31 July 2015

Tour The World Blog Hop-Food!

When you think of other states and countries around the world, I think of things that represent that place, that make it unique.  A group of bloggers from around the world are featuring their food, or something that represents the place where we are from.  I represent Missouri, and so I really had to think about what food really represents the place we live.

I thought of Gooey Butter Cake, but it is more of a St. Louis thing.  I think we do a fine job of BBQ and so I decided to take that path.  Everywhere I eat at a BBQ place, I like to try their pork steak, to see if they can put a delicious spin on this cut of meat.  

So together my husband and I decided to make Pork Steaks with Root Beer BBQ Sauce.  Our joint adventure started with Bob smoking the pork steaks on our Green Egg.  He loves any excuse to use the Green Egg.  It's a thing with him.

A lot of people struggle with the difference between a pork chop and a pork steak.  Pork steaks are cut from the pork butt, while a chop is from the rib/loin area.  Pork steaks are really a Missouri thing. It's weird, but we've even killed over pork steaks here.

I made the BBQ sauce and Bob applied it at the last few minutes, basting over and over.  They turned out fantastic!

Root Beer BBQ sauce

3/4 c jalapeno ketchup (regular ketchup is fine)
2/3 c root beer (not diet, the sugar in the drink is necessary)
1/2 c honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T apple cider vinegar
2 T dijon mustard
1 T worchestershire sauce
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t paprika
1/4 t pepper

Mix all ingredients and bring to boil. Cook at a low boil for 30-60 minutes, until it reduces to half.  Glaze hot meat often, allowing the sugars to carmelize.  

Go and visit the others to see what foods they chose for this wonderful blog hop.  It is like traveling around the world without leaving your comfy seat.  The Playground Parkbench is our wonderful hostess for this event.

29 July 2015

My Talents

I believe it is important for us to share our talents with one another.  I always feel so blessed when someone shares their talents with me.  I have been so blessed in this department.  My friends have always been ready to share with me:  Charlotte and her incredible parties, Linda and her relationship building techniques, Ashley and her devotion to her students, Kendra and her music, Mary Francis and her positive affirmations, all these and more have blessed my life in more ways than I can count.

I often wonder what my friends see as my talents.  I feel more like a jack-of-all-trades than really talented in any one area.  My daughter threw me for a loop this past weekend when she talked about writing a book and wants me to illustrate it.... what???  I doodle all the time, but how does she know that??

Here's what I would consider to be my top three talents, something I might do pretty well without a lot of effort...

1.  Cook.

I love to cook and can recreate a recipe fairly easily.  I love to "make it my own," and that doesn't always work but I am always up to the challenge!

A little blackberry crumble
2.  Photography

I know there are millions better than me at the technical aspects of photography, in fact, I often ask my son-in-law to make the adjustments on my camera so I can get the look I want.  I think my real talent is in composition of the photo.  I love taking pictures, and my favorite subjects are the sunsets in New Town, where I live.  I feel so connected when I am trying to capture the scene.  So peaceful and fulfilling.

3.  Reading

It took me a while to learn to read but when I got it, it stuck.  I love to read and I love to engage others in reading.  As a teacher I wanted to be sure everyone loved reading and I would try my best to find books that would engage everyone.  We were the first class to read the Harry Potter books (one of my student's parents owned the local bookstore and she picked up the books before they hit it big) and we read them aloud in class.  What a memory!  We were riveted!

What about you?  What talents do you think you possess?  How do you think others perceive you?  A big shout out to  Monica at I Heart Grade 3 for inviting us to participate!

28 July 2015

Tipsy Tuesday-White Peach Sangria

One of our must-dos while in Columbia (MO) is to visit Glenn's.  We've been going to Glenn's a long time, as far back as Bob's graduate school days in the 80s.  They moved to Boonville (MO) for awhile, but now they are back in Columbia!

We love their cocktails and their summer line up is fantastic.  My daughter and I sampled several and you will be seeing them here in the next few weeks.  Today you will see the delicious White Peach Sangria.  I love how this drink is presented.  

The drink is made with Moscato, peach schnapps, fresh fruit, and triple sec.  The fresh fruit, blueberries, strawberries, peaches and citrus is delicious, too, so you have to eat it as well.  The drink is served over ice, which keeps it cold.  It is refreshing and delicious.

Headed over to Pam's at Grey is the New Black for more fun cocktails at the Tipsy Tuesday party.  Come join us!

27 July 2015

Around the Garden Monday!

We have harvested a lot of tomatoes this week from the garden.  We have more cherry tomatoes than we can eat, so we share them with friends and neighbors.  We also picked a big crop of large tomatoes, so we set out making Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce.  It is an easy process, and we freeze it instead of canning it, which makes it super easy!

 Step One, dice veggies

Cook veggies in crockpot until soft, about 6 hours on low

Puree in blender and return to crock pot to thicken.

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

6-8 c diced tomatoes (no need to skin them ahead of time)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
2 T Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Pour into blender and pulse a few times if you like chunky sauce, or puree completely if you like it smooth.  Return to crock pot and cook on high for 60 minutes, or until of desired consistency. Cool.  Scoop 2 cups into heavy duty freezer ziplocks.  Lay bags on cookie sheet and freeze flat.  Store in freezer.  Recommended to use within six months.

To use: Thaw in refrigerator.  Use as you would jarred sauces.

For other great tomato recipes, visit My Pinterventures here!

Hanging out with my garden friends at New House New Home's What's Blooming Party!  Head over to see the great gardening pictures this week!

Updating to include more tomato goodness!

Linky Script:

24 July 2015

Five Favorites Friday #2

I had a blast last week showing you five things that I found and loved with you!  This week I am happy to share with you some items that I love that I just know you will want to have, too!

Number 1.   This cookbook.  I am in love with cookbooks and this one just grabbed me the minute I walked into the store.  I found it at World Market, but I decided to wait to see if I could find it elsewhere, for a bit less.  I always look for a bargain!  I decided for the Kindle version, which is half the price of the paper version.  Here's a bit of what Amazon had online:

Recipes include: Dungeness Crab Cakes with Tarragon Aioli; Dutch Baby (puffed pancake with lemon and powdered sugar); Grilled Prosciutto-Wrapped Radicchio; and Warm Pear Upside Down Cake. This collection of recipes invites all cooks to get reacquainted with the original gourmet cooking tool.

Number 2:  This adorable cookbook stand!  Found at World Market (again), it is the perfect stand for both my cookbooks and my iPad.  I needed something to prop up my iPad and this is going to work great!  As a bonus, it looks great without a cookbook, too and only costs $12.99!  It also coordinates with the placemats I purchased at the beginning of summer from Kohl's!

3.  This particular favorite is something I have learned to do for myself weekly.  I should probably do it daily!  I am loving my essential oils and I diffuse lavendar and a blend made by Young Living every night.  My husband loves it, too!  This concoction is for the bath.  Soak for 20 minutes.  Delightful.

4.  Book clubs.  I love to read.  Sharing the book with friends is priceless.  Find yourself a book club, even if you are too busy to read the book.  Time with friends is precious!

5.  Coolway Beachy Salt Spray.  This stuff takes my unruly, curly hair and makes waves and curls that are soft and lasting.  No frizzing!  Love this stuff.  Discovered it in my Ipsy box.  Best $10 a month I spend!

Starting next week this post will be appearing on Saturdays.  I have another adventure planned with some bloggers that will come to you on Fridays.  Until then, hope you have discovered something new today!

23 July 2015

Nacho Regular Hot Dog #WeekdaySupper

It's National Hot Dog Day and there's no better way to celebrate than to, well, eat a hot dog!  I love hot dogs for their ease of preparation and their versatility.  A hot dog is a blank canvas, ready to be painted!  Today, the hot dog is being painted with flavors from the south!

This week at #WeekdaySupper you can find all of the following meals, just waiting for you!

Monday - Gluten-Free Fresh Tomato and Basil Pasta by MealDiva
Tuesday - Mexican Street Corn Tart by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Wednesday - One Skillet Steak Fajitas by Daily Dish Recipes
Thursday - “Nacho” Regular Hot Dog by Our Good Life
Friday - One Pot Burrito Bowls by Recipes Food and Cooking

The inspiration for this hot dog comes from my love of all Mexican foods.  I love guacamole, salsa, tortillas, black beans, yum.  The flavors that you can combine to make a hot dog that packs some serious punch are only a grocery store away.

For this hot dog, which features the nacho cheese dip from the chip aisle, the flavors are limited to the basics so that those flavors really shine on this hot dog.  

So here's the goods:

4 hot dogs, all beef or get great turkey and jalapeno dogs from your favorite butcher to amp up the flavors!
4 hot dog buns, split
1 c nacho cheese dip
1 c fresh salsa
1 avocado, sliced into fourths
1/2 lime, but into fourths
1 cherry tomato, cut into fourths

For this dish, I like to steam fry my dogs by placing them in a skillet with 1/2 c water.  Place hot dogs in the water, turn to high, and let them cook while the water evaporates, then let them brown in the skillet.  When golden brown, remove from heat.

Split buns, butter, and toast under the broiler until toasted.  About 3-5 minutes in a hot oven, longer if the oven isn't preheated.

Place a hot dog into each bun.  Spoon 1/4 c cheese onto each hot dog.  Lay a slice of avocado on each dog, along with a 1/4 c salsa.  Add lime and tomato as garnish.  Before eating, squirt the lime over the avocado.  

There are many variations, like adding cilantro, jalapenos, sour cream and even crushed nacho chips.  This variation allows the simple flavors of the cheese, avocado and salsa really shine through!

Serve with beans and rice on the side, with lime sherbet for dessert!  Enjoy National Hot Dog Day with Nacho Your Regular Hot Dog!

22 July 2015

Garden Club Outing at The Libertine

The New Town Garden Club tour committee celebrated the completion of a successful tour at The Libertine restaurant in Clayton (MO) last night.  The Libertine calls itself A Neighborhood Eatery and perhaps rightfully so, as we entered the restaurant there was a couple sitting outside with a small, well-behaved dog.  I love it when I see this!

We were seated quickly and that was the last quick thing that happened while in the restaurant.  The service, while cheerful and friendly, was slow.  Our drink order was 30 minutes coming out after ordering, and then another 30 minutes before our orders were taken.  Fifteen minutes later our apps came out and then another wait of 15 minutes before our main orders were taken. We were at the restaurant two hours on a weekday night.  For a neighborhood eatery, that's too long.

Our drinks were delicious. Innovative and clever, and seasonal.  More about them on another post.

We ordered the bone marrow for our first course.  Large, well roasted bones with lots of marrow, with roasted meat sprinkled across the top.  Only two bagettes for the marrow, though, could have used at least two more.  Easily the best marrow I have had, and I have had it often.

Our guests had the salad, and when the menu says the salad is for two, it could easily be for four.  Huge!  The dressings were homemade and enjoyed by our friends.

We ordered two sides, the BBB mashed potatoes (butter, bacon and bleu cheese) and the mac and cheese.  The two sides came out before the main meal and were consumed and removed before the main meal came out.  We were glad they did though, because we were pretty darned hungry by this point.

Our waitress stopped by to say she'd talked to the kitchen and our food should be out shortly.  A few more minutes, and our food came, the trout for one of us, three hamburgers with frites, and the risotto for me.

The burgers and frites were delicious and lived up to the hype.  A bacon bun, great local beef, handcut fries were all hot and well cooked.  We noted that the waitress did not ask about the temperature of the beef, but the burgers were excellently cooked.  Two patties topped with The Libertine's own homemade cheese whiz.  Sigh.

The trout came out en papillote (in paper) and was presented and opened tableside.  The side of panzanella looked crazy good with sliced heirloom tomatoes and large croutons of homemade bread.

My dish was the risotto, with local mushrooms and tomme cheese (think French Alps) and was creamy, hot and delicious.

As we drove home, my husband and I talked about whether or not we would return.  We agreed we would, bringing our daughter and son-in-law with us.  We agreed that the shared plates would be our way to go (we saw the meat and cheese board and the polenta with ragu).  The food was delicious and we want to give the service another try, after all.  The food saved the day!

21 July 2015

Chocolate Cake Waffle Cookies with Banana Ice Cream #CreativeCookieExchange

July is a hot month for those of us here in the US, and ice cream is the favorite treat of summer.  This month, #CreativeCookieExchange challenged us to find a cookie that would go well with ice cream, nense the inspiration for the cake style cookie.

Cake and Ice Cream go hand-in-hand and so does this take on a waffle cookie.  These cookies are delicious plain with the ice cream, or you can jazz them up with the glaze recipe I provide. However you chose to serve them, they are delicious!

Chocolate Cake Waffle Cookies

makes approx 36 cookies

1 cake mix (buy a good brand for the best flavor)
2 eggs
1/2 c water
2 T oil
1 t vanilla
1 t cinnamon

Preheat waffle pan.  I used an electric one.  Beat all ingredients together.  Spray waffle pan with cooking spray.  Drop 1 T of batter onto the waffle pan.  My pan is round, with four divisions.  I placed 1 T of batter in the center of each division.  Close waffle pan and cook for 2 minutes, or until desired doneness.  Continue until all batter is used.  Let cool.

Cocoa Glaze

1/2 stick of butter, melted
1/2 c cocoa
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla or almond extract

Beat together until sugar is dissolved.  Dip cookies into the glaze and let harden.

Blend Tec Banana Ice Cream

Serves 2

1 frozen banana
1/2 c crushed ice
1/2 c French vanilla coffee creamer

Add to Blend Tec in this order: creamer, ice and peeled and quartered banana.  Process on ice cream mode.  Serve immediately or store in freezer until ready to use.

Enjoy these other fine cookie and ice cream combinations!  I can't wait! You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:
After visiting, head over to Momma Told Me and look at the fun links there!

20 July 2015

Top Ten Readiness Skills for Your Kindergartener

In my former life, I was an elementary teacher and an elementary principal.  I taught mostly grades 3 and up, but I often took on the younger grades during summer school.  It always gave me a strong appreciation for my older students!

As a principal I was able to enjoy all the grades, but I particularly loved being a principal to kindergarten students.  The excitement!  The joy!  The range of experiences!

This list is a list of readiness skills that I think will help any kindergartener be successful in the classroom.  These skills are ones that are anticipated by most kindergarten teachers.  There are many other skills that are important, too, but these will particularly help your student master the skill of school!

Top Ten Readiness Skills for Your Kindergartener

1.  Counting.  Counting is the foundation of all math in kindergarten.  Showing your student the one to one connection in counting will help your child in math and in the social aspect of kindergarten (counting the number of students at the table for treats, for example!)  How do you do this:  count everything you see!  Trees, flowers, dishes, you will know what I mean when you start to count!

2.  Having a sense of "book."  Books have certain attributes.  For example, the spine of the book is the hard piece that runs along the back.  Holding the book so that the print and pictures are right side up is important, as well as know that the book pages turn from right to left.  Knowing how to treat books will also be a skill your kindergarten teacher will appreciate!

3.  Writing stories.  Not so much the writing of words, but being able to put down on paper a drawing that represents a story and being able to tell the story from the drawing.  The best way to practice this is to have an experience, such as making breakfast, and then have your child draw it and retell the story.  Talk about how all experiences can make a story, even the ones as simple as making breakfast.  These are called "small moments" and are so valuable in writing!

4.  Asking questions.  Can your child ask a question when they are frustrated or confused?  It is important for a student to be able to let the teacher know when things aren't right in their world.  With others in the classroom having their own issues, the child should be able to articulate his/her needs.

5.  Listening.  This is so hard!  The teacher will be giving instructions all day, for different parts of the day.  It is important that your child be able to listen carefully for what he/she is to do.  The teacher is fabulous at taking complicated tasks (like lining up) and breaking it down into small steps.  It will be up to your child to manage that small step.  Practice by reading!  Change your voice for different characters in the book, ask your child about what the characters were supposed to be doing!
6.  Making transisitions.  Many times during the day the teacher will ask students to stop what they are doing, clean up, and get ready for the next activity.  These transisition times are so frustrating for kids, especially if they were having fun! Practice by making transitions at home, saying, we are done with dinner, it is time for practice.  Making those announcements will help your child  hear the cadence of a transition and to be prepared for the next activity.

7.  Being self sufficient.  Can your child put on his own shoes, coat?  Grab his own backpack and lunch box?  These skills will help your child feel independent and will often benefit him by being ready more quickly than other students.  Provide a mental model for your child when getting ready to leave school for home.  Say aloud when  you are getting ready to leave the house, do I have my keys? my lunch?  so that your child will do the same at school.

8.  Recognize his own name.  Many spaces at school are labeled with the child's name.  Being able to recognize their own name helps a student find his place more quickly.  It is important to be able to recognize their car (for afterschool pick up) and care givers (if applicable). An added bonus is having the child being able to write their first name, using a capital letter and lower case letters.  This aides in the child feeling independent as well!

9.  Sitting quietly on the carpet.  Many kindergarten teachers teach by having their students sit on the carpet in front of them.  Students are expected to keep their hands, feet and other items to themselves.  Learning how to respect the personal space of others will keep students out of trouble!

10.  Share.  Such a simple concept, so difficult to do.  The nuances of sharing are even difficult for some adults.  Sharing is expected in a school environment because there is a limit to the amount of toys, computers, books, etc in a classroom.  Sharing should be equitable, however, so if your child has just received the toy and another child wants it, your child should be able to articulate that they just got the toy and want some time with it.  

Kindergarten is a wonderful time to be in school.  Each of the items on this list is shared so that you and your child both have a wonderful year in kindergarten!

For other "Top Ten" school related lists, visit these other great blogs!

Top 10 School Bus Crafts from Craftulate
Top 10 After School Snacks from Nemcsok Farms
Top 10 DIY School Supplies Projects from Crafty Kids at Home
Top 10 Homeschool Room Essentials from School Time Snippets
Top 10 Nature Study Supplies from Rhythms of Play
Top 10 Back to School Math Activities for Kids - Little Bins for Little Hands
Top 10 Back to School Science Activities at Preschool Powol Packets
Top 10 Back To School Printables from The Pleasantest Thing

After checking out these other top ten lists, head over to Momma Told Me linky party!

19 July 2015

Farm Stand Food: Radish Top Pesto #SundaySupper

I was so excited when I saw this theme for this week.  I love going to food stands in the summer. This event is being hosted by Colleen of Foodie Tots with help from DB aka Foodie Stuntman at Crazy Foodie Stunts  This is the time to try new and different vegetables, one because they are plentiful and two, because they are so inexpensive and three, the farmers can tell you all kinds of things to do with them!  That is what happened in my case, when I picked up a beautiful bouquet of radishes.  The farmer said, what do you do with them?  I replied, nothing, I don't like radishes but this bunch is so beautiful.  He said, have you ever used the tops?  To that I replied, no, why?  He closed his eyes and said, Honey, you are missing the best part!

He went on to describe the peppery flavor of radish tops and how he loved to saute them and eat them alone, but his wife made a pesto with them that he really liked, too.  Pesto??

I bought the radishes and roasted them and used the green tops for pesto.  We've used this pesto to top chicken, as a dip and in pasta.  Yum.

Radish Leaf Pesto

by Terri Steffes
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (approximately 2 cups)
  • 4-6 c fresh radish greens tops
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 oz nuts, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 T lemon zest
  • 2-4 T olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
Place cheese, nuts, garlic, lemon zest and seasonings in a food processor. Pulse several times until ingredients are fine and well blended. Add radish tops and pulse until coarse chopped. Drizzle oil into processor and process until finely chopped and blended. Store refrigerated. With a coat of oil on top, this will last in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
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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.

17 July 2015

Five Favorites Friday

During the week I often think of things I would like to share with you readers and then I forget to do so.  I am hoping having this little Friday post will be a landing page for those cool things I have discovered during the week!

Number 1.  Astronauts Wives Club on Hulu.  I love this show, from the fashion, food and historical relevance and the personal relationships between families.  This show has it all.  I am thrilled it is on Hulu, as I gave up my DVR.  I read this book with my book club and now I get to watch it unfold each week!  Woo hoo!

Number 2.  Pug Paper Shop at Etsy.com.  I love so many things here, but these darling bicycle paper clips won my heart.  Best of all, I know the owner and love her.  You will, too, just go over and take a look at her shop!  https://www.etsy.com/shop/PugPaperCo

Number 3.  Crepe Erase lotion.  I hate to admit it, but I have these little crepey looking lines on my knees and arms.  This thick, luxurious lotion helps minimize them.  You can find it here:  Crepe Erase  The lines aren't going away, but they are a lot less noticable!

Number 4.  Natural Geographic is on Instagram!  They have amazing photos of the world we live in, from nature, people, action shots, all which are breathtakingly gorgeous.  Go and add them to your feed.  You will be glad you did!

Number 5.  This breakfast item:  ham cups with eggs.  So simple, spray muffin tins with cooking spray, line muffin tins with deli sliced ham, crack an egg into the ham, add salt, pepper, and paprika, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Delish.

Have a lovely weekend!  Mine is full of weddings, food and a Cardinals baseball game.  See you next week!

16 July 2015

Roasted Banana and Black Walnut Bundt Cake #BundtBakers

Our theme this month for Bundt Bakers was Any combination of fruit and nuts, but at least one of each! Our host, SimplyVeggies, created this fun, challenging theme for us!

My inspiration for this theme came from my daughter, who loves Banana Boats.  We made them on vacation and I loved the banana taste and texture after roasting in the oven.  I also always like to look for ways to cut down on oil and fat in my cakes, so I worked hard to incorporate healthy fats into the batter and I think I have a winner!

Roasted Banana and Black Walnut Bundt Cake

by Terri Steffes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 70 minutes

  • 2/3 c sugar
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c applesauce
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 3 t vanilla
  • 3 c flour
  • 3 t baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 3 bananas, roasted
  • 1/4 c chopped black walnuts
Heat oven to 425. Roast bananas (unpeeled) for 20 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven temp to 350.
Cream butter and sugars.
Add applesauce.
Add in eggs, one at a time, and beat thoroughly after each egg.
Add in oil and vanilla.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Add flour mixture a cup at a time to sugar mixture, beat until incorporated before adding more.
Add banana and beat thoroughly.
Fold in walnuts.
Pour into a prepared bundt pan. (I like coconut oil for this cake) Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick. Check for cake batter, if it is still wet, continue to bake in 3 minute increments.
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan and finishing cooling.
Serve with a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
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