Bountiful

Last weekend started off low key but with plenty of work to put our hands too. Rob and Sam worked really hard to dismantle the horse ring left by the previous owners. I literally climbed on the counter in my bathroom to get a good view of them because Sam was using power tools for the first time 🙂 Rob and I took the drone up for a few minutes before they got started because we want to document our progress as we work the land.

Dinner Saturday was delicious and right in the middle of it I looked up to see Emily and Hays pulling into our driveway. It was a lovely surprise for Mother’s Day! They also gifted me with some homemade vanilla that I cannot wait to use.

Sarah and Devon sent me the absolute best card along with a beautiful new addition to my Willow Tree figurine collection.

Rob and Abigail, Sam and Claire gave me the one thing I have wanted for literally years and years and we finally have the best place for it here…a swing to hang from one of our beautiful oak trees! I can hardly wait to sit in the mornings with Rob and drink our coffee together.

Speaking of coffee, my sweet friend and I went to a really lovely bakery in Lake Charles called The Bekery as a way to wrap up a book we’d been reading together. The food was scrumptious and I enjoyed a yummy lavender and honey latte. We are already planning our next read and decided this will be our tradition every time we finish a book.

Another favorite this week is this book.

We are looking for ways of using our property instead of selling parcels of it. Currently we are researching raising chickens and/or pigs and cultivating a flower farm. I am more excited about laying hens and their beautiful yard eggs rather than raising meat birds. And I like the idea of pigs more than meat birds for some reason. But I am positively delirious with joy at the idea of a flower farm! I almost always have fresh flowers in my house and if you pay any attention to my photography it’s easy to see how much I enjoy floral photography. I have a lot of reading to do to be able to really make things thrive in the ground here but I’m eager for the challenge.

Currently we have a huge blackberry bush growing and producing like gangbusters so I know the land can be fruitful. Trying to harvest ripe berries earlier in the week earned me and Emily some scratches but no pain no gain, right? Totally worth the yummy hand pies Claire baked yesterday. There are a ton of almost ready berries and I realize I am going to have to check it daily if I don’t want them going to waste. It’s already frustrating because of some of them are out of reach already but the bush is so beautiful.

Since we are talking about sweet treats I am going to wrap up this week’s Friday Favorites post with a link to a recipe I made a few weeks back for church. My mother shared it with me years ago and until recently I had forgotten all about it. For some reason the original recipe was called Italian Bakeless Cake which just doesn’t sit right with me. I have no idea what is Italian about it but the weirder thing to me was calling it “bakeless” which is just an odd sounding word to me. I promptly made it Italian No Bake Cake but no matter what you call it just make sure you get called to the table to enjoy it!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Monday Randomness ~ Brussels Sprouts Edition

Every once in a while I come across either a food or food trivia that I feel compelled to pass along. It’s been a while though since I did that (maybe the last time was this post about apples on my old photography blog?)

But I have been meaning to share a particular brussels sprouts recipe over at She Feeds Her Family and figured it could be fun to share some random facts about those little balls of mini cabbage.

First, they actually are not mini cabbages. More like a cousin since they’re part of the same family as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and kale. They are a human engineered strain of a wild cabbage.

They can be traced back to the 13th century and are not native to the US. They can be grown just about anywhere with New York, Washington and California the leading growers in the states producing over 32,000 tons of them.

They were introduced to Louisiana in the 1800s by the French. Merci beaucoup!

Great Britain considers brussel sprouts their national vegetable.

They grow on stalks! I think it was last year when I saw an actual brussels sprout stalk for the first time and this fact totally amazed me. Apparently they last longer on the stalk than loose so if you can buy them still attached do it. Plus they look way cooler 😉 In 2000 a US couple grew the world’s tallest stalk measuring in at over nine feet tall! The biggest individual sprout ever grown weighed in at 18lbs and 3oz.

They are incredibly healthy. Sprouts have more vitamin C than oranges and vitamin K is abundant along with other antioxidants and being high in fiber.

A 2019 survey found brussels sprouts to be the fourth most hated vegetable in our country. Most believe this is due to improper cooking technique though. I mean, an overcooked squishy brussel sprout is rather yucky but roasted with apples and bacon? Or pan seared with gnocchi? They are delicious!

But there might actually be a genetic reason someone doesn’t like the little green veggie powerhouse. The gene TAS2R38, which is responsible for tasting the chemical PTC. PTC is how humans taste bitterness so if your family doesn’t love them you guys may have a developed amount of PTC.

I came across a New York Times recipe and when I finally got around to making it it became a family favorite. Actually, it’s been a favorite every time I have made it no matter who I made it for.

Mosey on over and check it out and you will be able to enjoy it’s deliciousness and wow people with all the fun random facts you now know about brussel sprouts.

Happy Monday, y’all!

Look how pretty they are!

It’s The Weekend, Y’all

We have friends coming to visit us from Florida tomorrow and we are so excited to see them! We have settled in and found a home here so much faster than we expected and it gives me much joy to introduce my Florida people to my Louisiana people. They will even get to be here for church on Sunday.

In somewhat related news, Emily has just about all of her stuff out of the apartment so I will take today to wash linens and get the space ready for Al and Mary to stay in. Bless her heart, Em has been driving back and forth a lot between here, Monroe, and Pensacola and I know she is ready for the wedding and to finally get settled. I am excited for her but at times it also makes me sad…somehow I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly we arrived here and I naively thought because I had already gone through having a daughter move out that I knew what to expect. I didn’t, mainly because when Sarah moved into her apartment she was still only 20 minutes away. I’m adjusting though. Being mindful that this is the normal and right way of things. It helps that Hays is such a godly young man and I know he will love Emily well.

And this brings me to the first of this week’s Friday favorites. When we were in Monroe for Em’s birthday we were talking about how difficult it has been for my very homebody child to basically be living in limbo since our move in November. She knew she wouldn’t be here with us in Sulphur for long so it really hasn’t become her home in a settled sense. She also knows that despite Hays moving into the apartment they will share and being able to decorate and set it up that that is not yet her home either. Throw in trips back to Pensacola for wedding dress fittings and meetings and you can see why she is just sort of over it. I joked something about her being a woman without a country and Hays quipped back without any hesitation that she does indeed have a country, she is just waiting on her visa. Y’all may not find that as funny as I did but it really made me laugh. I think he might be ready for the actual wedding to get here too.

Here are a few favorite images of some yellow tulips I had recently. I love tulips, don’t you? I love flowers in general and cannot wait for spring to get here so I can start playing in the dirt!

Another favorite thing I came across this week is this cartoon. I get confused by all the texting abbreviations and this were quite funny to me. I think my favorites are ROFL and MOG.

The article I was reading about the cartoonist also used the word pithy and that fell into the favorite things category too. Sarah just returned from a trip to England and one of the biggest things she noticed was the differences between the way Americans speak and the way the English speak. It was more than the obvious accents; she said they just use nicer words in general and sound so much more pleasant. They probably use the word pithy more than we do.

Last favorite thing for this week. You can go here and get the recipe for a delicious sweet treat that I took to the superbowl party we went to last Sunday. This cookie dough dip is made with cream cheese and melted brown sugar and butter and is just so tasty and a little unusual from normal sweet treats. You should make some.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Friday Favorites ~ Backroads Edition

Earlier in the week I mentioned riding down some back roads and taking pictures and since I think I have my days straight (it is Friday, yes?) it’s the perfect time to share a few. As a bonus I also have a link to a new recipe to share!

I really do find Louisiana to be a beautiful state. Even when we were just visiting in Monroe as Emily and Hays were getting to know each other last year I found myself enthralled with the bayous. But a new rival for my affections on that front are the marshes.

There is this beautiful color palette of blue and gold that I just love. As a drove further along I noticed a lot of black too and realised they must do controlled burns the way you do forests. Either that or there was one heck of a wildfire recently! The funny thing is that even the blackened landscape was beautiful.

I wanted to get a closer, better composed shot of this bench but when I got out of the car there was a great big sign that said, “Please do not feed or approach the alligators” and I thought to myself, “Not a problem! But has anyone told the alligators not to approach?”

I still have a particular shot in mind for this spot but I will wait until Rob is with me so I don’t have to be concerned about the wildlife!

Speaking of the wildlife…this is another shot still on my bucket list. I want to get a picture of a crane and this one is close to what I see in my head but my timing was off and the light was too harsh. I was still happy to have gotten this one though.

They can be pretty skittish so I captured quite a few fly away shots.

I drove on over to Holly Beach too. From the beginning of our move we have been told repeatedly not to expect Florida beaches here, actually not anything remotely close. So I wasn’t and I can see where you might would be disappointed if you were expecting pristine white sand and those crystal emerald green waters. Because the sand is brown and for about the first mile out from shore the water is brown because well, the sand at the bottom is brown. But you know what I learned? The magic of the beach is something you carry inside and it might have to do with the sound of the water and the scent.

I wasn’t disappointed at all. As a matter of fact I was delighted because the seashells here were ubiquitous and whole. And I promise you as the waves retreated the sound they made cascading over the shells was a music all its own. I picked up and brought home so many shells! I am not sure what I will do with them exactly, although I have a few ideas, but of course I did some macro pictures.

The colors and swirls are just so fascinating.

So no, not the Pensacola beaches I grew up on but I think I am going to do just fine here.

So two more things. First, my friend Tiffany shared this delicious goodness with me last week while we walked around with the kids doing the Cluedupp mystery. It is yummy! So yummy that I am really thankful it is a seasonal item 😊

Now about that recipe I mentioned. Are you familiar with a nearsighted cartoon character named Mr Magoo? He just sort of bumbles through situations none the wiser of the chaos that surrounds him. Do you see where this might be going? My beloved tells me I magoo my way through things sometimes. I, of course, have no idea of what he speaks 😉

Except for this recipe. I read it and thought I was following directions but…

It all worked out though because my version of sausage and gnocchi soup (forever after known in our house as Magoo Stew) turned out delicious and you should click the link and make it this weekend!

Have a great weekend you guys! Our church is hosting a wedding shower for Emily so our Porter people will be in town!

DPP ~ Day 8

I love cold weather. Winter is actually my second favorite season right after autumn. Those two facts are rather ironic considering that I live in Florida where we don’t really get much of either of those two seasons but we do get cool weather and I was delighted to have soup weather today.

My love and I have been on a Top Chef kick lately and it has really gotten us out of our comfort zones and trying different recipes and such. It’s funny to see how we both interact with it because I am focusing more on homey comfort food while Rob has been getting more adventurous with Asian food. (The man has perfected a killer spicy chicken with rice dish.)

Because it was colder today I did make a new soup recipe and it turned out okay I thought. Oddly enough I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would but Rob and Claire both gave it a thumbs up. Abigail doesn’t like onions so she tasted a spoonful and promptly popped open a can of cream of chicken soup.

This was only the second time I had cooked with leeks and I have to say we really like them! (Last night was also a new comfort food recipe…one that I really enjoyed but it has a good sourdough bread and cheese so what’s not to enjoy?)

Today’s dpp is actually a picture I took today while prepping for the carmelized onion and garlic bisque. The leeks just have a pretty color and fun shapes, don’t you think?

Pinterest Test Kitchen #99 ~ Cordon Bleu Bubble Up

This is crowd pleasing comfort food at it’s best. Biscuits and cheese are two of the main ingredients so seriously, how could it not be? I cannot even remember how I found the recipe, or when, but I know since I pinned it and started making it it’s a favorite at every potluck I bring it to. I was actually surprised to realize I hadn’t blogged it already.

What you’ll need:
2 cans Grands biscuits, cut into pieces
1 jar of Alfredo sauce (I like the family size jar but the regular works fine)
2 cups Swiss cheese, separated 
(I have only found shredded Swiss once, the rest of the time I just use sliced and chop it up)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 garlic salt
2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 lb deli ham, shredded

What you’ll do:
Toss the biscuit pieces with the Alfredo sauce and garlic seasonings
Add chicken, ham, and 1 cup of cheese
Stir until everything is well blended and coated with Alfredo sauce
Place into a 9×13 that has been coated with non stick cooking spray
Top with the remaining cup of cheese
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are done.

Serve with a Caesar salad or steamed green beans so you’re at least giving a nod to the healthy life and enjoy!

Test Kitchen #96 ~ Lemon Tart

I think this has become my absolute favorite dessert right now. For reals. It’s cool and smooth and tart and with just enough summer tanginess. It comes from a Taste of Home cookbook my mother gave us and my youngest daughter actually picked it out (along with about ten more but this is the only one we’ve tried so far.)

I have found that opinions can run pretty strong on the matter of lemon flavored desserts but I am solidly in the go for it camp. I think it taste like summer and is so yummy.

This tart is delicious and bonus…you get a great arm workout.

What you’ll need:
1 pastry shell, baked
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/4 cup butter
1 TBS grated lemon peel
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup sour cream
What you’ll do:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan.
Gradually stir in milk until smooth.
Cook, constantly stirring, over medium-high heat until it thickens.
Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir for two more minutes.
Remove from heat.
Take a spoonful of the hot mixture and stir it into the eggs yolks.
Return all of it to the sauce pan and return to burner.

Bring back to a gentle boil, stirring the whole time.
Cook for two more minutes.

Remove from heat.
Stir in butter and lemon peel.
Gently add in lemon juice.
Cover and cool completely.
Fold in sour cream.
Pour into pastry shell.
Refrigerate for at least two hours before cutting. 
Garnish with whipped topping.
Enjoy!

It really is the perfect dessert for these hot summer days.

Test Kitchen #95 ~ Keep It Simple

I like pretty food.

I like pretty food that taste good.

I especially like pretty food that taste good and is simple to whip up.
When we were in Lakeland Rob and I had dinner with the pastor’s family and a few church members. The company was entertaining and conversation flowed easily. The food was really yummy but this simple little appetizer she served us was so delicious I knew I would be making it and sharing the goodness on here.
The flavors are so good together and it could not be any easier to put together and it’s also very pleasing to the eye. 
What you’ll need:
goat cheese
walnuts
fresh rosemary, chopped
honey
wheat thins
What you’ll do:
Place the goat cheese on your serving plate. 
With a spoon soften and basically mess the shape up a little.
Sprinkle with walnuts and rosemary.
Drizzle with honey.
Set it beside a bunch of those wheat thins and step back out of the way because people are going to want to eat it up!

Pinterest Test Kitchen #94 ~ Pioneer Woman’s Chocolate Pie

In the very beginning of my Pinterest Test Kitchen posts I merely linked to the recipe and shared any changes I made and what our overall reaction was to the recipe. Then for some reason I started typing them completely out and only linking to the original source. Actually I think the reason was because I hate clicking on a link expecting a recipe but then having to click through to another site just to get to it. Terribly lazy of me I know and somewhat hypercritical because I am going to probably start including more of those kinds of posts again.  Why reinvent the wheel, right? I’m sure that upon occasion I will still type out the whole thing but for today I am going to link to a delicious homemade pie from Pioneer Woman.

The only real thing I would change would be not using my large pie plate. As you can see it made for a thinner pie and pie should never be thin.

That homemade chocolate pudding filling?

So.Good.

I’ve actually bought the stuff to make a white chocolate version. Doesn’t that sound just delicious with raspberries on top? I’ll let you know how it turns out when I make it!

Test Kitchen #93 ~ The I Threw It All Together And It Turned Out Good Edition

I know I’ve been neglecting the blog but geeze, I didn’t realize it had been since sometime in December since I shared a recipe. But Imma fix that right now. And it’s a super easy but oh, so yummy one too.

While I didn’t follow a recipe for this I am positive that there are a bunch of really great ones out there for the same thing. Probably better ones. Probably with handmade ingredients and I imagine it would be really great if you were so inclined. But the great thing about this dish, I think, is it’s ability to adapt to either option. This is the quick and easy throw it all together and get on with life version.

What you’ll need:
One package of your favorite stuffed ravioli, prepared according to package directions
(I’ve used the Rana and the Buitoni brands. Plus one from Sam’s Club that I can’t remember the name of but it was stuffed with a smoked cheese…so good!)
2 jars Alfredo sauce
1 8oz fresh mushrooms, sauteed
1 large or 2 medium size boneless chicken breast, boiled and shredded
green onions or scallions, chopped
Shaved Parmesan cheese
What you’ll do:
Mix all ingredients except the ravioli together in a large sauce pan. 
Cook until heated through.
Gently stir in pasta until ravioli is completely coated.
Pour into a 9×13 pan.
Top with the cheese.
Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes

Serve with either a salad or steamed green beans or asparagus.