My First Paleo Run

October 9, 2014 at 8:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Giovanni and his mama

First of all, to those who have been asking, Part 2 of my personal story, Destination Unknown, is almost finished.

I want to talk about why I’ve been busy. This past week I have been experimenting with the popular Paleo Diet.  I’m not one to follow fad diets, but I do like the idea of healthy eating.

I visited Third Place Books to see the author, Danielle Walker , speak about her new book, “Against All Grain, Meals Made Simple”.  I’d like to start by saying,  Danielle Walker has a wealth of information on grain free eating.  Obviously, I only have my two cents. This is the perfect book for people who want to learn how to start their grain-free diet.  As a sidebar, Danielle is drop dead gorgeous. She is also as sweet as pie. Of course the pie would be sweetened with maple syrup, honey, or coconut crystals, as she has a health issue which requires her to give up the grains. My curiosity was piqued when learning that this diet is also good for people with Hashimoto’s Disease. I have Hashimoto’s. I also have tummy problems, and end up in some degree of suffering several  evenings around dinner time.

I bought her book and followed her first week’s worth of grocery shopping – which was a lot of work. It wasn’t simple for me. She does make this as easy as possible by providing 8 weeks worth of menus and grocery lists, complete with copies and perforated edges to tear out of the book.  But make no mistake, changing how you cook and bake requires some work.

I shopped at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, plus I had to order a five-pound bag of blanched almond flour from Amazon ($40!).  Grass fed, pastured, organic, etc.  By now, if you know anything about food and diet, you know the drill for Paleo. If you don’t, you can check it out here. It is expensive, but minus the grains, it wasn’t as crazy expensive as I thought it would be–thank you Trader Joe’s.

photoABOVE: Produce for my week

I’ve only followed Walker’s menu plan for the last three days, so this is in no way a well-studied review.

After three days, I noticed something that concerns me. I don’t think I’m eating enough. I lose my appetite. The thought of another bite of pork, beef, coconut oil, egg, and even the damned pile of vegetables simply makes me feel sick. I didn’t eat dinner two nights in a row. I had a few bites and found the foods too heavy. This morning, after making paleo pancakes, I just had to stop with the recipes. Maybe it’s all of the fiber filling me up. Two days ago, I ate a good breakfast: egg, paleo wrap, slice bacon, light sprinkling of feta and a dab of pesto.  Then I took my parents out to lunch for my mother’s birthday, and I couldn’t eat. That evening,  I couldn’t eat the dinner that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. I did, however, manage to put down a glass of wine and half a coconut ice cream bar. Yesterday, I ate some of the leftover dinner in a wrap –not too much, just a quarter of a cup–for breakfast. I went to meet a girlfriend for lunch and managed to eat two slivers of chicken. At dinner time I ate two bites of the pork roast and a few bites of the spinach. I had a glass of wine and three paleo chocolate chip cookies (I like dessert). The end. Stuffed.

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Paleo Wraps- not bad

 

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ABOVE: Creating my own breakfast burrito (wrap, egg, bacon, pesto, feta)

 

I’ve found the recipes (from the few meals I’ve cooked) too time consuming. I am not going to spend the rest of my life in a kitchen dicing, slicing, julienning, etc. Plus, cooking chopping and browning meats and vegetables in the mornings to get the crock pot started and then returning home to do more of the same? No thank you. Been there, done that. I enjoy doing more than cooking and baking these days.

The upside? No tummy ache in three days. This is huge. Coincidence? Maybe.

I’m happy I bought the book. Danielle Walker gives all of the basics and I believe I have enough experience in the kitchen to understand how to convert my own recipes. Basically, I just need to drop the grains.

Breakfast can consist of hash browned yams, eggs, and bacon. Quiche is another option–especially for me as I don’t think I have a problem with dairy. Lunch can always be leftover dinner.  Dinners? A great grilled salmon with basil and lemon and a side of riced cauliflower and sautéed chard. Simple. Done. How about roasted chicken with a huge salad or asparagus and baked sweet potato fries? Done and done.

I am in love with the idea of pasture and grass-fed,  organic is awesome too. The expensive almond flour? Totally worth it. I think it makes great baked goods. I’ll keep that part up. Here is a link to Ms Walker’s chocolate chip cookies. Mmm, they’re so darn good. I added chopped pecans and an extra chunk of dark chocolate to the tops before baking. It’s nice to know I’m eating a cooking that isn’t filled with empty calories. I apologize for the photos below, but I was in a hurry to eat a cookie.

 IMG_1277ABOVE: As you can see, I got lazy and just started sticking pieces of dark chocolate into the center of the cookies

I still have the remaining ingredients for the remaining week’s recipes, but I will cook them following my own recipes. I believe Ms Walker’s intent on creating this cookbook was to create a guideline for those interested in Paleo, and as far as I’m concerned,she has succeeded.

 

Update: I made the  pancake recipe from Danielle’s cookbook this morning and I’m sorry to report, I don’t like them–nor does my husband. I’ll have to try something else.

“Destination Unknown” Part 1

September 16, 2014 at 11:18 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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It’s crazy when I think about how many times I’ve sat down to write a new blog entry, only to find myself overwhelmed with all of the things I have to say. So much has happened. The longer I put it off, the more overwhelming the process becomes. Today I’ve made the commitment to write something. Anything.

The past four years of my life have proven to be life changing. Extremely life changing. I’m talking about 180 degree change.

As a blogger, I wrote about my family, the foods I cooked, the gardens, the chickens, photography, and other little tidbits about domestic life. I believe I used those things to hyper-focus on the good things I enjoyed, versus writing about the pain, the dysfunction, and failure of my marriage.

The truth is, I didn’t even dream about a better life. I thought I was stuck. As things became harder to bare, the day finally came when I realized I had no choice but to get out of that marriage. It wasn’t really a marriage at all. It was familiar to me, as I was raised in an extremely dysfunctional family. I finally graduated from that level of dysfunction. The ship was going down, and I wasn’t about to sink with it.

I packed a small suitcase, picked up Giovanni and left. I had no money, no job, and I had several health problems. Anything was better than where I was at. I didn’t even look back at the gardens, the chickens, the house, or the perceived security. Nothing was worth giving up anymore time from my life. I had already given close to thirty years. I knew I’d be better off living under a bridge than staying in that sick relationship.

Fast forward four years and here I am happily remarried, healing my heart, and connecting to spirit more than ever before.

The journey getting to this place was quite a roller coaster ride. I suppose life is a roller coaster ride, but this roller coaster seemed to have extra steep ups and downs. It was all worth it. I’m continuing my journey, and I’m sure there will be more ups and downs, but at least it’s in motion and I’m moving forward.

In the past year, I was diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Although a few doctors insist I don’t have ADHD, I have PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). I’m not one for labels, but I will say, the diagnosis has given me a great place to start in seeking solutions for the issues that arise in my life that keep me from accomplishing the goals I’ve set for my future.

Using tools and techniques designed to help people with both ADHD and PTSD has proven beneficial for me. I became a registered hypnotherapist during the time I was ending my marriage. I took a course offered through a highly respectable University of natural health, located here in Washington state. I still continue studying hypnotherapy and NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) through a reputable program offered by a man who is an expert in both hypnosis and NLP.

The fear of leaving the marriage was intense. I felt guilty for all of the wrong reasons. A brief session of hypnotherapy and NLP made it possible for me to leave and keep moving forward and away from my ex-husband. Addiction to relationship is real — to your brain. Maybe it’s better to say the brain can be tricked into believing it’s real. Thankfully, a trusted family member told me, it served no purpose for me to feel guilty about leaving a person who keeps hurting me. He added, “It is better to have one sick person than two.” That was one of the key lines that helped me to drop the guilt immediately. As the smoke cleared, I was able to understand that some people choose to live in darkness. I also learned how we can be manipulated into feeling sorry for people who play the victim.

By the way, it only took one session, by phone, to give me the courage to move and never look back.

It was as though I had lived with my head in the sand, ignoring all of the signs I was being shown. I have a close relationship with my spiritual guidance. I have helped many people with their relationships, but I still avoided the messages “Upstairs” was sending to me. Once I was journaling on the beach, and I asked why I was experiencing such a devastating depression. I clearly heard, “You need to leave your marriage!”. I asked again, because I was sure that couldn’t be the answer. Again I heard, “Leave now!”. It would be a few months later that I had the hypnotherapy that allowed me to do that. Through my ex’s threats of suicide and abandoning me financially,  I kept moving forward.

I was lucky enough to have the court order maintenance support which helped me to live in an apartment for a few months. Of course,dishonorable people do not do what they are court ordered- at least not after they find out they don’t benefit from doing the right thing. That part was predictable. I still didn’t go back. I trusted in the Universe, and through the help of good friends and family I stumbled through the first year intact, and I have beautiful memories of that time period.

Sure there were hard times. There were plenty of hard times. I have a tumor-like cyst in  my spinal nerve (benign) that causes me a lot of pain. Then about a year after I left, I was t-boned by a car that ran a red light. The accident totaled my treasured old Oldsmobile and left me pretty beat up. I now had shoulder tears, neck damage, numbness in my arms and hands, and a hoarse voice due to vocal cord impingement.

I ended up having to find ways to survive. Standing in line at food banks is a humbling experience. I was frightened. I’d stand in lines looking at what was being offered, remembering the times I had donated to these organizations. It felt surreal. I also thought of all of the food I’d prepared and shared on my blog. .I was so grateful I knew how to cook. On one visit, an elderly male volunteer asked me if I wanted an oxtail. Apparently nobody wanted it, and he was trying to find a taker. I was so excited. A few people around me looked at me like I was nuts, but I knew how good the oxtail stew was going to taste for dinner that night! In food lines you take what you can get and you’re grateful for it. Apples old and bruised? I made applesauce. I learned the difference between “use by” and “best if used by” dates. I don’t know if it’s because I live in the great Northwest, but there was always enough food. I got a little tired of rice and beans, but at least I knew how to cook them to make them flavorful. Growing up poor had its benefits.

Throughout all of these, at times, frightening experiences, I met a man, and I fell in love.

Our happiness was short-lived….

It’s hard to write about any of this, but he has encouraged me to tell my story.

To be continued in Part 2

..you didn’t really believe it was all about the food, did you?

November 25, 2013 at 10:54 am | Posted in Awareness, My Dysfunctional family, my life, Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Deception Pass

Deception Pass

First of all, I’d like to welcome my new subscribers!  I have been absent for a long time, but it is always heart warming to see new people visiting and checking out my blog.

I’m so excited to be starting a new chapter in my life.  The past three years have been challenging, but I’m a survivor.  I’m a “gypsy”, and we gypsy types, laugh in the face of change.  Okay, maybe we don’t actually laugh out loud, we laugh inside whilst grimacing.  Let me just say this, we know that change is inevitable.

It was not easy to leave my thirty year marriage.  Having been a homemaker, stay at home mother, and homeschool mom,  I’ve had to deal with the realities of being a single unemployed forty-eight  year old woman, with no “marketable” skills and serious health issues.

I left my home with a roll-a-way, aqua colored, suitcase and my little dog ,Giovanni.  I didn’t think about my lack of skills, the physical pain, the probable loss of my health insurance,  not having enough money to eat, or the long, humbling food bank lines.

For the first time in thirty years, I refused to see my ex’s well-being as more important than my own.

I stopped questioning the Universe.  The message was clear, “Leave now!” 

Not only was the message clear, the voice was loud, and I knew the voice was from the deepest part of me, and it did not waver.  The message was  from my spirit. Leaving was necessary for my survival.

I grabbed a few of my personal belongings:  my favorite dresses, my  boots, makeup, hot rollers, prescription medications, hypnotherapy books, tarot cards, a few protein bars, and Giovanni.  I loaded it all into my Oldsmobile, and drove away.

I was was finally free.

Challenges followed.  Challenges are still ahead of me. 

Yet, I’m still here.  The Universe has held me up. 

Life is better.

Switching gears now,  my son, is in graduate school, on the other side of the country!  He will be visiting for Thanksgiving, and I can’t wait!  It’s been close to a year since I last saw him.  I visited New York City with my boyfriend (sounds weird to call him a “boy”friend, considering we are both in our forties!), and although I was born and lived, on and off, in Upstate New York, I’d never been to the big city.  It was, as you might imagine– unless you’ve visited or you live there, then of course it wouldn’t make sense that you’d have to imagine–   crowded, to say the least.  Tall buildings, loud, subways, taxis , shopping, and food!  I love New York, I really do, but I’m happy he will be in Seattle for Thanksgiving.   

I don’t cook as much as I used to, but this Thanksgiving, I will have help (manfriend), and I’m not going to be the crazy perfectionist I used to be.  I want to enjoy my time with family and friends.  That said, there will be food, and lots of it.

Happy Holidays! 

New York City

New York City

Thank you friends! 2012 in review

December 30, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 50,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 12 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

After Divorce, life goes on….

June 13, 2012 at 5:34 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

So much has changed since my last post.  I’m in the middle of a divorce right now, but it isn’t a bad thing.

I’m discovering more about myself and the journey continues.  There will be food, but as you know, it isn’nt all about the food.

Walking the path…

Chocolate Orange Biscotti

December 9, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Posted in baking, Cookies, dessert, Food, Holiday cooking, Home Decorating, Italian food, my life, photography, Recipes | 5 Comments
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Oh my goodness, it’s almost Christmas.  I am not as prepared as I’d like to be, because Mother Nature decided this is as good a time as any to send the Mother of All Life Changes and give me the gift of, a somewhat early, menopause!   (As if dealing with a spinal nerve cyst and surgery wasn’t enough in one year!)

I think the Universe gives me more credit than I deserve, by thinking I can handle so many changes at once.  Oh well, it is what it is and life is too precious to whine and complain (not that I haven’t), so now you know why I’ve been absent for so long, and I thank those of you who have missed me and expressed it in email or by phone.

I haven’t been doing a whole lot of cooking or baking.  My husband has been forced to learn to cook, and I must say, he is doing quite well.  As a matter of fact, I’m feeling a bit threatened by his ability to make spaghetti sauce that tastes so much like mine.  It’s a good thing I didn’t tell him how to make the cassata.   That cassata recipe is going with me to my grave.  ;)

Life is a mystery, kind of like the box of chocolate Forrest Gump talked about.   It’s also like trying a new recipe.   Sometimes you get a prize winning dish, sometimes it’s mediocre, and other times it’s an absolute disaster.  That pretty much sums up my year.  The thing to remember, is when you get the disaster,  you must never forget that a prize day is sure to follow.  It always does.  Always.

Speaking of a prize–I found an amazing recipe for biscotti, on Epicurious.com.  I made a few changes, and now I have the best biscotti I’ve ever made in my life!  I want to share the recipe, and the changes I made, with all of you.

 

Chocolate-Orange Biscotti RECIPE

Click on link above for recipe.

The following are my ingredient changes:

I added 2 Tbsp coarsely grated orange zest, instead of 1 Tbsp

3 Tbsp Orange Contreau- instead of 2 Tbsp Orange Liqueur

1/2 tsp orange extract

6 ounces Chocolate Chunks (60%), instead of bittersweet chocolate

Angelnina’s NOTES:

I do not like my biscotti rock hard. I baked the first baking for 20-25 minutes and the second baking about 15 minutes.  My family prefers them lightly toasted on the outside, but still tender.

Bon Appetit hit the jackpot with this recipe!

Toasted pecans cooling

I love how pretty the dough looks with the orange zest, chocolate, and pecans!

Pre-shaped dough ready for first bake

After first bake

The flavors of this cookie take me back to when I was a child, visiting my Italian grandparents in upstate New York.  Orange and chocolate in a cookie, is like a bit of heaven, or nirvana, or whatever blissful place you wish to visit!

 

Happy baking and Happy holidays!

Italian Cookies~ Vintage Ware~My Life as a Vagabond (repeat blog)

November 24, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Posted in baking, Food, My Dysfunctional family | 7 Comments
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Please Note:  I am repeating this blog because these make great cookies for Christmas giving.  I’ve been struggling with a few health issues, but I feel confident I’ll be back in the game soon!

I am a cookie fanatic! This past week, I decided I wanted to bake a few of the Italian cookies I had eaten when I was a child in upstate New York.

As I’ve said before, “Cooking with Grace”, is one of my favorite Italian cookbooks because her recipes are so similar to the Italian American foods I remember my great Grandma Defranco serving. I decided to attempt a few of her cookie recipes, and I’m so happy I did!

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Millie’s Orange Drop Cookies
Biscotti all’Arancia

For the cookie dough:
1/2 c unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c whole milk
2 large eggs
1 Tbso grated orange zest
1 tsp orange extract (I used a good extract and added a few drops of orange liquer)

For the Frosting:
1 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
4-5 Tbsp evaporated milk
1 tsp orange extract

Prepare oven with one rack on bottom shelf and the other on second from the top shelf.
Preheat to 350 degrees. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar with electric mixer. In another bowl, sift flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

Pour milk into glass measuring cup and heat in microwave to warm (30 seconds). Add eggs and orange rind and extract to the measuring cup and mix with a fork. Add the milk mixture to the creamed butter-sugar-mixture and beat for one minute with mixer.

With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture about 1/2 cup at a time until mixture is used.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonsfuls onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, leaving 1″ space around each cookie.

Bake the first sheet for 8 minutes on the bottom rack; then transfer it to the upper rack and continue baking for 7 minutes. When you transfer the first sheet to the top, place a second sheet on the bottom rack, continuing to bake each sheet on the bottom rack for 8 minutes on the bottom rack and 7-8 minutes on the upper rack. Remove the cookies from the oven as they turn golden. Cool for 2 minutes on cookies sheets, then place on wire racks to cool completely before frosting.

To Frost:
Combine confectioner’s sugar, milk, and orange extract–stir until dissolved.
use your index finger like a paint brush to frost each cookie on all sides, including the bottoms, and set them on a rack to dry. Be sure to cover in the glaze frosting to seal them–that way the glaze holds in the moisture.

Store in an air tight container up to one week or freeze them in a heavy duty freezer bag for up to three months. Try to remove as much air as possible from the freezer bag before sealing. You may opt to frost the frozen cookies after you’ve defrosted them rather than before.

These are perfect with a cup of coffee or hot tea. A little reminiscent of a scone–only a bit more sweet.

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My second batch of cookies are called:

Chocolate Spice Cookies
Biscotti Speziati al Cioccolato

I’m too tired to print out the entire recipe, but if you love Italian American food, I really encourage you to get your hands on this book. The darker cookies in the first photo are the Chocolate SPice Cookies. They aren’t particularly chocolate tasting–more spice. I’m still searching for the ones I had as a kid which I remember as tasting more like chocolate.

I have not tried the following recipes but they’re pretty close to what I made. Grace’s book called for currants–I didn’t add them, I did however add chopped pecans. I used a vanilla powdered sugar glaze rather than the cocoa glazes here. You really need to cover the entire cookie with the glaze to keep them nice and moist.

These cookies are a cake like cookie.

Mostaccioli

Another thrift store find:
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TOTAL: $1.80
As a kid, my family moved so often, I practically grew up in a car, stopping at roadside diners and truck stops to eat. The cups in the photo above remind me of those cafes. I remember my parents would sometimes try to drive straight through from the west coast back to New York. On a few moves they would stop at midnight–or later–to have coffee. I usually ordered a hot chocolate. Searching for my shoes in the dark and climbing out of a loaded car into an often freezing cold night, made sitting in a warm, well lit diner, feel like a special treat. I suppose my attraction to diner ware has something to do with those memories.
My mother and I sat down one day and wrote down every move we had ever made. I just looked at the list and see she forgot to add Houston, Texas.
The old photo below was taken on one of our 66 (possibly 67) moves.
I’m the girl standing up on the back seat holding something that resembles food in my hand. I have no idea what it is. I often stood while we drove. Remember when seat belts were just those hard metal things that hurt your bum when you sat on one? I just kept trying to shove them out of the way or stuff them under the back seat cushion. Times have changed.

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Farfalle with Mushrooms and Sausages

May 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm | Posted in cooking, Flexitarian, Food, Italian food, Pasta Dishes, photography, Recipes, Weeknight Dinners | 17 Comments
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Have you seen this beautiful Farfalle pasta by Torino?  I was shopping at World Market’s Cost Plus, when this jumped out at me!  Look at the beautiful colors.

It cost more than what I like to spend on pasta, but I couldn’t pass this up.  They call it “designer” pasta.  I’m not into designer fashion, but apparently I’m a sucker for designer pastas now.

The recipe on the back of the box made my final decision.   It’s SO simple to make and it tastes so fresh and earthy!

Farfalle with Mushrooms and Sausages

Adapted from Torino pasta recipe

8.8 ounce farfalle pasta

6 ounce mushrooms (possibly porcini or 2 ounce dry porcini put in water to soften for 2-3 hours)- I used a package of wild Italian mushrooms I found at World Market

6 oz fresh sweet sausage-I used Italian sausage from Whole Foods

5 oz white wine

1/4 white onion

1/2 clove garlic- I used whole

1 oz extra virgin olive oil

2 oz light cream — I used whole milk

3 oz grated pecorino or parmesan cheese- I used both

pepper and salt to taste

In a skillet, sautee x-tra virgin olive oil with garlic and onion–finely chopped.  Add the sausage without skin, and cook for 5 minutes to color.  Add the mushrooms and cook slowly and add the white wine.   When it looks ready, add the salt and pepper and light cream.

Cook the pasta al dente in plenty of salted water.  Drain pasta and place in the sauce skillet mix on top of stove for 2 minutes and then serve with cheese.




The mushrooms are SO earthy!

I served it with chardonnay

ENJOY!

Simple enough for a weeknight meal, and flavorful enough to impress company.

Spanakopita and Gardening in April/May

May 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Posted in baking, cooking, Flexitarian, Food, gardening, photography, Recipes, Vegetarian | 9 Comments
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Spanakopita or Spinach Pie

PRINTABLE RECIPE HERE

Adapted from a recipe posted online–years ago–by Jack Roemer

14 Phyllo Pastry sheets

2 cloves garlic, crushed

4 Tbsp olive oil + 4 Tbsp melted butter

spray olive oil

40 ounces frozen spinach, chopped  OR 2 – 16oz pack

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian(flat leaf) parsley

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

3  Tbsp fresh chopped dill

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 cup cottage cheese –I use lowfat

1 egg

6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

a light sprinkling of white wine vinegar- approx 2 tsp

Instructions:

Thaw and drain the 2- 16oz packages of spinach.

Crush the garlic and drop into the olive oil and butter. Set aside.

To make the filling, squeeze the spinach between your hands to remove most of
the liquid.   Place in a bowl or in a food processor.   Add the parsley, onions,
dill, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in the cottage cheese, egg and
feta.  –NOTE- I do it all in the processor except for the feta. — Combine well. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Lay one sheet of phyllo in the bottom of the dish and drape the edges overthe
sides of the dish. Spray lightly with cooking spray and cover with another sheet of phyllo dough.   Brush that sheet with the garlic-olive oil mixture.

Layer a total of four sheets, coating each alternately with nonstick cooking spray and olive oil. Spread half the filling over the prepared phyllo dough. Lay another sheet of dough over the filling and coat lightly with cooking spray.   Lay down another sheet and lightly coat with olive oil mixture. Continue alternating spray and olive oil for a total of four
sheets. Layer remaining spinach filling on dough.  Sprinkle on the vinegar-as evenly as possible.

Continue layering phyllo dough over the filling, spraying the first sheet and alternately brushing with olive oil and spraying subsequent sheets.  The last layer has 6 sheets.

When finished, brush the surface with olive oil mixture and roll the edges of the doughin ward to create an attractive rim around the outside.  Score the surface with a sharp knife into 12 portions.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bake for 40 minutes until golden.  I turn on the broiler at this point for 1-2 minutes (keep pan in center of oven) WATCH IT,  or you will burn the top layer!  Allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.  Makes 12 portions.

Test kitchen notes: Phyllo means “leaf” in Greek. The dough is usually available in the frozen food section of most supermarkets or in Greek or Middle Eastern markets. For best results, allow dough to defrost overnight in the refrigerator.   Keep it covered with wax paper and a damp towel while making pie.

The Gardens in April and Early May

I’ve decided to post my gardens once a month.  I want to document the stages of growth.

This is the time of year I start to get excited about gardening.   I love my flowers, but I especially love the vegetable and herb gardens.

That said, I planted an assortment of flowers from seed this year.  I rarely do this, but my cousin , MaryAnne, who lives in upstate New York, sent me seeds from her own flower gardens and a packet of Honey Bear Sunflower seeds, which means I might have a new passion.  I’ll post on those as soon as the seeds germinate.

The terracotta pot above is my husband’s great find.  It is from Mexico, and I thought a few coral colored begonias,  double pink impatiens, along with a few chicks from my Hens and Chicks plants, would look lovely in this pot.

The portable greenhouse is filled with starts and seedlings:

Tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, artichoke, basil,  and squash are waiting to go under the cloche of the front gardens.

Flowering seeds are in their little seed pots too.

As you can see, the backyard garden has plenty of cool weather plants:

lettuce, radish, beets, onions, spicy mixed lettuces, carrots, broccoli,  and several herbs.

Continue Reading Spanakopita and Gardening in April/May…

Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake w/ Faux Ganache~ My dog’s birthday party cake!

April 21, 2010 at 9:07 am | Posted in baking, Cakes, dessert, Desserts, Family Fun, Food, Giovanni the Yorkie, photography, Recipes, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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I’ve been out of commission for a while.  Back surgery.  Needless to say, before my surgery I was a bit stressed.   Rather than lie around and worry about the outcome, I decided to do something cheerful.  My little dog, Giovanni, turned 6 years old on March 1st.  What better way to cheer myself than to throw a party?

Yes, I know I’m running the risk of being labeled “Crazy Dog Lady”.   I’ve been called worse names than that, so I set out to give Giovanni a party.   I invited a few close girlfriends and family members.

I baked a chocolate bundt cake, and Mark made a huge pot of his famous Turkey Chili.

Giovanni’s party invitation was posted on Face Book because everybody seems to check their Face Book page more often than their telephone messages.   The invitation made it clear that this wasn’t going to be one of those “do gooder” parties where people tell you not to bring a gift.  I mean, a dog’s life is limited and this boy loves a new toy.

I was expecting people to tease me, but instead I was a little taken aback by how quickly people replied to the invitation, and everybody sounded so excited.

“We wouldn’t miss it!”

“We’ll be bringing more than one gift!”

“OH! Can’t wait to see little Gio!”

Maybe dog really is man’s best friend.  All of a sudden I realized how much power I have as the owner of a cute little dog that my friends and family seem to adore.  What if I told people Giovanni is now into Le Creuset cookware?  It’s possible, right?

Some of the guests arrived with fancy decorated gift bags filled with tissue wrapped toys and dog apparel.  A few others just kept the toy in the store bag–Gio didn’t care.  He isn’t picky.  Toys that squeak, chew toys, soft fur covered toys, fancy doggy sweaters, and then some!

It was all going swimmingly, until….

Giovanni looked more excited than I had ever seen him before.   He had opened every single gift—all 19 of them.  Yes, that’s right, 19 toys!  I never knew squeakers could be so loud.

I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown.  We all sat in chairs circling the panicky, shaking, drooling, panting, now extremely hyper-active Giovanni!

He was out of control and looked like he was going to pass out at any minute.   Giovanni was now the center of our Universe, and he knew it.   This was just too much for a little five pound pooch.    When I saw his eyes start to roll back into his head, I moved the party guests into the dining room for dinner and tried to hide a few of his toys .

Greedy boy that he is, he followed me staring longingly at each “hiding place” I stuffed a toy in.   He glared at me with his piercing brown eyes.  I knew he was asking, “Whose party is this anyway?”

People, this went on for days, until Mark finally hid the toys in the garage.  I was happy to make Mark the heavy.

The chili was a hit, the cake was a huge success, and  when the guests left, I felt as though I had just thrown a party for a very spoiled toddler.   I was exhausted.   We went to bed early that night.

I’m four weeks out of surgery.  Still recovering from the back surgery itself, but doctor could not remove cyst because it is inside the spinal nerve.  He removed some bone and stitched me back together.    In my heart of hearts, I believe all will be well.

CLICK BELOW TO CONTINUE TO RECIPE FOR BUNDT CAKE

Continue Reading Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake w/ Faux Ganache~ My dog’s birthday party cake!…

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