Friday, May 20, 2011

Flashback Friday ~Hiatus

Flashback Friday is on vacation today :-) If you have a little something to flash back to please put your link below!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Flashback Friday ~Snakes and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

It seems that just yesterday my nephew Alec was this cute little chubby cheeked baby boy

But yesterday he became a Daddy for the second time to his own little baby boy Kolbe!

I was so happy to meet him :-)

If you have a Flashback of any kind - favorite recipe, old photo, cherished memory please add your link below and link back to me on your blog.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Great Cooking Magazine Challenge May 2011 Edition

So its that time again! I'm putting out the challenge to flip through those stacks of cooking magazines and clippings or printed out internet recipes and try something new :-) I do this challenge mostly for myself - to justify my many cooking magazine purchases and subscriptions. But I know many of you out there are just as guilty as me!

I have a linky below where you can come back and show us what you did for the challenge. I got a new Everyday with Rachel Ray in the mail this week and thought I would give a couple things that caught my eye a try today. First up is BLT Mac & Cheese

Randy and I both grew up eating "the blue box" as my friend Kathleen calls it. Kraft Dinner is how my Canadian husband refers to it. I still love it, but we have graduated to Velveeta Shells and Cheese. High Class I know! But I am always trying out mac & cheese when its offered on a menu. I've tried to recreate it at home a couple of times but haven't been that happy with the results. This recipe was actually pretty good, maybe because it comes somewhat close to looking and tasting like Kraft! lol

BLT Mac 'n' Cheese

4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces (I used the Hormel pieces in the bag..hey it saves time!)
12 oz pasta (elbows or rotini)
2 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp turmeric (gives it that nice orangey-yellow color)
6 oz cream cheese
2 cups finely shredded orange cheddar cheese. (About 8 oz)
6 oz cherry tomatoes quartered (I used two small chopped)
Salt, Pepper
Onion powder, garlic powder to taste (my addition)
Grated Parmesan cheese (my addition)

Preheat oven to 375°. Cook bacon until crisp if not taking the short cut that I did, then drain. Meanwhile in a large pot of salted water cook pasta until done & drain. In same pot bring milk to simmer over medium heat. Whisk in tumeric & cream cheese. Stir in cheddar cheese until melted. Add pasta, bacon and tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, tiny bit of onion & garlic powder. Transfer to 9x13 casserole and bake til heated through, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with grated parmesan before serving.

In the same June/July edition of Rachel Ray's mag there was an article about updated & homemade Popsicles. There were a few I'd like to try, but settled on the "Cappuccino" because the ingredients to me sounded more like Vietnamese Coffee which I love. Very simple to make and would be a good use of left over coffee.

Cappuccino Popsicles

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (I ended up using a big more in the espresso part)
1/2 cups brewed espresso (I used prepared instant espresso powder I keep on hand for recipes like this)
2 tsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder, plus some for dusting (I only used 1)

Combine the cream and 1/4 cup condensed milk, stirring well. Divide mixture between your popsicle molds. Freeze until almost solid, about 1 hour. Meanwhile in a bowl whisk together espresso, cocoa and remaining condensed milk (I used more than 1/4 cup because I like sweet coffee!). Refrigerate until cold. Divide the espresso mixture between molds insert stick and freeze until solid - about 4 hours. Run warm water over molds to remove the pops. Dust cream layer with more cocoa powder. Yummy!

I hope I gave you a little inspiration. Go search your stacks, do some cooking and blogging and come back here to link up! Putting a link back to my blog in your post would be neighborly too :-)

Happy Mother's Day to all you Mothers out there including my own! Love you Momma!

I'm joining for the following parties
Sweets for a Saturday
Weekend Cooking
So Sweet Sunday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
What's On Your Plate?
Meatless Mondays

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Flashback Friday ~My Momma

How about a Mother's Day Flashback this week? This is my Mom looking very motherly with her 4 kids. I'm the baby!

It's a quickie, but I've had late days at work this week. If you have a flashback of any kind to share please add your link below. A Mother's Day related post is the perfect flashback!

Hope everyone has a great first weekend of May!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

~Bloedel Reserve~

My parent were here visiting a couple weeks back and although the weather wasn't stellar, it was nice enough that we were able to go out on a couple of "field trips". The first was to a place called the Bloedel Reserve. It's the former estate of a lumber magnate and his wife and now is a public garden. The estate is 150 acres in total, with about half of that developed gardens and the rest are wooded areas. Much like the Chase Garden I blogged about last month, The Bloedel Reserve is dedicated mostly to native plants and natural plantings. Our walk started at this gate house which is a more recent structure and serves as a gift shop and starting point for tours.

The most formal plantings in the whole garden are around this gate house and even those have a natural feel with the drifting heather.

From the gatehouse we followed a bark path which marks the trails throughout the garden and headed for the sheep sheds.

Past the sheds there were bulbs here and there in the grass

Past the meadow, we entered a more wooded area.

And we were greeted by some wildlife..not a bit scared of us.

We passed this beautiful red flowering currant - I've got one in my yard but it sure doesn't look like this!

We soon came to a beautiful area known at the Bird Marsh

And we did see a few water fowl including this pair of geese

It was a very pretty spot I could have stayed at for a while

But we kept moving into an even more heavily wooded area via a trestle bridge and elevated boardwalk.

Which had what I think is the family symbol embedded in it.

I was so proud of my Mom for walking the whole 2 miles of trail, even in the slightly steeper wooded areas with not much rest. Having my Dad at her side probably helped :-)

No matter how long I live here I don't think I will ever get tired of seeing the beautiful moss covered surfaces of the Pacific Northwest forest.

I get caught up in details like this moss covered stump

At the base of this tree I found a little treasure trove of mushrooms

Not sure if they were edible but they sure were cute!

What struck me in this area were the many shades of green. Can you count them all?

But there wasn't just green..there was some color along the way too. Like these native bleeding hearts.

And "skunk" cabbage which reminds me of calla lilies.

Here's a view of the neat boardwalk that allowed us to walk over some wet areas where the skunk cabbage grows. Keep in mind...this was someone's "yard" at one time.

As we emerged from the woods we saw a beautiful weeping willow

It is really an idyllic setting

And it flanks the drive up to the former Bloedel home

Here's another shot of the willow from a different angle

There was a plant sale going on that day. I'm not sure how, but I didn't come home with anything!

We were able to tour the first floor of the house. I loved this beautiful bouquet made from items on the grounds. That's Mr. Bloedel in his searsucker jacket on the wall.

Behind the home is a beautiful view of Puget Sound

To the side of the house and down a little hill is an overlook to a waterfall

We followed a trail from this point and walked through this beautiful little stand of birch trees

This trail leads to a beautiful spot called the Christmas pool. It was a gift to Mrs. Bloedel from her husband.

This area has more perennial flower plantings than many of the other areas because they were things she liked. Like this beautiful hellebore.

The pool is lined in pretty spring blooming natives as well

Including these pretty pink fawn lilies. I bought one like it at a plant sale a few weeks ago. I really am envious of the space to let these kinds of plants naturalize. My little yard just doesn't allow me to let things go...I have to corral them! lol

Next we crossed over a little bridge

And up the side of the creek

Then into another wooded area which had a lot of pretty groundcovers like this mix of pulmonaria, oxalis and bleeding heart.

More beautiful moss covered trees in this area

And I spied some trillium

We came across a beautiful old rhododendron along this walk

I love these little oomphaloides and I love their name too!

I'd love to have one of these Mayapples (podophyllum). I love their shape.

There were so many little "wild" flowers. These yellow dog violets were so cheery.

Lots of places to stop and sit throughout the garden

Towards the end of the trail we got a glimpse of the backside of the beautiful weeping willow

And found ourselves at the Japanese garden

The cherry trees were beginning to drop their pretty pink petals

The Japanese Garden features a guest house & zen rock garden

I loved the checkerboarded stepping stones

The gate leading out of the Japanese garden - that is black mondo grass flanking each side of the walk.

Leaving the Japanese garden and heading towards perhaps the most interesting part of the Reserve...the moss garden.

Most every other low growing vegetation was removed from this area and moss transplanted in

The effect is amazing. We were told its very hard to keep it up

There are a few other plants including the skunk cabbage..but they seem to really blend in with the greenish yellow moss theme

At the end of the moss trail is a reflecting pond where you can see mirror images of the firs that tower around it. The Bloedels are buried in this area because it was a place they loved.

Back down the moss trail

And our tour was over! Here are the front side of my parents...I seemed to lag behind them the whole time :-)

Hope you enjoyed the walk! I'm joining in for Mosaic Monday over at Little Red House. Go check it out.
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