Saturday, December 26, 2009

Swiss Cheese Bake

Recently I noticed an interesting recipe in the food section of our local newspaper and decided it was a must-try. Compliments to Joanne Brown for sharing the tasty appetizer recipe!

Swiss Cheese Bake

1 loaf French Baguette
6 oz. Swiss cheese slices
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup minced onions
3 Tbsp. prepared mustard

1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2-3 slices partially cooked bacon

Cut bread in 3/4 inch wide slices, almost to the bottom, leaving the slices intact. Wrap foil around bottom and up the sides to help keep the breads shape. Cream together the butter, onion, mustard, poppy seed and lemon juice. Spread between all the bread slices. Insert pieces of Swiss cheese between each slice. Press loaf back together and place on large cookie sheet. Place the partially cooked bacon slices on top of baguette and bake at 350 degrees for two minutes until bacon is cooked and cheese is bubbling. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Power Washer A Hit!

I just arrived home from a little grocery shopping trip with Mom along with a side trip to McDonald's for a coffee treat, compliments of Mom and what do I hear when opening our door???? A strange noise, one I had not heard before...and there was Ben power washing the deck!!!

Ben is difficult to buy for as he likes the really expensive toys but I went off on a limb for his recent birthday and purchased him a power washer that was on sale. Actually Tyler (our son-in-law) picked it up for me at Target:) Many-a gift have found their way to the back of the closet never to be seen again so I am simply thrilled that this particular gift will be used.

And please note the Shimano shoes he is wearing!!! Compliments of Matt and Courtney and they will be happy to see that the shoes are a hit also (and not just for fishing/boating).

Ben also received, from Tyler and Caribe, a beautiful pizza cooker for the grill and he is anxious to try that also. I guess he is waiting for me to make some pizza dough, I'll have to get that recipe from Coco. I will post the pizza at a later date, please stay tuned!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009


I snapped a pic of Stella recently and she looks pretty comfortable to me!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jazzed-Up Corn on the Cob

Upon receiving the July 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and being mesmerized by the cover photo of grilled corn on the cob I was just waiting for the opportunity to try the recipe.

The recipe was tucked in the back of the magazine in small print and I couldn't believe how simple the instructions were. Peel back husks and remove silk. Strip about half the husks from each ear and place in a large kettle of boiling water and cover. Boil for about 5 minutes and drain. Grill corn on rack of uncovered grill until tender, turning several times. Time will vary but it took about 12 minutes.

To serve, remove remaining husks (if desired) and brush corn generously with butter. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped red and yellow cherry tomatoes, along with chopped parsley, basil, and green onions. Top with crumbled feta cheese (I used basil & tomato feta). The nasturtiums in our little garden were the perfect color for presentation along with some fresh parsley!

Fourth of July Celebration

Today would have been Vinnie's birthday and we all were thinking of that special golden retriever that blessed our lives for fifteen years! Happy Birthday Vinnie!

We had a little Independence Day get-together today with Mom, Caribe and Tyler at our house and as always there was a lot of food. We hope that Courtney and Matt can join us next July 4th...we miss you two!

Today's menu consisted of hot dogs on the grill, calico baked beans in the crockpot, chips & dip, a jazzed up corn on the cob, and a fruit pizza.

The fruit pizza is nothing more than sugar cookie dough that you spread on a pizza stone and bake for 11 minutes at 350 degrees. I then mixed two 8 ounce packages of cream cheese that had been softened and gradually added about a cup and a half of powdered sugar. Finally I added some strawberry/rhubarb preserves for color and taste. That mixture was spread on the round baked cookie. Using blueberries I created a star...which is a little off center but you get the idea and then raspberries were placed around the edge.

I had some red-white-and blue striped crepe paper and I pinched it and tucked under the cookie which added a little festive touch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day Ben!

With Ben's birthday and Father's Day so close on the calendar I decided that two cakes were out of the question. So I made cupcakes for Father's Day and decorated them to resemble a lawnmower. I chose a chocolate cake mix and made Coco's buttercream frosting and tinted it green. I used Wilton tip # 233 to make the "grass" and was pleased with the results. Then for the mower I used a milk chocolate Hershey Nugget and the wheels were M & M's and the engine was a red M & M attached with a little frosting. The handle should have been made from licorice laces but they were not available at our local grocery stores so I cut the regular licorice and made do.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Another photo of Carrot Cake

I was disappointed with my previous photo of the carrot cake so here is another attempt!!

How do you like the new look of my blog? I surely didn't do any of the work but Coco did and I thank her for it! Caribe will be asked to vote on it today (there is one other background that I thought was nice).

Friday, June 19, 2009

Carrot Cake

Now here is a carrot cake that everyone should try! I had never made it before but decided to prepare and deliver to the Johnson family that I mentioned in an earlier post. ***I had forgotten that Mr. Johnson introduced C & C to Hot & Now Burgers...what a guy***

Carrot Cake:

4 eggs
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/1 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 1/4 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup crushed pineapple, well drained

Preheat oven to 350 degrees... Line bottom of three 8" round cake pans with parchment paper. Leave sides of pan dry, no greasing necessary. You can use two 9" pans but do not overfill as the cake will run over. Combine the eggs and oil in a large mixing bowl and beat for two minutes with a mixer on medium speed. Add 1 cup sugar and continue mixing for two minutes. Add remaining sugar and mix for three to four minutes. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg; add to egg mixture, beating on low speed until blended (about one minute). Add carrots, walnuts, and pineapple; mix until well blended. Divide batter evenly among pans. Bake for 60 minutes OR until wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature on wire rack. Run knife around edge of cakes and remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups white chocolate chips, melted
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
Chopped walnuts

To prepare frosting, place cream cheese in mixing bowl and beat with mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add melted chocolate a little at a time, continuing to beat at medium speed. Add butter a little at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl; add lemon rind and beat until combined.

Remove cakes from refrigerator and ice top of one layer. Place second layer on top and ice. Place third layer on top and ice. Now frost sides of cake and finally press walnuts into the sides of cake and top if you desire. I made a chocolate carrot for the top and garnished with a sprig of parsley.

Ben has decided that this should be his birthday cake so I will be making another carrot cake soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Perfectly Beautiful Pink Poppies!

When I glanced out our window at the flower garden this morning I was delighted to see the poppies had opened completely! As you can see, they are the most beautiful pink color and are huge! I believe I planted the poppy plant three years ago and the first year I wasn't sure if the plant would survive but it did and by year two it put on quite a nice display! And this year the plant has exceeded my expectations it is just simply gorgeous!

Today was a perfect day for the poppies to bloom, reminding me that after a long winter we are greeted with rebirth...much like the life of Roger Johnson that we celebrated today. He was diagnosed seven weeks ago with pancreatic cancer and passed on last Friday, the 12th day of June. He now has been given new life and for that we are happy. He was a neighbor of ours and he and his wife Barbara have a daughter Andrea about the same age of our two daughters and they were best friends growing up on Sunset Drive. Oh the fun they had and Roger and Barbara were just like second parents to our girls and we are grateful for their many acts of kindness and all the memories we hold dear!

Life is indeed precious, let us all enjoy each day to the fullest! Where we see need let us do a kind deed!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Party Animal! A taste of Hawaii in our neck of the woods!

It appears that the answerman is getting ready for some sort of Hawaiian get-together!!! The inspiration was a recipe find in Sandra Lee's new magazine (June/July issue) entitled Hula Burgers and Saturday was the perfect day for grilling. So off to the store went Ben to get his supplies along with some necessary ingredients that I needed.

Mr. Hula himself was in charge of the Hula Burgers and I decided to use a recipe from Coco for Pina Colada cupcakes. Coco mentioned that drained crushed pineapple could probably be added to the cupcakes or to the frosting...I opted to add a little pineapple to the frosting and it was a nice addition. For my cupcakes I needed little paper umbrella's and Ben found them at our local dimestore. May I mention that the dimestore is called Walenta's and believe me they have a little bit of everything!

We enjoyed a fruit salad, assorted chips and Cha made some delicious lemon bars!

A fun little Saturday with part of our family, including my Mom, Cha and Tyler. Missing was Coco and Mac who now reside in lower Michigan, we miss you guys tremendously and hope one day jobs will bring you north!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jack In The Pulpit

Every spring I go out in the woods looking for Jack In The Pulpit and this year I hit the jackpot! I have never seen so many of these unique "flowers" in the woods, they are just beautiful!

When I was a little girl, my Mom and Dad would take me to the "Other Place" hunting mushrooms and often we would admire the trillium, May flowers, wild columbine and Jack In The Pulpit! Of course I was always instructed to just admire not pick and now I know why. Leave well enough alone and these beautiful specimens will delight the next generation. I should mention that the "Other Place" is a 40 acre piece of property that belonged to Uncle Alfred and he planted cherry trees on part of it and those trees brought forth much fruit that my family harvested (by hand). My profits went toward school clothes and also in a college fund. My Dad received the 40 acres after my Uncle passed on. The "Other Place" is now home to my husband and I, we have a five acre corner of the original 40 and are absolutely delighted to call it home!

This evening, after I took Mom home from having dinner with us, I spotted a Momma deer and her new little fawn out in the field. How adorable to watch the baby explore and prance around. We actually have two Momma's and two babies to watch, what fun we have in the woods. I am hoping to capture a nice picture of the fawn soon and will share it on the blog for you to enjoy!

Tribute to Zip!

Twelve years ago (June, 1996) a dear friend of our family passed on and the memories we have of her live on!

This particular ornamental flowering cherry tree was purchased by Zip and her husband Bob as a gift to us and he even planted it in our front yard. At the time Zip was hospitalized with cancer taking its toll on her and the treatments left her so weak but she called me the day that Bob planted the tree and we had a nice visit. She made it home from the hospital but was very ill...she always managed a smile and a few words though. Her name for me was Elizabeth (which is my middle name). I visited her the day before she passed and the following morning I had an appointment to pick up a graduation order for Coco and at the end of our road I debated whether I should go to Zip's first or head to Traverse City to get the food as it was pretty early in the morning. I opted to go and get the food...bad decision on my behalf as Zip passed while I was gone.

Both Zip and Bob are now resting in peace and enjoying good health but I sure do miss them. Bob always delivered corn stalks to me for fall decorating and they provided us with the best raspberries around. Another fruit that was always delivered to our doorstep was talamon (spelling unknown) sweet apples that I used for sauce or dipping in caramel.

My Mom, myself, Zip, and her son Frank walked to Bible School in the summer (about four miles) because the menfolk had the vehicles. We also walked to Frankfort and fished out on the pier and Bob took me ice fishing on Crystal Lake in the winter. Oh the memories and how special they are!

One other vivid memory is of Zip giving me a permanent the day before school pictures and believe me I was a curly headed sixth grader!

We love you Zip (and Bob)!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Update on Beth's Fundraiser!

Wow! According to Pastor Rick $17,000.00 was collected yesterday at the picnic/fundraiser for Beth! I am not sure if that is with the Thrivent matching funds or not, nor am I certain if that is the final amount of the auction.

What a wonderful gift for a family faced with mounting medical bills. Our community is small in numbers but it seems we always come together and help beyond compare! How blessed we are to be a part of this community of faithful people.

Although the cake pops did take time, making them was fun, and heartwarming. I am reminded that when people work together, they can accomplish wonderful things. The auctioning of a few cake pops wouldn't go far toward astronomical medical bills but when coupled with many other donations (large & small) they can make a huge difference in someone's life! I hope that I can continue to hear that voice inside cheering me on to love my neighbor as myself.

And by the way, Happy Memorial Day to all. My own father and Ben's father served this country proudly and we are grateful to them and to all the others who have and continue to serve the USA, keeping us safe.

Cake Pops for Beth!

This was my first attempt at making cake pops made famous by Bakerella. Coco came up to help make the cake pops for a fundraiser at Trinity Lutheran Church. Beth, who is a member of Trinity, has recently had medical problems that have landed her in a local hospital and then a trip to Mayo Clinic. If this wasn't enough of a problem, her husband suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and they have no medical insurance. The Abbie's Angel's group at church decided to have a community-wide picnic/auction to help with Beth's medical expenses.

Coco had made cake pops at Easter time, so she was most helpful showing me the technique of shaping, dipping, decorating, etc. I would love to make cake pops again, the idea is unique and the possibilities are endless for decorating.

Many thanks to Bakerella for sharing her talent with us!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bleeding Heart & Bumble Bee

I have not posted for about a week and a excuses but I must admit that I have missed it!

The bleeding heart is one of my all-time favorite perennials and when I spotted the feasting bumble bee I quickly grabbed the camera and attempted to get a good pic. I hope you enjoy the beauty of nature!

So much to be thankful for and that I am, a beautiful and loving family surrounds me and God has provided us with quite the landscape!

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Hummer's Return!

It is just amazing that the hummingbirds return for Mother's Day every year, what a treat for all Mom's!

This particular hummer returned the day before Mother's Day, guess he didn't want to be late for this very important date!

Our hummingbird feeder is hung above the kitchen window so I watch them quite often and am intriqued at their size and have you ever seen such a long tongue? The way they dive-bomb one another seems pretty frisky but I guess they must protect themselves.

So glad they are back and I will enjoy them until October!

I make my own nectar by bringing two cups of water to a boil, removing from heat, and stirring in 1/2 cup sugar until it completely dissolves. Allow to cool, while you are cleaning the feeder. I often place the nectar in the freezer for a few minutes to cool quickly because the hummer's just go nuts without their feeder!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Porch Pillar

My husband treated me to a new porch pillar and I am delighted with it! Our previous porch post was an unpleasant shade of green and it was "squarish", never cared for it.

In last week's Menard's ad I noticed and pointed out to Ben that they had a porch pillar on sale and it was just the ticket! He had a dental appointment in Traverse City and stopped at Menard's on his way home and picked up my dream pillar.

There was quite a bit of work involved to get it in taking down the old post, and part of the porch ceiling. He did just a great job and painted it the perfect color for my liking! A sweet fella' he is and so talented!

It seems good to finally get outside and enjoy working around the yard and in the flower gardens and then admire the new porch pillar!!!

Mother's Day, 2009!

Since my Mom enjoys hotdogs we decided to have an indoor picnic for Mother's Day in her honor! We had hot dogs, chips, pretzels, rhubarb salad, pasta salad and strawberry shortcake! Happy Mother's Day, Mom!!!

The menu consisted of a pasta salad that I doctored up with a variety of fruits and vegetables. My husband purchased sea shell macaroni and it cooked up nice. To that I added diced sweet onion, green onions, halved red grapes, diced carrots and celery, pineapple tidbits, and chopped red pepper. I thawed peas and corn (about 2/3 cup each) and added to the pasta. I hard boiled six eggs, keeping two of garnish. I chopped the other four eggs and added it to the pasta mixture. I poured Zesty Italian dressing, to taste, over the mixture and sprinkled with dill and thoroughly mixed and placed in fridge to blend the flavors.

Recently, I purchased a rhubarb cookbook, and found an interesting recipe for a molded rhubarb salad with fresh strawberries and orange. Our family found the salad tasty and we will serve it again.

Rhubarb Salad

4 cups diced raw rhubarb
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 - 3oz. packages strawberry gelatin
1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 cups fresh sliced strawberries
Strawberries, mint, cream for garnish-if desired

Combine rhubarb, water and sugar in saucepan. Cook until tender over medium heat. Pour hot rhubarb mixture over gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Add orange juice and peel. Chill until syrupy. Fold in the sliced strawberries. Pour into a 6 cup mold. Chill until set. I made this the evening before. Garnish before serving. Serves at least twelve.

I always unmolded salads like my Mom using a hot towel but I never had great luck. Something struck me today when I prepared to unmold the salad...why not use my hair dryer for the source of heat. Don't laugh, it worked like a charm! You have complete control of using warm heat and believe me it was amazing!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Asparagus/Mushroom Tarts

When I saw the asparagus/mushroom tarts on the Good Things Catered blog I just knew I must try them. I thought I would use fresh Michigan morels from our very own woods but day after day my husband went out shrooming with his mighty fine shroom bag and arrived home with an empty bag and a puzzled look on his face. This is the second year that he has had no luck finding the morels and we can't figure out what the problem is. Perhaps the deer are feasting on our delicacy.

So my bright idea for using morels didn't pan out which was disappointing but the white mushrooms from the grocery store were just fine!

I must say that the tarts are a bit on the fussy side, which I don't mind, but be warned. Believe me, they are worth the added effort. You must "carve" out an area in the puff pasty for the mushroom, gruyere, and asparagus filling. The complete recipe can be found at You will love the blog, it has so many wonderful ideas and inspiration galore! I so appreciate bloggers sharing their recipes!!!

It was seventy degrees here yesterday and today at this very moment it is only 48 degrees, what's up with that?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

New Toy!

Actually it is not a toy but a real necessity in photo shooting! I am no photographer but my new tripod makes taking pictures much easier. I have discovered that progressing age brings about an unsteady hand sometimes and the tripod is just the trick for steadiness!

Coco introduced me to this nifty gadget and when Mom and I went to Target recently, the tripod was on sale and my dear Mother treated me to my very own! Believe me, the size is great and no more camera shaking for me!

My particular model is a Targus universal tripod that folds to 9 inches, extends 42 inches, and weighs about a pound.

Thanks Mom for the gift!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


The woods are alive with Trillium and I just had to share a photo with you of a perfect bloom!

We look forward to spring every year, anticipating the Trillium's arrival, along with the Mayflowers, and nature's own Columbine and Bleeding Heart! I am still waiting for the Jack-In-The-Pulpit to erupt and I will have the camera ready!

How blessed we are to have such beauty surround us and it is free!

Almond Ciabatta French Toast

If you enjoy the taste of almonds and love ciabatta bread, this may be the recipe for you!

3 large eggs
2 pinches of salt
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure Madagascar vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Eight 1 inch slices Ciabatta
Unsalted butter
1 cup sliced almonds

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs well then add the salt, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract. Gradually whisk in the milk and cream. Pour this mixture into a shallow baking dish. Place the bread slices in the dish and allow to soak for 3 minutes on each side. If you have a griddle you could prepare all the bread slices at once but a large frying pan works well. If using a frying pan, you will do the bread in batches. Butter the griddle or fry pan generously and place almonds where the bread slices will go (the size and shape of slices). Place the soaked bread slices on the almonds, pressing down firmly. Use medium low heat and cook until golden brown, approximately 4-6 minutes...then flip over and cook until done.

I served the french toast with candied bacon slices, and for color added fresh sliced strawberries. You can serve the french toast with your special blend of maple syrup and sprinkle with a little powdered sugar. As you can see, I garnished with a fluff of whipped cream, mint and violet.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cherry Vinaigrette

The topic today is cherries and I must share a Northern Michigan taste treat with you! If you have not had the culinary pleasure to enjoy your green salad with Natalie Robyn's Cherry Vinaigrette, you are missing out on a real delight!

Her company has a website:

The name Six Lugs originated from her childhood near Atwood, Michigan where she and her siblings picked cherries to earn money for school clothes. According to the vinaigrette label the dear farmer paid them one dollar per lug and on a typical day Robyn picked three to four lugs but on a special day she topped out at six lugs, hence the name!

This Cherry Vinaigrette will not disappoint you!

Cherry Pillow

The pattern for this cherry pillow was from a book called Serendipity by Ginger Cookie Company and was perfect for our home. My husband deals in the fruit industry and we are surrounded by cherries in Northern Michigan.

The background is from a yellowish/gold wool with a reddish wool border. The cherries are blanket-stitched on with DMC floss, the stems and leaves are in scraps of green wool also attached by hand stitching. The outside border is from a chenille fabric in a deep yellow hue.

The ruffle is from a yellow/red calico fabric and the back of the pillow is in a reddish plain cotton duck fabric.

This pillow goes well in our living room, especially during cherry season! It brings back many memories of picking cherries during the summer, attempting to make enough money to purchase school clothes. My husband and I are blessed to be living on the very property where my Mom, Dad, brother, Uncle and I picked both sweet and sour cherries! The cherry juice running up the arms, sweat bees stinging the backs of your knees, the beloved shanty, and the creek that provided the very best and coldest water for our enjoyment...what was work then is now a beautiful chapter in the story of my life.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

I had a few strawberries in the fridge and wanted to use them before they went bad so decided to make some baking powder biscuits (using my Grandma Bessie's recipe)! The strawberries just aren't the best yet, but come the end of June our local berries will be ripe and oh so good and juicy!

It is a tradition, passed down from Grandma Bessie, to pour (yes, pour) whipping cream over the strawberry shortcake and my oh my is it a tasty treat. My husband and two sons-in-law don't pour the cream over their shortcake, just plain for the men! We girls, on the other hand, go for the high fat cream with absolute delight!

The shortcake is topped off with a garnish of homegrown mint and a little violet.