Friday, December 1, 2017

Good Morning December

Good Morning the first day of December
and what a beautiful start.

I never am prepared for the ending of November and the start of December.  Every year my plan is to have the house decorated, the goody boxes ready to mail, and the Christmas cards signed-sealed-ready to mail.  But, as always I have resolved to prepare things as they come.

In the meantime, I have a great recipe to share, 'Apple Cranberry Cake'.  It is easy and one that I have adapted using goat's milk butter and strained goat's milk yoghurt (this has the consistency of sour cream).  It is a beautiful dessert.

Apple Cranberry Cake

12 oz. fresh cranberries, rinsed and check for stems
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced (I used Arkansas Black.  They
are a little tart and a little sweet.)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tablespoon grated orange zest (about 2 oranges)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted (I substituted goat's milk butter
because I cannot have cow's milk dairy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sour cream (I substituted strained goat's milk yoghurt)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 10-inch pie plate

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1. Combine the cranberries, the diced apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Set this aside for later.

2.  In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, on medium high speed beat the eggs for 2 minutes.  

3.  Turn mixer down to medium and add 1 cup granulated sugar, butter, vanilla, and sour cream.  Mix these until just combined.  

4.  Turning mixer to low speed slowly add the flour and salt.

5.  Next, take the fruit mixture that you set aside and pour into the 10-inch pie pan.  Then pour the batter over the fruit, making sure to cover it completely.  

6.  Lastly, take the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and sprinkle it over the top of the batter.
7.  Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean

*Best to serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

Have a wonderful December 1st.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One Month Ends & Another Begins

The past few weeks have really just been a whirlwind of activity.  October is the month when all the Apple Houses open up.  There is apple picking, festivals, and all kinds of happenings that center around apples.  I, myself, have been to 3 apple houses in these two weeks to get my fill of apples.  And with all these apples I have been canning them, drying them, and trying new recipes.  Apples are one of my favorites.

And let's not forget Halloween.  October always goes out with a bang (well, in my world).  I love Halloween - decorating, the kids in the costumes.  It is always fun.  This Halloween was the best time this year.  I was able to go Trick-or-Treating with 2 of my grand kids.  I just want to send kudos out to their neighborhood.  These people know how to celebrate Halloween - there were houses with great decorations; families sitting out in the yard or drive with their fire pits going and handing out candy; fun pumpkin carvings, music and driveway parties complete with cotton candy machine.  Really a fun night.

October is 3 weeks past and Thanksgiving is upon us.  I have been trying  recipes - all things apple.  Since recipes are meant to be shared I want to pass along this salad recipe.

I saved this recipe from an old Victoria magazine and because I can not have cow's dairy products I have adapted this recipe using goat's milk and goat cheese.  It's very easy and the stacked apples make a nice presentation.

Apple Stack Salad
Goat Cheese Crumble
Creamy Apple Cider Vinaigrette
serves 4 
1 Arkansas Black apple
1 Golden Delicious apple
Creamy Apple-Cider Vinaigrette (make this ahead)*
(recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 cup arugula, divided
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Garnish: fresh chopped parsley (optional)

1. Wash and core apples.  Using a mandoline, slice the
    apples approximately 1/8 inch thick.
2. In a large bowl combine the apple slices, about 1/4 cup of 
    the vinaigrette (or to taste), salt, sugar, and pepper.
   Toss to  combine.
3. To serve: dividing the arugula and the apple slices - 
     small amount of arugula, apple slice (I started with red),
     another layer of arugula (use just a few leaves), apple slice
     (green), arugula, the apple slice (red)
4. Drizzle a small amount of the vinaigrette
5. Next dividing the crumbled goat cheese, chopped pecans,
    & celery.  Sprinkle on to each salad plate.  Garnish with
    chopped parsley if desired.  Serve immediately.

Creamy Apple-Cider Vinagrette
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons goats milk (can substitute buttermilk)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1. In a medium bowl combine the minced shallot and the
    vinegar.  Let this mixture stand for about 15 minutes.
2.  Add mayonnaise, goats milk, and honey.  Whisk to
3.  Stir in the thyme, salt, and pepper
4.  Whisking constantly, gradually add the olive oil.  Mixing
     until smooth and creamy.
5.  Chill for at least 1 hour. (Can be stored in an airtight
     container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.) (I stored
     mine in a mason jar.) 

Thanks for being here
Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Go! Go! Gadget Tuesday - Let's Talk Popcorn

I'm not sure if I have ever let it be known, but I love popcorn.  It is one of my favorite snacks, well, besides chips (regular, bbq).  I am not really a sweets person I would rather go for salty.  Now, this leads me to this new gadget (I have had for a while) I found at Sur La Table.  

It is a very great popcorn popper for the microwave and no oil is needed.  It is so easy to use and clean-up is a snap.  I cannot have the conveniently packaged popcorn because I cannot have dairy  (the butter) and a few other ingredients (which is a discussion for another time).  The 'poptop' popcorn popper allows me the fun of a popcorn snack without making me sick.

If you are looking for an easy-to-use popcorn popper.  This is definitely the ticket. 

**this is not a sponsored post

Have a Happy Tuesday!


Monday, October 23, 2017

Impossible Dream?

In the mornings I try my best to have a quiet time.  Though not always successful I read a devotional, my Bible, and have a time in prayer.  I also keep a book handy to write in; not necessarily a journal, but an everything book.  In it is my schedule for the day; goals for the week/month; inspirational quotes.  You get it - an everything book that I keep with me all the time. 
I was looking through my book for a little inspiration and came to this reading that I had copied and glued in the front.  It was a reading from 'Guidepost 2016' about pursuing ones dreams (something I am still working towards today). It reads:
“For with God nothing will be impossible.”  -Luke 1:37 (NKJV)
“A speaker at church talked about the courage to pursue our dreams.  “What dreams I have, God put in my heart, so that makes it a mandate that I respond to them because they’re from God.  And remember, you will not know how the dream will be fulfilled, only that through your actions it will be”.
I thought back to when I’d found the courage to pursue a dream.  For years, I’d wanted to write for Guidepost, but had no idea how to go about it.  Then a friend read about the biannual Guideposts Writers Workshop competition and urged me to enter.  I was hesitant.  Seeing my reluctance, she added, “God doesn’t give you the dream without giving you the courage to take the action to pursue it.”  With that, I wrote my story and submitted it.  Accepted or not, win or lose, the point was to act on my dream, to do something about it, toward it.
I’m happy to report that my entry provided the opportunity to fulfill my dream of writing Daily Guideposts devotions, which I’ve done since 1999.
Dreams can be opportunities to step out in faith, not knowing how the dreams will be fulfilled, and that can be scary.  But just as the speaker said that night, “If your dreams aren’t big enough to scare you, then they probably aren’t big enough.”
Written by:  Melody Bonnette Swang

So, in the past year I have pursed one or 2 of my dreams.  It has been challenging and scary at times, but at least I took that first step and I can say that I am pursuing my dream(s).

Some days are easier than others.  Some days I feel like giving up.  That's when I need that little bit of inspiration; that little push.  So, sink or swim I am continuously pursing that dream and finding a use for the gifts God has given me. (Oh, and I never read anywhere that the journey would be easy.)

On this Monday I hope these words will encourage you to pursue your dreams.  Work at what makes you happy.  

Happy Monday

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Go Go Gadget Tuesday

It has been a while since Gadget Tuesday.  I wanted to bring it back because there are so many fun kitchen/cooking gadgets out there (good and not so great).  This day, this gadget is one of the best.

I have made the most wonderful gadget discovery.  I was at my favorite stores, Bread Beckers. (The Becker family has a wonderful store of whole grains, natural foods, cookbooks, classes, on-line videos, and more.  Check out their web site -  As I was checking down each isle to see if there could possibly be something that I needed (ha, ha, there is always something I find that I need), this little number jumped out at me. 
 It is a 'Chef' Salad Dressing Emulsifier.  
Why is this gadget so special?  Well, the first reason is, I am a salad lover.  I could eat some type of salad for lunch and dinner.  The second reason is, I love to make fresh dressings and vinaigrette.  This little gadget makes it fun and easy (oh, and in my opinion you need more than one).

All that is needed to create your own dressing is: 
1. Pour your ingredients into the bottle
2. Squeeze the trigger                           
The stir stick blends the ingredients automatically.

There are recipes on the side of the bottle. Score!

Other features are:
   *easy to use
   *It has a leak proof lid for storage
   *Dishwasher safe (easily to disassemble for cleaning and easily reassembled)
Lastly, I will leave you with my favorite dressing recipe (and of course happens to be on the side of the bottle).

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
1/3 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a dressing bottle or small mason jar or if you have my favorite dressing emulsifier - shake, stir, or pull the bottle trigger.  You now have a great dressing and a happy salad.

Have a Wonderful Tuesday!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

5 Months of Happenings or My How Time Flies

There is an old saying that is, oh, so true for me right now; “My, how time flies when you’re having fun.”  And boy have we been having fun.  This post is going to quickly recap the craziness that has been my life for the last 5 months.

Let’s get this calendar of events started with the month of February. February was the month that we moved from the home we have had for 14 years (Do you know how much stuff you accumulate in 14 years?) to our new home we had built in the North Georgia Mountains.  We broke ground in June of 2016 and the house was completed on February of 2017.

Moving on to the month of March.  This month did not slow down.  It was moving at warp speed.  There were boxes to unpack, getting settled, and making our new place look like home.  And the fun did not end there. 

March 25th I was on the road to a very special baby shower in Tennessee. Then leaving Tennessee for a Food Photography Workshop in Charleston with 2 of my favorite people in the world - Helene Dujardin and Tami Hardeman-Boutté.  I believe (and Helene can correct me if I am wrong) I have worked 12 workshops and there has never been a dull moment and always a good time.  The added benefit is the attendees.
(*side note: Helene and Tami are doing a Food Styling and Photo Workshop in Tuscany, Italy, September 27th to October 1st. What a wonderful workshop that will be.  To find out more and how to sign-up click on this link: Tuscany, Italy Workshop )

March Workshop:
Helene doing her magic

Tami creating the most beautiful sandwich ever
attendee practicing technique

and let's not forget the beach

March is out and April is in:
April was the month for birthdays – my middle son is at the beginning of the month. My birthday comes in the middle (was not ready to turn 59).
Matthew with his son Julian
The day after my birthday a new member of the family arrived:  Lillian Grace Stephens 7 lbs. 2 oz.
Lillian Grace
Trip to West Palm to meet Lillian
Proud Papa

May was a Mother's Day Lunch and a visit from family.  

We start off June with a visit to the Booth Western Museum in Cartersville, GA. for an extended exhibit of work by Ansel Adams.  If you ever have a chance to visit this museum you will not be disappointed.  It is kind of a hidden treasure.

Next came a week with our oldest grandson.  I loved this week and wish it had lasted longer.  It was like Summer Camp – hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, paddle boating, games, art, late night movies.  It was quite a week.  I am already planning next year. 


As a family, we sent the end of June out with a bang.  We celebrated a long overdue Family Reunion to break in our new home.  There was food, fun, and just spending time together. The rest of the week was spent at the lake, pool, and a trip to Blue Ridge for a train ride.

Well, this ends my story of the 5 months of adventure.  Stay tuned for more happenings, more fun, and more recipes.
Ya'll Come Back Now, Ya Hear

Happy Thanksgiving

  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Many Blessings and Love to All