Friday, August 3, 2012

Have you planned your last big fling of the summer?  If you haven't considered a beach in Michigan, here are a few facts to consider!

There are 3,288 miles of Great Lakes shoreline in Michigan, including islands and connecting rivers; the most of any state except Alaska!  Lake Michigan has 1, 058 miles of shoreline, Lake Huron has 934 miles, the Lake Superior coast has 917 miles in Michigan and the Lake Erie coast has 54 miles in our great state! 

In a survey of America's best lakes, Lake Charlevoix came in second only to Lake Tahoe, California!
Saugatuck's Oval Beach on Lake Michigan is a top-rated beach and Sleeping Bear Dunes, also on Lake Michigan was the winner in the ranking of top five Great Lakes beaches in 2011.  My little sister and her hubby would challenge anyone that Grand Haven's beach, (once again on Lake Michigan) is the best to be found.

However, this Michigan girl has three favorite beaches in our fair state.  The first is anywhere between Oscoda and Alpena on the Lake Huron shoreline.  Next is Lake Superior, Pictured Rocks National Shoreline with it's crystal clear waters, gorgeous rock formations and wonderful excursions.
But my favorite is the beach surrounding the Big Mac bridge in Mackinaw City.  There is always something to see where the straits of Mackinac blend Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  You can actually see the colors of the two lakes blending together!

Come to the shore for a lovely, warm weekend...we are having a VERY "warm" summer.  But if you live in Michigan and you haven't been to the beach this summer, what are you waiting for...time is wasting, and life is sweet in Michigan!

Have a great day and keep checking out  for some upcoming party recipes that I will be posting!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I tried the Pioneer Woman's blackberry cobbler #1 yesterday.  It called for self-rising flour, which I didn't have and could only buy in 5 lb. bags.  After searching the internet for a self-rising flour substitute, I found that for every 1 cup of all-purpose flour you add 1 1/4 tsp. of baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Now we are in business...

Blackberry Cobbler #1 - Pioneer Woman style!
Prep Time 10 mins., Preheat oven 350, Cook time 1 hr.   Servings 8

1 stick butter
1 1/4 c. sugar (separated)
1 c. self-rising flour (1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 1/4 t. b. powder, and 1/4 t. salt)
1 c. milk
2 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh)


Melt butter in a microwavable dish.  Pour 1 c. of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk.  Mix well.  Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together.  Butter or spray a baking dish.

Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries.  Pour the batter into the baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly.  Sprinkle 1/4 c. sugar over the top.  Back in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly.  If you desire sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 mins. before it's done.

Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Life is sweet in Michigan...but if you make this it will be "sweet" anywhere you are!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Here's a recipe that I tore out of Family Circle in August 2010.  I adapted it for my own taste and it's a quick meal for a hot summer day.  But my warning is that you need to REALLY salt your pasta water and it makes much more than 6 servings...more like 8-10!  I hope you try it and enjoy it!

Caprese Pasta
Makes 6 servings  Prep 10 mins.  Cook 9 mins.

1 lb. cavatappi pasta (I used what I had in the pantry)
2 large tomatoes, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 c. pitted black olives, chopped (we used closer to 1/2 c.)
2 Tbs. capers
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
1 c. fresh basil, torn
2 c. cooked, cubed chicken (optional)

1) Cook pasta following package directions, about 9 minutes, drain
2) If using chicken, grill or pan sear
3) In a large bowl, stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, olives, capers and balsamic vinegar.
    Add pasta and chicken to the bowl and stir to combine.  Fold in mozzarella and basil.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today, I have a great dinner idea that is not only easy, but also cheap!  Today was one of those days when everyone in my family had to eat at different times.  Even though it was a rather warm day, it was a slow cooker day.  I often do this during the summer because I don't want to heat the house up, and pork loin roasts were buy one, get one free this week...slow cooker it is!

I braised the roast on all sides in some olive oil in a large skillet with salt, pepper and onion powder.
In the slow cooker I put a liner, 2 garlic cloves, half of a softball-sized onion, one peeled and sliced red pear, and 6 new carrots (peeled).  Next, put the braised roast in the slow cooker and cover with 1 1/2 cups of apple juice.  Deglaze the pan with apple juice and pour into the cooker.  Cover the cooker and cook on high for 4 hours.

Pull the pork roast apart with two forks and serve with the vegetables.  If you would like to pour some juice over the meat, it tastes great, but you could thicken the juice and make a gravy.

It was yummy and there are leftovers!

Life is Sweet in Michigan!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May 16, 2012

Hi!  I'm sure you thought that I was never posting on this blog again!  Life has been a bit topsy turvy in my little corner of Michigan lately!  However, today I wanted to make sure that I directed you to the Piggy Bank Parties blog for Monday and today, Tuesday.  You will see one of the many things that I have been busy with.  Stay tuned to PBP, because you will see a tutorial on the musical instruments that were created for the Sassy Spring Chickens "Old MacDonald's Farm Band" party. 

Stay tuned for some new recipes coming in the next few is still so sweet in Michigan.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Soup's On!

January in Michigan is usually colder than we are experiencing this year, however we still love to make those yummy soups.  I made one last week that came from The Pampered Chef website and tweeked it a bit.   It's called "Smoky Yukon Gold Potato Chowder"  Here's the recipe the way I made it.

1 Tbsp. salted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 tsps. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
2 lbs. (about 6 medium) Yukon gold Potatoes, peeled and diced
4 c. low sodum chicken stock
1 can (14.5 oz.) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c. milk ( used 1/2%) or Fat Free half and half
3 oz. sharp cheddar shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 Tbsp. reduced fat sour cream (optional)
1 cup cubed ham ( small dice)   This is my addition.
1. Melt butter over medium heat in soup pot.  Add onion, garlic powder and paprika and cook, uncovered 3-4 minutes or until vegetables are softened, stirring occasionally.  Add potatoes, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add stock, cook, covered 1-2 minutes or until heated through.  Remove pot from heat, cool 5 minutes.

2. Carefully ladle on-third of the potato mixtue into blender container.  Cover and blend until smooth and remove to a large bowl.  Repeat with batches of soup mixture until all is blended.  **I used an emersible blender and didn't blend it all until it was smooth.  I wanted a few pieces of beans and potatoes.

3. If you have used a blender in batches, return the soup to the pot, stir in milk.  Cook, uncovered, over medium heat 2-3 minutes or until simmering.  Stir in cheese, ham, salt, and pepper.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Optional garnish of sour cream on each serving.

Serves 6
Nutrients per serving:  Calories 320, Total Fat 10g, Saturated Fat 6 g, Cholesterol 35 mg. Sodium 460mg. Carbohydrates 45 g, Fiber 6 g, Protein 15 g  Weight Watchers calculator puts this at 9 points!

I hope you try this hearty soup and know that it makes life a lot sweeter in Michigan!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Julie and Julia

It has been so LONG since I have happened!  For months a good friend and I have been planning to follow through on a standing joke....ala "Julie and Julia", the movie!  Last Monday we finally scheduled the time to cook Julia Child's recipe for Beef Bourgenion.  We shopped we read, we read, we explained our thoughts as we made our way through the very layered recipe step by step.  It takes a good hour to prep all the parts and it is cooked in layers of flavor.  You need to have a pot that can go from stovetop to oven and back again. 

We found some problems in interpreting the types of ingredients that Julia used in 1961 compared to 2012, but overall we stayed as true to the recipe as possible.  It took about 3 hours in the oven, but we had a lot of fun and laughed (mostly at ourselves) alot.   We asked ourselves if we would do it friend would ( I think), but I'm not sure I would.  I would definately take some shortcuts, but that is the type of cook that I am!

I have included a couple to photos to our delicious adventure.  If you haven't seen or rented the film, Julie and Julia with Amy Adams and Meryl Streep, its well worth the time and rental.  In keeping with the spirit of the movie, I just had to blog about it!

Life was sweet in Michigan, last Monday!