Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hope for the Winter Weary & A Challenge

This winter has seemed long and I know its not over yet. And I know we have had it pretty easy in the Pacific Northwest compared to many other parts of the country. But's seemed extra cold and rainy this year. But even as dreary as its been there are bright spots and signs of warmer times to come! This recent sunrise over Mount Rainier, which I photographed on my way to work was one of those bright spots. The sky was on fire! Angels baking cookies :-)

In between raindrops this weekend I ventured outside to see if I could find signs of life in my garden. The primroses always come through. They bloom here several times a year.

Not exactly a flower, but the viburnum is looking colorful

The little snowdrops are about to bloom!

This sedum always reminds me of a flower during winter

This euphorbia's foliage reminds me of a flower too.

The hellebores seem slow this year, but they will be open soon!

The camellia still has a ways to go

I have other mini irises that are getting close to blooming, but I couldn't resist these at the grocery store! They make me smile when I leave for work in the morning.

The heather looks extra nice right about now

And doot do do dooooo (trumpet sound) : A crocus or two have popped up and are ready to bloom! Now if that doesn't give hope to the winter weary I don't know what will!

Hopefully the sun won't be crying for much longer - I think sunshine is predicted around here this week. Nevermind the 20s at night that go along with that!

I got a little nudge this weekend from a fellow blogger (Lynn at Happier Than a Pig in Mud) to throw out the Great Cooking Magazine Challenge again to get us all out of our winter doldrums. Lynn...the challenge is on. For all of you that have stacks of cooking magazines sitting around with all of those great recipes waiting to be tried this challenge is for you too!

I've done this before but this time I'm going to handle it a little different. I am giving you one week to gather those mags and start cooking. Show up back here in one Sunday, February 6th and I will have a post up for you to share your reviews of the recipes you've tried. It doesn't matter how old the magazines are. Magazine clippings you've held on to are okay too. Just try something new!

I'll give you a little inspiration. I dug WAY back in my magazine archive for this recipe for Beef Paprika. It's from the October/November 2002 issue of Taste of Home! I had a chuck roast I wasn't sure what to do with and pulled a few older mags off the shelf and came on this one. We enjoyed it over rice with some cute little broccoletti (tastes like very tender broccoli) and a green salad. Great comfort food dish!

Beef Paprika
Serves 2 - easily doubled for a larger family

  • 1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper (my addition)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup water, divided
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash cayenne pepper (or my stand by Tony Chachere's seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • In a large saucepan, brown beef in oil on all sides. Add onion and garlic; cook until onion is tender. Add 1/2 cup of water, ketchup, brown sugar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt, mustard and cayenne; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours or until beef is tender. Combine flour and remaining water until smooth; gradually stir into stew. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over noodles or rice. Yield: 2 servings.
I also tried a recipe out of the Penzey's Spices catalog. They always have great looking recipes and its hard for me to throw them out. But they have all of the same recipes online I discovered, so I threw a stack of them away this week. This Banana Blueberry cake from the Spring 2010 catalog is a winner. Its got a similar taste to banana bread, but a lighter texture and the blueberries are a nice touch. The original recipe called for an icing but I thought it was good with out it. I sprinkled some powdered sugar on for a little *something* extra.

Banana Blueberry Cake


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

2 eggs

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 large very ripe bananas, mashed fine

1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Frosting (optional):

2 sticks butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

6 tablespoons milk, divided


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch pan and set aside. In a roomy bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla and blend until smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add to the batter and mix well. Stir in the mashed bananas. Fold in the blueberries, if using. Pour into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes. Frost, if desired. Now its your turn!!! I'll be making something else for the challenge too. See you back Sunday :-)

I'm joining in for Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Go check out all of the other great mosaics HERE.


Regina said...

Wow how gorgeous and yummy.
Thanks for sharing Suzy.
Regards. Happy new week.


Millie said...

I really like your soft pink mosaic, and all the floral phots...the food looked good too!

ann said...

Lovely pictures, especially the primrose--I bought mine at the super market! cheers. ann

colorchic said...

Your photos are beautiful! I too live in the Pacific NW and feel like we've had way to mild of a winter. I want a day to be stuck inside... guilt free so I can craft and play for the day.

Debbie said...

Suzy, your weather is SO different that ours right now. I am amazed at what is growing in your garden! Beautiful photos!

I am going to join you for the magazine challenge. I promise! Thanks for the advance notice - I need it :-)

LDH said...

So lovely! Sweet primroses :) Mine are still sleeping under a foot or so of snow but they will be one of the early shows in my garden.

Your photos are beautiful and then some delicious recipes! Great post :)

Carol at Serendipity said...


Great mosaic, flower pictures and recipes. I will try for the challenge but this week is really full. But I will try....


Carol said...

I'm in! I always love your magazine challenges!

That is a gorgeous mosaic, Suzy, stunning sky! LOL, angels baking cookies :)

Kate said...

Actually cooking some of the recipes that I have collected is a great idea! See you next week.

Thoughtfully Blended Hearts said...

On this dreary TN morning your photos were a welcome all of the plants and the blooms give me hope for spring!!! Beautiful shots!!!
Have a wonderful week!!!

Kathleen said...

Your flowers look so wonderful! I am worried about the damage to our shrubs due to the heavy snow on them.
I will try to join in.

Alison said...

I would like to join you for the recipe challenge, but do they have to come from magazines? I watch a lot of cooking shows, and I surf the web for recipes, so I'm always printing off the recipes from various websites. But then I never use them, so I have a stack of printouts!

Thanks for posting these great pictures of your waking garden. I planted snowdrops in the Fall, but they are not showing any sign of coming up yet.

Alison said...

Got your message, so I will definitely plan to join in! I forgot to mention before, those are just gorgeous pics of the mountain! I love your description of angels baking cookies.

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

I am happy to see your little primroses peeking out of the ground. Happy days to see life coming back to the soil.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Beautiful mosaic, Suzy. It's almost as if Mount Ranier was erupting again with that fire-y sky! I'm glad it wasn't.

I am so envious of the life you already have in your garden, Suzy! All I see is snow covering mine yet.

Marsha said...

The mosaic is gorgeous! I like the angels baking :)

You have made me a little jealous with your spring flowers already - goodness, it's still January! We had 10 inches of snow in the last 24 hours.

I will definitely join in the cooking magazine challenge. I have spent the last several weeks going through mags and clipping recipes to try so I am ready :)

Foley said...

With a whole week maybe I cab get something done this time. Love the saying..angels baking :)

Jealous of your blooms - mine are all about 3 feet under snow..hope they are sleeping well!

Both recipes look good.

Pondside said...

Things seem slow this year, although I've seen nice fat buds on the honeysuckle. The primulas are nice and bright, but not a sign of a daffodil or crocus yet.

Lorrie said...

I'm on Vancouver Island and you're way ahead of us. No sign of crocuses or daffodils yet. But the days are growing longer and soon....

agnicy said...

Beautiful mosaic !!!! Ag

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