Tiny Eden

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pinterest Project Week 15: Salt Bagels, Gnocchi Mac and Cheese, Apple Caramel Crisp, The Hidden Gems of N. GA, and Good-bye Ruby

Greetings to all of my fabulous readers!  I hope everyone is enjoying this fall weather as much as I am.  We rang in the new season last Saturday in the most perfect way imaginable.  Discovering the hidden gems of North GA.  You see, California and Long Island are not the only places with breathtaking views of wineries.  Dahlonega, GA is the home to some gorgeous wineries and we had a deliteful time with our friends, Rick and Rachel.  We went to three separate wineries.  After 1.5 wine tastings, I don't remember much except for the fact that, by the 3rd winery, Rick was able to talk everyone at the table into taste testing pate.  I know that my tongue was numb and I was so hungry I could have quite possibly eaten anything at that point, but from what I recall, it was actually pretty stinkin tasty!  The wineries that we hit were Three Sisters Vineyards, Frogtown, and Wolf Mountain Vineyards.  If you ever get the chance to pop into one of these, I highly recommend it.  Sam and I loved it so much that we are tempted to get married all over again so we can do it there!

                                         With Rachel at Frogtown

Pepper, Our buddy from 3 Sisters          

                                                    Sam & Myself & Our Bottle O'Wine

Rick & Rachel

It finally came time to say goodbye to my beloved mobile, Ruby.  She was unable to be repaired without us paying more than her blue book value.  I don't say more than what she was worth because to me, she was worth alot.  We had been thru quite a bit together.  I was really sad to say goodbye to her.  I felt very guilty about the fact that the best cleaning that she ever got from me in a really long time was the one that was going to be her last with me.  I cried when I had to leave her.  They reassured me that she would be auctioned off, repaired, and sold to someone else that she would make very happy.  Now, I have a shiny new mobile that I never would have splurged on myself.  To say that my husband spoils me and makes sure that I am happy is a gross understatement.  And no, it is not just with material items.  He puts up with my crazy silliness, insane mood swings, clinginess, anxiety.  I love him to pieces!  If you asked me about 10 years ago if I ever thought if I was capable of finding a love this great with a man who treats me with such love, I would have said no.  He put the broken pieces back together.


Onto my Pinterest Project!  I gave some of the recipes a whirl and this time, I followed them all exactly the way they were written.  BAZINGA!  You didn't think I would actually do that, did you?  I did all of these yesterday because I had quite a bit of pent up anger with my dr's office and their less than stellar communication.  My first feat were Salt Bagels.  The recipe that I followed was fairly easy and I did not have a choice but to follow this one the way it was written.  The only thing I did differently was top them with salt.  I did not have kosher salt, so instead I used margarita salt.  Funny how I had a whole lot of that on hand!  I ate one for breakfast this morning and it was delish!!!!

Salt bagels...YUMMY!
My next delicacy was Macaroni and Cheese with Homemade Gnocchi.  It was pretty good!  I used swiss cheese, mozzarella, and ricotta because that is what I had in my fridge.  Bacon makes everything better, so I added a few slices of bacon.  I was surprised that Sam ate it, but he seemed to really enjoy it.  There was not the usual answer of "Interesting" when I ask him if he likes something that he is not a fan of.  I made a little extra sauce because who doesn't love extra cheesy mac?

       Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Last but not least is the Apple Caramel Crisp.  This last recipe is one that I got from my friend.  I have made lots of Apple Crisp, but this one is one of my favorites.  The recipe is actually for Apple Cranberry Crisp, but I am not one for cranberries.  Instead, I replaced the cranberries with more apples and then I nestled some caramels into the little nooks and crannies before I added the topping.  Another thing is that I made quite a bit of the extra crumble for the top.  My philosophy is that you can never have enough crisp on top!  That is my favorite part!  I cannot even begin to tell you how yummy it was to bite into the apple crisp and get some ooey-gooey caramel in it!  No words can even begin to describe it!
Apple Caramel Crisp
So that is all I have to offer you, folks.  I am hoping to have completed a craft or 2 by next week.  We shall see!  This fall and winter, I am planning on finishing organizing the house.  It is so liberating to just be able to get rid of everything that we don't need.  My belief is that last year's organization was not very successful because I was in such a slump about the whole IVF thing not working.  I feel much better as time has gone on.  It still hurts, but we have moved on and started discussing the next steps that we will be taking.  I hope you all enjoy these recipes as much as we did!  Hugs to all!
"If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone
Carry on
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Carry on"
~FUN - Carry On
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” ~ President Barack Obama

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” ~ Mother Teresa


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Pinterest Project Week 14: Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, Risotto, and Banoffee Cheesecake

I soldiered thru my bout of strep throat.  It lasted so much longer than I thought it should have, but what do I know, I have never had it before.  Right now, it is my favorite weather - pouring rain!  I don't have to drive in it, hence it being my favorite weather.  If I had to be somewhere, than I would not appreciate it as much.  Fall is approaching and I am so excited!  To me, there is nothing better than that cool, crisp weather.  Soon, there will be apple picking, the search for the perfect pumpkin, soup with grilled cheese for dinner, our house will be covered with fall decorations, and Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, will be upon us.  Sam and I will hopefully be going to NY for Thanksgiving where there will be tons of food, many laughs and a ton of memories will be made.  Then, we will spend Friday going to the Christmas Tree Shoppe, Target, and Stew Leonard's before coming home and reheating the leftovers and creating more memories. 

Now, on to my Pinterest Projects for this week!  I tried several recipes and they were all delicious.  I have to admit, I tweaked almost all of them, except the Brussels sprouts.  I really do not think that I am capable of following a recipe as it is written because I am always substituting ingredients.  The first recipe was Stuffed Chicken.  I used this recipe as a base, but switched a few things around.  First, I used the bottom recipe for the Chicken Roll Ups.  Sam is not a fan of anything with bread crumbs, so the bread crumbs were omitted.  The chicken breasts were pounded down and then I put in some chunks of mozzarella cheese, sauteed garlic, fresh parsley, and fresh basil.  Then, they were rolled up and sealed with toothpicks and I put them in the frying pan.  Once they were done, I transferred them to a baking sheet with a slice of fresh tomato, some more cheese and stuck them in the oven so they would finish cooking.  The juices in the pan didn't go to waste!  I added butter, chicken broth, and white wine and let it simmer and reduce to which it turned into a delicious sauce for the chicken.  Before serving them, I added a fresh basil leaf to the top.  YUMMY!!!

Several years ago, I made some risotto for Sam.  This is when he was still in his "anything that is different is disgusting" stage.  Of course, he wouldn't eat it so I had not made risotto in a really long time.  The recipe that I used was this one right here, Orzo with Parmesan and Basil.  As you can see, the recipe actually calls for orzo, but as I was getting my ingredients together, I noticed that the box that I thought was orzo was really ditalini pasta.  So, I pulled out the container of risotto that I planned on making for myself and figured that Sam was going to have to choke it down.  I also did not have as much Parmesan cheese as I thought I did, so I used some ciliegine that I had left over.  I cooked the risotto according to the way that it is supposed to be cooked on the container, except that I substituted about a cup of the broth with white wine.  It was give or take a cup.  I feel like that gives it a much better flavor.  When it was done cooking, I added the Parmesan cheese and ciliegine.  I made sure not to let the ciliegine melt completely because it was great to get that slightly larger clump of cheese in the occasional bite.  Once it was done on the stove, I mixed in some fresh basil from my raised garden bed.  We ate every bite and Sam could not believe he had avoided eating risotto for so long!

This next recipe was one that I followed exactly as it was written.  They are Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I am probably one of the few people that absolutely loves Brussels sprouts, so I was really excited to find a recipe that involved fresh ones instead of the Green Giant frozen ones that I always buy.  Luckily, I had been to Kroger the day before and found some in their produce clearance section that were already trimmed, cut in half, and seasoned!  Only 99 cents!  If you follow the recipe, they are very tasty.  The only thing that I will do differently next time (of course I have to change something!) is that, once I take them out of the oven after 15 minutes to turn them, I think I will add some more vinegar and olive oil because I felt like the vinegar cooked a little too quickly and charred a tad bit.  Either way, they were fabulous and I would make them again any day (hopefully I will be running into more clearance ones at Kroger again!).

 Now, the recipe that you have all been waiting for!  The Banoffee Cheesecake!  If you would like the original Banoffee Cheesecake recipe, here it is.  I also had tamales to make, so I did not have the time to go as far as to make the Banoffee cheesecake per this recipe, so surprise, I came up with my own.  I did, however, have the time to make a homemade cheesecake (after going to a meeting at 7:30 am on a Sunday and doing the grocery shopping).  That was definitely one of my Super Woman Days!  I followed this cheesecake recipe.  I did use cinnamon graham crackers as well as adding the cinnamon to the crust.  The decadent toffee that was on top can be found here by following the portion of the recipe for the topping.  I felt like the center of the inside was still a little gooey, so I would recommend cooking it for a few minutes longer and perhaps even leaving it in the oven for a few minutes with the oven off before letting it sit on the counter.  Also, if you have dogs, make sure it is out of their reach because apparently they like cheesecake.  Lulu used her Go Go Gadget Legs and I caught her taking a chunk out of the side while I was searching for the candles. 

Top of the Banoffee Cheesecake                                                        Lulu's bite out of the side of the

The Birthday Boy with his tamales!                                                        51 Birthday Tamales!!!!

I hope everyone is doing well!  I one of my clear frames to a friend for her parent's anniversary.  Please don't forget about PhoebeLu's!  There are greeting cards, frames, jewelry, as well as other special requests.  If you have an image of something you want, feel free to run it past me.  I might be able to make it! 

“I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.”  ~ W. C. Fields

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”  ~ Julia Child

“Maybe the cat has fallen into the stew, or the lettuce has frozen, or the cake has collapsed. Eh bien, tant pis. Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile, and learn from her mistakes.”  ~ Julia Child

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Taking it one day at a time

So, I guess I had an EPIC FAIL with my Pinterest Project the last 6 weeks.  I am so embarrassed that I have not posted in 6 weeks.  Lucky for you guys, I have strep throat and Sam is away in Panama City Beach for a bachelor weekend, so I am home, bored out of my mind.  There is no excuse for me to not post a blog right now.  And if a doctor ever tells you that they are going to put you on Biaxin, say no!  It is the most disgusting antibiotic.  No matter what I eat or drink, it tastes like I am sucking on a nickel.  All the time.  It is gross!

This summer has been a good one.  My mum, sister, brother-in-law and the kids came to visit.  We went to the pool, went to the Yellow River Game Ranch (where I hand fed deer!!!!), took Stina for a Rockstar Makeover where she got her ears pierced, went shopping, cooked fabulous meals, laughed a whole lot, and made a ton of memories.  Matthew is growing like a weed and he is very mobile.  Stina is turning into such a beautiful young lady who is starting kindergarten in a few weeks.  Dana, Brian, and the kids left before my mom did, so I got to spend a spa day with my mum.  Very relaxing and I think I might be due for another one! 

Stina's Makeover                                         Matthew cuddling with                    Sam ready for a dip!
                                                                      Papa Diego

Sam and I went on a fantastic vacation.  I had no clue the hidden treasure of Alabama.  The gulf shore.  It was amazing.  We went to Orange Beach and, although it did rain for a little bit each day, we had plenty of beach time and we even went para sailing one day.  If you ever have the opportunity to do it, you should.  This is something that we never would have imagined ourselves doing, but we are trying to seize new opportunities and break out of our comfort zone.  I would say that floating 600 feet in the air while attached to a rope tied to the back of a boat would be out of our comfort zone.  Sam is not a fan of heights, so I was very proud of him when he agreed to do it.  If you are ever in the area and are looking for a place to stay, we stayed at The Hilton Garden Inn - Beachfront.  They had a breakfast buffet that I wish I could go to every day.  I do not recommend doing what I did and attempt to have a healthy day ~ fruit, activia yogurt, a bran muffin, and coffee are a great way to get things moving!  The company we used for para sailing was really great.  It was Zeke's Landing.  The guides were really nice and did a wonderful job.  The day before we left, we found a fantastic restaurant, Cosmo's.  I would eat at Cosmo's for lunch and dinner everyday if I could.  The food was heavenly! 

I did manage to find a way to work some of my Pinterest pins into this summer.  Not that Sam and I fight a bunch, but we did nit-pick a tad.  One of us would be too sensitive or the other one would be too defensive and the next thing you knew....BAM another dumb argument that by the end of it we didn't realize what caused it.  In July, I pinned a quote from Bob Marley.

It helped me realize just what I had.  Not a perfect man, but someone who was perfect for me.  Our communication skills have greatly improved, we say thank you to each other for even the smallest thing, I'm not constantly on my phone, checking e-mails or looking at Facebook.  We talk about our day and we enjoy the time that we are spending with each other.  He truly is the love of my life and I wouldn't want it any other way.  He has only been gone for a few hours and I miss him terribly.  Before he left, he made sure I was stocked up on soup and ginger ale (as well as stamps).  Best of all, he loves me. 

Me trying some Brunswick Stew

I did try out some recipes and I will write about them in my next blog.  I hope everyone enjoyed their summer as much as the Byram/de la Garza/Murphy clan did!  Looking forward to Orange Beach again next year.
"Summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to people. For those few months you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are. The fresh cut grass smell in the air & the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool, gives you courage you didn’t think you had. Summer just opens the door and lets you free." ~ Unknown