Friday, March 11, 2011

Pink Saturday

I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound!!!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

From The Good Life - Sandhill Cranes

Tim and I love to take day trips. March in Nebraska brings the Sandhill Cranes. We saw them from a distance a couple of years ago but have never been up close and personal with the cranes. Saturday morning we set out for Grand Island, about 2 hours west of Omaha. We made a quick stop for Starbucks in York. Tim noticed the sky off to the west was full of birds. Just down a gravel road to the west of Starbucks, remember this is Nebraska, we found the Snow Geese. Certainly the largest flock of geese I have ever seen.

Back on I-80, headed west to Grand Island, we decided to try and find one of the cranes viewing sites outlined on Outdoor Nebraska. Just off the interstate, we started to see cranes and more cranes. I heard on the news last week they estimate the numbers right now at about 500,000 thousand. At their peak, in a couple of weeks, the numbers will be close to a million. Besides their characteristic flight, one of the most interesting things about the cranes is their song. We drove a 2 - 3 mile radius of gravel roads and found many different flocks of birds. Some were just a few birds and some numbered in the hundreds.

Wherever we travel, we enjoy trying local wines. We headed north to St. Paul, Nebraksa and Miletta Vista Winery. The winery is a few miles outside of town and has the most beautiful view of the Loop River Valley. We tried a couple of whites and three reds. Our choice was the Work Horse Red. Heading back southeast, we visited Prairie Creek Vineyards. The view here, not quite the same. This vineyard sits on a corner of flat farmland. Here we tried three whites and two reds. This time we chose a white, Sweet Ass White! (Yes, that's the name of the wine).

We decided to continue on Highway 92 rather than take I-80 all the way back to Omaha. We were hoping to find a quaint local restaurant on our drive home. As we drove through the town of Seward, we saw the Cafe on the Square. The curb appeal was nice. I googled and they had a website. Good curb appeal and a website, okay I am game. It was in a building dating back to 1890. Tim chose a delicious mac 'n cheese. For me, it was a hearty meat loaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. Bird watching makes me hungry or was it the wine tasting?

What a fun, relaxing Saturday. I would encourage anyone who has the chance to see the Sandhill Cranes to do so!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

Do you use canned black beans or do you make your own? Since canned beans can be as much as 1.00 something a can, I decided to make my own. After doing some research, I settled on cooking them in the Slow Cooker. I soaked the beans for about 6 hours and cooked them for about 4 hours on high. The interesting thing was, my black beans became brown beans. It seemed most of the dark color was either in the water from soaking or in the water from cooking. Has anyone else experienced this?

I've seen quite a few recipes for soup with black beans and sweet potatoes or butternut squash. With these recipes as inspiration, I created my own recipe. This recipe makes a delicious but very spicy soup. I love the flavor from the addition of just a touch of cinnamon. You could easily add chicken or even some sausage to this soup.

Slow Cooker Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T. olive oil
1 large sweet potato, diced
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups black beans
1 can Rotel peppers
1T. chili powder
2 t. cumin
1 t. smoked paprika
1/2 t. cinnamon

Chop garlic and onion. Heat olive oil in a skillet until sizzling, add garlic and onion. Saute until soft. Dice sweet potato. Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low 8 hours.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's, Tuesday's at the Table, Souper Sunday at Kahakai Kitchen and Tuesday Night Supper Club.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Chocolate Pudding - Sweet Melissa Sunday's

Does chocolate pudding remind you of your childhood? It's one of my earliest kitchen memories. My mom would make Jello Chocolate Pudding for dessert. I remember when I was maybe seven? she let help me stir the pudding on the stove. I don't remember it seeming to take as long to cook as it does today!

I love dessert! It's my favorite food group! I make a lot of desserts from scratch. Pudding, however, I don't think I have ever made from scratch. When I saw this weeks SMS recipe was Chocolate Pudding, I knew I wanted to participate. I also realized pudding is on my Top 50 list, so apparently this isn't the first time it occurred to me I'd never made pudding from scratch.

I made 1/4 recipe and ended up with 2 five ounce ramekins. The recipe called for checking pudding after 45 minutes. To be safe, I checked after 40. Was it done? It didn't appear soupy but didn't really look done. Melissa suggests using an instant read thermometer and if it reads between 150 - 155, it's done. Okay, 152! Interesting though the top of my pudding doesn't appear smooth like I would expect it to look. I wonder if I cooked it too long.

The pudding is denser and thicker than I expect a pudding to be. The flavor is nice, with just the right amount of chocolate. I liked it but I didn't love it!

Thanks to Leslie of Lethally Delicious for choosing this week's recipe. You can find the recipe on her blog. If you want to see the other SMS baker's pudding, you can find the links to their blogs here!

I'm hosting SMS in two weeks, Irish Soda Bread!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pink Saturday

Since it's still cold in the midwest, I wanted to share some beautiful reminders of Spring.

I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Worlds Best French Toast

When we were in Cabo a few weeks ago, we had breakfast at a great little restaurant, Mama's. Mama's boasts they have the "Worlds Best French Toast". It's their version of Stuffed French Toast.

I wanted to recreate this dish! After reading the recipe, I realized I don't really have a flambe pan. Probably not a good idea to flambe in non stick! The only french bread in the freezer was baguettes. Not a good size for french toast. With stuffed french toast as my inspiration, this is my version of the "Worlds Best French Toast". Maybe not the world's best but we thought it was pretty darn good.

Stuffed French Toast w/Banana Syrup

French Toast
1 serving
2 slices White Bread (I used sourdough)
Strawberry Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 Egg
2 T. Milk
1 t. vanilla
1 T. Butter

Spread cream cheese on one side of slices the bread. Make a sandwich out of the bread.
Whisk egg, milk and vanilla.Dip the bread in the egg mixture, making sure it is is coated well.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the butter is hot, add the bread and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side.


1 banana, sliced in 1/2 inch slices
2 T. Honey
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 T. Pecans, roughly chopped

Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat, stir in honey. Once combined, add cinnamon and pecans. Once the sauce is bubbling, add the banana and cook an additional minute or two. Don't overcook or the banana will get too soft.

Pour over French Toast. Garnish with powdered sugar, if desired.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum and Fat Camp Friday at Mangoes and Chutney.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

From The Good Life - Trek Up The Tower

I am so proud of my husband! This past Saturday he completed Trek Up The Tower. 40 floors, 870 stairs! Trek Up The Tower is held in The First National Bank Building in Omaha. Which by the way, is the tallest building between Denver and Chicago.