 servings (2-1/2 quarts).
source:  www.tasteofhome.com

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My dad was a fisherman at heart.  I can remember many evenings during the summer when he would go out to Green Lake with his friend and fish for hours.  Sometimes we would go with and Mom would pack a picnic.  My sisters and I would play on the rocks or try our hand at fishing.  My line would always get caught in the weeds.  I don't remember ever catching a single fish. (But I do remember a fish trying to catch my sister!)   Our mother would often sit on the rocks and think or dream.  I still wonder what she was dreaming about all these years later.  We would run around and make up games and scream to our heart's content...  until our dad would tell us that we were scaring the fish.  We always had fish in the freezer.  Walleye mostly, I think.  There was usually smelt and other kinds of bait lurking in there as well.  We learned to eat fish, but it wasn't easy.  There were no lovely fillets at that time.  Eating fish was a long drawn out process and inevitably someone would get a fish bone caught in her throat.  A piece of bread usually did the trick, but it was painful and scary.  I've since come to appreciate a good piece of fish - beautifully and properly filleted, of course.  Tonight, in honor of my father, we are having fish for supper.  If I only had some sweet potatoes, I would try sweet potato fries as well. 

Crispy Baked Fish


cooking spray
1 pound white fish fillet, cut into 2" strips
1/2 c brown rice cereal, crushed  (I have no idea what this is, or what I'm going to substitute for it, but that's how the recipe reads)
1/2 c panko bread crumbs (how I love this product)
1/4 c nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavor.  hmmmmm  I say sprinkle on some cheese...)
salt & pepper to taste
1 egg white
1 egg
2 T milk
1/2 c all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 475.  Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and spray with the cooking spray.  In a shallow dish, combine the cereal, pank, nutritional yeast and salt/pepper.  In a second shallow dish, whisk the egg white, the egg and milk.  In a third shallow dish, add flour.

Bread the fish strips by dredging in flour, then egg mixture and press into panko.  Coat all the sides.  Place on the rack and spray with cooking spray.  Bake 10 or 15 minutes until breading is crunchy and the fish is opaque.

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

2 medium sweet potatoes peeled and cut into fries
cooking spray
1 T cornstarch
2 T olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 475.  Spray the baking sheet with the cooking spray.  In a large zip lock bag, add cornstarch and sweet potatoes.  Seal and toss to coat.   Drizzle olive oil over potatoes and use your hands to really coat them.  Sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. 

All that's missing from this meal is the wilted lettuce salad.  My garden lettuce is ready to cut, so I am super excited about the first salad.  My mother had what seemed like a huge garden.  Lots of radishes, lettuce and cucumbers.  They were busy people, my parents.  They worked hard and played hard and were such good role models.   I miss them...

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Just a blink

So last night I went to a sweet little retirement party for a friend's husband and today going to a retirement luncheon for a co-worker. How did I suddenly get to this point? I've watched family members thoroughly enjoying their new lives. I have giggled with a friend when she admitted to secretly joining the group at her Senior Citizen's Center and am now watching another friend wonder how she and her husband will adjust to his new life as a retired person. How did we get here so fast? Just a blink ago, it was a blur of concert tickets and the wind in my hair. Then there were fuzzy memories of diapers and permission slips and learners' permits. Yesterday in the middle of our impromptu party, we noticed a group of older ladies who meet daily for coffee. That will be us in another quick blink. sigh. I ran across this yummy sounding salad recipe and can't wait to try it. It will be awhile before my basil is ready to pick. So I wait, fork in hand.

Peach Mozzarella & Basil Salad

3 ripe peaches 1c fresh basil 8 oz fresh mozzarella 2t olive oil 1/4 t kosher salt 1/8 t pepper Cut the peaches (peel if you prefer) into wedges. Cut the wedges into pretty little bites. Tear the basil, or chiffonade into elegant strips. Drizzle with olive oil and season. Add cut mozzarella, toss and enjoy. Oh, I cannot wait to try this. maybe on the first Porch Party of the season, if my friend's husband forgets about the very long Honey-Do list he is happily making.