Friday, May 22, 2015

The Lady's Tea

Cool drinks on a hot summer day to quench your thirst are delightful.  During these hot days, I like to make flavored teas and fruit juice drinks to cool off, and one of my favorites is Lady Grey Caffeine Free Iced Tea with lemon.

I use a 2 quart pitcher and fill it with 8 cups of cold water, drop in 10 Lady Grey Tea bags, and let it brew on the counter for about 6 hours.  Then add 1/2 cup of sugar (more if you like it sweeter), juice of  a lemon, fresh lemon slices and a few sprigs of fresh mint.  Pour over a tall glass of ice and enjoy!
Another great flavor is Red Raspberry Caffeine Free Iced Tea with lemon.  Brew the same as Lady Grey and.....

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Keep Calm And Eat A Brownie Ice Cream Sammie!

Ice cream sandwiches are a great summer treat, a little bit of cookie and ice cream, and all it takes is one hand to eat it.  I remember the ice cream truck, that came around our neighborhood when I was growing up, use to sell chocolate chip cookie and waffle ice cream sandwiches, gosh I loved them both.  Today I made brownie ice cream sandwiches for dessert to go with my true picnic dinner of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, pasta salad, baked beans and sauerkraut. This is how I made them.

I took the fast way out and used boxed brownie mix.  I always have a huge box of this as a standby if I don't have time for homemade.  I mixed it according to the package directions. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
 I also purchased a muffin top pan, who doesn't just like the muffin top?  I get a triple use out of this pan now making homemade ice cream sandwiches.  I sprayed each cup of the pan with cooking spray, used my clean hands to completely coat the sides and bottom of the cups so the brownies do not stick.
 Added my ingredients and mixed it all up.
 I used a small ice cream scoop, you can also use a small ladle, to drop the batter evenly into the cups.
I took the back of the scoop to smooth the batter out in the cups.
Batter loaded up.....
 and baking in the oven.  I baked them for 13 minutes. Ovens vary so bake accordingly.
 When these came out of the oven, I used a wooden skewer to loosen them around the edges a little bit.  Don't spend too much time doing this, just lightly go around the edges.  Place a cooling rack over the top.....
 flip them over and while holding the pan and the rack together tap it on a hard surface to loosen.  Leave the pan over the top for a few minutes for the steam to help release them and the brownies will pop out of the pan.
Line them up on another cooling rack until cooled.  They kind of look like hamburgers! Don't they?
When they are cooled, transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  When all are baked cover with plastic wrap and freeze.
 Next step when the brownies are done baking, wash the cooled muffin top pan, line with a long piece of plastic wrap, and scoop vanilla and/or chocolate ice cream into each cup, or your favorite flavor.  I think any flavor would be awesome in these.   
 Wrap tightly by pulling the plastic wrap over the top and tucking the sides under.  Use the bottom of a glass and press the ice cream into the cups to flatten to the size of the cup.  It looks a little sloppy but once it's frozen it will be the size of the brownies.
See!  When ready to eat, place a brownie patty on the bottom, ice cream patty in the middle and another brownie patty on top.  Now, I could go on and on about how to serve these, with a million different things to add to them, but I won't, use your imagination there are endless possibilities to change the flavors, go for it!
 IF there are any leftovers, wrap individually in parchment paper, then place in a resealable bag and store in the freezer.  Sit back, kick your feet up and enjoy.  These are so delicious, you're gonna love them!
  Makes 8 sandwiches.

NOTE:  Here is a low-fat idea, use No Pudge Brownie Mix and your favorite frozen yogurt flavor instead of regular brownie mix and ice cream.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Spring Has Been Kind This Year

I go through the planting ritual of Spring every year, sometime Spring is good to me and sometimes not.  In the past Spring has been very hot, more like Summer temperatures, and no rain.  When that happens, it's very hard to keep up with the watering, and some plants and flowers just don't tolerate the heat well.  I have alot of trees around the property, but there is also alot of sun.  The sun burns plants and flowers out, even if they are supposed to be planted in the full sun, that's how hot it gets here.  So this Spring has been kind to me and my plants, so far.  Everything is coming up nicely, including the vegetable garden (more on that later).

Pretty pot of petunias and a mandevilla on the font step.
 The rhododendrons in full bloom, and the knockout roses are peeking their heads out!
The peony garden is poppin'!  These are my absolute favorite flower.
I have them in all kinds of sizes and colors.  I covet the yellow peony, I want them for my garden.
I have a long row of peonies in front of the house, and can't wait until they all open, they are so pretty.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bourbon Beef BBQ Shish Kebabs

The hubby wanted steak on the grill for dinner on Sunday, to cap off the week.  I thought I took whole steaks out of the freezer, but it was steak tips.  Oh well, had to change gears just a bit and figure out what to do with those.  We just had pork kebabs and I wasn't sure I wanted to make kebabs again.  But, I did, and boy were they fantastic!  He was swooning all over these.  The meat was like buttah!  You could cut it with a fork and all the other flavors going on, you didn't need anything else to accompany them.  Can you say yum?
  Recipe below.
To print recipe, click on it, highlight and print. 

Here are my delicious kebabs!
And this is what I used to marinate them.
 Now, this sauce is awesome too.  Traders Joe's Siracha and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce.  I used this on my son's (who is vegan) vegetable kebabs.  I just skewered all the same vegetable on his, minus the meat.  Grill veggies a little bit first then brush on the BBQ sauce to coat as you are cooking them.
Bourbon Beef BBQ Shish Kebabs

1 - 1 1/2 lb package of beef tips
1 bottle of bourbon flavored BBQ sauce or glaze
1/2 large portobello mushroom, cut in chunks
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in chunks
1 green zucchini, cut in half, then cut into thick moon shapes
1 yellow zucchini, cut in half, then cut into thick moon shapes
1 red onion, cut in half then quarters
2 ears of sweet corn, cut into eight pieces

Two hours before grilling, cut the beef tips into 2 inch pieces.  Put the beef  in a resealable bag and pour about 1/2 of the BBQ sauce over them, reserve the remainder for basting. Toss to coat, and put into the refrigerator.

Take the beef out of the refrigerator about 30 minutes before grilling. When you are ready to start grilling, heat the grill.  String 3 - 4 pieces of beef (discard the marinade), corn, zucchini, onion, pepper and mushroom until the skewer in almost full, leave about an inch at the top of the skewer with no veggies on it. Repeat until all meat and veggies are skewered.  Lay them out on the grill and baste with some of the reserved BBQ sauce.  Cook, turning and basting, for about 10 minutes on each side.  Makes 6 kebabs.

NOTE: For the veggie kebabs, repeat all the steps except for the beef.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Christmas in May

Went to a few of my favorite stores over the weekend, to break up the monotony of yard work that has been going on for weeks around this house. I needed to get away from all of that and do something fun for a change.

  The first stop was King's, it's a great country store that makes and sells alot of handmade furniture as well as home decor.  Fell in love with this rustic cutting board chalkboard ($14.95) and purchased the wrought iron stand ($7.95) to hold it.
 Also at King's -Small berry, eucalyptus and fern floral ring with a burlap and paper butterfly ($8.95) and the burlap ruffled square ($9.95).  The red pottery rooster planter is from Kirkland's ($12.99)
Then while browsing through King's, I found burlap valances, how cute are these!  I am going to use them in the kitchen for the back door and the kitchen window.  They measure 72" W x 14 1/2 " L including the ruffle ($19.95 each)
Picked up a lamp for the coffee bar in the kitchen at Kirkland's too, it has a burlap shade was $24.95 marked down to $19.98.
I have been looking for non-slip seat cushions for the kitchen chairs for a month, stumbled upon exactly what I wanted, black and cream colored seat cushions at Reading China and Glass ($9.99 each). 
They fit perfect!  Also at RC&G, 144 red and white striped,  thick,  paper straws for $5.99, for those cool summer drinks!
Needed a muffin top pan, found that too at RC&G.  I am making individual brownie ice cream sandwiches for a dessert and this pan will do the trick ($15.99).
Hamburger press ($6.99) and Cuisinart Citrus Juicer ($29.99), both from RC&G.
At the Christmas Tree Shop - Blue and white check fabric canning jar covers and decorative tags ($2.29), hopefully my tomato crop will be successful and I will can tomatoes this year. 
Americana paper plates 10/pk  for $1.00, for all the summer holiday parties.
I thought this looked pretty cool, blow it up, fill with ice and set your food in it to keep it cold ($7.99).
Tissues for the cup holder in the car ($1.41), 50 decorative baking cups ($1.29), 140 bamboo shish kebab ($3.29). 
70 count long barbecue matches ($1.22), Non-melting suet for the birds ($1.08).
I have so many boxes of canning jars, so why not use them as drinking glasses, these are lids with a reusable heavy plastic straw to fit on top, so no bugs get in your drinks ($1.41 each pack of 2).
Coastal Seafood Ketchup and Fish Taco Marinade ($2.99 each).
Linen tablecloth ($9.99).
Two pack of  flexable hoses, 50 feet each ($19.99).
"Morning Sunshine" gold foil, matted and framed wall art ($9.99).