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Busy Week


This has been a busy week around our house. We were snowed in on Monday and Tuesday. We got several inches of snow Sunday night and then some rain which turned into ice. Travel was quite treacherous and nearly everything in town was shut down for a couple of days. Nora and I spent some time working on things for her wedding. She made great strides in her planning and I finished up one bridesmaid dress and started on the second. Fortunately our power remained on and we stayed toasty and warm and were able to do some cooking and baking as well.

Here lately just about every time I sit down at the computer my faithful assistant does this:

picture of Kitten on the keys

Have you ever read through a recipe and thought that you probably wouldn't care for it? Well, today I'm going to post a couple of salad recipes that I probably would not have tried if I had just read the recipe. Fortunately I was served both of these unusual salads and discovered that I really liked both of them.

Nora made this Roasted Cauliflower Salad for us a few weeks ago for the first time. She and I made it again last weekend and changed the recipe a little, so I'll post it how we actually made it.

picture of Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil
salt
small jar of capers, drained and patted dry
2 radicchio, cut into chiffonade (just slice it crosswise into small shreds) (I couldn't find radicchio after looking at two stores, so I used about 1 cup of finely shredded red cabbage--the radicchio was good though)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
3 green onions, sliced
juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)

Toss cauliflower with olive oil and salt. Roast at 375 degrees for 30-40 mins. or until well-browned. In the meantime heat a small amount of oil in a skillet and fry the capers for 3-4 mins. Drain on paper towels. After the cauliflower is roasted combine with the capers, radicchio (or red cabbage), parmesan cheese, and green onion. Add lemon juice and more oil and salt if needed to season. This is very tangy and would be good with fish or chicken.

I had a salad similar to this next one at a restaurant recently. I found a recipe on-line and adapted it a bit to make this version.

picture of Macaroni Coleslaw

Macaroni Coleslaw

1 cup dry ditalini pasta (these are small tube-shapes) (you could also use elbow macaroni)
14 oz. coleslaw mix
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
about 1 cup finely chopped cucumber
about 1/2 cup finely chopped green, red, yellow, or orange pepper (I used orange)

Dressing
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsps. sugar
2 Tbsps. vinegar
1/4 tsp. salt
dash white pepper

Cook pasta according to directions on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water. While the pasta is cooking combine the dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Clean and chop the vegetables and then add them to the dressing along with the pasta. Stir well to combine and chill for at least an hour before serving. Makes about eight servings.

The ditalini is often used in soups.

picture of Ditalini

This makes a very colorful and flavorful salad. We had it tonight with some Easy Beans and Rice.

picture of Mac Slaw Beans

So, if you are looking for a new winter salad recipe you might want to try one of these.

Becka

Strawberry Meringue Torte


Nora's future in-laws visited last week from Iowa, Kansas, and Georgia and I made this dessert. It is a recipe that I got nearly thirty years ago from our pastor's wife. It is delicious and has become one of our family favorites over the years. It is made from simple ingredients that you may already have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator/freezer.

picture of Strawberry Meringue Torte

Strawberry Meringue Torte

1 package yellow cake mix
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 cups of sweetened whipped cream or Cool Whip
10 oz. frozen strawberries, partially thawed and drained

Make cake as directed on the package, but use just the four egg yolks instead of whole eggs. (My cake mix called for 1 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup oil.) Pour the batter into three 9" cake pans that have been greased and floured and then lined with waxed paper. In a clean mixing bowl beat the egg whites until foamy and then gradually add the sugar. Beat until the egg whites are almost stiff. Divide the egg white mixture into three parts and carefully spread on top of the cake batter in the pans. Don't be overly concerned if the batter gets a bit mixed into the meringue, it will be fine. Sprinkle nuts on top of the meringue and then press down gently with your hand to help keep them from falling off later. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan and then carefully turn out onto a cloth lined cooling rack. Immediately turn over so the meringue is right side up. Cool completely. Shortly before serving place one layer on a serving plate and then top with about a cup of Cool Whip and half of the strawberries. Add another layer and then repeat the layering of the Cool Whip and berries. Top with the final layer of cake. Serve and enjoy your beautiful creation!

Here's a picture of the meringue being divided up on the cakes:

picture of Meringue Batter

Here I'm spreading the meringue on top of the batter:

picture of Spreading Meringue

This shows the batter/meringue/pecans all layered and ready to bake:

picture of Meringue Pecans

Here is the bottom layer of the torte with one layer of whipped topping and berries:

picture of Layering Meringue

This cake is best when baked and served the same day so that the meringue stays crisp. Serves 10-12.
I hope you will try this -- you won't be disappointed!

Becka

This and that


We have been enjoying our Christmas vacation very much and have a had a variety of experiences to savor. The week before Christmas the Michigan delegation was here and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them as well as our local family members. It's always great fun to have our grandson come to visit and this trip was no exception.

Here are Megan and Jim at Topher's house one evening for dinner:

picture of MJChristmas

Here is a picture of Drew wearing one of his favorite Christmas gifts -- Buzz Light Year Wings (from the movie Toy Story):

picture of Wingman

The Tuesday before Christmas was especially exciting as DD Nora and her fiancé, Topher (short for Christopher) became officially engaged! Her diamond is beautiful and we have begun working on things for the wedding which is planned for the beginning of April.

Here's the happy couple:

picture of Engagement Picture

We attended a lovely Christmas Eve service at our church. It is always a blessing to sit and relax and think about the true reason for the season and to contemplate Christ's sacrifice in coming to earth and all He suffered here for our behalf.

We shared Christmas dinner with some good friends and then spent some time visiting with Mark and Katie and saw their newly painted and partially decorated nursery. (No pictures yet.) They were anxious to get things set up and ready since this will be their last vacation until the baby arrives in April. As we were driving out to Mark and Katie's it started to snow. We accumulated about 2 1/2" and it was very beautiful. The news said this was the first white Christmas here in Greenville since 1963 and only the fourth in the last century.

Mark and Katie at Topher's:

picture of MK Christmas

picture of Christmas Snow 2010

We have been working on a few projects around the house this week. Rob stripped the wallpaper from our bathroom and then painted it. I still need to make a window curtain (I'm looking for some white ball fringe for it) and add a few new accessories. The new color is so much brighter and more cheerful.

Old bathroom look -- don't blame me, it was this way when we moved in!

picture of Hall Bath

New bathroom look:

picture of New Hall Bath

We've also done a little shopping, cleaning, trying new recipes, etc. It's been a fun and restful change from our usual pace during the school year.

I hope you all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas and will get to have some relaxing days here at the end of the year.

Becka

A Christmas Craft


picture of Hymnal Wreath

It's been a while since I last posted. Life has gotten in the way of blogging. Our family from Michigan was here this past week and we had several activities planned for the whole family. We really enjoyed having them all here and will miss them as they drove home today. We will see them again pretty soon when they come for Nora and Topher's wedding in April.

A while back I mentioned that I had been working on some projects that I couldn't show yet. Well, I have actually already given this one to a friend who will be going away for Christmas, so I'm free to show it now. I saw this post about making a wreath from a paperback book and thought I would try making it from an old hymnal for my friend, Judy, who teaches music.

I found this old hymnal at a thrift store and thought it would be perfect for this project. The pages were a little larger than a regular paperback book so I had to devise my own method for rolling the pages, but over all it was a very fun project to make and I was pleased with how it turned out. I'd like to make more of these in the future if I can find some more old hymnals.

picture of Hymnal

I hope all of you are having a wonderful week and making progress in your Christmas preparations.

Becka

A new pumpkin muffin


picture of Pumpkin Muffins

We had pumpkin pie for dessert on Thanksgiving and there was some of the canned pumpkin leftover. I found a new recipe on the Tasty Kitchen website for Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins and DH made them for our breakfast on Sunday. We cut back on the butter and the topping a bit and they were still quite tasty. Here's the recipe with our modifications:

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk

Topping Ingredients:
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted

In a large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar and then add the egg. Mix in the pumpkin and vanilla. Add the flour and milk alternately to this mixture. Fill twelve greased and floured muffin tins 2/3 full (avoid using the paper liners for this recipe). Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins. or until golden brown.
While the muffins are baking combine the 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Melt the butter. When you remove the muffins from the oven let them cool only slightly and then dip the tops in the melted butter and then dip them into the sugar and spice mixture. Serve warm and enjoy thoroughly.

To make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice for this recipe combine the following:
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (heaping)
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground ginger (heaping)
Mix thoroughly. This should make enough for this recipe.

Becka