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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Health Snack Recipe: Tomato and basil Bruschetta

Health Snack Recipe: Tomato And Basil Bruschetta
Bruschetta is a classic Italian appetizer. Made up of bread, olive oil and garlic This dish is native to Italy but similar dishes may have been eaten in Greek, French, and Spanish cuisines. It is also perfect for any season rather warm or cold. A perfect appetizer not to heavy but packed with lots of great flavor.
6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
*To thinly slice basil leaves, stack the leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other.

Bring to boil 2 quarts of water. While waiting for water to boil make shallow cuts in a cross pattern at the tip ends of the tomatoes (this will help when it comes to peeling tomatoes) Once the water is boiling remove the pot from the heat. Place tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and let it sit until cool enough to handle. Peel off tomato skins. Cut out stem base with a paring knife. Cut tomatoes into halve or quarter and squeeze out most of the juice and seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the top slot of the oven. Chop the tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Mix in minced garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and vinegar. Stir in thinly sliced basil and add salt and pepper to suit taste.

Cut the bread into 1/2 inch thick diagonal slices. Brush one side of each with olive oil and place oil side down on baking sheet or roasting pan. Place on top rack of oven this will allow bread to toast for 5 to 6 minutes to give a lightly brown edge.

Place toasted bread on a platter oil side up You can serve this with tomato mix on side or gently spon on top of the bread. If you choose to top do not do til right before serving

recipe source here

Festval of Kwanzaa

 Kwanzaa is a week long celebration held in the U.S. The celebration honors African heritage in African American culture. The celebration takes place December 26 to January 1st. Kwanzaa was created by Maulana Karenga with seven core principles. It was first celebrated in 1966 to 1967

Kwanzaa is the first African American holiday. Karenga came up with the name of the holiday from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza which means "first fruits of the harvest" Swahili an East African language was  status symbol of the Pan Africanism movement in the 1960s. Kwanzaa has roots in the black nationalist movement of the 1960 and was created to help African Americans reconnect with their African cultural and historial heritage by uniting in meditation and study of African traditional and the seven principles of African Heritage.

Early years Kwanzaa was created to offer "oppositional alternatve" to Christmas. Later s Kwanzaa gained population it was changed to be a celebration of family, community and culture not to give an alternative but to celebrate alongside their own holiday.

Boxing Day

In colonial days boxing day was even more important than Christmas. It was celebrated on Epiphany the day of the arrival of the magi. The day was celebrated by giving presents to the servants. The presents were given in boxes with the present itself traditionally being clothing or money. The da was one for weddings, dancing, and other party like atmosphere.

Boxing day is not a religious holiday but it is a day to remember others. Servants, employees, and others less fortunate. In many countries gifts are collected and given to the needy and those in service. This tradition traces back to the middle ages in Europe. Employers would often give their servants box filled with goodies, gifts and even leftover. These boxes would be taken home to be shared with their families.
Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom consider boxing day a federal holiday This gives families 2 days to celebrate Christmas with each other and ponder on the true meaning of Christmas. You can join in the traditions of boxing day and here are a few ways you can do that.
box up your Christmas leftovers and bring to families less fortunate than your own
when making room for the new Christmas toys make a bit of room by getting rid of toys and donating them to a family or organization that could use them
Inquire with local church about a family in the community that may have needs to be met try to meet a need that they may have
One way we can always help is to pray for needs that anyone may have
Create thank you cards include a friendly note, a picture that your child has colored or created. You can create these for those that gave you gifts to say thank you as well as or those that have helped you in a more personal way during the year.
Bake cookies or treats for those working during the holiday season. There are many jobs that must be covered such as nurses, police, firemen and the list goes on
Volunteer to serve at a local food kitchen or work at a food pantry

Thank you Note Day

The day after Christmas is a perfect opportunity to give thanks by sending thank you notes. Celebrate thank you Note Day by writing to friends and relatives to show your appreciation and gratitude for the gifts that you received. It is also a great idea to share a few of your personal thoughts about how much you appreciate and love them. You can find some free printable thank you cards here

I would love to thank you for visiting our blog today. If you like what you see then you may like to follow our blog on gfc or subscribe to our email. Both of these are found on the side bar. We can also be found on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

Thank you

Peppermint Bark and National Cany Cane Day

The legend of the candy cane has been shared many times over. The sugary treat can be traced back to a candy maker in Indiana. The white stripe of the candy cane represented the lack of sin that Jesus had. The candy stick shaped in a cane resembles a shepherd's crook and indicates the good shepherd. The cane can be turned upside down to indicate a letter J the first letter in Jesus's name. The red of the candy cane symbolizes the blood of Jesus that was shed to save the world. However, the spangler candy company believes that the first candy cane came from a German choirmaster who  gave sugar sticks curved like shepherd's staff to the younger members of the choir. They were meant to help them stay quiet during holiday services.

While, the history of the candy cane can be debated the fact that candy canes are both delicious and very much part of the holiday season. Today, December 26th is National Candy Cane day. So while you share them with friends and family and decorate your tree and home with these sweet treats keep a few to share on National Candy cane day as well. Recipes like the following are perfect for National candy cane day

Peppermint Bark
Crushed candy canes, to yield 1 cup
2 pounds white chocolate
Peppermint flavorings, optional

Place candy canes in a plastic bag and hammer into 1/4-inch chunks or smaller. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Combine candy cane chunks with chocolate (add peppermint flavoring at this point if desired.) Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet layered with parchment or waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm. Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Chicken Provencal

chicken leg quarters
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t pepper
1/4 c olive oil
4 c onion chopped
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c dry red wine
6 c canned crush tomato
2 1/2 c olives pitted sliced

Combine the flour, salt and black pepper in a half size hotel pan and toss to blend. Dredge the thawed chicken leg quarters in flour mixture; shake excess. Heat the oil in heavy braising pan. Working in several smaller batches, brown the chicken leg quarters for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and reserve. Add the onions and the garlic to the pan; sauté over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onions start to soften, stirring frequently. Add the wine and simmer over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Add the crushed tomatoes and olives and stir to blend. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until liquid has started to reduce and sauce is thickened. Ladle the tomato-olive sauce into a full size hotel pan. Arrange the browned chicken leg quarters over the sauce. Bake uncovered in a preheated conventional oven at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F.

  to Assemble a Single Serving Portion 13 ounces (1 leg quarter and 6 ounces sauce) of the Chicken Provencal (see recipe) in a large shallow bowl. Note: When saucing the chicken be sure to include a portion of the olives for visual impact.

recipe source here

Don't Drink and Drive

The best gift you can give your family is to not have any accidents on your way to visit. They very much would love for you to arrive alive. If you plan on drinking and having a bit of fun then do it legally and safe. Don't drink and drive

Here are a few ideas to do if you drink:
Find space on a couch.
Get a room.
Call a cab.
Have a designated driver before you even start your night of revelry!

Tropical Fruit Parfait

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Orange Extract
4 fruit choices such as finely diced mango, pineapple, grapes, strawberries or whole blueberries

Combine the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, milk and orange extract in a mixing bowl and beat using an electric mixer.
Alternate layers of the cream cheese mixture and the fruit in a trifle dish or parfait glasses by either spooning the cream cheese mixture or piping with a pastry bag

shared at
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Roly Poly Santa Claus Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
red paste food coloring
mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
white frosting  

Mix butter on medium to high speed on your mixer for about 30 seconds or until softened. Add sugar, beat until fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add flour and beat until well combined. Remove 1 cup of dough and set aside.
Stir red paste food coloring into remaining dough until desired color is attained.
Shape each Santa by making one 3/4-inch ball and four 1/4-inch balls from the white dough.
From the red dough, shape one 1-inch ball and five 1/2-inch balls.
On an ungreased cookie sheet flatten the 1-inch red ball for body to 1/2-inch thickness. Attach white 3/4-inch ball for head; flatten to 1/2 inch. Attach four 1/2-inch red balls for arms and legs. Shape remaining 1/2-inch balls at the ends of arms and legs for hands and feet. Use chocolate pieces for eyes and buttons.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 12-15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets. Remove and cool on wire racks.
With decorating bag fitted with a plain tip, use your white frosting to pipe a mustache, a band of icing on hat, cuffs at hands and feet, down the front, and at the bottom of jacket. Use a star tip to pipe beard and pom-pom on hate.
Makes 12.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Family Christmas Day 21

As Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem I can imagine the journey was quite long. Mary was expecting child and was like most pregnant ladies a bit more tired than usual. The extra luggage that Mary carried in the form of a baby inside of her belly was most something she loved and looked forward to but most likely slowed her down. I am sure that the road that they traveled at times seemed to be never ending. Whether their was a donkey present or not is something that has been debated. but I sort of hope that there was a donkey and it helped the pair on their journey.
Tonight, the shortest night of the year, take a load off and sit down and rest for a bit. For while the light of the world may be dark the light inside of hearts is very much a glow. Take a time to sit down and have dinner with the family by candlelight.
With the winter solstice being the shortest day of the year you may want to enjoy dinner by candlelight. It does not have to be a fancy dinner to eat by candlelight. Many years ago families ate by candlelight daily. Tonight take some time relax, have some good conversation and enjoy dinner by the flicker of candlelight

Think When You Drink

Having a good time is expected this time of year. Over indulging in alcohol is very dangerous. When that individual who has drank too much gets behind the wheel then they take their own as well as anyone on the road with them in danger. Car accidents, highway injuries, vehicular deaths are al potential risks. Every single injury and death caused by a drunk driver I totally preventable.
Think When You Drink sign
While crashes caused by alcohol related drivers have been dropping there are still far to many. The decision of a driver to get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol is a serious national problem that effects many victims annually. Most drivers who have had something to drink may have low blood alcohol content and few have been involved n fatal crashes. Many may be more impaired than they think they are.
Intoxicated handwriting graphic
Drunk driving is a social problem that sadly some get used to or overlook. There are many actions that are being looked at by officials to see what would work best. These actions include special courts, license revocation, mandatory jail, impounding, interlock devices to start car engine, and training staff better.


In my back yard*

 Recently I shared with you about the great Christmas bird hunt. The goal is to find out how birds are migrating and keep tract of the health of bird as well. I thought I would share about a bird that you can find in my backyard many days
The bluejay is a fairly common song bird. Larger in size than other song birds but smaller in statue than a crow. Wears a headdress like no other, a perky crest with blue, white and black. The bluejay is a rather noisy bird with a load call. However, they fly silently when traveling and migrating.
Many consider the blue jay intelligent birds with a complex social system where the family structure is tight. Blue Jays while eating can store food in their throat pouch to save for later or take somewhere else. Blue jays have been credited for helping to spread oak trees because of their love for acorns. When eating the bluejay will hold a seed or nut in feet and peck it open
Blue jay make their homes at the forest edge near oak trees They can also commonly be found in woodlots, towns, and in city parks.
 Blue Jays are birds of forest edges. A favorite food is acorns, and they are often found near oaks, in forests, woodlots, towns, cities, parks.

National Kiwi Day -- Kiwi Dessert Tart

The kiwifruit which has also been known as the Chinese gooseberry is an edible berry that grows on  a woody vine. The most common kiwifruit is oval and about the size of a large hen's egg. The outside of the fruit is fibrous dull brown and the flesh is  bright or golden green. As all berries there are tiny black, edible seeds. The fruit is soft in nature and sweet with a flavor of its own. Several countries including Italy, New Zealand, Chile, Greece, and France raise kiwifruits

1 (9-inch) round of refrigerated pie dough (from a 15-oz package), thawed and unrolled or unfolded
6 oz cream cheese, softened slightly
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 firm-ripe kiwifruit, peeled and thinly sliced
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.
Fit dough into tart pan, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Lightly prick bottom and side of shell with a fork.
Line shell with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until edge is pale golden, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden all over, about 5 minutes more. Cool shell in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat together cream cheese, sugar, milk, zest, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until creamy and smooth, 2 to 3 minutes.
Spread cream cheese filling in cooled shell and top with kiwifruit slices.
recipe source here

National Flashlight day

National flashlight day is celebrated the 21st of December every year. Never heard of it?? Well neither had we til recently. No one is quite sure where the day came from or why we celebrate it December 21st. What we do know is that we rely on ours and our lil princess bought her daddy one for Christmas this year.

National flashlight day falls on winter solstice. If you did not know all ready winter solstice is always the longest night and shortest day of the year. Since there will be more darkness than usual there is more of  need of a flashlight.

I hope you are safe and keep your flashlight shining.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Squash into a cake

Winter Squash Chocolate Cake Recipe with Ginger Chocolate Glaze

Makes one cake

1/4 cup organic coconut oil, melted (plus more for greasing pan)
3/4 cup organic turbinado sugar
2 cups organic winter squash, cooked and puréed until smooth
1 teaspoon organic vanilla
2 organic eggs
1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/4 cup organic white flour
1/4 cup organic barley flour
1/3 cup organic cocoa powder
1 teaspoon organic cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon organic cloves
1/2 teaspoon organic nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ginger Chocolate Glaze
1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, melted
2 oz organic dark chocolate, melted
2 tablespoons organic milk (dairy or non-dairy both work)
3 teaspoons (or more to taste) fresh organic ginger, finely grated
1 cup organic powdered sugar (plus more for dusting)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and grease a bundt pan with coconut oil. Have your squash puree ready at room temperature and melt the coconut oil. Once melted, mix the oil with sugar, squash puree and vanilla. Whisk eggs into the mixture. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and then add the squash mixture. Once evenly mixed, pour the cake batter into your greased bundt pan. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or once a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for a few hours.
To make the glaze, melt the coconut oil and dark chocolate in a double boiler. Add the ginger and take the mixture off the heat. Once the mixture has cooled down to room temperature add the milk and then powdered sugar, whisking it in evenly to make a thick glaze. Pour over the cooled cake before serving and dust with powdered sugar for a snow-covered effect.
recipe source here

Family Christmas Day 20

With all the hustle and bustle to create the perfect Christmas currently going on there is one thing we all need to remember. The reason for the season is and always has been the baby Jesus our Christ. Have you placed your nativity in your house? I love nativity scenes and often have many in our home. Some new and some vintage. I simply love nativity scenes Tonight enjoy a few that I share here, set out your own nativity scene or visit a live nativity



Holiday Sangria

National Sangria day falls on the 20th of December every year. Adding cinnamon and spices into a delicious drink mix helps add that festive touch. The wine, fizz from ginger ale and cranberries to boot makes this a wonderful holiday treat.
Keep in mind to drink responsible and don't drink and drive

3 cups red wine
2 cups port
1 cup orange juice
1 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
Ginger ale
1 tart green apple and 1 orange (chopped)
Fresh rosemary

Spiced Cranberry Simple Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
4 cloves
1 rosemary twig

Start by making the spiced cranberry simple syrup. The fresh cranberries need to soak in the simple syrup 24 hours before using them, so make the syrup the day prior. Add the sugar and water to a small sauce pan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add in all the remaining ingredients, cover and let cool. Once the syrup and pan have cooled, place in the refrigerator and chill overnight or up to 24 hours.

Discard the cinnamon stick, clove, cardamom and rosemary. Strain the syrup into a pourable container. Place the cranberries on a large plate or towel, sprinkle white sugar on them and set them aside to dry.

In a large pitcher, stir together the wine, port, orange juice and simple syrup. To each glass add cranberries, a few chopped apples, oranges and a cube or two of ice. Fill the glasses about 2/3rds full with the wine mixture and top off with ginger ale. Add one little sprig of rosemary to each glass. Enjoy!

recipe source here

capture a Christmas memory

If you have little ones in your family like we do then you may have been out getting pictures with santa as well. Every year there are businesses, schools, organizations all helping to make Christmas bright. Do you know the guy in the white beard? Before long the wonderment to get your picture with santa will no longer preset.While you can get out the camera take you special little one and hunt down santa and capture a memory.

Family Christmas Day 20

The bible says that the angels sang to the shepherd and after seeing the baby Jesus the shepherd sang in jubilee as well. Why not take your family and group and do some Christmas caroling. After all it is the season to be happy and share our joy. No better way to do that than through a song.
Here are a few tips to help you plan your family caroling night.
Choose where you will carol. Select a few families to go visit or perhaps you have a nursing home or elder home in your area. The one that I work out always welcomes visits. Our resident love them and its fun for all. Perhaps that is a choice that would work for you. It is best to ask the facility if it would be ok to come and carol first. 
Make sure that you provide a list of carols that you will be singing so everyone in group knows the words as well as  what songs you are singing. You can find some great songs at  caroling song book.
Be sure to dress for the weather If it is col outside then make sure everyone brings their hats, gloves, and scarves.  
Caroling can be hard work so be sure to provide refreshments to all those caroling. Good bowl of warm soup or chili and big mugs of warm drinks are always welcome after caroling. After warming up you can finish the night off with a sweet or two here are couple of delicious recipes you may want to share with your caroling friends 
I found this recipe for divinity some time back and oh my does it produce. I still miss my grand-mothers divinity candy. She would make up the white, pink, and green. She was a great candy maker and she would share, eat and store these goodies for some time.
You may be surprised to find out what this fudge is made with. The yummy peanut butter is fairly clear but would you be surprised if I told you there was cheese in this sweet?? There most definitely is and it tastes awesome. Check it out for your self and enjoy
Peanut Butter Cheese Fudg
1/4 loaf process cheese, cubed
1 c margarine
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 c chopped nuts
2 boxes powdered sugar
non stick cooking spray
Spray a 9 inch square baking pan with the non stick cooking spray. Place cheese, margarine, peanut butter in a pan. Over medium low heat stir mixture til smooth. and melted. Remove from heat and set aside. Empty powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pour in peanut butter mix and blend with a fork. As candy becomes stiff you may want to use hands to continue mixing. Use paper towel to blot away any peanut oil. Spread in prepared pan and chill for at least 30 minutes Cut in squares sprinkle with nuts.