Thursday, February 25, 2010

Flashback Friday ~ Middle of August

I know I should be satisfied with the blooms I do have since so many of you are under a blanket of snow, but I'm greedy and want more! So I'm flashing back to August of 2008 for a little bit of summer color.

I love the hodge podge cottagey look I have going in my garden at this time.

I end up with some unexpected combinations

And at about this time the dahlias start putting on their show

The hydrangeas are still looking beautiful

And the bee balm starts to take over

Strong, bright, summery colors everywhere!

If you've got a flashback of your own, please join me by adding your link below!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mosaic Monday ~A Sunday Stroll and Cookies

We have been enjoying beautiful weather this weekend and I've been taking full advantage! I know that winter isn't over, but it sure felt like it is the past couple of days.

You may have noticed, I've got a new garden citizen...a Valentine gift from my sweet hubby. He really doesn't look like he's planning on helping much with the gardening chores! Geaux Saints!

So, all the sunshine this weekend made me work up an appetite and I felt like baking cookies. I've had my eye on a recipe from "Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters" and decided today was the day. Nell's Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies did not disappoint. They are the kind of cookies I should definitely not bake often, but they are worthy of making over and over again.

Nell's Wonderful Peanut Butter Cookies
From 'Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters"

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup butter (I used margarine with success)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 cup broken salted peanuts (add 1/4 tsp salt if you use unsalted)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used more)

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Cream butter, brown sugar, sugar and peanut butter. Add egg and mix thoroughly. Add sifted ingredients. Fold in peanuts and chocolate chips. Chill dough for 1/2-1 hour or until firm enough to handle. Roll dough into balls lightly flouring hands if necessary ( I didn't have a problem without flour). Place balls 2 inches apart on greased foil or silicone mat lined baking sheet. Flatten with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown (Mine went 14 mins). Cool on rack. Makes 40 cookies.

Please go take a look at all of the other mosaics at Little Red House!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Flashback Friday ~Rose Garden

Almost 7 years ago I flew out to Washington State from Louisiana for a job interview at MultiCare Health System...they offered and I took the job then moved across the country with the help of my parents driving a U-Haul truck. I've learned a lot in those 7 years and made some great friends..some of them the life long type. The time has come for me to spread my wings a little bit and I've taken a new position down the street at a competitor hospital.

There will be many people and things I'll miss, including the beautiful grounds. Not that I can't come back from time to time to enjoy it as a visitor! So I thought it was fitting to flash back to 2006 when I took a little photo tour of the rose garden.

A generous benefactor has ensured these gardens will flourish for a very long time

Every year new things are added, and they are given extremely good care by a head groundskeeper that is iconic in these parts.

I'm not sure of the exact amount but there are I think are nearing 200 varieties of roses, some in mass plantings like these Chihuly roses which live up to their flamboyant namesake.

The variety is incredible and it was the first place I've seen some of the rose forms outside of catalogs. I love the many petaled cabbage styled ones

The english style is something I never saw growing down south

So full and ruffly

Many are soft pastels, but some are vibrant like this incredibly bright pinkish purple

The more simple styled varieties too....but oh so elegant!

I love the shade of this yellow one

And the perfection of this pink one

There are plenty of minis as well as roses grown in tree form

Some gorgeous climbers. I think this one might be Don Juan

This is such a beautiful if not a little gaudy rose that I'd like to have in my own garden

But I'd sure settle for a classic red too!

In addition to roses there is some outstanding perennial borders

Which I greatly appreciate but most people overlook. They are a little overshadowed by the spectacle of roses!

Thanks MultiCare for sharing your gardens with me and the families that have sick loved ones. I'll be back to see you soon :-)

If you have a flashback you'd like to share please add you link below!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras 2010!

Happy Mardi Gras! Hope everyone does something fun. If nothing else have a piece of virtual king cake!

I made three king cakes this year. One for us (above) and two to bring to work. The one I'm keeping has cream cheese/cinnamon/pecan filling. Here are the other two wrapped up and ready to go. This one has cream cheese/chocolate/caramel/pecan filling.

And this one is strawberry/cream cheese

I used the same recipe I've used for the past couple of years and it hasn't failed me yet. I highly recommend it if you've never tried one.

Cream Cheese filled King Cake
Adapted from Southern Living, February 2006

1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
6 to 6 1/2 cups bread flour*
3/4 cup sugar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Creamy Glaze
Purple-, green-, and gold-tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles

Cook first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to 100° to 110°.

Stir together yeast, 1/2 cup warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a 1-cup glass measuring cup; let stand 5 minutes.

Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough remaining flour (4 to 4 1/2 cups) until a soft dough forms.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22- x 12-inch rectangle. Beat 3/4 cup sugar, cream cheese, 1 egg, and vanilla at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly on each dough rectangle, leaving 1-inch borders. My Note: I usually reduce the amount of cream cheese filling I spread on and add in other complimentary toppings: strawberry sauce/jam, pecans, chocolate syrup, caramel syrup, banana split (bananas, chocolate, strawberries), etc...use your imagination!

Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.

Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

Bake at 375° for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes). Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with colored sugars, alternating colors and forming bands. Let cool completely.

*6 to 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour may be substituted.

Creamy Glaze
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk

Stir together first 4 ingredients. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mosaic Monday~Kitchen Bouquet Valentine

Maybe more of a collage...but it's my Happy Valentine to all of my blog visitors! Please check out the other mosaics over at Little Red House.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Foodie Field Trip

There is a small (5 store) local food chain in the Seattle/Tacoma area that is my idea of foodie paradise. I restrain myself from going very often because it is also very hard on the pocketbook and I can't resist filling my buggy with goodies. It's close enough to get there and back during lunch hour (unless you have the experience I had..stay tuned) so I treated myself to a trip this week. Metropolitan Market is filled with those hard to find ingredients that I read about in bloggerland but have a hard time finding in "regular" grocery stores. Like this Himalayan pink salt I've been coveting..well...because it's pink!

They also have "regular" stuff too! But even that is a little irregular, like glass bottled milk that is so rare now days.

The cheese selection is amazing. Local cheeses, as well as traditional old world varieties

I can't resist samples..and tried this one out. So then I had to buy it...

The bakery goods are to die for and they stock things from local hot spots like Seattle's Macrina Bakery. I opted for this sparkly pink cookie

And an individual serving of Whoopie Pie!

So this is the point in the story that made me 10 minutes late getting back to work from my "lunch" and also made me paranoid to take lots of pictures (although I did snap a few more!) I was trying to inconspicuously snap a shot of the amazing breads and a lady almost got in the problem I told her I'm just getting a few photos for my blog.

Well this set her off...and she proceeded to tell me how her sister in law is obsessed with picture taking and how much she hates it. I assured her I wasn't interested in taking pics of people..only food! I though at first she was mad at me, but it turned out she was just wanting to have a gab fest. I couldn't shake her! lol She just chatters on and on commenting on things in my buggy and telling me about her favorite products in the store. She decided to go back and get some strawberries and devonshire cream like I had....pictured here as I ate them tonight.

So I was finally able to separate from her and snuck over to the rainbow of veggies

And out of the corner of my eye I see her coming into the area so I hurried to the other side of the store where the fabulous bakeware and cookware section is. This is where I need to wear my blinders because there are so many things I absolutely that pizza peel...and that paella pan...

As I made my way back to the aisles that I missed during my escape, I saw my "friend" chatting with two other ladies so I felt safe to mosey along a little bit. I grabbed one of the quarterly food magazines they put out for the reasonable price of 99 cents! There are some really great recipes included.

About this time, I glanced at my watch, thinking it was almost time to wrap things up and head back to work when I heard behind me....Miss Blogger Lady...Miss Blogger Lady.... bless her heart..she wanted to ask me a question about sugar. Should she buy cane sugar or was the store brand okay. And was it okay to store flour in the freezer? And did it really matter what kind of chocolate chips she put in her cookies?? She truly was a very nice lady and I tried to answer her questions the best I could. But I did finally have to tell her I was going to be late! lol But not too late to leave these in the store....

The slogan on the box did it for me

And the endorsement!

On the way out I couldn't resist snapping a shot of these beautiful roses

And these sunflowers...

Then I took my Betty Crocker self to my car and back to work...the real world!
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