Wednesday, December 7

Garden Pic Wednesday: Christmas Table Arrangement & First Winter Broccoli!

I wrote a reminder on my computer "sticky note," to cover my containers for possible freezing temperatures Thursday & Friday night!
Even so, there's usually a variation of temps with such predictions in our area depending one's distance or nearness to the Gulf. Twenty miles north or more might experience a hard freeze that turns bird baths to ice, while where we live, which is moderated by the sea air a bit more, might stay slightly above freezing at 34 or 35. 
So it's hard to tell, but best to be prepared. If the jet stream swings low enough, it can push all the Gulf air out to sea and then Jack Frost will do more then nip our noses--he'll bite our faces off.
I'm going to cover my Bell Peppers with clear plastic yard bags today, which will serve as a greenhouse.
I just need to throw a towel over the potted flowers overnight. Everything else can handle it.

For today I have a nice picture of the table arrangement I made with fresh Christmas greenery & Dusty Miller!

Dusty Miller is a perennial here in the Deep South. Old growth needs to be trimmed off just about the ground to promote fresh growth! I usually wait until I see new growth buds around the stem-base, then cut off the old stems above it.
That's how I came to have a few Dusty Miller stems to insert in the vase with the Christmas fir, which enhances it's silvery blue-green color!
Later on, perhaps for my birthday next week, I'll add some seasonal Holiday colored flowers!

First Winter Broccoli!
We had this for dinner Monday night. Cut up & sauteed in olive oil with minced garlic and a touch of sea salt. Yum.
The stems on fresh grown broccoli are so tender!

Stop back to see what's up for Mama Kat tomorrow!

Monday, December 5

Good Eating Monday: Apple Cranberry Sausage Stuffing!

Now this some wicked good dressing!  I tried it for Thanksgiving this year and everyone loved it!
I've been looking for just the right dressing and I may have finally found it!  It's also healthy with a tasty combo of fruit, veggies and a mix of white & whole wheat bakery breads. It will fill a fill a 9 x 13 pan. 
You can use fresh or dried herbs. I've included the measurements for both. Just remember dried seasoning is more concentrated in flavor because it is dried, so you need less of it then fresh herbs.
I have fresh Parsley growing outside and this was a great use for it!

Apple Cranberry Sausage Stuffing
 5 1/2 cups fresh European style or sourdough bread, white, sliced and cubed
2 1/2 cups wheat bread, whole grain sliced and cubed
1 lb ground pork or turkey (I used Jimmy Dean's Turkey Crumbles, which was 8 oz and that worked great!)
1 1/2 cups carrot, shredded, minced or ground 
1 1/4 cups minced celery
1 1/2 cups yellow onion (Spanish or sweet)
1 1/4  cups dried cranberries
1 large Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 large Golden Delicious apple, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Parsley leaves (2 Tablespoons dried)
2 Tbsp fresh Rosemary leaves (2 teaspoons dried) 
3  Tbsp  fresh Sage leaves (1 Tablespoon dried rubbed Sage)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh Thyme  (3/4 teaspoon dried)
3/4 cup stock
3/4 cup white wine (I just used Regina White Cooking Wine)
6 Tablespoons butter, melted 

#1) Preheat oven to 350 & spray your 9 x 13 pan with oil cooking spray.
#2)  Fresh toasted bread:  
When shopping, choose your white & wheat bread from the grocery bakery for a fresh-baked flavor!
 Slice into 1 inch cubes, then either line two baking sheets with parchment or spray with oil cooking spray and toast bread cubes 10 to 15 minutes, stirring about halfway through cooking time.

Let cool 10 ten minutes, then pour into large bowl.

#3)  Cook: 
If you're using fresh sausage, brown it with the onion, celery & carrot in a large skillet. If you're using Jimmy Dean Crumbles, just brown the onion, celery & grated carrot.
(I used a food chopper & carrot matchsticks to get nicely minced carrot bits.)
Add the sage, rosemary & thyme, butter, stock & wine and simmer to blend flavors while you core & chop up the two apples. 

Save Parsley to be added later.

#4)  Combine:
Add apples & dried cranberries & Parsley to toasted bread cubes in bowl and gently toss together. 
Pour 1/2 of skillet contents over bread. Toss to combine. Add rest & toss again till well combine. (Dividing it half just makes getting it mixed in well easier.)
Pour stuffing into greased 9 x 13 pan, patting down so it fills all corners and all fits into pan. 

#5)  Bake:
Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, covered in a 350 degree oven. Then remove pan from oven, remove foil and drizzle 2 Tablespoons of melted butter over top or more as desired, then bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes to crisp top.
Cool a little before serving.
After having made it, my only observation about this recipe is I'd like a little more liquid added. As is, the stuffing fell apart when it was dished out. I like my stuffing to stick together more. So for Christmas I intend to experiment with making broth & the wine measurements each a full cup versus 3/4.
Getting just the right amount of liquid in stuffing is the only tricky thing about stuffing.
Because it's that time of year for Holiday baking, for the next two Monday's I'll be featuring all my Favorite Good Eating Monday Holiday Baking Recipes!
So be sure and stop by!

Friday, December 2

Friday Finds: Easy Holiday Table Decor Ideas

For Friday Finds this month, I'll be sharing a series easy Pinterest ideas for table decorating or holiday treats!

Today: Easy Holiday Table Decor!
You're having guests and you want an easy pretty holiday table center decorations?
First, let me tell you the rule-of-thumb regarding table centerpieces: 
Never taller then 12 inches. 
You don't want your guests having to figure out how to lean around stuff on the table to talk to guests sitting across from them!
Save the taller decorations for the buffet!
(The candelabra shown in this photo is too tall, by the way.)

Decorating Idea #1: Fresh Flowers

 *  Set a few fresh flowers in short glasses or vases and arrange them down the center of your table. I'd choose easy-to-manage, long-lasting flowers like carnations or daisies available in holiday colors inexpensively at Walmart or a grocery store. Fill your glass container with warm tap water & snip flowers so heads will be just above the rim of your vase or glass.
 *  You can even poke in a little tree greenery, if you have a fresh Christmas tree. Sometimes Christmas tree lots will either give away or sell for a small free leftover trimmings.
*  Scatter white or holiday colored pillar candles among your mini-arrangements!

Decorating Idea: Mints & Votive Candles
 *  Use clear Mason or Ball jars and half fill them with unwrapped red & green peppermints. Set a votive candle in a clear glass votive candle holder on top of mints in each jar, then tie the top of jars with pretty holiday ribbon and arrange on table.
*  Scattering a little real or artificial Christmas greenery could be optional, if you wish.

(Don't put a bare candle on mints; they melt.)

That's it for today! See you for Good Eating Monday!

Thursday, December 1

Mama Kat Thursday: The Unlucky Rider

The Mama Kat writing topic today is to write a post inspired by the word, "Puddle."

In Florida it rains. It rains a lot. Sometimes, that rain leaves broad puddles of standing water. Sometimes those puddles are on the road.
On this particular day where our story begins, Hubby and I were in our Kia SUV driving west through our small town toward the Air Force Base.
The road was mostly dry from an earlier downpour, but there were still some spots of standing water. 
We stopped at a red light at a busy intersection along with other cars and one motorcycle. We were in the right hand lane. There was a car ahead of us and one beside us. The car beside us had a guy on a motorcycle directly behind him and the motorcycle guy was boxed in by more cars beside and behind him. 
He was a young man on a medium street bike just wearing a shirt, jeans and a helmet. No rain gear.
 I suppose he expected to arrive where he was going before it rained again and not get wet.
This was not his lucky day.
The light turned green and our little pack of vehicles headed across the intersection.
Now laying on the other side of the intersection directly in our path was a huge puddle about 15 feet long, covering both lanes; a puddle well deep enough no car was going to pass without turning up a ton of spray.
You may have guessed where this is going for the bike guy.
He was stuck traveling along in the left lane through the deepest part of the puddle right along with us.
As our car started moving through the water, I glanced back at the bike guy just in time to observe a tidal wave of spray cast up by our tires go right over him!  
(And not just our car! Remember, he was surrounded!)
It was one of those moments when the unexpected abruptly tickles the funny bone.
I snickered. I couldn't help it. "Our car just baptized the bike guy," I wittily informed Hubby as I turned back around.
He caught the snickers, too.
Once through the puddle, all the vehicles quickly got up to normal speed and a few moments later we observed the motorcycle guy breeze by us merrily on his way, his t-shirt clinging wetly to his skin.
Couldn't help but snicker again.
(Note: there was a grassy median right next to the puddle the rider could've easily used to skirt out of the line of cars, but he chose to stay on the road among the cars. He seemed to take it in stride, though, and didn't act  upset; just intent on getting to where he was going.)

So, what was your last puddle encounter like?

Thanks for Visiting!

Wednesday, November 30

Garden Pic Wednesday: About Rose Hips

 Do you know anything about Rose Hips?  I'd herd the name, but didn't know that much about them until I looked up.
Rose hips are the fruit of the rose the appears after the rose is spent. Roses are actually members of the crab-apple family, so their fruit is basically like a very small, slightly tart crab apple.
They are also called Rose Haws. To get them, you have to leave your roses untrimmed and let them "go to seed."

This is a photo a my own climbing rose on it's trellis, thick with hips. The bright orange are ripe, I think.  

Yes, they are edible---but not the seeds within. Those should be removed. Slice open, removed the seeds, rinse and prepare as desired. Rose hips can be used for teas, sauces, jelly, seasoning & tea---fresh or dried.
Any rose hips can be used, but there is a certain kind of rose called Rose Rugusa, which makes very large size hips that are easier to work with.
Rose hips are valued for their high Vitamin C.
Cooking in aluminium destroys that vitamin C, but any other kind of pan is fine.
Best time to harvest rose hips is after first frost, since this is supposed to "sweeten" their flavor.

Rose Hip Tea:
You'll need 4 to 8 fresh rose hips (with seeds removed) in a cup of boiling water for about 10-15 minutes.
If you're using dried rose hips, use less because dried fruit is more potent.

Links for things to do with Rose Hips from About Home:

But if you don't want to bother with tiny fruit, birds like them and rose hips make a great food source for your winter bird friends, so just leave them for the birds.

Broccoli Photo Update:
Just a current shot of my broccoli as it looks now. Big bushy and making heads.

It's finally raining today, too!
Stop back for a funny story for Mama Kat tomorrow!