herbed wild rice & quinoa stuffing

So, while I’m not vegan, I am vegetarian and have been for nearly 34 years – this was a choice. My yeast free, dairy free, gluten free needs (more recently) – not so much…so, as a result of liking to eat and liking to eat well, I cook.

A lot.

Here’s a delicious gluten, dairy and yeast free recipe for ‘stuffing’. I finished it with mushroom gravy and served it alongside mashed potatoes and vegan pot pie. So good.

Let me know what you think!

wild-ricequinoa-stuffing

Herbed Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing

Ingredients;

2 tablespoons olive oil + a bit more for greasing the baking dish and drizzling…

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium Granny smith apple – peeled and diced

2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, minced

1 teaspoon kosher salt + more to taste (I used about 3 good pinches)

1/2 cup dryish white wine – use one you’d like to enjoy while cooking…(:  Sauv blanc or chard works well. Or if you can’d do the wine – the juice of one lemon + a little more…

4 cups low salt vegetable stock

2 cups wild rice blend

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well

1 cup cranberries – chopped

1 cup raw pecans, chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley + 1/4 cup more for garnish.

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, minced

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat bottom – saute onion until slightly browned, add celery and stir occasionally until soft – about 5 minutes or so. Add the apples, garlic, thyme and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, for one more minute. Stir in the wine, then add the broth. Bring to a boil.

Stir in the wild rice blend and reduce heat to a medium low and simmer, covered, until the rice is tender, about 34-40 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and stir in quinoa and cover again. Cook until quinoa is tender, about 15 more minutes – or until water is absorbed.

Stir in the cranberries, pecans, 1/2 cup parsley and sage. Taste and add additional salt if desired. Remove from heat. Blend well, drizzle with olive oil and finish with chopped parsley and serve – unless grains need a bit more cooking…

*The next step can be omitted if grains are already fully cooked. If not, see below;  If you want to make ahead stop here and reheat using the following step.

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Rub a large (9″ X 13″ ) casserole dish with a little olive oil. Lightly scoop the rice mixture into the casserole dish, lightly mounding instead of mashing it down.

Bake until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil and finish with chopped parsley. Serve.

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Enjoy!

end of summer bbq

Fall is here and the leaves are changing, but we had one last hurrah before the cooler temps settled in…

Ahhhh, summer barbecuing, bonfires and good friends…a great way to end an absolutely beautiful Maine summer.

grape kabobs

Let the kids help! Grape kabobs are a great first ‘skewering’ job…

Then, let them move onto the veggies.

veggie kabobs

Even though it was a casual BBQ, I decided it was a great time to utilize a few of my ‘free finds’ – fun dishes, glassware and mason jars I used for holding all the silverware. Paper can be easier, but I prefer real plates, real silverware and cloth napkins – plus, it’s less wasteful.

setting-up

I made a few salads (in addition to the kabobs) as well as cupcakes for dessert.

cupcakes

The beets were picked from my garden and roasted, then topped with goat cheese, fresh basil and an olive oil drizzle. White bean provencal salad utilized dry beans (less than canned) which I prepared a few days in advance. Potato salad was assembled on the day of the party, though the dressing, potatoes and green beans (from my garden) were prepared two days in advance. Parties are fun if you prepare as much as possible in advance…and keep it ‘outdoors.’

salads

setting up

We thought the barn would be the perfect spot to eat. The table was set with a linen tablecloth that I picked up at Brimfield a few years ago for only $12.  The white tablecloths (under the floral one), candle stick holders, vase and a few  of the chairs were all found for free from my favorite shopping stop – the dump. The fun wooden folding chairs were picked up for $2 each, the other ‘t-back’ chairs were picked up for $5 each at a local yard sale. I love a bargain!

around the table

I also served a skillet cornbread and a fabulous cocktail – again, utilizing what I had on hand…

cucumber cape codder

Entertaining doesn’t have to cost a lot.

Invite good people. Ask everyone to bring something to share. Provide inexpensive (but lovely) salads, prepare as much as possible without buying a lot of pre-made foods, utilize what you have on hand and don’t forget the flowers. It’s the little things that make a difference…

And if you can, why not end the night with a bonfire under the stars…complete with blankets, pillows and marshmallows…

around the fire

Enjoy.

cucumber in a glass

This is my first post about a cocktail.

Anyone who knows me, knows I enjoy them, so I’m surprised that it’s taken me so long to write about one.

Perhaps it’s because I usually keep things simple;

Martini.

Bloody Mary.

Gin and tonic.

Margarita.

Vodka and homemade lemonade.

You get the picture.

Not much to write about…

Though, a few weeks ago I decided to have a little dinner party/BBQ and thought, why not serve a fun cocktail? One that can be pre-made and utilize what I have…

So I did a little research (with cucumbers in mind) – I had a lot of cucumbers (they are prolific this year!!) and came across this recipe (see below).

cucumber cape codder

I’m not fond of its’ given name…so I’ll just call it – Summer – for now…

It’s cucumber simple syrup, unsweetened cranberry juice, lime juice, vodka and I added a little bubbly with a splash of seltzer..

It’s not difficult and only requires a few hours – of which most time is the ‘steeping’ of the shredded/grated cucumber (in the simple syrup); this requires nothing of you except patience…

First you need to make the simple syrup.

There’s a reason it’s called ‘simple’ – it is.

Mix one cup water with one cup organic sugar (or whatever sugar you have on hand) in a small pot, bring to boil. Reduce heat, simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Now, the original recipe calls for one English cucumber, but I didn’t have an English cucumber…so I improvised.

I know there is a difference between homegrown pickling cucumbers (the type I had on hand) and English cucumbers – but since I didn’t have English cucumbers, I used what I had – makes sense, right? In this case it worked.

I figured the expense of the sugar, my time, and my cucumbers would be less than driving 40 miles to buy an English cucumber…and it worked out just fine.

Granted I’ve never tasted this cocktail with English Cucumbers, but I do know it tasted damn delicious with my homegrown ones…so try a batch of each and let me know what you think.

Back to the recipe;

I used two peeled medium sized homegrown pickling cucumbers, instead of one English cucumber.

Size does matter here. The bigger the cuc, the fewer you will need. Use an average sized English cucumber (in your mind of course if you don’t actually have one) for comparison…

Grate them, don’t worry about the seeds being mixed in.

Measure two cups worth of this cucumber mix and add to simple syrup.

Pour carefully into a wide mouthed jar and let cool.

cucumber in syrup

Let rest, overnight, in the fridge.

top view - cucumber in syrup

Strain and collect simple syrup – discard solids.

strained syrup

You should end up with about two cups cucumber simple syrup.

Mix this (cucumber simple syrup), with the rest of the ingredients below and serve over ice with a cucumber wheel on the lip.

cucumber cape codder

enjoy!

  • 9 ounces vodka, chilled
  • 12 ounces cranberry juice (no sugar added)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)
  • Ice, for serving
  • Splash of seltzer

What do you think this drink should be named?

Do you prefer English cucumbers?

If you enjoy cocktails, do try this one. It’s refreshing, light and packs a punch. It’s also the epitome of summer…

Enjoy.

in the garden

This summer has not been my summer to be in the garden…at least not as much as I’d like…

But today, time and circumstance allowed and I was able to get out there!

Phew.

1.garden gate

I pulled weeds, cut back tomato plants, and harvested a few goodies…

in the garden

garlic

from the garden

swiss chard

corn

buttercup squash

pepper

peas

cucumber and kale

aug

I was amazed by what was growing – despite the neglect and lack of water.

Thank you plants.

SO much green!

What have you been growing…?

Enjoy.

xo

it’s been far too long…

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I’ve needed to post.

Desperately.

So here it is.

In photographic form…

A taste of the last six months.

Yeah for summer!

What have you been up to?

enjoy

xo

halloween 2014

Halloween is such a fun holiday. Everyone gets to be whatever they want…and what a holiday to get creative!

Now, I’m not usually the type of person who goes all out on holidays, but this past Halloween I did.

My son, Finn, is so into holidays, especially Halloween, that this year we hosted a Halloween party. A Halloween party which has taken the entire past year to plan. We had  very few dinner conversations where Halloween decor was not the main topic of conversation… Finn is that serious about Halloween (clearly, I am too!).

A Halloween party for kids and grown-ups alike and what a blast it was! Complete with lots of handmade decorations and games – a bat pinata, driftwood burning man, witch finger cookies, a mummy head, and specimen jars are just a few of the things we made…and the dance floor (aka our barn) was complete with a disco ball (this we did buy – but what an investment!)…

I cut out bats to hang from the ceiling, made hanging ghosts from found (at the freebie barn of course) sheer curtains and metal hangers, baked witch finger cookies (made weeks in advance then froze) and caramel apples, created a bat pinata by covering layers of glue and newspaper over a blown-up balloon, designed a ‘catch the cat’ toss game (from found bucket and construction paper) and constructed a monster mash can (recycled cans and construction paper) toss, plus shadow puppets (card stock paper) for the kids and gauze-like curtains (also found for free from our dump), which we made c-r-e-e-p-y… Oh and so much more…blood dripping candles, ghost cut-outs, a ghost toss…the list goes on and on. I hadn’t realized how much I made until this post!

I also realized that I really like making stuff.

Staying up late, cutting, gluing, assembling..it was like being a kid again! I had so much fun! The best part would be Finns expression in the morning, when he’d look around to see what mamma made last night…all our ideas were coming to life!

Handmade decorations are not only re-usable and fun, they also save money and are way cooler than any store bought decoration! Plus, thanks to our local transfer station I was able to create many things for free! It also helps to have a brother in-law with a professional sound system and a partner who can do (and make and fix) just about anything! Now, this party was not all free, we did spend some money, but it was money well spent!

Here’s a few pics of what I’ve been up to these past six weeks.

bat template

Bat template. Cut-out can be hung from ceilings or on walls. They look great indoors or out.

creepy curtains

making creepy curtains

Finn helped me with the ‘creepy’ curtains. I was so psyched when I found an entire bag full of white, sheer curtains, for free at our local transfer station! Use old curtains, sheets or cheesecloth, cut small holes and strips into each. Spray with coffee to create an aged look…it works great! Then tack/hang up when dry. They are now packed away for next year, as are most of the decorations…

glitter skull and candles

I picked up this super cool glitter skull at a thrift shop for $2. The mason jars I had, but if you don’t have mason jars, just recycle glass jars and add tea lights (every inexpensive, yet effective!)

everybody dance!

Now, this sound system made the party, and we didn’t rent it, we borrowed it from my brother-in-law…but an i-pod or computer with speakers will do too!

brain speciman

This is just cauliflower in water colored with red food coloring. Great effect and cheap! Fennel bulbs work amazingly as hearts too. Cauliflower looks great cut in half with the leaves slightly peeled back too. Bummer, I didn’t get a photo of my knife stabbed ‘heart’…

slime and eyeball

One of our guests decided to use the glow-in-dark slime and eye balls together…gross!!

headless scarecrow

More free stuff (lucky me, I know) – the flannel, pants and boots I picked up at our dump too! The rats and spider were purchased. Now, while I am not an advocate for plastic, these decorations will be used for years to come…

eyes and owls

The owl cut-outs I made using a template and the eyes were very small stickers that I had enlarged and then cut out…another inexpensive idea. Copy, enlarge and cut-out!

labels

The bar area was complete with cobwebs (taken down and will re-use) and inexpensive wine with new labels! I downloaded templates, cut-out and glued on…it takes a bit of time, but well worth it! If possible, rinse the bottles (careful not to wet the labels) and store for next year!paper skeletonsThis idea, the paper skeleton, I just LOVE!  I couldn’t figure out how to fold paper in order to have it come out as garland, so I ordered it. I actually ordered two, it made more sense with the shipping costs and now I have garland for next year too! The rest consists of paper and one white balloon…so much fun!

shadow puppets

Shadow puppets! Great for any kids party. These fabulous templates I found on the crafty crow. That is such a great site!! I designed the holders out of recycled paper towel tubes and toilet paper roll (my idea)…

spider ice

The mandatory spiders frozen in ice! So effective! Put water in ice trays, place spiders in each holder, freeze and voila! If children are involved, be sure they are not too small – choking hazard!

red slime

Red slime…another mandatory item…looks a lot like blood…that expression is purposeful!

cat siloette

Don’t forget your windows…paper cut-outs are another effective, yet inexpensive way to decorate! I found this image, had it enlarged, then cut out on card stock paper…

spider web

Panty hose leg filled with stuffing and spiders…creeepy…stuffing I picked up at my freebie barn.

monster mash

This was so fun! I was up very late one night making each of these ‘monster’ cans…I designed each can, yet the idea is an old one! Try it. I used plastic eyeballs and table tennis balls…again, plastic items which will be packed away and used for more projects/games…The large skull in the background was an enlarged image from one of Finns Bones books…

cat toss

This was fun. It’s a toss game. I called it ‘Catch the Cat.’ Object, see how many hula hoops you can ‘catch’ the cat with…this was a fun project to design!

skull under cover

Use what you have. I had a cake plate, so why not put a skull in it! Place it on a bed of moss with some over sized ants crawling out of its mouth and well, you have a creepy table piece…

stuffed ghost

This is another effective idea! I found it through Martha Stewart, though I altered it to fit my needs and budget.  I used a wire hanger (from the dump) as the head and stuffed that too, thus allowing a sturdy support and ‘built-in’ hanger…I also added cut-out black construction paper eyes and moth and glued them on.  So much fun!

mummy head

I made a mummy head like this years ago and still love the idea. The head cost me $4 at a local cosmetic supply store, then it’s covered with paper towels which have been stained with coffee, then dried. Applied with corn syrup…a messy, but thrilling project. It looks amazing with coffee stained gauze surrounding the base, served up on a sliver platter!

witch finger cookiesAnd finally these incredible witch fingers!  This idea has been on my mind for years now and I was so pleased with the results that they are definitely going on my ‘next years’ list! They are really almond cookies, with almond slivers as nails and raspberry jam (I substituted jam for the red food gel) as the ‘glue’. Very convincing. Bonus, these can be made weeks in advance and frozen. Simply create the ‘finger’, shape, mark, and press an imprint of the almond (remove almond before baking) on the tip, then bake. Cool on rack, then store in airtight container in freezer. No need to defrost either. Simply remove on the day of the party, apply jam and press nail on. Yummy!

Almost forgot the pinata! This took some time, but oh so worth it!

bat pinata

Do you have a favorite Halloween recipe or decorative idea? If so, please share below, my list is never ending…

Happy Haunting.

Enjoy.

so much trash

There is so much trash in the world. I see it on the side of the road, on the beach, in parking lots, on sidewalks – it’s unfortunately, everywhere. Though some of the ‘trash’ I see at my local transfer station is not really trash at all, well, at least not in my eyes...

It’s actually perfectly good stuff no longer wanted or needed by its previous owner. And our wise town transfer station has created an area specifically for these hand-me-downs…everyone wins. The town saves money, the earth is spared (at least a little) and goods are recycled, upcycled and simple re-used by another.

Brilliant.

Here are just a few of the fun things I’ve come across this summer…my house is filled with free stuff. It’s actually quite amazing what people throw out…

baseball mittdump truck

letter holder

monkey clock

pop-up book

glass candlesticks

free dishes

clock

So before you get rid of something, think of donating or giving it away. You just never know, your trash could very well become someone’s treasure.

Enjoy.