I Mus-Stash My Stuff At Your House

Last weekend’s 25th surprise party for my daughter’s soon-to-be maid of honor was a combination of high level covert activity and secret meetings in a house filled with smells of meatballs in spicy BBQ sauce, and roasted thyme nuts.

Tissue paper poms spread across the spare bedroom, photo booth props (mustaches, bow ties, lips and glasses), customized wine labels and all sorts of party picks, paper flowers and party ‘stuff’ took over the house.

I played the role of  ‘partner in crime’ as we scoured the local craft stores to make her party ideas come to life.  On the day of the party,  the party flair was loaded into my SUV and transported to Lonnie and Molly’s condo where friends showed up to decorate and lay in wait for the birthday girl.

Roasted Rosemary & Thyme Nuts (from Martha Stewart)

10 cups mixed nuts such as pecans, cashews, whole skin-on almonds, Marcona almonds, and peanuts

  •                                         4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •                                         3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
  •                                         2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  •                                         1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •                                         1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  •                                         5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
  •                                         2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until brown and fragrant, 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking until butter becomes fragrant and golden brown, taking care not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, and rosemary; mix in brown butter. Add nuts and toss to combine. Return nuts to baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until nuts are semidry, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Gotta love 3 weeks filled with secrets followed by a “SURPRISE!” finale!  Happy Birthday Molly!

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I’m Your Huckleberry

Val Kilmer played the INFAMOUS Doc Holiday in one of my husband’s favorite movies, TOMBSTONE. Doc was irreverent, ATTRACTED trouble, suffered from tuberculosis, was a notorious gunslinger and was an unlikely supporter of his LAWMAN friend, Wyatt Earp. My husband, an old west buff,  has NO tattoos….. but IF he were EVER to get one, I would NOT be surprised to see Doc’s famous line in the movie, “I’m Your Huckleberry” stamped SOMEPLACE on his body.

Summers visiting northern Idaho not only brought me face-to-face with several MINING towns of the West, but I also fell in love with that tiny little purple berry, the HUCKLEBERRY. We kids poked holes in two sides of a tin coffee can, attached STRINGS to hang them over our necks and traipsed through the HILLS surrounding the little town of Mullan in SEARCH of that elusive little berry. It took a LONG time to FILL a coffee can with HUCKLEBERRIES. Once filled, we headed back to my Grandpa’s HOUSE and waited as my AUNT Bev turned them into piesAt the end of the day GRAMPS brought a brick of VANILLA ice cream home from the soda fountain in his Mullan Rexall Drug Store and we had a FEAST. To this day, there is no better tasting berry pie to me…..than HUCKLEBERRY.

Many people think huckleberries are related to blueberries, but they are not. They are small, deep purple, more tart in flavor and require more sugar to sweeten the pie than blueberries.

Huckleberry Pie Recipe

4 cups huckleberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Tbsp. of butter
Pie Pastry (bottom layer and upper layer, recipe below)
Preheat oven 425ºF.

In a large bowl, stir together the huckleberries and enough sugar to make the berries taste sweet with a tart edge. Taste as you add sugar to see how much sugar is required. Add the flour, lemon juice & nutmeg. Spoon the fruit into the uncooked pie shell and dot with butter. Add the top pie crust. Slit the top crust to allow for bubbling of the filling, or use a lattice-style crust.

Bake the pie for 15 min., then reduce the heat to 375ºF. and continue baking for an additional 18 to 20 mins.

 Old Fashioned Crisco Pie Crust

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco shortening, chilled
  • 9 tablespoons ice-cold water

Instructions:

  1. Sift flour and salt into bowl. Cut shortening into 4 or 5 pieces and drop into stand mixer bowl.
  2. Using the flat beater, turn to stir speed and cut shortening into flour until particles are size of small peas, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ice-cold water one tablespoon at a time until all particles are moistened. Use only enough water to make the pastry form a ball — depending on a variety of factors, you may not need to use the full amount. Watch dough closely as over mixing will result in a tough crust.
  4. Form dough into two equal size disks and chill in refrigerator 15 minutes.
  5. Roll to 1/8″ thickness between pieces of waxed paper until you have a circle slightly larger than the circumference of your pie plate.
  6. Fold pastry into quarters; ease into pie plate and unfold, pressing firmly against bottom and side. Trim and crimp edges.
  7. Fill and bake as desired. For a pastry shell, prick sides and bottom thoroughly with a fork and bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes until light brown. Cool completely before filling.

Huckleberry Buckle

Delicious  recipe from Sauver….

8 tbsp. unsalted butter,
   softened, plus more for pan
6 tbsp. plus 1 3/4 cups flour,
   plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 lb. huckleberries or blueberries

1. Heat oven to 350˚. Butter and flour a 9″ springform cake pan; set aside. Make the topping: In a medium bowl, stir together 4 tbsp. butter, 6 tbsp. flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set topping aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining flour and salt, along with baking powder; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat the remaining butter and sugar with a handheld mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add vanilla and egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture and milk and mix for 1 minute. Add the huckleberries and, using a rubber spatula, fold them into the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Let cool before serving.

SERVES 8 – 10

DYNAMIC DUO

These two recipes have the SWEETEST ingredients and capture the yummy essence of this

delicious PURPLE berry.

Easy Homemade Huckleberry Ice Cream                                               Fill Your Plate Huckleberry Pancakes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It makes sense that SOMETHING about this little berry catapulted it into a MOVIE script.

Uh huh,…. I’m your HUCKLEBERRY!

 

 

 

*Huckleberries are native to the Northwest. Though efforts have been made to grow them on farms, as of yet, the success rate is not great. They grow naturally in wild patches on northwest mountainsides….so apropos.

*You are invited to follow My Big Red Shoe….. sharing northwest flavors, places, and more.

Surprise Pairing And A New Version Of Standby Favorite

SOMETIMES unexpected combinations transform into  fantastic pairings.

For a refreshing beet and grapefruit SURPRISE, 

Roasted Beet Salad with Grapefruit and Chive Vinaigrette

delivers TASTE, texture and punch.

 Ingredients

  • 1  large Egg (For Vinaigrette)

  • 1/4  cup White wine vinegar (For Vinaigrette)

  • 1/2  cup Chopped chives (For Vinaigrette)

  • 1/4  cup Flaxseed Oil (For Vinaigrette)

  • 1/2  cup Canola Oil

  • 1  pinch Salt (For Vinaigrette)

  • 1  pound Beets, trimmed (For Salad)

  • 1/4  cup Olive Oil (For Salad)

  • 4  cups Organic Mixed Greens (For Salad)

  • 2  large Grapefruits, segmented (For Salad)

  • 1  head Fennel, shaved or sliced thinly (For Salad)

  • 1  pinch Salt and Pepper (For Salad)

Instructions

To make the vinaigrette, put the egg, vinegar, and chives in a food processor and blend until well mixed. Combine the oils, and then slowly add them to the food processor. Blend until the mixture begins to emulsify and turn pale green. If the mixture gets too thick, add up to 1/4 cup of water. Season with salt to taste and set aside.

To make the salad, preheat the oven to 400ÅãF. Lightly toss the beets in the olive oil and salt to taste and place on a baking sheet. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Let cool and then peel and cut the beets into a large dice.

On a large plate, arrange the mixed greens, beets, grapefruit segments, and fennel. Finish with the chive vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

 Grilled Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette

 I LOVE the Blue Cheese Bacon Vinaigrette …. AND the presentation, 

including grilled romaine, takes it OVER the top.

…….a new and tastier version of spinach salad with bacon vinaigrette.

This recipe from Tracey’s culinary Adventures is easy (my favorite requirement) and delicious.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 heads romaine lettuce, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I used goat cheese instead)

Preheat grill to medium-high (you could also use an indoor grill pan). 

In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon.  Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.  Remove to the plate along with the bacon.  Add the balsamic vinegar  and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the skillet and cook to reduce slightly, about 2-3 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat.

Brush the lettuce with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Grill cut-side down for about 2 minutes, or until grill marks are visible or the lettuce is slightly charred.

Place the lettuce cut-side up on a large plate (or platter).  Drizzle with the reduced balsamic vinegar then sprinkle with the cheese, bacon and onion, and garnish with freshly cracked black pepper.

 

 

*More recipes available in the category: food

Ragin’ Cajun Chicken Plus Paper Whites

 Ragin’ Cajun Chicken Stuffed with Pepper Jack Cheese & Spinach

…..plus Paper White Fascination

I LOVE this spicy twist on a Florentine dish.  As with everything else, FLAVOR and bold taste are the ingredient CRITERION.  Pepper jack cheese easily made the ingredient cut and the homemade cajun mix provides the heat filled rub for this entree.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 c frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning – see below for a homemade Cajun spice recipe
  • 1 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Flatten the chicken to 1/4-inch thickness.

In a medium bowl, combine the pepper jack cheese, spinach, salt and pepper.

Combine the Cajun seasoning and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl.

Spoon about 1/4 c of the spinach mixture onto each chicken breast. Roll each chicken breast tightly and fasten with toothpicks.

Brush each chicken breast with the vegetable oil. Sprinkle the Cajun seasoning mixture evenly over all. Sprinkle any remaining spinach and cheese on top of chicken (optional).

Place the chicken seam-side down onto a tin foil-lined baking sheet (for easy cleanup).  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.

Remove the toothpicks before serving!

Homemade Cajun Seasoning Mix:

  • 3/4 tbsp paprika
  • 3/4 tsp onion salt
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp oregano
  • Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

 

Monterey Chicken

Just HAD to SHARE this from All Things Simple.  Included is an amazing Butter Pecan Sweet Potato recipe.

This recipe is one of those semi-homemade DINNERS where the ingredient list is short, the flavor is TALL and the prep time is quick! Love it.  I would top it with some FRESHLY chopped tomatoes and a tad bit of chopped cilantro.

 

 

Decor: Paperwhites on the Dining Table….     

 

I have a SECRET obsession with Paper Whites. Tall crispy green stalks and  pop-of-white COLOR are the  lures of this little BULB. Anything would taste DELICIOUS while …gazing at the whites.

Buy them in BLOOM….or force them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Force Paper Whites

Paper whites are the original “Just Add Water” plant. While paperwhite bulbs can be planted in soil, more commonly they are grown in pots or dishes with some stones or marbles to anchor them in place and a little water.

  1. Select a container that is about 3 – 4 inches deep (8 – 10 cm) and that has no drainage holes. 
  2. Spread an inch or 2 of stones, marbles or even gravel, along the bottom of the container. 
  3. Position your paper white bulbs, pointed end up, on top of the stone layer. Go ahead and squeeze them in. They not only look better in a large group, the tight fit will help keep them from toppling over. 
  4. Add another layer of stones to fill in any gaps and cover the bulbs up to their shoulders. The pointed tips should still be showing. 
  5. Add water so that the level just reaches the base of the bulbs. Allowing the bottom of the bulb to sit in water will stimulate growth. Covering the entire bulb with water could cause it to rot. 
  6. The bulbs don’t need light at this point and they prefer to be kept on the cool side, at about 65 degrees F (18 degrees C.) 
  7. Check your bulbs daily to see if they need more water. 
  8. When you see roots developing, move the container to a sunny window. The sunnier the better, but try not to let them get too warm or they’ll grow leggy. 
  9. Once the plants flower, they will last longer if moved out of direct sunlight, to a cool spot with indirect or diffused light.

You can start pots of paper whites every couple of weeks, for a continuous display throughout the winter.

Although problems are rare with paper whites, one annoyance is their tendency to become top heavy and fall over. For a Quick Tip on how to solve that problem, read how to water your paper whites with alcohol to keep them from falling over.

The NEXT time you are enjoying a martini….slip a sip to your PAPER WHITES.

Caution: Falling Coconuts

WE RARELY see falling coconut signs like this in Seattle

      ….. okay, we NEVER see signs like this here.

 I suppose our warning signs might say, “Be CAREFUL people…your Starbucks is flippin’ hot“.

Regardless of warnings, I would JOYFULLY enjoy a cup of joe with any of these coconut concoctions.

 

COCONUT CREAM PIE

This recipe, from the Dough Puncher, is a winner because of the fresh ingredients used.

For those who need to bake at light speed, The Dough Puncher includes a ‘quick’ version at the end of the recipe. This DESSERT is made in a casserole dish rather than a pie plate….more servings!

 Coconut Love! 

 

 

 

Tequila Lime Coconut Bars

Now, there’s not much I  don’t like about tequila and lime. Add a little triple sec and rim salt..and I’m happy to reside in my own little  Margaritaville. 

Jimmy Buffett would love this fab dessert from The Creative Mama It does NOT disappoint. Check out that blog for the recipe as well as other great CULINARY delights. 

 

 

COCONUT CAKE

For someone who as spent most of her life turning down coconut delights (no thank you Almond Joy), my newfound COCONUT love is ALLURING and exciting.

Flashback to the 1920’s when the ladies gathered at meetings and DELIGHTFUL delicacies were served to women wearing gloves. This  recipe, available at Delish, was often made with  marshmallow FROSTING but this one calls for 7-Minute Frosting…one my mother used to make when I was a child. You’ll find the classic 7-Minute Frosting recipe at Real Food Has Curves.

 
Coconut Lime Shortbread Cookies
 
Shortbread? Nuf said. BUTTER upon butter upon heavenly butter. What’s life without a little butter? Add the lime shavings and fresh coconut in this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and a masterpiece is born. 
 
 
There’s something TROPICAL that comes over us when the SUN comes out in Seattle….we drive top down in 45 degree weather, wear SHORTS & tank tops, JUMP into the frigid salt WATER and dream of coconuts and drinks with little umbrellas in them.
 
 
 

Money For Nothing And Your Chicks For Free

 

 That classic Dire Straits rock tune, Money For Nothing (and your chicks for free) popped into my head while  GATHERING these recipes.

 Whether you raise your own chickens, and produce your own CHICKS and EGGS, or  choose to shop for organics… these dishes are delicious… though they may not be eggzactly FREE.

Recipe: Easy Spring Frittata…

Summary: Clean burning protein & spring veggies!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 leek stalk (light part only), sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup fresh peas, blanched
  • Bunch Swiss chard chopped
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, stems removed, torn into small pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 ounces Feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. 2. Heat the oil in a large ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the leek and sauté until soft, then add the swiss chard and peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs with 1 tablespoon water.
  3. Add the eggs and half the mint to the pan, season with the salt and pepper, and cook, lifting the edges with a spatula to allow the uncooked eggs to flow to the bottom. When the frittata is partly cooked (7 to 10 minutes), sprinkle on the ricotta and transfer the pan to the oven.
  4. Bake until puffed, golden, and set, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly.
  5. Garnish with the remaining mint to taste and serve.
  6. Stella’s Tip: A frittata is one of the most versatile dishes you can make. Experiment with all vegetables! 

 and more recipes…

                Mexican Fritatta Recipe                                            Greek Scramble Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

Tyler’s Deep-Dish Ham Quiche and Asparagus Salad: 

Deep-Dish Ham Quiche with Herb and Asparagus Salad-by Tyler Florence

Ingredients
Pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small chunks
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed
.
Filling:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin-olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced
3/4 pound smoked ham, cubed
8 large eggs
1 quart heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Salad:
2 bunches asparagus (about 1 pound each), stems trimmed
4 ounces Parmesan, shaved with a peeler
2 handfuls fresh flat-leaf parsley, hand-torn
1 handful fresh mint, hand-torn
1 handful fresh dill, hand-torn
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
 
Directions
 
To make the pastry:
Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and mix with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Beat the egg yolk and ice water in a small bowl to blend, add it to the pastry. Work it in to bind the dough until it holds together without being too wet or sticky. Squeeze a small amount together, if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the counter and a rolling-pin lightly with flour. Roll the dough out into a 14-inch circle about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully roll the dough up onto the pin (this may take a little practice) and lay it inside a 9-inch springform pan. Press the dough firmly into the bottom and sides so it fits tightly; trim the excess dough around the rim. Place the pan on a sturdy cookie sheet so it will be easier to move in and out of the oven, this quiche is pretty heavy.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
To make the filling:
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, coat the pan with oil, and add the onions. Slowly cook the onions, stirring, until they caramelize and release their natural sugars. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to help the onions break down, if needed. Toss in the ham, cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes to get some color on it. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, pour in the cream; season with salt and pepper. Arrange the caramelized onions and ham over the bottom of the crust and carefully pour in the cream and egg mixture; the filling should be about 1-inch from the top of the pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for 15 minutes or until the quiche is set, puffy, and jiggles slightly. Remove to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. In the meantime make the asparagus salad.
To make the asparagus salad:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the asparagus for 4 minutes, or until they are just crisp-tender. Drain the asparagus, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, and drain well. Slice the asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces and put them in a mixing bowl. Add the Parmesan and herbs, drizzle the herb and asparagus salad with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
Loosen the quiche from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the inside rim. Carefully unmold the ring, and transfer the quiche (with the bottom base) to a serving plate. Cut it into wedges, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper.
Garnish with the asparagus salad on top.
.

still can’t get that SONG out of my head

The MOTHER Of All Days

STAY in bed mom. This is the MOTHER of all days! “

I first heard those words from my daughters about 16 years ago and haven’t  really gotten that quote out of my head.  On Mother’s Day morning my two daughters, ages 8 and 6, rushed into my bedroom handing me magazines to read  and instructions to stay in bed because they and their dad were going to cook a special breakfast for me  and deliver it to my lap. They left the room and subsequently returned in waitress mode, donning aprons and carrying pencils and notepads to take my order. Like singer Tim McGraw says….you just don’t forget somethin’ like that.

Mother’s Day Denver Scramble (recipe below)

Clanging, chopping, be-careful-with-that-KNIFE instructions, daddy-how-do-I questions, backyard flower snipping, and excited she’s-gonna-be-surprised conversations could be heard from my upstairs perch as the chefs went to work.

Delivery included two big smiles and two little girls sitting next to me on the bed reminding me to smell my flowers on the nightstand between bites. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted better cooking than those mother’s day breakfasts through the years. To this day I absolutely love it when my daughter cooks for me.

She is now now 24 years old, engaged to be married…and coming over on Mother’s Day with our future son-in-law and BOTH WILL COOK breakfast for me. Nothing could be better.

Oh…and I’m pretty sure the ‘mother of all days’ quote

came directly from their dad.

 

Denver Scramble (origin)
2 tbs unsalted butter
1 small brown onion, diced
1 small green capsicum, deseeded and cubed
1 small red capsicum, deseeded and cubed
185g ham, cubed
8 eggs, beated
salt & groung white pepper
60g tasty cheese, grated
shallots, chooped for garnish- Melt butter in trying pan over medium heat. Add onion, capsicums and saute. Add ham and saute further.
– Add eggs to pan, season to taste over medium-low heat. Stirring until eggs form soft, moist curds. Stir in cheese.
– When done garnish with shallots.