Vegetable Kabobs

Skewers of potatoes, peppers, onions, and squash take on a smoky flavor when grilled. Brush on herbs and salad dressing for a bit of extra flavor and you’ll have a side dish recipe that’s scrumptious when served with grilled chicken, pork, or steak.

Yield: 8 Servings

Vegetable Kabobs

Photo by BHG.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 2 small red onions, each cut into 4 wedges or 8 red boiling onions
  • 8 baby squash (such as zucchini and/or yellow summer squash)
  • 8 medium fresh mushrooms
  • 8 miniature sweet peppers or 1 or 2 small red and/or orange sweet peppers, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup bottled oil-and-vinegar salad dressing
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions: 

  1. In a covered medium saucepan cook potatoes and onions in a small amount of lightly salted boiling water over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until nearly tender, adding the squash and mushrooms for the last 1 minute of cooking time. Drain well. Cool slightly. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes before grilling.
  2. On eight 10-inch skewers, alternately thread potatoes, onions, squash, mushrooms, and sweet peppers, leaving a 1/4-inch space between pieces. In a small bowl combine salad dressing, rosemary, salt, and pepper; brush over vegetables.
  3. Place kabobs on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals. Grill for 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, turning and brushing occasionally with dressing mixture. Makes 8 servings

TO BROIL:

Place kabobs on the greased unheated rack of a broiler pan. Broil about 3 to 4 inches from the heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, turning and brushing occasionally with dressing mixture.
Nutrition Facts (Vegetable Kabobs)

Per serving: 75 kcal cal., 4 g fat (1 g sat. fat, 145 mg sodium, 9 g carb., 1 g fiber, 2 g pro.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Spring Salmon Chowder Recipe

Yield: 8 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cauliflowerets
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 8 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 4 cups 2% milk
  • 1 can (14-3/4 ounces) salmon, drained, skin and bones removed
  • 1 package (9 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

Directions:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine cauliflower and water. Microwave, covered, on high for 4-5 minutes or until tender, stirring once.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add celery and green onions; cook and stir until tender. Stir in flour, salt and dill until blended; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened.
  3. Stir in salmon, peas and cauliflower; heat through. Stir in cheeses until melted. Serve immediately.

 

 
Originally published as Salmon Chowder in Taste of Home April/May 2004, p22

Plants that Attract Butterflies

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the following list of plants attract butterflies.

Purple coneflower and butterfly

Purple coneflowers are just one type of perennial that will attract butterflies.

It’s obvious: Butterflies and flowers were made for each other. As the poet pointed out, butterflies are flying flowers, and flowers are tethered butterflies.

In attracting butterflies to your garden, it’s important to understand what they want most out of life: nectar. The ancients, who believed that nectar fell directly from heaven, named it after the wines of the gods. A butterfly’s wish list also includes sunny open spaces, shelter from the wind, and fresh water.

For a nectar-rich flower border designed to satisfy these requirements, consider the plants listed below. Then invite a few butterflies over for a drink.

For a nectar-rich flower border designed to satisfy these requirements, consider the plants listed below. Then invite a few butterflies over for a drink.

Common Name                                       Latin Name
Allium                                                               Allium
Aster                                                                  Aster
Bee balm                                                          Monarda
Butterfly bush                                                 Buddleia
Catmint                                                            Nepeta
Clove                                                                 Pink Dianthus
Cornflower                                                      Centaurea
Daylily                                                             Hemerocallis
False indigo                                                    Baptisia
Fleabane                                                         Erigeron
Floss flower                                                   Ageratum
Globe thistle                                                 Echinops
Goldenrod                                                     Solidago
Helen’s flower                                              Helenium
Hollyhock                                                     Alcea
Lavender                                                       Lavendula
Lilac                                                              Syringa
Lupine                                                          Lupinus
Lychnis                                                        Lychnis
Mallow                                                        Malva
Milkweed                                                    Asclepias
Mint                                                            Mentha
Pansy                                                          Viola
Phlox                                                          Phlox
Privet                                                         Ligustrum
Purple coneflower                                  Echinacea
Rock cress                                                Arabis
Sage                                                          Salvia
Sea holly                                                  Eryngium
Shasta daisy                                           Chrysanthemum
Snapdragon                                           Antirrhinum
Stonecrop                                              Sedum
Sweet alyssum                                      Lobularia
Sweet rocket                                         Hesperis
Tickseed                                               Coreopsis
Zinnia                                                   Zinnia

Also, check out these two slideshows from Better Homes and Gardens are How to make a Butterfly Garden and Top plants for your Butterfly garden. The website also offers a free plan for a Butterfly Garden.

BHG Butterfly Garden

Better Homes & Garden offers a free butterfly garden plan. Check out more garden plans on the website.

Spring Cheesecake Cake (raspberry, lemon & orange)

Click here for a delightful recipe from the “I am Baker” blog.

Spring Cheesecake Cake (raspberry, lemon and orange)

Find this recipe and more on the I am Baker blog. (Photo by Amanda Rettke)

Spring Cheesecake Cake (raspberry, lemon & orange)

Ingredients:

Raspberry Cheesecake

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) McCormick® Raspberry Extract
  • 2 drops McCormick® Red food coloring

Lemon Cheesecake

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) McCormick® Pure Lemon Extract

Orange Cheesecake

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) McCormick® Pure Orange Extract
  • 1 drop McCormick® Red food coloring
  • 1 drop McCormick® Yellow food coloring

White Sheet Cake

  • 1 cup (230g or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 2 cups (400g) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, room temperature
  • 2 and 1/4 cups (285g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240ml) whole milk

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup (240 ml) cold heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons (15-25 grams) confectioners sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder (optional)

Instructions:

Raspberry Cheesecake

  1. Place cream cheese into bowl of stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Add in sugar and egg and beat on medium speed until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
    Scrape down sides of mixer bowl.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add in extract and food coloring.
  3. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan (grease and/or butter pan then line with parchment paper) and then pour the filling into the pan.
  4. Bake until cheesecake is set, 18-24 minutes at 325 degrees in a convection oven or 350 degrees in a regular oven. (Cheesecake can be slightly golden but not brown)
  5. Set the cheesecake on a wire rack and let it cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before assembling cake.

Lemon Cheesecake

  1. Place cream cheese into bowl of stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Add in sugar and egg and beat on medium speed until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
    Scrape down sides of mixer bowl.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add in extract.
  3. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan (grease and/or butter pan then line with parchment paper) and then pour the filling into the pan.
  4. Bake until cheesecake is set, 18-24 minutes at 325 degrees in a convection oven or 350 degrees in a regular oven. (Cheesecake can be slightly golden but not brown)
  5. Set the cheesecake on a wire rack and let it cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before assembling cake.

Orange Cheesecake

  1. Place cream cheese into bowl of stand mixer fixed with paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed for 30 seconds. Add in sugar and egg and beat on medium speed until smooth, 3-5 minutes.
    Scrape down sides of mixer bowl.
  2. With mixer on low speed, add in extract and food coloring.
  3. Prepare an 8-inch cake pan (grease and/or butter pan then line with parchment paper) and then pour the filling into the pan.
  4. Bake until cheesecake is set, 18-24 minutes at 325 degrees in a convection oven or 350 degrees in a regular oven. (Cheesecake can be slightly golden but not brown)
  5. Set the cheesecake on a wire rack and let it cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before assembling cake.

White Sheet Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Prepare a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan by spraying with non-stick spray then lining with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together and set aside.
  3. In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the softened butter for about 1 minute on medium speed. Add the sugar on medium speed and beat until fluffy and light in color, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add in eggs one at a time and mix until incorporated.
  5. With mixer on low speed, slowly pour in vanilla and then sour cream. (scrape bowl if necessary)
    Mix for 1-2 minutes on medium speed or until ingredients are fully incorporated.
  6. With mixer on low speed, pour half of the flour mixture into the creamed butter mixture. Now pour in half of the milk.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk and mix until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan using a small offset spatula. (be sure it is nice and level!)
  8. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Place in freezer until ready to assemble cake.

Whipped Cream
Place your mixing bowl and wire whisk in the freezer for about 15-30 minutes.
In stand mixer, whisk whipped cream for 1-2 minutes. Add in remaining ingredients and beat just until stiff peaks form. (If you need a more stable whipped cream add in meringue powder. If using immediately, you can omit the meringue powder.) Chill until ready to use. Makes about 2 cups (480 ml) whipped cream.
To Assemble Cake

  1. Make sure cheesecakes and white sheet cake are chilled. Place clean 8-inch pan on top of sheet cake and run a sharp paring knife around the edge. You now have a perfect 8-inch round white cake disc. Do this again so you have 2 total.
  2. Remove chilled orange cheesecake from pan and set on cake stand. (this is a thin cheesecake and when very chilled, can be easily popped out of the lined cake pan. You can also use a spring-form pan)
    Place one 8-inch white cake on top.
  3. Remove lemon cheesecake from pan and gently place on top of white cake.
  4. Place other 8-inch white cake on top of lemon cheesecake.
  5. Remove raspberry cheesecake from pan and gentle place on top of white cake.
  6. Cover cake in chilled whipped cream and serve. (You can refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.)
Photo by Amanda Rettke

Check out the I am Baker blog.  (Photo by Amanda Rettke)

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It’s a Bird? A Plane? No… it’s a Super Moon!

Three rare celestial events will occur this Friday, March 20, 2015. The people of Earth will experience a solar eclipse and a Supermoon during the Spring Equinox. For more, read the following article by Andrew Griffin of The Independent(UK): “As the eclipse plunges the UK and other places into darkness this Friday, two other rare if less spectacular celestial events will be taking place, too: a Supermoon and the Spring equinox. A Supermoon, or perigee moon, happens when the full or new moon does its closest fly-by of the Earth, making it look bigger than it normally does. And the spring equinox refers to the time of the year when the day and night are of equal duration, mid-way between the longest and shortest days. The solar eclipse refers to a phenomenon where the sun and moon line up, so that the latter obscures the former. And while it won’t be affected by the two other events, it is rare that the three events happen even individually.

Supermoon

Perigee moon In images from NASA, this supermoon is seen over the The Peace Monument on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC

In images from NASA in 2014, this supermoon is seen over the The Peace Monument on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

Most of the time, there are between three and six Supermoons a year. There is set to be six in 2015, two of which have already happened. The next will take place on March 20, the day of the eclipse, and the others will come in August, September and October. Eclipses can only happen at new moon, when the moon appears is entirely in shadow. And the spectacular Supermoon images that are often spotted can only happen when the moon is full, since it can only be seen then. As a result, only the last three Supermoons of this year will be visible — because the moon is new rather than full on March 20, it won’t be seen. But it will be gliding past us closer than ever, and its shadow will be visible as it blocks out the sun on Friday morning.

Spring equinox

The equinox will also happen on March 20. While it won’t have any discernable, direct impact on how the solar eclipse looks, it will contribute to a rare collision of three unusual celestial events. On March 20, the Earth’s axis will be perpindecular to the sun’s rays — which only happens twice a year, at the two equinoxes. After that, it will start tipping over, making the days longer in the northern hemisphere. As such, the equinox has long been celebrated as a time of beginning and renewal, by a number of historic cultures, and is linked to Easter and Passover. The equinox will happen at the same time as a solar eclipse in 2053 and 2072, though it doesn’t always appear as close together as that.”

Snake of Sunlight

“The snake of sunlight” at Chichen Itza, Mexico. ©iStockphoto.com/CostinT

“The snake of sunlight” at Chichen Itza, Mexico.
©iStockphoto.com/CostinT

According to the website Time and Date.com, one of the most famous ancient Spring equinox celebrations was the Mayan sacrificial ritual by the main pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico. The main pyramid – also known as El Castillo – has four staircases running from the top to the bottom of the pyramid’s faces, notorious for the bloody human sacrifices that used to take place here. The staircases are built at a carefully calculated angle which makes it look like an enormous snake of sunlight slithers down the stairs on the day of the equinox. The Mayan calendar was very precise in this respect, but today the Mayan calendar is most famous for ending exactly at 11:11 UTC on the 2012 December Solstice. Knowledge of the equinoxes and solstices is also crucial in developing dependable calendars, another thing the Mayans clearly had got the hang of.

President Kennedy’s New England Fish Chowder

John F., Kennedy, the 35th United States President, was reportedly not a big eater and often had to be reminded about meal times.  For lunch, President Kennedy was particularly fond of soup–New England Fish Chowder was a favorite.

 

U.S. President John F. Kennedy

The President kept to his New England roots, enjoying such fish dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds haddock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 ounces salt pork, diced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 large potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 quart milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Simmer the haddock in the water for 15 minutes. Drain. Reserve the broth. Remove the bones from the fish. Saute the pork until crisp, remove from pan, and set aside. Saute the onions in the pork fat until golden brown. Add the fish, potatoes, celery, bay leafy, salt, and pepper. Pour in fish broth, plus enough boiling water to make 3 cups liquid. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the milk and butter, and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the chowder sprinkled with pork dice. Serves 6.”
A Treasury of White House Cooking, Francois Rysavy [G.P. Putnam’s Sons:New York] 1972 (p. 210-211)

 

To see the original copy of the recipe, click Here for Bon Appetit’s website.

New England Fish Chowder

Photo by S. Bonnie

 

To find more Presidential food favorites, go to Food Time Line.org

Garlicky Roasted Lamb with Potatoes

Garlicky Roasted Lamb with Potatoes

A traditional meal to enjoy this Easter

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-pound boneless lamb leg or shoulder roast
  • 3 anchovy fillets, cut in 3 pieces each
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in slivers
  • 8 small potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound zucchini, cut into chunks
  • 3 sprigs each fresh rosermary, thyme, and sage, coarsely chopped*
  • Juice and finely grated peel of 1 orange
  • White pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Using a sharp knife, pierce lamb and insert the anchovy pieces and garlic slivers in the slits; season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a small roasting pan filled with about 1 cup water.
  • In a medium bowl toss potatoes with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil; scatter around lamb. In the same bowl toss zucchini with remaining olive oil; set aside. Cook 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; add zucchini and herbs to roasting pan. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. Return pan to oven; cook 1 to 1-1/2 hours more, spooning over pan juices occasionally, until temperature reaches 135 degrees F when tested with an instant-read thermometer. Remove pan from oven. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
  • Transfer lamb and vegetables to a serving platter. Meanwhile, add orange juice and peel to juices in the roasting pan. Cook and stir over medium heat 3 to 4 minutes until liquid is reduced by half (about 1/2 cup). Sprinkle with white pepper to taste. Serve with sauce and orange wedges, if desired.

President’s Day Cherry Squares

Celebrate the First U.S. President’s Birthday

Maybe he or maybe he didn’t… but could you blame young George Washington for chopping a Cherry Tree if he knew that he’d be eating these tasty cherry squares later in the day?

President's Day Cherry Squares

No lie, these cherry squares are delicious!

Yield: 16 Squares

Filling
Two 14.5-ounce cans pitted sour cherries (2 1/2 to 3 cups
drained, juice reserved, 20 ounces); or 6 cups (24 ounces) frozen pitted sour   cherries, thawed, drained, juice reserved
2/3 cup (5 3/8 ounces) reserved cherry juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
3 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Crust
1 1/2 cups (5 1/4 ounces) traditional rolled oats
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose
Flour or King Arthur Organic White Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup (7 1/2 ounces) brown sugar, light or dark, packed
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (2 ounces) sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 9″ pan.

To make the filling: Measure out 2/3 cup of the reserved cherry juice. In a small saucepan, combine the cherries, juice, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Whisk the sugar with the cornstarch, and stir into the cherries. Simmer the mixture, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes (if you’re using canned cherries); or for 20 minutes (if you’re using thawed frozen). It’ll thicken and look like canned cherry pie filling (but taste a WHOLE lot better). Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and almond extracts, and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the crust.

To make the crust: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the oats or barley, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Add the melted butter, stirring till everything is well combined.

To assemble the bars: Press 2 1/2 cups (about 14 ounces) of the crust mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing it out to completely cover the bottom of the pan, with no gaps showing. Top the crust with the filling. Add the almonds to the remaining crust mixture, and sprinkle it over the filling.

Bake the squares for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove the squares from the oven, and allow them to cool before cutting into 2″ squares.

Recipe and photo from King Arthur Flour