" " " " Singing With Birds: April 2010

Monday, April 26, 2010

May Day! May Day!

Frantic For a Fun New Treat?
Well, these cuties will take the cake!
Bake a batch of 24 cupcakes...

Frost them...

tint 1 cup of fancy flake coconut (sweetened), with green food coloring and sprinkle it on your frosted cupcakes...

(I like the Ghirardelli Chocolate brand.) I melt it in my microwave, checking and stirring it every 15 seconds. Overheating it will dry it out and it will become too thick. So watch it carefully....

once, twice,maybe three time's the charm. Just so the tootsie pop is well covered with the chocolate coating. I used a piece of oasis to hold my pops while they dried. Just after the last dip, cover with jimmies and sprinkles of your choice.

Now while your coated pops are sitting in your piece of oasis, carefully tie some curling ribbon around the top of your sticks and with scissors, give them a gentle curl. Poke them into your prepared cupcakes and....

you'll feel like celebrating with your

MAYPOLE CUPCAKES!

Happy May Day!



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Friday, April 23, 2010

Blissful Brunch

Ahhh...a Spring weekend. It's time to kick-back and enjoy a little extra rest and relaxation! But when it comes to brunch, it's a lazy morning for everyone but the cook. Here's my answer for that dilemma,
Tuscan Brunch Casserole with Creamy Pesto Parmesan Sauce

Go ahead, make it the day before! Slip it in the oven for one hour while you set the table and pull your party together...then enjoy your company. It's a perfect-fit for Mother's Day...

Several years ago I entered this recipe in a cook-off after creating it to meet my low-carb needs. I found that when I took it to a friend's home for brunch, her breakfast casserole that was layered with bread, (and really delish) was popular, but my low-carb casserole was gone! Friends asked for the recipe and I always recommend adding different veggies that you like. I serve it with sliced fresh fruit, muffins, or sliced Panettone French toasted...no syrup needed. Just add a leafy green salad for impressive, no fuss, brunch fare.
I use 5 mild Italian sausages, slip the skins off, and brown it up in a large skillet.
Add chopped red pepper and saute with the sausage till tender-crisp, for about 4 minutes. Drain the fat from the sausage and peppers well and set aside.
Saute fresh baby spinach just until it's limp...

Add sliced back olives, drained and sliced artichoke hearts, sliced mushrooms, and the sausage, peppers and spinach and let them reside together, cooling, while you whip up the rest!
In a large mixing bowl combine flour and baking powder. Whisk well with two eggs until smooth. Add the remaining 8 eggs and whisk well.
Add cottage cheese...
grated Parmesan cheese...
Italian-blend cheese and oregano, basil, parsley and fresh ground pepper. Whisk together and then add add the cooled sausage and veggies. Stir it up and pour it into a 9x13" prepared pan.

At this point you may cover and stash it in the fridge till the next day...or you can just bake it!
Bake it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
Garnish servings with sliced tomatoes, fresh Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, and
Creamy Pesto Parmesan Sauce, if you can handle the extra calories!

Tuscan Brunch Casserole

  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 (3.8 oz.) can sliced back olives, drained
  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, (remove any tough outside leaves) drain and slice
  • 4 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • small bag of baby spinach, pull tails
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 10 large eggs
  • 2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. parsley
  • 1 cup Italian blend cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Non-stick spray
In a large skillet over medium-high heat brown sausage. Add red pepper and saute till tender crisp, about 4 minutes. Drain the fat from the sausage and peppers and set aside to cool. Saute the spinach just until softened. Drain olives and artichokes. Add mushrooms. In a large mixing bowl combine flour and baking powder. Add two eggs and whisk till smooth. Add remaining 8 eggs and whisk well. Add cottage cheese, Italian blend cheese and Parmesan cheese along with the herbs. Add the cooled sausage and veggies and mix well. Spray a 9x13" pan with non-stick spray. Pour casserole ingredients into the pan. Cover and store in the fridge or go ahead, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and bake uncovered for 1 hour.

Creamy Pesto Parmesan Sauce

  • 2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup gated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup pesto
While the casserole is baking, prepare the sauce in a saucepan. Over medium heat, melt the cream cheese. Add salad dressing, cheese, broth and pesto. Stir till well combined. Keep sauce on low heat till time to serve.

Garnish casserole with sauce, fresh basil and sliced tomatoes.

Have an enjoyable time with family and friends this weekend.
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Monday, April 19, 2010

How We Tango!

My gaucho grills like no other. In Argentina they use an asado, (above) while my guy uses his new high-tech stainless steel gas grill. Year-round, if it's 25 below zero, he's been known to bundle-up and head out on our deck to grill. Most families enjoy ham or turkey for Christmas dinner, but with our California roots, we always grill. Salmon fillets, chicken, ribeyes, our favorite steak, fresh veggies,and pork tenderloin. It all goes so well with beautiful big bakers raised just above our home...and green salads.

They say, "It takes two to Tango," and this is how we do it!

He fires up his grill. On his, (and they do vary) my guy plans 10-15 minutes per side, set on low.
My job is to prepare the meat. I sometimes marinate or construct a sauce, and the balance of the meal. This week I found some beautiful ribeye steaks on sale and decided on my favorite Argentinean sauce, Chimichurri. It is similar to a pesto, and like pesto can be served on many things. Try it on all meats, poultry, fish, and on fajitas. It's easily made in a blender or food processor. Have I said how much I love my Cusinart?
Add fresh parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic, hot red pepper flakes, fresh ground pepper, cumin, salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar to your blender or food processor bowl.
Whirl and twirl, let it dance, until it is well mixed....like this!
Place it in a small bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
Now sauce your ribeye and enjoy the fabulous flavor...my favorite way we Tango!

Chimichurri Sauce (makes 1 to 1 1/2 cups of sauce)

  • 1 large bunch Italian parsley, leaves and thinner stems only (about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 large bunch of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano leaves
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor and whirl away. Transfer to a small bowl. Serve at room temperature and refrigerate leftovers. It will keep well for about a week.

Bueno Apetito mi amigas and amigos!
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Happiness!

What fun!
Sunday morning I woke to a message from jdaniel4smom.com

She selected Singing With Birds to receive a "Happy 101 Blog Award!"!
Thanks so much. I'm honored.

Here's 10 Things That Make Me Happy:

1. My faith. Each day the gospel of Jesus Christ makes me happy. I know where I came from, why I'm here and where I am going. Knowing about God and His plan for us, His children, makes me happy.

2. My amazing family; the man I married, our children, grands, brothas, sistas, nieces, nephews, and the best parents ever on both sides. They make life a party!

3. Good friends that are there for me. I'm happy to say I try to be for them too.

4. My house is for sale. I am happy, as getting it ready has been big!

5. Spring is here! I'm packing, cleaning, tossing...feels good.

6. Serving others. I like to help others and that is another really good thing about my faith. We serve in our nearby temple each week and that makes us very happy. Our marriage is stronger because of what we do.

7. Creating, cooking, and sharing with family and friends makes me happy!

8..Gardening, birds, and seeing this beautiful world makes me happy.

9. Fine Arts; dance, music, theater, design, art, are all so enriching.

10. Blogging makes me happy...I love all my blog friends. Thanks for visiting often.

Now, I get to pass this award along to 10 bloggers!
I know you will enjoy visiting each of their creative and beautiful blogs.
DRUM ROLL
  1. Seasonal Expressions (my creative niece, talented Tagan, love her ideas!)
  2. Cherry's Jubilee (beautiful pix and gift ideas)
  3. Get Off Your Butt and Bake (Jonna bakes like crazy! We have a mutual friend in NYC)
  4. Lions, Tigers and Boys, Oh My! (Ruby Red Slippers...fun family, real life stuff)
  5. The Sisters Cafe (5 sisters who share tried and true recipes and their family traditions)
  6. Confetti House ( a lovely place to visit)
  7. Glass Posse (a favorite family, giving and living in NYC)
  8. Bill Schiess Wild In Idaho (haven for bird watchers, nature lovers)
  9. Color Me Katie (zany, fun, pix...creative)
  10. 39 Squares (Amy's Stitch-a-long for her 39th Birthday)
Happy Monday Friends!
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

This Little Piggy...

Who doesn't love sweet and sour chicken or pork? Wooh...I always have to stop and think! Then I remind myself that traditional sweet and sour dishes are generally deep-fat fried, in a sweet sauce, and served over sticky rice. It is loaded with sugar, fat and carbs.

So This Little Piggy...is Better!

Fruited Pork Chops
is a tried and true family favorite, that is healthy, easy to prepare and cooks slowly in the oven. Many times I've made it and snuggled it into the oven while we attend our church meetings. We arrive home to a yummy dinner that is ready to serve. Change up the fruit to make it your own. It's delicious with chicken instead of pork if that's what you prefer, or better yet, have on hand. Try adding pineapple tidbits, diced green pepper and onion with pork or chicken for flavor and a nice change.
Lightly salt and pepper chops. In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, brown pork chops in olive oil.
Remove the chops to a platter and add a chopped onion to the drippings. Saute for a few minutes.
Add all the other ingredients to the skillet, except for the meat.
Pour the contents of the skillet into a 9x13 pan, or a large covered roaster. Cover and bake in a 325 degree oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Fruited Pork Chops

8 pork chops, 1/2 inch thick (I like boneless)
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped yellow onion
2 cups of long cook rice, (I like to use brown and throw some wild rice in too)
4 cups of water (sometimes I add extra flavor with Better Than Bouillon)
2 peeled and chopped tart apple (Granny Smith or Macintosh are both perfect)
1 15 ounce can mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup raisins
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp ground marjoram or poultry seasoning is good too

Trim excess fat from pork chops; season lightly with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, brown quickly in olive oil over medium-high heat. Remove the meat and add chopped onion. Saute till it is slightly cooked. Combine all remaining ingredients, (excluding the meat) with the onion; mix well, then pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Arrange chops on top of this mixture. Cover, (heavy duty foil works well) and bake for 2 1//2 hours at 325 degree oven. Serves 8.

Have a happy, healthy, relaxed weekend!
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Berry Spectacular Salad

Oh my, the sheer joy of Spring-time and delectable strawberries!
Like me, are you inspired by the freshest of all foods this time of the year? Strawberries are both bountiful and versatile, pairing well with almost anything. One of my favorite combos is fresh oranges and strawberries. Try them in this delish Strawberry-Spinach Salad and I promise, you too will be singing!
Begin by:
Melting 2 Tbsp. butter, add 4 Tbsp. of brown sugar, and 8 ounces (1 cup) slivered almonds. Stir constantly, watching carefully as they will burn easily.When they look toasted and candied....
like this...remove from heat...
spread out on parchment paper and let cool.
Make the dressing by combining rice vinegar, sugar or substitute, orange juice concentrate, salt and pepper, and canola oil.
You may whisk it together or I like to use my immersion blender for a frothy, creamy dressing.
Combine spinach, romaine, and green onions. Toss with dressing, strawberries and oranges and garnish with candied almonds.
Strawberry-Spinach Salad
  • 1 bag snipped fresh spinach
  • 1 head of romaine, washed, dried, and torn into bite size pieces
  • 12 sliced strawberries
  • 2 sliced fresh oranges
  • 1 bunch of sliced green onions, (some of the green tops too)
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • 4 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
Orange Delight Dressing:
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar ( I like seasoned rice vinegar)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or sugar substitute like stevia, I use about 1/2 dropper-full)
  • 2 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup canola oil
In a saucepan saute melted butter and add brown sugar. Stir almonds constantly to toast and sugar coat. Be careful they will burn! Cool on parchment paper. Prepare greens and place in a in a large salad bowl. Add strawberries, oranges, green onions. Just before serving toss with dressing and garnish with almonds before serving.

"Ah-ha": This salad is fabulous topped with sliced, grilled chicken or a grilled salmon fillet. Serve it with a luscious potato-knot-roll (recipe coming soon!) and a scoop of sorbet for a easy, light luncheon.

Wishing you a berry-good week!
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Monday, April 5, 2010

The Mango Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree

Our youngest daughter and granddaughter are visiting this week. She is a better organizer than her mother, helping me clean closets. Actually, we are Spring cleaning and getting our home ready to sell. She enjoys cooking and trying new things. She shared this Baked Coconut Shrimp with Mango Sauce with us. I had never heard of it being baked before, only fried. The preparation requires some time, but it's worth it. Our daughter served it as a main dish with rice. We loved it with the discovery of her yummy sauce. Use your imagination. It would be super tasty with a number of other combinations.
Baked Coconut Shrimp with Mango Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 26 large uncooked (peeled, deveined and leave tails intact)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper (can use more)
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Directions:
  1. Set oven at 375
  2. Run Shrimp under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
  3. In a shallow dish combine the cornstarch with salt and red pepper; stir and combine.
  4. Place the egg whites in a medium bowl; beat using an electric mixer on high speed until frothy (about 2 minutes).
  5. Place the coconut in a shallow dish.
  6. Working one shrimp at a time dredge the shrimp firstly in the cornstarch mixture, then dip in egg whites and then in shredded coconut.
  7. Place the shrimp on a parchment-lined baking sheet that has been generously coated with cooking spray.
  8. Repeat with remaining shrimp (cornstarch, then egg white and then in coconut.)
  9. Lightly spray the coconut with cooking spray.
  10. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the shrimp is done, turn the shrimp after 10 minutes of cooking making 10 minutes per side.
Mango Sauce:
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 tangelo ( juice only)
  • 1 tsp. coconut extract
  • 1 mango (diced into small pieces)
  • Tbsp. cornstarch
Mix all ingredients. Put on stove over the heat and stir while sauce thickens. Great on rice as well or can be used with fish or chicken as a sauce.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bust My Bunny's Buttons!

Hey all you Bunnies! Do you remember
these little gems?
(click above for a complete tutorial)
They are my favorite little holiday treat...
Add to these mini-fill and thrill eggs...
and you'll be already for your Easter Egg Hunt! I can hardly wait...
May your baskets be full and your Spring Spectacular!
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