Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hanging Around Clever Karen - Episode 11

Coral Colored Carved Bead
on brown and coral colored strands.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Leftover Crisp

One of the bad things about blogging recipes is that you have to measure! True confession - there are a lot of things I cook by just throwing things in and tasting!

So today there were a bunch of sad little apples past their prime in my fruit drawer. So I decided to make a fruit crisp using all the leftover bits I could find. I cut all the bad parts out of the apples and sliced them up. Threw in some frozen blueberries that looked a bit freezer burned. (I've done this with any mixture of fruit - cranberries, mango, peaches, strawberries all work too.) Into a bowl and mixed with a couple spoonfuls of flour and maybe three spoons of white sugar. Stirred until all the fruit was coated and then spread into a thin layer in a glass pan. (THIN LAYER is important - it allows more surface for sugary crispy topping!)

Then the crisp topping - several bits of softened leftover butter that is cut into a couple scoops of sugar (both white and brown) and a few big spoonfuls of flour until it is crumbly. Mixed in some oatmeal. And I cleaned all the leftover nuts from the refrigerator, too - almonds, pecans, and walnuts. Crumbled it all over the top.

To bake - well, about 25 minutes at well, about 375 degrees. It will look bubbly and golden when done.

Now there is no quality control with this method. Sometimes the fruit is too juicy or the crust is not as thick as I'd like. But somehow it always tastes just fine!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Almond Citrus Bars

I made these bars a few weeks ago for the lunches that I made for some of the teachers at school. I adapted a recipe I found in a Better Homes and Gardens Cookies magazine several years ago. (The original recipe used hazelnuts.) After I made it, I thought it needed a stronger citrus taste, so I've increased the amount of lemon peel in this recipe - however I haven't tested it again. I thought the buttery crust, the citrus flavor, and the almonds were a great combination.

Almond Citrus Bars

1/3 cup softened butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup almond meal (available at Trader Joe's) or almonds that are finely ground in a food processor
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
1 Tablespoon finely shredded orange peel
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1 Tablespoon finely shredded lemon peel
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup slivered almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl beat the softened butter at a medium speed for 30 seconds. Add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until combined. Then beat in 1 cup flour and 1/3 cup almond meal until crumbly.
3. Press the mixture into a 8 x 8 inch ungreased pan. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
4. In another bowl beat the 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, baking powder, and the orange and lemon peel, and the orange and lemon juice. Bear on medium speed for 2 minutes or until blended. Pour the mixture over the crust and sprinkle with the slivered almonds.
5. Bake about 20 minutes until the edges are lightly brown and the center is set. Let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 bars.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


The other day I was running some errands on Rochester Road up in Troy and came across Salsarita's - a Mexican Cantina restaurant that I hadn't seen before. I needed to grab some lunch so I decided to check it out.

It had a cute decor with Mexican tile and colorful murals. It was similar to a Baja Fresh, where you order your food at the counter. I ordered a barbeque chicken pizza. Chips and salsa were separate (no salsa bar), so I got a combo that included them and a drink.

The moment I saw them start to make the pizza, I knew I wouldn't love it. They put the toppings on a very thin tortilla which had been already baked and was brown. The toppings were great, but I just didn't like the crust. The salsa was good with fresh cilantro (but I like Baja Fresh's salsa better). The chips were ok - very thin, a bit oily, and I thought they needed more salt. So my opinion was that it was ok. However, I could see that they were grilling the chicken behind the counter and it looked really good. I'd be willing to try it again and order something else - they had lots of other options. Maybe I just ordered the wrong thing.

It looks like Salsarita's is a franchise and there are other locations in Ann Arbor and Brighton with more coming in the Detroit metro area.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More Bruges Pages

I saw that Apple is having another discount on their iPhoto books through mid - May, so I am determined to get back on track with making these pages so I can get another book published. Here are a few more pages about our boat cruise on the canals of Bruges.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

finally Spring

A few warm days,
the buds are opening,
having fun playing with my new camera!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hanging Around Clever Karen - Episode 10

Black Glass Czech Crystals
with small freshwater pearls

Thursday, April 17, 2008

First Herbs of the Spring

One of my favorite parts of spring is buying pots of fresh herbs that I can use to cook with. Westborn Market had their herbs in stock on Saturday and I bought a couple small pots to use in a new recipe that I wanted to try. The cost of the living herbs was almost the same as purchasing them in packages. I have them perched on my window - hopefully they will survive for a few weeks inside until the weather is warmer and I can put them in bigger pots outside.

I used the herbs in this wonderful recipe a few days ago from Food Network by Giada De Laurentis for Pork with Sweet Onion Marmellata. I followed it pretty directly from her version, so I will just supply the link rather than rewrite the recipe. The thing that attracted me to this recipe was the addition of orange marmalade to the caramelized onions. I love caramelized onions, and the added orange taste was sooooooo yummy! I will make the onions like this again and use it with pizza or bruschetta or chicken. And the pork chops were very good, too. The weather was wet and cold so I grilled them on my Foreman Grill and that seemed to work out fine.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Town Tavern

Lobster Macaroni and Cheese. When I read a few months ago that this was the specialty of the Town Tavern in downtown Royal Oak, I knew I had to pay a visit. Last week I had the chance to visit this trendy restaurant which is owned by the same people that run the Beverly Hills Grill.

The interior has clean and modern lines. We sat in the front of the restaurant at a tall table with high chairs (interesting to be up so high). My friend ordered the caprese salad which was beautiful and tasty. She said the pesto on top was amazing:

There were a number of entres that looked interesting and there were some tempting daily specials that featured seafood. But I was determined to try that mac 'n cheese and my friend fell for that temptation as well. Here it is:

It was wonderful and rich - made with marscapone cheese and loaded with a lot of lobster and covered with toasted crunchy cracker crumbs. It was great - did I mention it was rich? Somehow I managed to scrape up every bite! I also ordered grilled asparagus which tasted good, but it was huge thick stalks, and I prefer thin skinny asparagus, so I didn't love it.

Yes, I'd go back. I'd probably try another entree - there were several others that looked great! No dessert this time, maybe next time I'll order something less rich and leave room to try some.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Lunch Ladies

I gave a challenge to the teachers at our school last fall - if they tried 5 new things using technology in the teaching, I would bring them a gourmet lunch. On Monday I am delivering the first three lunches. Teachers could select from the menu above (click to enlarge). For tomorrow they selected the Lemon Pepper Pappardelle. Lunch also includes homemade rolls, citrus almond bars, Sweet and Salty Snack Mix, and fruit. I made the customized lunch bags below. Hopefully they will enjoy!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vintage Hankie Pillows

I saw that the Sugar Sugar blog is having another "Show and Tell Sunday" challenge. This week it is vintage hankies. I have this thing about vintage fabrics and I always look at the hankies at antique stores. I try to never spend more than $2 on one and have a certain kind of floral colors that I am drawn to.

I don't have time right now to photograph my hankie stash - maybe later. But I did want to show off my hankie pillows. I can't bear to sew or cut the hankies, so I bought some pillows, and then crossed 2 hankies on top and attached them by sewing little buttons to the corners. That way I can always remove the hankie and no damage will be done! A clever and quick vintage project!

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day Six - Cantare Olive Tapenade

This fresh tapenade is a yummy mix of green and black olives with feta cheese and olive oil. I've used it on pasta and sandwiches. But I especially like to combine it with the Seeded Harvest Boule artisan bread:

I brush the bread on the bottom with a bit of olive oil and slather the top with tapenade. Sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top and stick in the toaster oven for a couple minutes. Voila! - easy tapinade bruschetta, perfect for a quick snack or a light lunch! Or a great appetizer for when you have company!

Well, that's my last entry for Trader Joe Treasures week (Somehow I missed posting on Thursday, oh well, but I gave you two treasures for today!) I'll do it again sometime - I know at least one person told me they enjoyed it, and I have plenty of other products to share!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day Five - Fage Greek Yogurt

This is a product you can find at other stores, not just Trader Joes. And it is a bit more expensive than a regular yogurt. But this Greek yogurt is wonderful - thick and tangy. It just tastes rich, even the nonfat version. I like it with a little honey and some sliced apples. Or with a dab of jam, some strawberries, and almonds. It makes a nice little dessert that is fairly healthy. So it is another one of those must-purchase items at Trader Joes that I always have in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day Four - Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Another Trader Joe's product that I always have on hand is their 12 ounce package of Parmesan Cheese. A bit to sprinkle in a salad, on a pasta, in risotto, on bruschetta - I use it every where. Convenient and a good price.

Below is lunch for this week which combines Days 2, 3, and 4 - a nice salad with romaine lettuce, grilled chicken, a sprinkle of parmesan, and some organic strawberries. The only way it could get easier would be if someone else would make it for me!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day Three - Just the Leaves Lettuce

I love the convenience of bagged salad lettuce, but I hate the fact that it goes brown so fast and that it has so many lettuce "ribs" that end up in the bottom of the bag and usually get tossed out. So I prefer to buy this bagged lettuce from TJs. I purchase both the leaf and the romaine lettuce. The leaves are separated and cleaned and in a zip lock package. I can pull out a few leaves and tear them up for a salad and remove the "ribs" which I don't like. The lettuce stays fresh for about a week in the bag if kept tightly sealed.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day Two - Grilled Chicken Strips

I buy these grilled chicken strips almost every week, and I always keep an extra package in the freezer. I use them in everything - salads, pastas, sandwiches, pizzas. Tasty and a huge timesaver. I like both the plain style and they also have a teryaki version which is delicious. In fact, I used them in my Grown Up Mac 'n Cheese recipe, well as this Pear Pecan salad.

Trader Joe Treasures Week - Day One - Limeade

This week I decided it would be fun to do a feature where every day I share one of the products from Trader Joes that I always have either on my shelf, pantry, or refrigerator. (You may have noticed I am kind of a Trader Joe junkie - I love shopping there and have come to depend on many of their products.) So here goes with my favorite TJ beverage:

Today it hit 70 degrees. So I am thinking of summer, and my favorite summer drink is Trader Joe's limeade. It is just the perfect blend of tart and sweet - so delicious when poured into a glass full of ice. And I am drinking an icy glass of limeade right now as I blog. The only bad thing is when it sometimes is out of stock! They didn't have any over the weekend when I went shopping, and I had just opened my last jar! So next time I see it available I plan to buy several jars to restock my stash.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Spring Spinach Sauce

When I was "younger" I went on a mission trip to France during the summer. I remember being served a pasta meal with a bright green sauce. Now this was before any of us had ever heard of pesto. We all looked at this green alien looking sauce with fear, and politely declined to eat it.

So whenever I make this bright green Spring Spinach Sauce, I think of that meal in France, and wonder what I missed out on by not eating that pasta. This sauce tastes best fresh - it can get a slight bitter after taste if stored. This is a recipe I typically wouldn't measure - I'd just toss stuff into the food processor and taste and adjust until it tasted right. Here are the approximate measurements:

Spring Spinach Sauce

Put these ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth (add extra oil if needed):

5 ounces baby spinach (half of a salad package)
1/2 bunch of parsley (stems removed)
1/4 cup olive oil

Then add to the food processor and blend (don't blend until smooth, leave it slightly chunky):

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Add extra oil, salt, and garlic if needed or desired. Serve over warm corkscrew pasta - it sticks in all the curls! I often add other items such as Kalamata olives, grilled chicken, and roasted red peppers.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bruges Scrapbook Pages 2

Busy week back at school (report cards and more) so not much time for blogging or anything else clever. However, here are a few more of the scrapbook pages I have been working on:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hanging Around Clever Karen - Episode 9

Flowery Blue Glass Beads
with crystal and silver beads


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