Barbecued Corn Relish

– johanna | July 30th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides

Barbecued Corn Relish

Do not let this summer season go by without trying Barbecued Corn Relish. This recipe happens to be a companion recipe to grilled salmon flavored with barbecue sauce; however, I thoroughly enjoyed the corn relish on a taco salad. You could also serve it up with a bowl of guacamole and chips for an appetizer. The temperature is about medium so if you prefer more heat add some hot sauce or use a hotter pepper.

Source: adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 red sweet pepper, chopped
2 fresh ears of corn, boiled or grilled
1 tbsp bottled barbecue sauce
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 salt
1/4 pepper
Fresh chopped cilantro (optional)

In a bowl, combine chopped jalapeño and sweet pepper; set aside.

To grill corn: place husked corn on grill rack directly over medium heat; grill, turning occasionally, 10 to 15 minutes or until crisp-tender.

To boil: place husked corn in a large pot of boiling water. Continue to boil 5-10 minutes longer. Remove from pot to a cutting board to cool slightly.

Cut corn from cob. Add to chopped peppers with barbecue sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve as a side dish with Salmon or in halved red bell peppers.

Makes 4 servings.

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Boiled Eggs Tips and Tricks

– johanna | July 27th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Breads, RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Main Dish, RECIPES - Sides, RECIPES - Soup / Salad, RECIPES - Treats, THE BOOKSHELF

Soft boiled egg tips

My favorite way to eat eggs is soft boiled with a runny yolk and a piece of toast to dip or mixed with a side of grits; it is part of my southern upbringing I suppose. Hard boiled eggs can be equally tasty sliced in a salad. Getting the eggs to the perfect stage and out of its shell though is the dilemma. My boss once asked me how to boil eggs. It took a moment to remember because boiling eggs was second nature; put them in a pot, cover with water, boil, steam, cold bath. Time…shime… I never kept track I just did it. Thankfully my advice panned out.

Once a month on Dazzledish we try to post a ‘how to’ tutorial on a particular food, gadget or cooking tip because we want everyone to learn the basics so they feel confident in the kitchen. This month we will learn the art of hard boiled eggs and a few recipes to use them in.

What you need:
6 large eggs
Water
Large pot
Ice cubes

Place the eggs in a single layer in a large pot. Fill the pot with cold water to 1-inch above the eggs. Bring the water just to a boil on medium-high heat. Remove from heat, cover and steam for recommended time (see below). Immediately drain the hot water from the pot. Carefully cover the eggs with ice and cool water.

soft-yolk

Soft Cooked Eggs:
A soft cooked egg has a firm white and runny yolk. Heat large eggs 1 1/2 – 3 minutes.
Soft cooked eggs are mostly served in an egg cup small end down. The top is removed to expose the runny yolk. The egg is eaten out of the shell using a small spoon. You can also use strips of toast to scoop up the yolk.

medium yolk

Medium Cooked Eggs:
Medium cooked eggs have a firm white and a slightly firm yolk. Heat large eggs 4 – 6 minutes. Pair peeled medium cooked eggs with poached asparagus or toast or in a Kedgeree.

Hard Cooked Eggs:
Hard cooked eggs have both a firm white and yolk. Heat large eggs 10 – 12 minutes or as long as 17 minutes.
Eat hard boiled eggs with a sprinkle of salt or try some of the international recipes listed below.hard-yolk
Deviled eggs
Soup
Salad toppings
Egg salad sandwich
Potato salad
Tuna Nicoise salad or Sandwich
Egg bread
Curry
Thai Son and Law Eggs
Pakoras from India
Cookies

TIPS:
— Some individuals like to add salt or vinegar. They say it makes removing the shell easier. Add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt to your water.
— Use eggs that are at least a few days old. Farm fresh eggs do not peel as easy.
— Do not boil eggs with cracks. They will break open and leak.
— Putting too much water in the pot will take longer to heat which can throw off the timing. Too little water will result in undercooked eggs.
— Watch the water. At the first sign the water is boiling remove the pot from the heat. Keep time from the moment you remove the pot from the heat and cover it.
— The ice bath stops the cooking process and the steam created inside the eggs will make it easier to peel.
— To peel start at the larger end where the air pocket is. Grab hold of the membrane under the shell and peel off.
— Chilled eggs are easier to slice. Warmer eggs are easier to crumble.
— Refrigerate unpeeled boiled eggs within a few hours for up to one week.
— The times listed may vary slightly due to the way your stove heats, the type and size of pot you use, the amount of water and number of eggs.

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Blueberry Scones Over Melted Peaches

– johanna | July 23rd, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Treats

Blueberry Scones with Melted Peaches

I have longed for summer fruit since December. The stock of homemade jams and frozen fruit vanished before the new year. I was fortunate to discover a U-Pick strawberry and blueberry field close by.  The kids went hog wild filling up buckets of fresh picked berries. We ate as many as our tummies could stand, blended some into smoothies and froze the rest.  I’ve been waiting for the peaches in the backyard to ripen so we could make blueberry scones with melted peaches; a modern take on the southern peach cobbler.

Source: unknown
1 pound fresh peaches, peeled and sliced (1/2 pound frozen)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 2/3 cups flour
3 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tbsp
2 tsp granulated sugar or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8X8 or 9X9 square pan.

In a large bowl combine the peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Toss; set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flour, 3 1/2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and salt.
Using your fingers or a pastry blender, blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the blueberries and toss. Add 1/2 cup cream. Mix with a fork until the dough just comes together. Turn out onto a floured surface. Gather the dough and pat into a 1-inch thick round. Cut into 8 wedges.

Pour the peaches into the prepared pan. Arrange the wedges on the top. Brush with 2 tablespoons of cream and sprinkle with the 2 teaspoons sugar. Bake until scones are golden, about 50 minutes to an hour. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 8

Variations:
– To bake just the scones arrange wedges on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
– Substitute apples or nectarines for the peaches.

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Summer Vacation Park Relay

– johanna | July 20th, 2010

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES

Monterey City CA Map with Parks

One of our favorite things to do when we travel is find neighborhood parks to play at. Some of the parks we have discovered are so grand and amazing that we add them to our day trip list. The day trip list consists of locations that are within a two hour radius from our home. These are places we can choose to go to during school breaks or the kids can choose one when they fill the bead jar up for displaying good thoughtful behaviors.

At home we make it a game to scout out all the parks in our city as well. This summer our goal is to visit all the parks in our city. Our playgroup friends have join in on the adventure. Each week we pick a new venue to meet at. To get the kids more involved we hung up a map to mark all the parks we find. The parks the kids like the best get a shiny star sticker.

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Pannenkoek Dutch Apple Pancakes

– johanna | July 16th, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Breakfast

Dutch Apple Pancakes

Last month I met some friends for breakfast at a local cafe. As a self-proclaimed pancake luver I decided to try the Dutch Apple Pancakes with sauteed apples. I was unsure with my decision because I am not a fan of the goopy sugary apple pie filling that typically smothers a beautiful stack of flap jacks at the more commercial establishments. I was more than pleasantly surprised when the waiter returned with my order. Our server placed before me three huge pancakes nestled on top of one another each one incorporated with sauteed apple slices and topped with a dollop of lightly whipped cream. They tasted as mouth watering as they looked with a crispy buttery outside and a tender pancake inside. The apple slices were actually cooked in each pancake. A clean simple dish.

Pannenkoek is a Dutch pancake that is larger and thinner than the fluffy American pancakes but slightly thicker than crepes. A traditional pannenkoek is about 10-12 inches in diameter and are usually infused with slices of bacon, sausage, fruits or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. They can be made thinner and rolled up like a crepe or eaten like a pancake with an endless combination of fillings and toppings from salmon to pizza to sweet.

We took our regular pancake recipe and thinned it out with a little more milk and butter. You can choose to saute the apples in a little butter and cinnamon sugar beforehand or use thinly sliced raw apples. Add sliced almonds or chopped pecans for an nice variation.

2 sweet cooking apples such as McIntosh, Fuji or Gala, cored and thinly sliced or cut in rounds
3 cups flour
4 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 good pinches of salt
4 eggs, room temperature
2 cups plus 4 tbsp milk, room temperature
5 tbsp melted butter

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk in eggs and half the milk until thickened. Add the rest of the milk to make a thin batter. Whisk in the melted butter. Mix until smooth.

Spray or heat a little butter or vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the batter to make desired sized pancakes. Immediately arrange the apple slices on top of the pancakes. Generously dust with cinnamon sugar. When tops start to set with bubbles flip over. Continue to cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more until bottoms are slightly browned.

Makes 10 large pancakes or 14 small.

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July Resolution How to Have FUN

– johanna | July 13th, 2010

Filed under: CREATING MEMORIES, THE BOOKSHELF, THE DISH ON PARENTING

dancing-in-the-rain

Photo: Dancing in the Rain, courtesy of Photo Bucket

Someone once told me they were leery of overly happy people because they must be hiding something. I think that there are individuals out there who are genuinely happy. The faults of life roll off their backs like RainX on a car windshield. On the opposite side of the glass half-full crowd are those who need to wallow in self-pity. They feel robbed of their liberties if their feelings are not validated. They feel they are  fake if they act contrary to how they feel. If they do not feel happy then why should they be happy? Problem is when they are not happy they feel no one should be happy. Thus we are all made to feel miserable with them.

One day I was listening to a radio talk show. The caller expressed the need to be true to her feelings but longed to be happy like her fiancé. Even so, she found it difficult to “fake” being nice if she did not feel like being nice. Her question was if she woke up on the wrong side of the bed was it ok to fake being happy? The host told her if that is what she needed to do then yes it is ok because it is never ok to lash out at someone. The host then added that sometimes when we try to be happy by smiling and doing nice things for other people eventually we become happy.

Not long ago I received terrible news that a dear friend of mine had succumb to liver cancer. She discovered that she had cancer only three months prior to her death. Donna was in her late 50’s. Her life had been fraught with peril at every turn. She was abused and abandoned most of her existence. She was strong. She was a fighter. She survived every negative confrontation thrown at her. By the time we met in my late twenties she was no longer the victim. Her rosy cheeks and denim overalls said everything about her character. She was soft spoken and kind. She would give the shirt off her back to help someone. She was genuine; always a pleasure to be around. She always had a kind word to say on both good and bad days. I loved being around Donna  because she was fun.

As the month progressed I learned of the severe personal tumults suffered by several of my dearest friends. I realized  that day there are more people than we realize who have or are  suffering in some form or another. Despite their afflictions, they strive to keep their heads high making the most of what they have. They have dealt with the past. They are moving on. Their lives are not perfect. They are battle worn and scared. Nevertheless, they are striving to make their lives and those around them better. These women are some of the most noble people I have had the pleasure of befriending. Most importantly despite their hardships they are permitting themselves to have fun and enjoy the pleasures of life.

boat by Dapixara

Photo: Red Boat, by Dapixara

When I was a young girl I loved the movie Pollyanna starring Haley Mills. Pollyanna is a vibrant 11 year old girl. Upon her father’s untimely death she was shipped off to live with her Aunt Polly. The daughter of a Missionary Minister, Pollyanna did without the finer things in life. Her only belongings came from missionary barrels or donations. As it so happens, one summer she begged her father for a doll. The ‘Ladies Aid’ tried to find one but all they received by the time the barrel needed to be sent off was a set of crutches. Pollyanna’s father seeing her terrible sadness came up with an idea. He asked her to find something glad about the situation. When she could not he told her she could be glad that she does not have to use the crutches. From that time forward she and her father played what they called the “Glad Game”. Pollyanna set about changing the hearts of everyone around her including her sour-hearted Aunt Polly. One passage I greatly enjoyed, reading in the novel written by Eleanor H. Porter, occurred shortly after her arrival. Miss Polly had just given Pollyanna her daily schedule consisting of cleaning her room first thing in the morning after which she should read 30 minutes aloud to Miss Polly followed by cooking lessons. In the late afternoon Pollyanna was expected to practice the piano. Pollyanna asked “what about living?” When was she supposed to live when her time was taken up with all these extra activities? She lamented that she did not want to just breathe she wanted to live. And so she did. Her Aunt Polly was surprised at the numerous acquaintances Pollyanna had made and the impact Pollyanna made in their lives. The Aunt Polly was so moved by the town’s love for Pollyanna that her own heart softened so much so that she became susceptible to love and forgiveness. The glad game is not that simple. You must find something to be glad about on all occasions. Learning to look on the brighter side of life enabled Pollyanna to step out without fear of condemnation. People loved her because she was so much fun to be with. She could be friends with even the grouchiest of souls because life held no bounds.

This month’s resolution is to have fun. I made this list in the beginning of the year. When July neared I was unsure of what exactly Fun meant. The word Fun is defined as something that provides enjoyment or amusement. I think fun means being able to lighten up despite our circumstances. Miss Polly caved into and was trapped by embarrassment for 11 to 15 years. Her fears lead her down a lonesome unemotional path. Pollyanna gently guided her away from tight buns, dark clothing and pursed lips and back into a world full of color, friendships and joy. Fun for some may include dancing on the bar top but I am not talking about temporary self-satisfaction. Remember the New Year’s resolution’s purpose is to enlighten us and make us better friends, neighbors and relatives. Some activities are better left in the ignorance of youth. The fun I speak of entails allowing ourselves the freedom to stop and enjoy life. Put the electronics away. Forgive whom you need to. Find the glad in your most heart-breaking sorrows as difficult as it may be. To have fun is to help others find the glad so that they too can have fun. To have fun is to vow even though we wake up disgruntled we can make the choice to fake being glad if we have to. To have fun is to discover why everyone calls you the “party-pooper” or “no fun” and change it.

Nuns Having Fun by Maureen Kelly and Jeffrey Stone

Photo: Nuns Having Fun

I try to teach my children it is ok to feel hurt, angry, sad, disappointed they are all legitimate feelings. But, we make the choice to let those feelings dictate our behavior and attitude or to let it go. It is not easy trying to tell that to a five year old who demands justice even to the point of missing out on the fun that is happening at that moment. I know there is more injustice going on in the world than we can fathom. There are people out there who are suffering or have suffered tremendous acts of violence, abuse and emotional warfare. Yet, day after day they keep moving forward. The writer Erma Bombeck wrote a column, upon discovering that she was dying from cancer, entitled “If I Had to Live My Life Over.” Erma wrote, “… I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage. I would have talked less and listened more. I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded. I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace. … I would have sat on the lawn with my kids, even if it meant grass stains.” During the month of July I hope to use up the bottle of perfume sitting in the vanity drawer. I want to view my new home as a vacation rental. I want to find more of the glad, relax and have fun.

This is a short but fairly long list on how to have fun. The possibilities are practically endless. My hope is maybe something on the list will spawn additional fun ideas. Please feel free to share your FUN in the comments section.

Each day write down 3-5 positive things that happened that day.

Learn to have fun playing the glad game.

– Watch the clouds

– Watch a sun rise

– Take a midnight swim

– Observe bugs

– Pick flowers

– Camping

– Build a fort

– Take a treat or a balloon to friends and family.

– Read a book and come up with a project or something fun to do based on the material.

– Call the girls or take your daughter(s) to go get pedicures.

– Go on a leisurely bike ride with friends.

– Host a mystery dinner.

– Have an unbirthday party.

– Pay for the person behind you at the movies or toll booth.

– Act out a book complete with make shift costumes.

– Host a Karaokee night.

– Have a Nerf gun Showdown.

– See how many Balloons it takes to lift off the ground. Then watch the movie “Deckchair Danny”.

– Put on a Shadow Theater show.

– Simply your life and home. Throw out the excess. Ask yourself do I really need this? Why do I have it? Is it in the way? Allow your home to feel like the vacation resort you always wanted to visit.

– Learn something new.

– Go to a concert

– Go on a ‘first’ date with your significant other.

– Take a “I feel good day” off of work, if you can.

– Check the Entertainment section of the newspaper or a local website to see what is happening in your town.

– Celebrate a holiday or an achievement.

– Stay up until 4 AM devouring a good book or chatting with an old friend.

– Plan a picnic

– Play a game of volleyball or basketball with friends and/or family

– Go to the lake

– Rent a houseboat.

– Host a game night.

– Play Frisbee.

– Go to a public sporting event.

– Play a sport.

– Date night at the arcade.

– Have a scavenger hunt.

– Make a home movie.

– Build a rocket or model car.

– Find a new hobby.

– Learn about Geo Caching

– Let the kids jump in the rain puddles

– Most important loosen up and lighten up. Don’t be negative. Be willing to come out of the comfort shell once in a while. Laugh a little more. Smile a lot more. Look for the joy or “Glad” in everything around you.

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Potatoes and Asparagus Omelet

– johanna | July 9th, 2010

Filed under: BUDGET MEALS, RECIPES - Breakfast, RECIPES - Snacks, THE BUDGET PANTRY, THE CRAFT CLOSET

On Saturday or Sunday morning I like to make omelets as a way to use up left over vegetables. Ideally to make this recipe for potatoes and asparagus omelets use precooked cubed potatoes and steamed asparagus to cut down on cooking time. If leftovers are not available blanch the asparagus and potatoes in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Our potatoes and asparagus omelet also makes for a tasty comfy dinner entree. Use 5 egg whites and 1 whole egg for a low cholesterol version.

2 small red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch bite sized cubes
1/2 cup chopped 1-inch pieces asparagus
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
6 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 thin ham slices, chopped
Butter
Salt and pepper
Salsa

In a bowl whisk eggs together until well blended. Set aside.

Saute potatoes and asparagus in 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until browned and caramelized. Season with salt, pepper and cilantro. Reduce heat to medium.

Pour whisked eggs over vegetables in pan. Once the egg starts to set gently lift one edge with a spatula and tilt the pan so the uncooked egg runs underneath. Repeat all around the pan until most of the omelet is set with a small amount of uncooked egg on top. Carefully use a spatula to flip the omelet over and turn off heat. Sprinkle with ham slices and cheese. Flip one side of the omelet over folding in half. Remove from heat. Top with a dollop of salsa and serve. Makes 2

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July Website Review: Paperback Swap

– johanna | July 6th, 2010

Filed under: THE BOOKSHELF

paperback-swap

Paperback Swap has been hanging out in my incredibly long list of websites for a while now  but I had not ventured to try it out until a few months ago. We were going through the piles of books while packing the house to move. I came across several books that were fun to read at the time I read them but I could never see myself reading them again.

To get started, log onto PaperbackSwap.com then fill out a short registration page and you are ready to post. The books must be clean. Free of any rips, writing, highlighting or stains. A lightly worn binding or jacket is ok. In order to get a book you must send a book to receive points. One point equals one book. Enter the book’s ISBN number  located on the back of the book, by the bar code. To send a book you will need a scale to calculate the correct weight if you plan on purchasing stamps through Paperback Swap. The benefit of using Paperback Swap is that your points are available right away. Otherwise if you use the post office you will have to wait until the recipient declares they have received the book.You can opt to buy new books and points from the site but what is the fun in that?

There are no hidden fees for using paperback swap to post books. You pay the postage to send a book, someone else pays the postage to send a book to you. Just be sure you ask for “media mail” when sending the package from the post office. Be sure to check out CD and DVD Swap to unload any CD’s and DVD’s that are in good condition. Happy swapping!

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Ratatouille: A Simple Peasant’s Dish

– johanna | July 2nd, 2010

Filed under: RECIPES - Sides

ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provencal vegetable dish starring tomatoes and roasted vegetables. There are plenty of theories out there on the proper way to prepare Ratatouille. Some simply roast the vegetables for a light clean presentation. Others including Julia Childs chose to layer the vegetables in a thick tomato based sauce as seen in the Pixar movie “Ratatouille”. While Julia’s version may be breathtaking it is stretch for novice cooks to achieve the uniform look of the dish. For time and patience sake we believe in the chop it, toss it together and bake approach.

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
3 tomatoes, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small aubergine (eggplant), halved, quartered then chopped
1 courgettes (zucchini), halved then chopped
1 yellow squash, halved then chopped
2 bell peppers (preferably red and yellow), chopped
Few sprigs fresh thyme leaves or a generous dash of Herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the onions, garlic and tomatoes into a baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss in the eggplant, zucchini, squash and peppers over the tomatoes. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs by running your fingertips down the stem. Sprinkle over the vegetables. Cover with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside the dish.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese and a serving of polenta, couscous or white beans. Serves 4-5

Variations:
-Toss vegetables with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1/2 cup Kalamata olives.
-Layer the vegetables on pastry dough for a yummy Ratatouille tart.
-Drop rounds of biscuit dough with chopped bits of sausage mixed in.
-For a Southern flare toss in a 1/2 cup of okra.
-Stuff the vegetables into halved green peppers. Top with a small slice of Monterey Jack cheese, a dollop of tomato sauce and a sprinkle of panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

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