Rustic olive, tomato and bread salad

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Here is a recipe for a side dish that is rustic and tasty.  Preparation is less than ten minutes, with a 20-25 minute baking time.  I prepared a smaller portion, but this is one recipe that can be sized up to make a large party platter.  The key to this recipe is the balsamic vinegar. By using parchment paper or a silpat mat, cleanup will be easy and fast. Perfect for an appetizer party, an Italian dinner, or even for March Madness.

To make the salad:  Gather 1 box of small grape tomatoes, one small round loaf of ciabatta or French bread, olive oil, 1/2 jar of green olives, 2/3 can black olives, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic to taste, kosher salt and ground black pepper.

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First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat mat.  Arrange tomatoes on the pan and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Prepare a second baking sheet with the bread, which has been cubed, drizzled with oil and seasoned with pepper.  Bake both pans for about 15-20 minutes, while watching and stirring during the baking process.  Remove from the oven.

While the pans are baking, in a small bowl mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.  Next, transfer the bread, and olives to the tomato pan.  Pour mixture from the bowl over everything and return to the oven for 5-7 minutes to heat the olives and meld the flavors of the salad.

Variations include: using a variety of colorful cherry tomatoes, a variety of olives, and different breads.  Various balsamic vinegars are also available at the market which would change the flavor profile.

Toss everything well and serve on a platter.  Garnish with parsley flakes if desired.  Delicious!

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Leaffusion tea infuser

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March is here and we still have winter weather in Michigan.  So, I continue drinking tea to stay warm.  I found another cool tea infuser on amazon.com.  This one is styled for a single cup of tea.  They come in a variety of colors too.

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This week I tried a variety of tea blends with my infuser with great success. The stainless steel ball allows for just the right infusion of water through the tool for a perfect blend.  The pure food grade silicone leaf handle works perfectly to handle and clean.

This model comes with a drip tray as well.  I find it very helpful to have a variety of these infusers to use for guests.  Or, if you are a tea drinker like me, to change between them throughout the day when changing tea flavors. Very cute and fun to use.   #leaffusion

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For more information, please follow this link:

 

 


Easy Bacon Garlic rolls

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From the Taste of the South magazine, published in November 2014, comes this fabulous recipe for easy bacon garlic rolls.  These rolls are made with frozen pizza dough and are delicious.  They can be used for lunches or served with a bowl of soup for dinner. Take out the frozen pizza dough early in the day, and these rolls will come together very quickly.  They can be refrigerated for lunches for the week.

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To make the rolls, gather these ingredients:  16 ounces of pizza dough, 4 tablespoons margarine or butter, 1 cup crumbled cooked bacon, 1 1/2 cups shredded fontina or white cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup parsley flakes, minced garlic to taste, kosher salt, and ground black pepper.

Prepare a round cake pan with vegetable spray.  Roll out the dough.  Spread the dough with margarine, leaving a border around the edge.  In a bowl, mix 3/4 cup of bacon, 1 cup cheese, 2 tablespoons parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.

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Sprinkle over the butter on the dough.  Roll the dough into a log.  Place seam side down and cut into 10 slices.  Place in the baking pan.  Cover and allow to rise, which will take less than one hour.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Uncover the rolls and bake for 18 minutes.  Top with the remaining bacon and cheese.  Bake another 5 minutes.  Cool and top with parsley to garnish.

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Almond hot chocolate

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Winter is still here in Michigan during the first week of March.  Since we have had numerous cups of hot chocolate this winter, it was time to change it up and try a flavored hot chocolate recipe.

Here is my own blend for almond hot chocolate which was derived by reading many recipes and adapting to our personal taste.  It was delicious.  All of the measured ingredients can be increased based on the servings needed.

Combine these ingredients into a sauce pot and place on the stove top to heat.

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2 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk, 1/2 cup baking cocoa, 2/3 cup sugar, 5 1/2 cups water, and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Heat and serve from a large soup pot.  This is a great tasting hot cocoa recipe.  Top with fresh whipped cream.

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Jacobson’s Quiche Lorraine

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Jacobson’s department store was my all time favorite place to shop.  I have memories of this neighborhood store from my childhood.  In fact, we could walk to this department store from my home.  I grew up with Jacobson’s, having shopped for everything from clothes, shoes, jewelry, candy, stationery, and items for my home after we were married in the late 70’s.

Over the years, I had many lunches with my mother and even my daughter in the St. Clair room.  It was a special place for a ladies’ lunch.  We were very disappointed when the stores closed their doors, but still have great memories from those days. We even visited the Jacobson’s in Florida when we would vacation.

I was gifted a book about the history of Jacobson’s which included recipes served in their stores over the years.  I made their Quiche recently, and actually remember ordering this in the past.  So cheesy and fluffy.  If you remember Jacobson’s, you might want to try this recipe.  I promise you it will bring back memories.

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This recipe will make 6-8 servings.

Begin by gathering these ingredients:  6 large eggs, 1/2 cup half and half mixed with 1/2 cup milk, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese, 1 pie crust, 1/2 teaspoon basil, paprika and nutmeg to taste.  (I also added some chopped red pepper.)

Beat eggs.  Add milk and mix.  Prepare pie crust, but do not bake.  Add cheese to shell.  Add basil to eggs.  Pour eggs over cheese.  Top with paprika and nutmeg.  Bake 325 for 45 minutes.  Check the center for doneness.  Cool for 10 minutes prior to slicing.

This is a great recipe for a ladies’ lunch, served with a side salad or fruit.

cinnamon carrots

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One of my favorite vegetables has to be carrots.  I usually purchase the petite or small carrots in the market, just for the ease of preparation.  Often, I just boil the carrots, drain and add some margarine and a teaspoon or two of brown sugar to finish the dish.

However, I recently tried adding one teaspoon of cinnamon instead of the brown sugar.  This simple addition made my side dish of plain carrots have a wonderful taste profile.  Sometimes just looking into my spice cabinet reveals a great new idea.

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Picnic planning: Product review

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Snow flakes are coming down in flurries as I am dreaming about summer picnics.  My husband looks forward to planning out a place where we can take a small lunch and just have a fun meal outdoors.  Now, we have a nice deck and yard, so every summer night we could eat outdoors.  But, the fun of a picnic is having different scenery and the adventure of taking out the picnic blanket and enjoying the memories later.

I have some favorite picnic foods that I often pack for these types of meals.  Little tea sandwiches with cucumber and cream cheese filling; fresh sweet Michigan cherries; mini tortilla roll-up slices filled with lettuce, crispy bacon and sun-dried tomatoes; cheese and crackers, pickles, olives, celery sticks with fresh herb dip, banana bread or homemade granola bars, any homemade cookie, and Mason jars of homemade iced tea. I love to wrap my sandwiches in waxed paper for these outings.

Over the years I have collected various picnic baskets and blankets just for this purpose.  I love adding to my collection.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to review a set of Hango high density fabric lunch bags.  I love these bags.  Both could be packed for a picnic lunch.  I will use one to keep my vegetables and herbal dip cool with the thermal insulation interior. The smaller bag will also have room to include my fruit and cheese.  For the larger bag, I plan to pack my drinks, sandwiches, and cookies with napkins.  Compact and durable, these cooler bags are perfect for a picnic.  They came in a 100% cotton drawstring bag which is also nicely fashioned. They have a lifetime warranty. #hangobags

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For more information, please follow this link:  http://www.amazon.com/lunch-bag-hango-insulated-investment/dp/b00p2t2boc/ref=sr_1_1?ie=utf8&qid=1419375634&sr=8-1&keywords=lunch+bag