Keeping it Simple

Hello All– After a fine, very full Christmas time, things just got real quiet around here.  I’m ready for simple.  Simpler meals.  The house cleared of Christmas clutter.  A emptier schedule.  Shorter to-do lists.

So while I love the fresh start chance to make those New Years Resolutions, I want to keep it simple.  I have just two resolves.  Love God– think on him, talk to him, love and worship with all my heart, rest in his love for me.  And second, Love People–  Imagine what would make them feel loved, cared for and do all I can for them…

If I can do those two, it’s enough.

“Love the Lord your G0d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength… Love your neighbor as yourself.”  –Jesus (Mark 10:30-31)

P.S.  The photo above are two people we truly love, Jac & Jackie, hiking in Wisconsin last summer.

Zucchini Corn Chowder


Hey there– OK, I’m ready– to have a new start after Christmas.  Tree down- check!  Decorations boxed up- check check!  Fudge all eaten– double check!  House in order again- mostly checkity check (close enough)!

Here’s a flavorful bowl of soup– warm and filling.  If you want to be a bit more healthy, change out the bacon for olive oil (we just had a bit of bacon leftover in the freezer, calling to be used!).  With a big chunk of study bread, just right for a winter’s evening.

ZUCCHINI  CORN CHOWDER
1 tab. butter
4 strips of bacon, cut to small bits (or substitute 3 tab. olive oil)
1 small yellow onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, but to small bits
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 cups corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
2 smallish zucchini, cut to small pieces
1 cup half & half or whole milk
salt & freshly ground pepper
garnish: chopped parsley or grated cheddar

In a soup pot, cook the butter and bacon until the bacon starts to crisp.  Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside, leaving the fat/butter in the pot.

Add in the cut onion and carrots and cook until they are tender (about 5 minutes), stirring now & then.  Add in the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Pour in the water along with the bay leaf and dried basil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the corn and zucchini and simmer 5 minutes more until the zucchini is tender.

Take 2 cups of the mixture out of the pot to a blender (or with a stick blender) and puree it to thicken the soup.  Add the puree and half & half to the pot.  Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the bacon back into the pot.

Bring it back to a simmer jut to heat it all through and serve with a sprinkle of grated cheddar or chopped parsley (or both!).

 

Overnight Orange Rolls


Happy New Year All!  It’s New Year’s Eve here as I’m writing this and grand-girl Jobay and I just put together these orange rolls for tomorrow morning.  We have big plans to watch the Rose Parade on t.v. and enjoy orange rolls and hot chocolate around the coffee table when we get up to welcome in the New Year.  Sounds pretty perfect to me.

OVERNIGHT ORANGE ROLLS

Dough:
1 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 pkg. yeast (2.5 oz.)
1/2 cup white sugar
4  1/2 cups flour (plus more for kneading)
1 tsp. salt
3 eggs

Filling:
6 tab. butter, melted
1 cup sugar
grated peel of one large orange

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tab. orange juice

Heat the cup of milk 1 minute in the microwave so it’s lukewarm.  Melt the butter in the microwave and add it to the milk.  Stir in the yeast and 1/2 cup sugar.  Then mix in 3 cups of the flour, salt and the eggs.  Finally stir in the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and knead gently for about 8 minutes.  Put the dough into large oven proof mixing bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray and set it in a warm place for 1 hour for the dough to rise (about double in size).*

While the dough is rising mix up the filling.  Stir together the 6 tab. melted butter, 1 cup sugar and the grated orange peel and set aside.

After an hour, punch the dough down and use a rolling pin to roll it into a 10″ by 15″ rectangle.  Spread the orange peel mixture over the rectangle, clear to the edges.

Starting along the 15″ side, roll the dough into a cylinder and cut the dough into 12 (or 18 thinner rolls)** slices.

Nestle the cut rolls into a 9″x 13″ baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray (or I used a 12″ circular tart pan).  Cover the orange rolls with plastic wrap and set them in the refrigerator over night.

In the morning, take the rolls from the fridge and set them on the counter for 30 minutes to warm a bit.  Then set them into a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the rolls are golden.

While they are baking, make the glaze.  Stir together the powdered sugar and orange juice and set aside,

When the rolls are hot from the oven, drizzle the glaze over the top and serve them warm– preferably with mugs of tea.

*I turn on the oven to 350 for just 3 minutes and then turn it OFF when I first start making the dough,  This makes a warm cozy place for the dough to rise.
**Cutting the dough into 12 slices makes taller fluffier rolls, but we have a small crowd for breakfast tomorrow, so I’m cutting them into 18 smaller rolls.  (I know it’s the same amount.  It just looks like more!!)

And here’s Jobay kneading dough New Year’s Eve– my best kitchen helper!

 

Second Christmas at Home


Hi there friends– Just one more Christmas post!!  After our sweet time with kids up in San Francisco, we trekked back home for celebrations with family here.  It was a bustling few days and a small house bursting at the seams–a festive time with people we love.  (If you aren’t into way-to-many Christmas photos, you might want to skip this post!!)

We sat down to Christmas Eve lunch, four generations around the table,  opened a few gifts and passed around baby Lois.

     

Christmas Day– Gifts exchanged, new toys tried out and my favorite– Spanish tapas supper around the coffee table after all the hub bub had died down.

     

     

The week filled up with park walks and picnics, playing around the house with 4 grand-girls and a pass through In-and-Out as we ferried John & Laurel to the airport.

      

     

     

     

So thankful for the time with our kids– and for the chance to remember our Savior’s come to earth.  It was a Merry Christmas.

Early Christmas in San Francisco


Hi all– We had a two part Christmas this year– starting out with 3 nights with kids up in San Francisco.  It was all lively grand-kids and beautiful meals, cookie decorating and a big explore in the arboretum.  Thanks thanks Jessica for pulling us all together!

We started our celebration with a ramble through the SF Arboretum.  Mae & Eero were our tour guides and Ani & Brian supplied Wooly Pig sandwiches for a picnic on the lawn.

     

     

There was a table full of cookie decorators and lots of cookie nibbling.

     

We had some beautiful meals around the table together.  From Jessica’s morning waffles to Chef Chris’ short ribs with glazed carrots and cashew-beet sauce.

     

And there was some mid morning gift opening by the Christmas tree by all the cousins.

     

But my favorite part of our days together was watching the cousins play together.
     

     

Here we are all together.  Thanks bunches AA & Jessica for everything!!   So one more Merry Christmas dear readers.  Hope you had a sweet time with people you hold close.

Pear Vinaigrette Salad

Hello there–Are things winding down at your house??  We just took our Laurel and John to the airport to fly back to Wisconsin.  And now we’re all lazing in the family room.  Grand-girls coloring or stitching on Christmas craft kits.  And grown ups are reading phones in the sunshine.  I think we’re all Christmas-ed out!

And ready to eat something besides Christmas fudge and party dips– like this salad.  We had it with our Christmas Eve lunch– add a little chicken or ham and it could be a complete meal.  The star of the salad is the puree pear vinaigrette.  Delish!

PEAR VINAIGRETTE SALAD

Salad:
4 cups of your favorite greens (we used a head of green leaf lettuce)
2 pears, cored and chopped
1/2 cup hazel nuts, chopped in half
1/2 cup feta

Vinaigrette:
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. seedy Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Layer the greens, 2 chopped pears, hazel nuts and feta in a bowl.

To make the vinaigrette, use a blender (or stick blender) to blend the 1 ripe prepared pear, vinegar, mustard, oil and garlic to make a creamy dressing.  Season with salt & pepper until it tastes perfect– sweet and tangy.  Pour over the salad when you are ready to eat!

Peppermint Cheesecake with Chocolate Ganache

Hi all– So how was your Christmas??  Hope it was full of sweet times with people you love.  We are winding down here.  Watching the Santa Paws movie on Netflix with the Grand-girls while all our kids are off seeing Star Wars.

And wanted to send you this recipe from our Christmas Eve lunch.  Peppermint laced cheesecake topped with rich chocolate ganache.  It does taste like Christmas.

PEPPERMINT CHEESECAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE

Crust:
1 store-bought Oreo pre-made crust
2 tab. cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar

Filling:
32 oz. cream cheese (4 packages)
1 cup sugar
3 tab. flour
5 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 candy canes, crushed to a powder

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tab. butter
1  1/3 cup chocolate chips (8 oz.)
garnish: 2 or 3 candy canes, chopped to bits

Mix the Oreo pre-made crust, 1/4 cup sugar and melted butter until the chocolate crust turns to crumbs and blends with the butter and sugar.  Press it into a 10″ springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake the crust for just 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

For the filling, with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and cup of sugar until they are blended and smooth (no lumps!).  Then beat in the flour, eggs, sour cream and peppermint extract.  Finally fold in the crushed candy canes.

Spoon the mixture over the semi-cooked crust and return it to the oven for 60 to 70 minutes at 350 degrees.  It helps to put a pan of water on the bottom rack below the cheesecake to prevent cracks as it cools.  The cake while be slightly wobbly in the center, but should firm up as it cools.  Open the door of the oven a crack and let the cheesecake sit 60 minutes more in the cooling oven.

Take the cheesecake out of the oven and run a sharp knife around the sides, so it won’t stick to the sides and let it cool an hour more.  Then cover it with foil and store in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it.

To make the ganache, bring the cream and 2 tab. butter to a low simmer in a saucepan on the stove top.  Take it off the heat and stir in the chocolate chips, beating it together until smooth and shiny (3 or 4 minutes).

Let the ganache cool and then spoon it over the cooled cheesecake.  Sprinkle the chopped peppermint on top.  Pretty and ready to eat!

And here’s my beautiful mother– enjoying her cheesecake with the family.  Merry Christmas Mom! (And I know she’s one person who always reads my little blog– thanks Mom– Your’e the best!)