Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes

I love roasted vegetables!  Roastings brings out a nice sweet flavor. So when I saw this recipe in the February edition of Southern Living that included roasting a fruit, I was intrigued.  The roasting along with the balsamic vinegar makes a slight syrup and the grapes sweetness is enhanced.  The sweet grapes on top of the pungent blue cheese really compliments each other. This is a simple yet different take on your typical crostini.

Blue Cheese Crostini with Balsamic-Roasted Grapes

2 cups halved seedless red grapes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallot (I’ve made with and without, omitted here)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
French bread baguette, cut into slices
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese, softened
Chopped toasted pecans
Garnish: chopped fresh thyme

Combine the first 6 ingredients and roast at 425 for 15 minutes.
 Mix butter and blue cheese and spread on bread slices.
 Bake at 350 until cheese melts. 
Top with grapes, pecans and thyme.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

With the wedding fast approaching, I have kicked up the exercise and healthy eating.  My fitbit has been a great way to stay motivated and I am proud to say everyday this month, I have exceeded my 10,000 steps.  Our family has always been a big walking family, but having the fitbit certainly keeps me on track.
Here's a healthy salad option:

Avocado & Tomato, White Bean Salad with Vinaigrette

- 1 can white beans
- 1 avocado, chopped
- 1 Roma tomato, chopped
- 1/4 sweet onion chopped (or less or none if you're not a fan of onions)

That's the salad base and here's the vinaigrette:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon juice 
- dried basil to taste
- garlic powder to taste
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon mustard
Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together then pour over salad base and mix well. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Potato Leek Soup

 Looking for a good way to warm up this winter?  Try this soup!

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook leeks in butter with salt and pepper until tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir cornstarch into broth and pour broth into pot. Add the potatoes and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the cream, reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy 2015!

As for my 2014 resolutions:

We all know that blogging every month  was a major FAIL!!!  But I will try that one again!

So my simple project of taking down the wallpaper in the mudroom and laundry room, became not so simple.  It became affectionately referred to by both my husband and me as "the project from Hell:"  I don't even think I am being dramatic or sarcastic here.  This project lead to drywall repair, to priming the walls, to painting the walls, to painting the ceiling, to cleaning up paint spatters on the wood, to paint touch ups, to a misunderstanding on drilling holes for a key holder, to spackling, to priming, to another paint touch up, to changing the hardware on the coat hooks, to painting the key holder, to  removing baseboard that broke, to additional wall repair from the baseboard that broke, to a floor repair that was not simple, to washing the baseboard, to using a restorer on the baseboard, to finding similar baseboard to use for the broken baseboard, to staining baseboard, to finding new tile since the tile I wanted was discontinued, to new light fixtures.  I actually got to the point (where to my husbands delight) I said "shoot me if I want to do another home improvement project".

But for some unknown reason, I had a mental lapse and forgot all that!

I did go on as if nothing had every happened. Okay, maybe I am getting old and forgetful!

I finally, FINALLY found light fixtures that I love for my foyer and dining area, but even that did not turn out to be simple.  I knew my husband and I could install the 4 lower fixtures ourselves, but I did not want my husband on a ladder to install the foyer chandelier which has a 2 story ceiling.  My estimates from electricians were as high as $400 (yes for one light fixture!), so when I found a licensed electrician who said he would install it for $100 I quickly hired him. Sounds simple huh?  Of course not!  He showed up 3 times, each time late.  First he came without a ladder, then he came with a friend to help him but they got into an argument and left, and his third time he asked for more money (despite having a written estimate) and told me he couldn't be held responsible for any damage to the walls from using a ladder.  At that point I politely declined his services and found someone else.

I also changed out the faucet in the main level bathroom, even though I did this less than 3 years ago.  I had bought a copper one that turned green in places and looked terrible .

My "easy," "simple", and "inexpensive" landscaping project of a few plants and some pavers turned into an expensive removal of a tree  ($400) which was not part of the "simple just have the roots grinded" plan that the landscaper told me.  In the end the the landscaper never showed up to do the job after many calls.  I also was hoping for a reprieve of shaping and trimming  bushes, but that never happened.  Whoever designed 54 bushes for our landscaping should be shot or at least made to come and trim once a year!  So this in on the list for next year!

I did manage to finally find a towel bar and toilet  paper holder for our lower level bathroom which I was able to install myself.  I also found  a light fixture which I was able to install  by myself (okay with my husband coaching and insisting I could do this!)  I guess after the helping with the upstairs light fixtures, I gained some confidence!

My flooring was finally redone by someone else in our master bath, the girl's bath and the laundry room and mudroom after another "Yes, I will do it. " but don't show up installer.

So over all this has been a productive but very tiring year for home improvements!

But as for 2015--I am not sure of my home improvement projects.  I will definitely cut myself some slack this year as my daughter is getting married and that is the priority.  I would like to get new carpeting for our lower level and stairs.  I would like to do some additional landscaping with a landscaper, but the chances of one showing up is questionable and I am undecided on what to do with out master bath--a major renovation or a simple fix?  So, not sure and I have to admit, a little, no, a lot, burned out on home repair from last year! Again the wedding is the priority!

As far as my fitness plans I did well and plan to continue!  I exercise regularly and ate healthy.   I plan to do even better this year as I received a fit bit for Christmas.  No more "Google mapping" my walking to see if I reached my target goal!

As for my personal goals, I want to become a better person in many ways,  This is a continuation of the Rick Warren transformed Bible study I took this fall.  I also want to find more ways to serve others using my gifts,

So here is to a happy, healthy, and family by my side year!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Happy Cinco De Mayo!!!

This is just such a fun day!  I don't know if this is just a great party day or if everyone is just so happy spring is coming--either way let the festivities begin!!!

Take Won Ton wrappers and insert them into a muffin tin that is sprayed with pam.  Bake for 5-7 minutes until golden.  These can and should be made in advance and stored in a metal tin.

Combine the following:
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 medium vine ripe tomatoe
cumin to taste
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with sour cream and cilantro

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wow-- we have had one long, long, cold and snowy winter! We even had an inch of snow today!   At first, I was so excited because this winter reminded me so much of the typically Buffalo winters I had when I was growing  up. I would see the "real"  piles of snow building up (at least five feet) as I backed out of my drive way and would smile. But after what seemed like forever, I got tired,(actually spoiled, by the very mild winters that we typically have in the Midwest).  So instead of complaining I decided to just deal with it--embrace it!!. I had my "girl night in" despite having to cancel and reschedule it twice because of weather!