Live Your Life Today…Not Tomorrow

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks from the high point of celebrating my Aunt’s 100th Birthday with family in Iowa to returning home to a call that my husband had been rushed to the hospital and passed away that afternoon.

These are the times that we take stock of what truly is important in our lives, today.  Not tomorrow. The thought of writing about something delicious or witty is escaping me now but I will return in a few days or a few weeks. In the meantime:

Those we Love remain with us,
for Love itself lives on.
Cherished memories never fade,
because a loved one is gone.
Those we Love can never be,
more than a thought apart.
For as long as there is a memory,
they’ll live on in our heart.

~Author Unknown

Columbine … Official (and favorite) Colorado Flower

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My Mother would often find old sheet music at estate sales and bring it home for me to play on the piano.  I have a stack of music as a result that is great fun to look through. A few days ago, I was looking through the stack and ran across this piece, Where the Columbines Grow.

Little did I know back in those days that I would eventually settle in Colorado, now for 33.5 years.  Columbines are one of my favorite flowers.  While most of the Columbines are now gone from my garden, I can enjoy photos all year-long.

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Where the Columbines Grow

Where the Columbines Grow

Where the Columbines Grow” is one of the two official state songs of Colorado. It was written and composed by A.J. Fynn, and was adopted on May 8, 1915. In the early to mid-2000s, there was debate over replacing “Where the Columbines Grow” with John Denver‘s “Rocky Mountain High” or Merle Haggard‘s rare song “Colorado”. In 2007, the Colorado legislature named “Rocky Mountain High” as Colorado’s second official state song, paired with “Where the Columbines Grow”.[1]

Lyrics

Where the snowy peaks gleam in the moonlight,
Above the dark forests of pine,
And the wild foaming waters dash onward,
Toward lands where the tropic stars shine;
Where the scream of the bold mountain eagle
Responds to the notes of the dove
Is the purple robed West, the land that is best,
The pioneer land that we love.
Tis the land where the columbines grow,
Overlooking the plains far below,
While the cool summer breeze in the evergreen trees
Softly sings where the columbines grow.
The bison is gone from the upland,
The deer from the canyon has fled,
The home of the wolf is deserted,
The antelope moans for his dead,
The war whoop re-echoes no longer,
The Indian’s only a name,
And the nymphs of the grove in their loneliness rove,
But the columbine blooms just the same. Let the violet brighten the brookside,
In sunlight of earlier spring,
Let the fair clover bedeck the green meadow,
In days when the orioles sing,
Let the goldenrod herald the autumn,
But, under the midsummer sky,
In its fair Western home, may the columbine bloom
Till our great mountain rivers run dry.
History and Lyrics from Wikipedia
  1.  Wolf, Jeffrey (March 13, 2007). “Lawmakers name ‘Rocky Mountain High’ second state song”. KUSA-TV (Denver).

 

Bailey’s Poptails…adult dessert on a stick

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I was cruising the net for frozen yogurt pops and ran across this yummy recipe for Baileys Poptails.  I have a bottle of Baileys in my pantry begging to be used so this was a great solution for a hot summer after dinner treat. I eliminated the coffee from the recipe because I don’t need caffeine at night and just doubled the Baileys to 4 ounces.

Bailey's Poptailis

Bailey’s Poptailis

Daughter, Megan, suggested that melted chocolate in the milk and cream (and then cooling)  would also be a great variation to try next time.

 

BAILEYS POPTAILS

  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% Milk
  • 3 tablespoons Instant Coffee (I chose not to add coffee)
  • 2 tablespoons Whole Cane Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 2 ounces Baileys Irish Cream (I doubled the Bailey’s Irish Cream to replace the coffee)
  • Bring all ingredients (excluding Baileys) to a simmer in a saucepan. Stir, and remove from heat when well combined. Transfer to a container & place in the fridge for about 1 hour or until cool.
  • Remove from fridge & mix in the Baileys Irish Cream. Pour poptail mixture into pop molds. Add the stick.
  • Freeze overnight.

Recipe adapted from Family Fresh Cooking

Egg and Bacon Cups

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Let me send a huge compliment to one of my favorite blogs, Iowa Girls Eats. Not only is she from Iowa but she eats gluten-free and has many great ideas.  While browsing for egg recipes I saw that she had tried bacon egg cups and I decided to give my own version a whirl. Most of the recipes on the web show that you use a whole egg in each cup but I decided to scramble the eggs and add ingredients.

Next time, I would either cook the bacon even longer or I would precook the bacon and crumble it in the bottom of each cup.  I like my bacon crispy so I’d prefer my bacon slices to be the same.  You’ll also see that the bacon was not on the outside of the eggs cups since the bacon shrinks while precooking but they come out beautifully as cups just the same!

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BACON EGG CUPS

6 slices of bacon
6 eggs
1/4 cup cheese (I used cheddar)
pinch of Herbs de Provence
salt & pepper

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Wrap a slice of bacon around each of six muffin tins.  Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until almost done to your liking.
  • While the baking is cooking, beat eggs and add cheese, herbs and salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  • Remove muffin tins from oven and carefully pour or remove the bacon fat.
  • Carefully pour egg mixture into each of the six muffin tins.
  • Bake another 15+ minutes or until eggs are completely cooked through.

 

 

Gooseberry Crumble Cake…new to my Gooseberry recipe collection

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Converting grams to ounces and cups is not easy!  Somehow it seems that Gooseberries are plentiful in countries that use the metric system.  I did my best to convert and, I have to say, the results were excellent.

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Gooseberry Crumble Cake

1 1/2 cups cleaned gooseberries
3/4 cup unsalted, softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 ounces ground almonds
1 1/8 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Crumble:

3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup unsalted, softened butter
2 tablespoons sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a square cake pan.  To make the cake, beat the butter and sugars in a mixer for 8-10 minutes until fluffy.  Break the eggs and beat them gently with a fork.  Add slowly, with the beater, to the butter and sugar mixture.
  • Combine the ground almonds into the flour, salt and baking powder.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture.  Pour the batter into the baking pan. Scatter the gooseberries on the top.

Gooseberry Crumble Cake IMG_2558 Gooseberry Crumble Cake

  • Make the crumble topping by mixing the flour butter and sugar in the food processor.  Scatter the crumbs loosely over the top of the gooseberries.
  • Bake for about an hour, checking to assure the cake it done.  Remove the cake from the oven and cool before serving.

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Cranberry and Mango Quinoa Salad

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Cranberry and Mango Quinoa Salad is a favorite salad shared by friend, Chris, at many of our Book Club and pot luck dinners. Finally, I decided to prepare it and savored every serving.  I’ve also tried adding other ingredients to add variety, including bits of turkey or slices or fresh avocado.
This salad is great for summer meals and gatherings.
Mango Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Mango Cranberry Quinoa Salad

Cranberry and Mango Quinoa Salad

2 cups of water
1 cup of quinoa
1 cup fresh kale or spinach in bite size pieces
1.5 cup fresh or frozen mango chunks (one to two fresh mangos should yield just about 1.5 cups)
1.5 c cubed melon (I used Honeydew)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted/optional)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
pinch of salt

  • Bring water to boil and cook quinoa per the instructions.  Cool.
  • Add kale (or spinach), mango, melon, almonds, and cranberries to quinoa.
  • Mix together Lemon poppy seed ingredients and pour over quinoa salad.
  • Serving Option:  Slice fresh avocado slices over top of salad.

Recipe adapted from Skinny Minz and Healthy Pursuit

Father’s Day and Memories

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I only celebrated 12 Father’s Days with my Dad since he died in a farm accident my 12th year. His death was a great shock and loss to our entire family. I often wonder what it would have been like to know my Dad as an adult, to have him hold my children in his arms, to talk to him about his life and his experiences and to hug him once again.

Cathy & her Dad about 1954

Cathy & her Dad about 1954

What I do remember, with tremendous fondness, is…

  • riding in the back of his Turquoise Chevy pickup letting the wind blow on my face and hair
  • following him around the hog house and watching him do never-ending farm chores
  • riding to one of the small farming communities to visit the grain elevator, hardware store or local gathering place
  • building a cage and capturing a pigeon for me to take to school for ‘show and tell’
  • caring for baby bunnies that had been abandoned by their Mommy
  • his love of Adolph the cat and our good old farm dog, Skipper
  • hanging a tire swing for me and his grandchildren to enjoy
  • watching him crank the old home-made ice cream freezer as I anticipated the luscious results
  • riding on the tractor with him
  • feeling very grown up filling the gas tanks of the car or truck
  • going on picnics and fishing
  • watching favorite TV shows together including Bonanza, Lassie, Daniel Boone, Ed Sullivan, etc.
  • the piano he bought for me at the State Fair a month before he died
  • laughter and teasing (with love)

He was a good guy with a wonderful sense of humor and a dedicated, farmer’s work ethic.

He is missed.  Love you, Dad.

Zuppa Toscana…Copycat of Olive Garden recipe

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I rarely eat at Olive Garden but daughter Megan told me this was a great recipe.  As mentioned in my Roasted Fennel post of last Friday, we garnished the soup with bits of the fennel and loved it. From now on, it will be a traditional side served with the soup, and sliced of hearty Italian bread.

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The original recipe called for heavy cream, but we liked the soup without the cream and without the extra fat. Next time I would add chopped carrots and celery.

ZUPPA TOSCANA…COPYCAT OF OLIVE GARDEN RECIPE

1 lb. Italian sausage
2 large russet baking potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon, chopped (optional)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (8 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I omitted)

  • Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.
  • Brown sausage in your soup pot.
  • Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.
  • Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in the pot.
  • Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.
  • Add bacon.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • Turn to low heat.
  • Add cream (optional) and heat.
  • Tear pieces of kale into bowl and pour steaming soup over the top.

Recipe slightly adapted from Food.com

Roasted Fennel…another new love!

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Fennel was a target buy at Trader Joe’s for daughter Megan and I this week. My husband, Karl, used to love to cook Fennel as was prepared for him on business trips to Italy.  It’s been years since I’ve had it and prepared it. Megan suggested we roast it and it was fantastic. I have to say that eating it raw was good, too.

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The fennel was prepared the same evening as the Zuppa Tuscana (recipe to post next week).  We decided to put some of the fennel in our soup and loved the addition.  I even added cold roasted fennel to a roast pork and goat cheese sandwich…love it!

Next time I’ll try roasting the fennel with other vegetable, perhaps white and sweet potatoes and a bit of rosemary?

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 ROASTED FENNEL

2 heads fresh fennel
olive oil
salt & pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Rinse fennel.  Slightly trim bottom and top of fennel bulb.
  • Cut each bulb in half lengthwise.  Cut out core and set aside.
  • Slice fennel thinly and place on baking sheet.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Roast for 15-20 or until brown on edges and tender.

Baked Stuffed Avocados…yummo!

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Baked Avocado…a new adventure for me and I loved it. The idea of using avocado as the binding ingredient for quinoa, tomato, cheese was great and included all ingredients I love. This recipe is worth experimenting with and can easily be adapted for a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Toasted Avocado with Quinoa

BAKED STUFFED AVOCADOS

2 large ripe avocados
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used a mix of plain and Tri-Colored Quinoa from Trader Joe’s)
1 medium-sized tomato, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Slice avocados lengthwise and remove the pit by gently tapping it with a large sturdy knife.
  • Scoop the avocado from the shell with a spoon and place in a mixing bowl.  Add quinoa, tomatoes, feta, salt and pepper.  Mix to combine, but leaving hunks of avocado.
  • Place the hollow avocado shells on a baking sheet and carefully fill each with the mixture.  (I found that I had more filling that the shells would hold and baked the remainder in a small greased casserole dish).
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes until cheese is sufficiently melted.

recipe slightly adapted from P&G Everday

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