25 August 2016

We Have a Name! Final Edition

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For those of you who kindly participated in helping us name our house, I am sure you are glad this is over.  I have a real issue of committing to something and once I do, I lament all the choices I didn't get... but this time, following the wise advice of some dear friends, we chose a name that meant something to us which I will happily explain to you.



We chose the name Lakeside Resort.  Why?  Of all the names suggested, and some oh, so cute ones like La Vie, The Principals Office, The Doctors Inn, and others, we chose this name for some of the connections we have to it.  Let's look at Resort, first.  My son-in-law cleverly named the house The Resort the very first time he was here.  We have a special guest room for them, overlooking the lake, with its own bathroom and walk in master closet.  The room is spacious and we added a reading chair, a desk and a TV so when they come they will be in all kinds of comfort.  

Let's look at Lakeside, now.  If you know us, you know our house is across from a lake.  No one will build on that side of the lake, so we will always have a wonderful view from the porch.  Before we moved here to St. Charles, we lived on Lakewood in Jefferson City.  We chose Lakeside to honor our time in Jefferson City.  

So that's how the name Lakeside Resort came to be.  We are so happy with it, and while I would love to live in Sunset Cottage or La Vida Dulce, the best name for this house is Lakeside Resort!

Many blessings to all who helped with a name, or gave advice, or who prayed for me to make up my mind (Bob).  We love you all!


23 August 2016

Drunken Fruit

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This weekend we had a blast at two different pool parties that were held in our neighborhood.  We love the area we live in and I know we've talked about it here and here.  These pool parties are so much fun.  I'm not a big swimmer, but the atmosphere and company can't be beat.

Both times we were to bring a snack and we decided on this adult concoction called Drunken Fruit.
We've seen it called Boozy Balls and Drunk Watermelon and a number of other things as well.  The recipe is simple and is a hit where ever we take it!


Drunken Fruit

by Our Good Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Ingredients 
  • 1 medium watermelon
  • 1 large canteloupe
  • 1 c strawberry rum
  • 1 c pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c triple sec
Instructions
Cut the fruit in either balls or cubes. We think cubes are faster. Place into a large bowl.
Mix together triple sec, rum and juice.
Pour over fruit and stir to coat.
Refrigerate at least three hours, stirring to distribute liquid.
Strain and reserve liquid (if you'd like to make some amazing jello shots later!)
Serve with toothpicks handy!
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We always put a label or let people know when we get there that this dish has alcohol in it if there are going to be some kids around.

To make jello shots, open a package of watermelon jello, and place into a bowl.  Add one Knox gelatin package.  Heat up one c of juice.  Pour into jello, stir until dissolved.  Add one c of unheated juice and stir well.  Pour into disposable shot cups.  Refrigerate until firm.


21 August 2016

How to Make a Cake Mix Taste Homemade

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I bake a lot of cakes.  A lot.  Like once a month and sometimes more!  For a home cook, that's a lot of cake and especially when there are just the two of us at home.  That means we share a lot of cake. Often people ask me if it is homemade and are surprised when I tell them it's not!  I get asked over and over what my secrets are for making cake mixes taste so good.  Here are some of my not-so-secret secrets!


I use different techniques depending on the flavor of the mix.  My two most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla, so I will share what I do for each of those.  If you have a flavor that you want me to discuss, just ask in the comments.


Vanilla Cake Mix

1.  Use a good vanilla cake mix like Pillsbury Moist Supreme, Duncan Hines French Vanilla or Betty Crocker Golden Vanilla.  I like these because they are readily available in my supermarket.  When I plan ahead, I will buy the King Arthur Vanilla cake mix from their website.  

2.  Add in an extra egg or two.  

3.  Replace water with whole milk.

4.  Add in 1 teaspoon real vanilla or 1/4 teaspoon almond extract.

5.  Use melted, unsalted butter for the oil, doubling the amount of oil called for on the box.

6.  Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest.

7.  Add in 1 snack pudding cup of vanilla pudding.

8.  Add in 2 tablespoons of mayo.

Chocolate Cake Mix

1.  Add in an extra egg or two egg yolks.

2.  Use hot water instead of room temperature or cold water.

3.  Add in 1 tablespoon of coffee.

4.  Use melted butter in replace of oil, using twice the amount called for on the box.

5.  Add 1 snack pack pudding cup in chocolate.

6.  Add 2 tablespoons of mayo.

Other tips:  you can replace all the oil with applesauce in equal amounts.  The cake will tend to me a bit drier but does cut down on the fat content.  Replace milk with buttermilk and add 1/4 c more than the directions ask for.  

Be sure to check the temperature of your oven.  If you overbake or underbake, your cake will not be at its best.  There are oven thermometers you can purchase to help you with this.



I also like to use the best pans I can afford.  I have had my cake pans for years and I love them.  The heavier pans heat more evenly but are more expensive.  Try your local kitchen store or look for some online.

I hope these tips have helped you out and that you get a delicious cake to share with family and friends.  Do you have any tips for me to try?




19 August 2016

Continuous Candle Light

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This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

I am the owner of several (like around 20) battery operated candles.  I love them.  I love the ambiance that candlelight provides and I want the safety that comes with battery operated candles.  My neighbors tell me they love seeing the candles on my front porch.  That makes me so happy!


However, my husband isn't thrilled with the amount of money I spend on batteries each month keeping my fix alive.  He doesn't complain but I know that he sees it as a waste.  So imagine my glee when I found that Groupon has fantastic deals on ...  batteries!  At Groupon Goods you can find such great deals on batteries that it even makes my husband smile!  



We use mostly C, D, and AA batteries for our candles, but I noticed that they have hearing aid batteries, chargers, button batteries, AAA and some cell phone batteries.  It would be worth your time to see if they have batteries you need.  They even have a few battery organizers!


I am always happy about saving trips to the store, so these huge multipacks of batteries save me several trips to the market PLUS, they are delivered right to my door.  How convenient is that?



Do you use Groupon Goods?  What are your favorite products to purchase through Groupon Goods?

18 August 2016

Easy Garlic and Rosemary Naan #ImprovCookingChallenge

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This month for the Improv Cooking Challenge was to use Garlic and Rosemary.  Dreamy!  These two flavors go so well together.  I can tell you I have even had them in ICE CREAM!  It was unusual but very delicious!


We grow our rosemary and many people in our neighborhood ask about it.  For us it is easy to grow, but we aren't ones to try to keep it year after year.  We like to grow it new each year as we don't care for the woody stalk one gets from an older plant.  Here's this year's batch:


We keep it in a shaded but hot place.  The garlic and the basil like sharing a home together!  There are two types of basil in there but I can't remember what they are.  We purchase these plants each year at our favorite local nursery.

This naan is super simple.  I purchase pre-made naan at my local Aldi's.  I think their naan is fantastic!  Then I whip up this simple butter and slather it all over.  Then I either grill it or broil it in my oven.  The house smells amazing while it heats up and makes you drool!

Easy Garlic and Rosemary Naan

by Our Good Life
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (6 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Cornmeal, for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus a handful of small sprigs for topping
  • 3 plain premade naan
Instructions
Preheat oven to 425. In a small saucepan, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add garlic and salt; cook, stirring, until garlic is fragrant but not browned, about 1 minute. Remove from heat; set aside. Arrange the naan on a baking sheet. Brush with butter mixture, leaving most of the garlic behind. Sprinkle rounds with chopped rosemary; arrange a few small sprigs on top of each.
Broil naan until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Drizzle with oil, and season with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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14 August 2016

Homemade Blood Mary with Candied Bacon Swizzle #SundaySupper

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This week for #SundaySupper it is all things bacon!

If you cook bacon, they will come.

This Bloody Mary mix was created and shared at one of my husband's infamous Christmas parties and was deemed the best of the best.  We love it and it is so easy to make.  We are huge olive fans, hence the olive juice and we love Trader Joe's tomato vegetable juice blend.  There's our secrets!


For me, Bloody Mary's are about the garnish.  I have had fantastic Bloody Marys but have been disappointed due to the wimpy garnish.  Bloody Marys deserve a garnish meant for a Queen.  After all, they were named for Queen Mary 1 of England.  There is controversy about that statement, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Garnishes:  we love candied bacon in about anything and chose to use this as one of our favorites. You can find our recipe for Candied Bacon here.  We also love using Shrimp Cocktail on skewers. Yum.  Other favorites: slim jims, dill pickle spears, and celery filled with pimento cheese (lay it across the glass, not in it.

Homemade Bloody Mary Mix

by Our Good Life
Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 2 Tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of two lemons
  • Juice of two limes
  • 2 Tbsp olive brine
  • 1 tsp celery seed powder
  • 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 64 oz tomato vegetable juice (I love Trader Joes)
Instructions
Combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse several short bursts. Pour into glass, add 1 shot vodka (or more as taste prefers) and stir. Garnish.
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This Bloody Mary has kick, punch, jab, and will knock you flat if you aren't ready for it. Enjoy!


Bacon in Appetizers
Bacon for Breakfast
Bacon for Dessert
Bacon for Dinner
Bacon in Beverages
Bacon for Lunch
Bacon as a Side Dish
Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

12 August 2016

Swiss Diamond Cookware Review

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*We were given this product for free in exchange for our honest opinion. 

When I was first contacted by the Swiss Diamond Nonstick Cookware Company, I was instantly intrigued.  Diamonds are a girl's best friend, according to Marilyn Monroe, after all!  Bob and I had recently retired our former nonstick skillet and were in the market to replace one.  We thought we'd give this skillet a go and see how it worked.  But why diamonds?  Here's what the website says about it:



  1. Diamonds are durable - As the hardest material known to man, diamonds lend the coating additional strength and longevity.
  2. Diamonds are a better heat conductor than metal - Four times more conductive than copper, diamonds help distribute heat evenly across the surface of the pan. Diamonds also allow the pan to brown food like stainless steel, creating a “fond” that can be used for gravy - or easily washed away with warm soapy water.
  3.  Diamonds are naturally nonstick - One of the most valuable properties of diamonds is that they have intrinsic nonstick properties, unlike titanium reinforcement. This gives the coating outstanding nonstick release properties.
So we decided to give it a try. The skillet arrived in a timely manner in a well packed box.  The directions for care were well worded and easy to understand.  We followed the directions to give the skillet a quick soap and water wash before we used it.

Bob decided to break the skillet in with a dish that would require some nonstick power,  pan frying sausages. Pan frying is cooking with little fat.  Since sausages already have some fat in them, the skillet would have to do the work of keeping the food from sticking.


The skillet worked beautifully!  The sausages didn't stick at all, and clean up was a breeze.  We've since cooked eggs, hamburgers, sauteed vegetables and all foods released and cleaned up easily.

Some other selling points of this skillet:

You can bake with it in an over up to 500 degrees.  Bob often will create a char on a protein and want to finish it in the oven for a more tender cut.  The skillet held up easily in the 400 degree oven we used and still cleaned beautifully.

It is dishwasher safe, but the company does recommend handwashing and that is what we do.

You need very little oil so we can make our meals more healthy.

We are using bamboo utensils and have not created a scratch since using for 30 days.

The handle is designed so that the skillet is easy to handle even when filled with food.

We give this line of cookware high marks!  For people who use top notch cookware all the time, we are extremely satisfied and happy with the skillet.


10 August 2016

Blender Split Pea Soup #FoodnFlix

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This month for Food n Flix we watched the cartoon Hotel Translyvania 2 and while I was sure I wouldn't like it, I LOVED IT.  What a darling show!  It wasn't anything like I thought it would be and now I have to go back and watch the first one!  For those of you new to Food 'n' Flix, we watch a specific movie and then use it to inspire us in cooking.  A big thank you to our host, Coffee and Casseroles!

If you are not familiar with the movie, here is a synopsis: 

 Everything seems to be changing for the better at Hotel Transylvania... Dracula's rigid monster-only hotel policy has finally relaxed, opening up its doors to human guests. But behind closed coffins, Drac is worried that his adorable half-human, half-vampire grandson, Dennis, isn't showing signs of being a vampire. So while Mavis is busy visiting her human in-laws with Johnny - and in for a major cultural shock of her own - "Vampa" Drac enlists his friends Frank, Murray, Wayne and Griffin to put Dennis through a "monster-in-training" boot camp. But little do they know that Drac's grumpy and very old, old, old school dad Vlad is about to pay a family visit to the hotel. And when Vlad finds out that his great-grandson is not a pure blood - and humans are now welcome at Hotel Transylvania - things are going to get batty! Written by Sony Pictures

Cute, huh?  There are a number of food scenes, but this split pea soup was inspired from a certain, well, soup scene that happens in the movie.  Just go see it.





Blender Pea Soup

by Our Good Life
Ingredients
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 16 ounces frozen peas, lightly steamed in the microwave for one minute
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground black pepper
Instructions
Add garlic and onion to jar and secure lid. Press “Pulse” 4-5 times until ingredients are chopped up. In a large 3-quart saucepan, sautee garlic, and onion, until onions are translucent.
Zap peas in the microwave for about three minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and enough water to cover vegetables to jar and secure lid. Press “Pulse” 10-12 times until vegetables are chopped. Add peas, sauteed vegetables, milk, vegetable juice, salt and pepper into blender. Pulse until smooth.
Heat on the stove until soup begins to bubble.  Garnish with sour cream, chive oil or mint oil.
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08 August 2016

Portobello Burgers #SRC

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It's the August edition of the Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was assigned to a fun blogger named Amy who is the curator of Amy's Cooking Adventures.  Why Cooking Adventures?  It's easy to see from her blog, where the last post I read was how she tried three different fats to make her homemade English muffins.  That was an adventure, indeed!

Amy tells us that she got into cooking a little later in life, but with a family of cooks who surrounded her.  She likes to read, scrapbook and sew, and along with cooking, she is a Zumba instructor!  I knew she'd be a friend for life when I learned she thought dessert should also follow breakfast!


As I was looking for that recipe I wanted to make, I fell in love with several of her drink recipes.  You have to go and check out her Chai Eggnog Latte.  What?  Combining two of my favorite drinks into one?  This Cucumber Melon Refresher looks perfect for the hot days of summer.  Add a shot of vodka if you like!

This drink deserves its own paragraph.  It's the Irish Breakfast Shot.  Word.  This is much like the Irish Car Bomb where you drop the whiskey into the glass.  This time you drop the whiskey into orange juice.  And, the glass is rimmed with sausages.  Shut up.

So with all these awesome drink choices I must have chosen a cocktail, right?

No.  I chose a Portobello Burger!  No kidding!  I ran across this recipe and had all the ingredients plus it just sounded right for dinner.  My husband actually made it, with baked sweet potato fries on the side.  It was fantastic.  The mushrooms can stand up to a lot of seasoning.  Don't be shy!  The egg on top seals the deal and adds valuable protein to the dish.  It will be made again!

Portobello Burgers

by Our Good Life
Ingredients (2 sandwiches)
  • 2 large Portobello caps
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • 2 homemade buns, split
  • Butter
  • 2 slices swiss cheese
  • 2 eggs, fried
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 1 tbsp mayo + squirt of sriracha (or hot sauce)
Instructions
Scoop the stems and gills from the Portobello caps and brush both sides with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika.
Heat a skillet to medium. Add the mushrooms, top side down and cook for 5 minutes or until liquid begins to bead up inside the mushrooms. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes or until tender.
Generously butter the split sides of the buns. Place in the skillet, butter side down, and cook until the buns are toasted.
In the same skillet, fry the eggs.
Mix the sriracha and mayo and spread generously onto the buns. Top with a cooked mushroom, egg, cheese, and avocado. Repeat with the second burger and serve.
Serves 2
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07 August 2016

A Sentence a Day

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Back in May I started writing a sentence a day to capture memories made and to work on my writing. It has become part of my nightly routine.  Rituals are really important to me, they help center me and make me more productive and aware of myself.  Writing at night helps me free up my mind from the day's events and to help me remember things.  Like Einstein said, "Paper is to write things down we need to remember.  Our brains are to think."


July 1  Back home from vacation, with a pile of laundry that shows we had a wonderful time!

July 2  Sitting by your honey, with fireworks exploding in the sky, is romantic, charming and cuddly.

July 3  Celebrating the happiness of my niece to be, Rachel, as she prepares to be the wife of my nephew, Ben is such a wonderful feeling.

July 4  Our country is 240 years old today and with this glorious age comes a lot of wisdom but not enough to keep our citizens sfe and happy.

July 5 I had dinner with friends who understand me better than anyone, who can read my emotional state and work on it all through our time together without me even knowing it.

July 6  Today at work I had a moment of extreme joy when I realized how much I admired and respected the people I work with!

July 7  I learned how much respect I have for my neighbors who are young men in their 30s raising their families, proud of their neighborhood and wanting to work for the good of all.

July 8  I am one of those fortunate ones who employs a house cleaner and am so much better for it as she loves doing it and I hate it.

July 9  It's my baby niece's birthday, dear Susan, who is now 32 and expecting her third baby!

July 10  Went on a walk with Bob and shot some gorgeous sunsets with my mobile phone that were simply gorgeous!

July 11  Quiet night, watching TV with Bob, talking about the day's events, with our puppies at our feet, pretty good feeling!

July 12  I was fortunate to have dinner with my PEO sisters tonight in New Town which was absolutely lovely.

July 13  It is my mother's 79th birthday and it was my absolute pleasure to treat her and her girlfriends to lunch in Marceline!

July 14  Bob took our gold CR-V in to get a recall on the airbags fixed and it was fun to hear him say what a good car that is!

July 15  I was bitten by a mosquito yesterday and when I went to bed, the bite was the size of a pencil eraser but by the time I woke up today, it was the size of a baseball.

July 16 Outdoor concerts on a beautiful July evening, sharing the music with neighbors and good friends, are a good way to end a fantastic Saturday.

July 17  How can two days be so different in temperature, attitude, and deportment?

July 18 Dinner with people who like the same things you do is so relaxing and fun, Garden Club should do this more often!

July 19  Enjoying my work today and looking forward to seeing how teachers receive it in the fall.

July 20  I loved having dinner with three special women tonight, it was so nice to feel like a part of the crowd.

July 21  My husband is feeling worse today after his surgery on Wednesday but I hope that it continues to improve each day.

July 22  Today is a better day for my husband but the bandage is not cooperating as it should!

July 23  Headed out to a bar with my husband as a change of scenery was what the doctor ordered even though only diet coke and water were consumed.

July 24  The hottest day of the year found us inside with the dogs, enjoying movies and cool treats.

July 25  My annual Christmas in July celebration complete with a Christmas movie and a sample of what might be our Christmas dinner and dessert!

July 26  Making much needed changes in my diet and exercise plan and in my overall thoughts about myself in general.

July 27 That first day, when you know you are making changes that are good and all the motivation and excitement are there, I wish I could bottle it for future use!

July 28  Going to a movie with your best friend and both loving it!

July 29  Celebrating life by hanging out with good friends, eating good food, and drinking good drinks.

July 30  Life is so good and when your oldest nephew has a birthday and a bachelor party for his brother, that proves it!

July 31  Today is the day to remember that not everyone has the same opportunities as you and to be grateful for all that has come to pass.


July was a wonderful month!  I had a chance to unwind, prepare for the new school year and contemplate the world as I know it.  I am looking forward to a wonderful month in August.