Our Humble Easter Celebration

Our Humble Easter Celebration

March 29, 2016

   On the table in the foyer, an understated Easter display welcomed family and friends this Easter.  There is just something so sweet about that little bunny!

 

   This was definitely an unconventional Easter at our home.  The weather was beautiful and we wanted to enjoy the day outside.  We opted to have Dave grill the best burgers ever and make a vegetable tray.  I roasted baby potatoes and made the Ranch dip.   Tiffany brought the ‘Shrimp Scampi Dip’ she has been bragging about for awhile now.  (She brought tortilla chips for the dip.   Aidan and I agreed we should have made homemade tortilla chips! ) She made a double batch and yes, folks, she was right.  It is addictive and the dish was pretty much licked clean.

I didn’t snap a picture of it, but will do that because we will be making this again very soon!  

 

    Savory and delicious, these little cheesy carrot bites were a perfect appetizer for Easter. Shredded carrots and cheddar cheese combined with cream cheese to create a pale orange-colored mixture.  The cheese mixture piped onto Town House Crackers to look like carrots and topped with a sprig of parsley look adorable.

 

     Aidan made the cheese mixture for these on Saturday with me.

Then we refrigerated it overnight.  It needed to be taken from the fridge and allowed to come up to room temperature before piping.

 

   Sophia, Aidan, and I taste tested the cheese mixture and Aidan said that this recipe was perfect.   Apparently, he was right.  As soon as the little carrots were piped onto the crackers, the parsley was added, and the platter was passed around, they were gone.

   The red pepper gives them a little heat and the Town House crackers were the perfect addition.  The kids asked if they were supposed to eat the parsley.  I told them to eat the parsley end first.  They were surprised how good they tasted.

 


Cheesy Carrot Spread

2/3 cup shredded carrots

8-ounce package of softened cream cheese

1 cup of shredded Mild Cheddar cheese

2 Tblsp. sliced green onions

1 Tblsp. chopped celery

1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/4 garlic powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/8 tsp. ground red pepper

Fresh Flat Leaf Parsley

   Place carrots, cream cheese, Cheddar cheese, onion, celery, Worcestershire, garlic powder, paprika, and ground red pepper into a food processor.  Process until the ingredients are well blended together.

 

   Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip.  

 

   Pipe the mixture to resemble carrots, onto Town House crackers.  On the large end of the piped carrot, place a sprig of Italian flat-leaf parsley.

 


   After the past couple of weeks and the chaos of the window installation, I decided to roast potatoes instead of making potato salad.  Glad that decision was made.  The baby roasted potatoes went over really well.  These were prepared a little early and 45 minutes before the burgers were ready, they were placed in the hot oven.

 

We made five pounds of these and there were just a few left.

 

You can find the recipe for those here ►Roasted Baby Potatoes.

 

Of course, we had desserts, too.  The white velvet cake was frosted with white chocolate frosting.  When it was cut and served, the raspberry puree between the layers was revealed.   Fresh red raspberries garnished the slices.  

 

Fudge brownies were served, too.

   When everyone had arrived, the Easter egg hunt began.  Afterward, everyone played card games or corn hole in the front yard.  Hillbilly golf was setup in the back yard.  Yes, this year was a pretty unconventional Easter.

 

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The Flower Garden In March

The Flower Garden In March

March 21, 2016

     Soon, this rose from Valentine’s Day will be transformed into new plants to add to the flower garden.  The flower was removed from the stem and the stem was cut into four pieces just above the leaf nodes.  Honey was dabbed onto the bottom of the stem of each piece and then, placed in a glass of water on the kitchen windowsill. (You can use rooting medium, but I didn’t have any and honey is an alternative!)

 The Flower Garden In March on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com

   This has to be done while the stem is still green.  If it turns brown, it is too late.

 

   You can see the new growth on the stems at the top of the glass.  Each time these stems begin to grow, I am amazed!  Yes, you can root roses from your bouquets!

    At the bottom of the stem where the honey was placed, a callous is forming.  Soon there will be roots.  A couple of years ago, on June 14th, this rose plant propagated from a Valentine rose was growing nicely in a pot on the deck.

   Mother Nature is such a wondrous thing, isn’t she?    

    This is the earliest I remember the cherry tree in the front yard blooming.  It is loaded with blossoms right now.  If you remember, last year this tree was a magnet for local honeybees!  

    Three different colors of hyacinth are blooming, too.  Next year, there will be a fourth color, that lovely pastel red-violet colored one purchased from the grocery floral department earlier this year.

    Daffodils are blooming, too!  Dave’s mother gave me a start of both of these daffodils and they are multiplying nicely at the back of the yard.

    There is also a Mount Hood daffodil, which I love because of its pure white color.  I bought the bulbs for those from a nursery.  Looking out the window this morning, I can see that one of those has finally bloomed, too.

 

   With all of the window installation mess last week, I didn’t get to go out and weed the flower beds and they certainly need it.  Right now those weeds are seemingly taunting me!  Can’t wait to get those pulled.  Things are popping up so quickly!

 

   Last year, the Flat Leaf Italian Parsley I planted in the garden was the healthiest we have ever had.  (I don’t have a vegetable garden, but instead, a few vegetables are grown along with the flowers.) It was such a strong plant and yielded so much parsley for all of our cooking needs.  This plant had a marker from Bonnie Plants, which is based in Alabama.  Unbelievably, this plant is coming back!

   We had an incredibly mild winter,  (Thank you, God!) and an early spring.   Flat leafed Italian parsley has never before overwintered in this garden.  I was shocked, but here is the proof!

       It seems the flower gardens are at least a couple of weeks ahead of last year’s at this same time.  I am hoping Old Man Winter won’t show up on our doorstep again this spring.  Can’t wait to get out there and work in the flower garden this week!

 

   

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Homemade Tortilla Chips

Homemade Tortilla Chips

March 19, 2016

   Even after cooking and baking for over fifty years, I had never actually thought about makingHomemade Tortilla Chips!   Recently, as I was reading a blog by Christine, at MustLoveHome, I noticed a recipe for homemade tortilla chips!  You can find that recipe and more, here ►HomemadeTortillaChips.

 

   That was one of those “Duh” moments.  Why had I never put tortillas and tortilla chips together?   With the chaos of the new windows and the whole mess in the house, I hadn’t had time to do this.  Well, maybe I did have the time, but not the desire.  After this crazy week, yesterday, Dave went fishing and I took it easy.

 

   I had promised Sophia and Aidan that we would make these, and so yesterday after school, we did.  

    Yep, there it is, the main ingredient – Corn Tortillas.  You’ll also need some vegetable oil and some salt.  

 

   The interesting thing about this whole endeavor is that I have a son, who loves the chips from a local Mexican restaurant.  This kid loves extra salt on pretty much everything, but the reason he loves their chips is that there is not as much salt as the store variety!  Awww… yes we can now control that salt on the ones we make at home!

 

     Preheat the oven to 350°.  Remove 6 tortillas from the package.  Brush vegetable oil on one side of one of the tortillas.  Flip it over on your cutting board and brush vegetable oil on the other side.

 Homemade Tortilla Chips on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com

   Lay another tortilla on top of the first and apply another coat of oil to the top of the second one.  (It’s not necessary to brush both sides of the remainder of the tortillas.  The oil on the previous one will coat the bottom of the next one.)   Continue stacking and brushing oil only on the top sides of the remaining tortillas until there is a stack of six.

 

  Cut the stack of tortillas in half with a sharp knife.  Then cut the halves in half, forming four quarters.  (We had a mini-lesson on fractions right here.)  The six tortillas will make 24 chips total.  (Another math lesson for Sophia.)

(Christine cut the tortillas into 6 wedges.  We cut them into 4.)

 

    Lay the cut tortilla wedges out on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with salt.

 

   Bake at 350° for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chips are dry and the edges are browned.  (We used half-sheet pans.  Next time we will use the full sheet pans.)

 

  Remove the chips from the pan and place in a bowl lined with paper towels and enjoy!  Christine added to store leftovers in an airtight container like there are going to be leftovers!  Ha!

 

   Aidan, who was busy playing a game, was the first to try the chips.  His comment was, ” These are way better than the ones from the store!  There’s not as much salt on them.”

 

   Whoa!  Is there a consensus here with the boys and the salt?

 

   Sophia agreed that they were really good.  The first batch was gone in no time.  As the second batch came out of the oven, Papa came in from fishing. 

 

   He agreed that they were really good and was impressed that Sophia had made them.

 

   Thanks to Christine at MustLoveHome!  ◄Check out her post to see how much more economical it is to make these instead of buying the store bought kind.

 

  Side note – Dave brought home seven big crappies and a blue gill.  The biggest was 15″ long.  He was happy and he also loved the chips.

 

   If you love tortilla chips and queso or salsa, you simply must try making these homemade tortilla chips!

 Homemade Tortilla Chips on MyHumbleHomeandGarden.com

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New Windows for the Entire House

New Windows for the Entire House

March 18, 2016

New Windows

  Day three of the installation process of ‘New Windows for the Entire House’ and it’s the final day!  After removing everything from the walls where the windows were located and moving all the furniture away from the walls, the house is pretty much of a mess.  

 

   The new Preservation High-Performance Windows are triple-paned, have a Low-E glass for UV protection, and two layers of krypton gas.  The EnergyMaxx10 are guaranteed for life. Who even knew there was such a thing as krypton gas? These windows have an R-value of 10.  

 

   The crew of men started on the window over the garden tub in the Master bath area.  I had this idea that they would just take a few screws out and the thing would come out easily.  Not really knowing what to expect, I watched as they used a reciprocating saw to cut the nails or screws around the perimeter of the window from the outside.  A putty knife was used to cut the caulk around the window on the inside.  

 

   Amazingly, the whole window came out pretty easily with a few pounds of their hammers and hands.  They cleaned up the opening and the new window was lifted up and installed in no time.  Wow!  What a difference!

    In three days, Brian and his crew of five men removed, installed, and trimmed out twenty-nine windows and also replaced the basement sliding glass door.   Before this, I did not even know how many windows we had!

 

   When we were finishing up with pricing and the order for these, we thought we had counted all the windows in the house, but forgot there were two in the garage! They were added to the list.  As Aaron, the salesman for American Weather Techs here in the Cincinnati area left about a month ago, I remember telling him not to find any more.  

 

   Then, a couple of days after Brian came to measure for the custom made windows and door, we got a call.  They had found another window!  I had to laugh!

 

   I don’t know which one we had all missed, but when they were drawn out and labeled with measurements, there were clearly twenty-nine.

 

   The view looking out of the new windows is much prettier now.  I know that sounds crazy, but it really is.  The colors look more vibrant.  The difference was really apparent when a new window was installed right next to one of the old ones.  As always, now the front door and the French door in the kitchen bay are not looking so good!  That’s for another day, though…

 

   This has been an exhausting four days, one entire day of prep and then three days of going through the installation, but we are extremely pleased with the results.

Yes, and Memphis was here visiting for the first two days.

   

    The installers even found a bird’s nest in the right corner of this window.  A small hole in the frame allowed access to an opening for a bird to build a nest.  That is gone now.  Notice the work out front.  Fiber optic cable is going in on our street right now.  Doesn’t it seem everything goes on all at once?

 

   If you are looking for new windows, you should check out these energy efficient Preservation Windows.  What a huge difference they have made!  The house is actually quieter, too, and I like quiet.

 

   Since we have the Low-E windows now, I’ve decided not to put the remote controlled blinds back.  I love the clear view of the woods behind the house and won’t have to worry about damage to the furniture and fabrics any longer.   And now, the task of cleaning and re-installing all of the blinds, curtains and drapes begin!  A few minor adjustments of furniture placement might be in order, too.   

 

      This whole adventure has pushed up my spring cleaning schedule and that is probably a good thing.   (Dave has gone fishing.)  There’s nothing like new windows for the entire house to get you motivated!

 

   

  

 

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Meatballs In Light Tomato Sauce

Meatballs In Light Tomato Sauce on MyHumbleHommeandGarden.com

Meatballs in Light Tomato Sauce

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs – (3 slices fresh bread)

1 large egg

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Salt

2 Tblsp. olive oil (more if needed)

1 large onion, cut into thin wedges 

1 cup mini carrots, sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 Tblsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp. grated lemon peel

Mix the ground beef, fresh bread crumbs, egg, pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of water in a large bowl.    Shape this mixture into meatballs of uniform size.  (I usually divide the mixture into fourths and divide each of those into four pieces.)  You can make them bigger or smaller but adjust the cooking time.

In a large skillet, brown the meatballs on all sides.  Don’t overcrowd the skillet. Brown half and remove to a plate and brown the other half, if necessary.  Remove the meatballs after browning.

 Add the vegetables to the drippings in the skillet and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir often.  Add the tomatoes with juice, wine, basil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Add the meatballs to the vegetable mixture in the skillet.  Heat to boiling over high heat.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are done.

 

Serve over pasta, (We like thin spaghetti.),  and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and lemon zest.

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Meatballs In Light Tomato Sauce
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Instructions
  1. Mix the ground beef, fresh bread crumbs, egg, pepper, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 cup of water in a large bowl. Shape this mixture into meatballs of uniform size. (I usually divide the mixture into fourths and divide each of those into four pieces.) You can make them bigger or smaller but adjust the cooking time.
  2. In a large skillet, brown the meatballs on all sides. Don't overcrowd the skillet. Brown half and remove to a plate and brown the other half, if necessary. Remove the meatballs after browning.
  3. Add the vegetables to the drippings in the skillet and cook for 10 minutes. Stir often. Add the tomatoes with juice, wine, basil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add the meatballs to the vegetable mixture in the skillet. Heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are done.
  4. Serve over pasta, (We like thin spaghetti.), and garnish with chopped fresh parsley and lemon zest.
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