Category Archives: TaMara

Chihuly at the Botanic Gardens, Part Two

Red and White Water

I had a hard time picking the top photo for this post. There are so many to chose from, difficult to pick a favorite. I had to cull my photos down from about 200. What follows are what I felt were the best.

Boat of Glass Balls2

I took photos from several angles of this installation and  there wasn’t a bad side. LOL. I’m hoping this is one of the pieces that is going to remain a permanent part of the Gardens.

Flames in the Grass

The photo just doesn’t do this one justice. A stunning piece in the native grasses. Click on any photo to see full sized and uncompressed.

Much more on the next page! Click to read

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Chihuly at The Botanic Gardens

Boat of Glass Balls

I’m not sure any words are needed. This was one of many of the installations. I’ll have more photos later in the weekend. Click to see full size.

 

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Sitting on the Porch, Sipping a Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Sprizter

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer by Alton Gunn

It is too hot to cook. Mostly I take fresh fruits and veggies and toss them in a salad. I am waiting with anticipation for this year’s crop of peaches to begin to show up from Palisades, CO. Next to sweet corn, it is my favorite summer Colorado crop. Once they get here, we’ll revisit some of my favorite peach recipes. Until then I thought it would be fun to mix up some drinks to keep things cool.

Starting with Thai Iced Tea, from cyber friend, Tes at Home (recipe here), who is originally from Thailand and now lives in India and shares her food and travel adventures on her blog.

Next up, a couple of Watermelon Cooler recipes can be found here.

I love my Mimosas, but a few years back, someone introduced me to Poinsettias (recipe here), which I find equally delicious at brunch.

For the rest of our drink recipes, including a martini, old-fashioned lemonade, iced coffees, smoothies and more, click here.

I’m crazy busy this weekend, visiting the Chihuly exhibit at the Botanic Gardens and then off to the World Lacrosse Championships (I won tickets! I was going anyway, but this was a pleasant surprise). What’s on your plate this weekend, real and metaphorically? Have any favorite summer drinks or unique takes on the classics? What’s your “too hot to cook” go-to recipe? Share your ideas and recipes in the comments.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I picked an unusual, but tasty, spritzer. One night a few summers back I received a phone call from a friend who said her husband had just made the most amazing drink and I had to try it. I said, ‘send the recipe and photos and I’ll share it’.  A few minutes later I received the email. I read through the recipe and thought, there is no way this can be good.

But, to my surprise, it was delicious. So if you’re looking for something just a bit unique and refreshing, this is it.

Rosemary Lemon Rhubarb Spritzer

  • 1 pound rhubarb, cleaned, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Soda water or carbonated water

Put rhubarb pieces, water, sugar, and rosemary leaves into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Rhubarb pieces will disintegrate.  Remove from heat. Strain out the solids with a fine mesh strainer. Add lemon juice. If too sweet for taste, add a little more lemon juice. Chill until ready to serve.  To serve, fill a quarter to a half of the glass with the lemon, rhubarb, rosemary syrup, and the rest with soda water.

Makes about 3 cups of syrup, and 1 1/2 to 2 quarts of spritzer.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be travelling so there won’t be an exchange. And if you missed it, JeffreyW posted a stunning photo this week (I know what’s new? But this one is beautiful and unusual).  – TaMara

Some Fireworks for You!

In case you couldn’t make the festivities!

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Photo by Dave Masters  – Denver City and County Building – Civic Center Park

I’m out watching this year’s fireworks, but here is last year’s finale.

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It’s July 4th! Happy Independence Day!

Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident…..

For a full-size readable copy of the above photo, click here.

Still a sucker for July 4th.  I’ll be watching 1776 sometime over the holiday.  There will be fireworks. And a picnic.  I love that we are a country of rebels and continue to be a country of rebels.  It’s not always pretty, but really, would we have it any other way?

Last year it was  Orange Creamsicle Gelato, Caribbean Coleslaw (recipe here) and Key Lime Bars (recipe here). This year it was Grilled Bourbon Chicken (recipe here) and Jicama Slaw (recipe here). Have a safe and fun 4th.

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1776: The Musical, The signing of the Declaration

Just a little holiday fun:

If you’ve never seen this movie, put it in your queue.

Wildlife Animal Sanctuary, Pt. 2

Click on any photo to see full size.
Lion in the hood

This is part two of my visit to the Wildlife Animal Sanctuary. I love this shot because, while they have a ranch sized property, there are still other homes around. Imagine going out to get the morning paper and seeing this every morning.

There are four prides of lions at the sanctuary. They work very hard to make sure the animals are allowed to thrive in large expanses of space. Forming prides is very important to lions to be healthy and happy. So much so, they actually don’t neuter the males, because it would cause them to lose their manes, an important social aspect for male lions and their status in the pride. So instead they use birth control on  the females.

The two prides in the northwest section of the sanctuary put on quite the show last Sunday. They roared back and forth for more than thirty minutes. Thrilling to hear.  Though the Grizzly Bear from part one, was not disturbed in the least, even if they are his nearest neighbors.

Grizzly pool

This is the Grizzly pool. I’m assuming when they are awake and playing it’s a crazy sight. And if you click on the photo, you’ll see that is a garden gnome on top.

Pride 1as

The lady fair pictured above, halfheartedly chased a rabbit around  the enclosure for a few moments before taking a single leap to land in this spot. She seemed satisfied with her hunting skills. Meanwhile her man was busy…

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Friday Recipe Exchange: 4th of July Cookout Ideas

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Since the 4th of July is barreling toward us, I thought I should get some ideas together. This is absolutely my favorite holiday. Food, fireworks and friends, what could be better?  So let’s jump  right into the food portion of our festivities.

These are quick and easy ribs if you don’t want to do the smoke for the whole day style, the citrus glaze is the star of this recipe: Baby Back Ribs with Citrus Glaze (recipe here).

Buttermilk Pie (click here) will get all the ooo’s and aaahhh’s, until the fireworks anyway. As pretty as it is tasty.

JeffreyW makes a Classic Orange/Lemon Shakeup (pictured above and recipe here)

And for a different take on cucumber salad, how about Minted Cucumbers, (recipe here).

Hopefully that will give you some ideas for your own July 4th celebration. What’s on your menu for this weekend and for the holiday? What are your favorite recipes for the celebration? We always have to leave room for the funnel cake at the fireworks. Hit the comments to share your recipes and what you like to do on the 4th.

Tonight’s featured recipe is one I made a few years ago on a whim, inspired by a recipe I didn’t follow for various reasons, and I get requests for it every July 4th now. Because it’s a kabob style, it’s a bit labor intensive, but you can prepare all of it the day before. If you want your chicken even drunker, you can soak it in the extra bourbon overnight.

Drunken Chicken 1

Grilled Bourbon Chicken Appetizers

12  servings

  • 1- 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup chopped Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  •  1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Bourbon whisky (how much you use and what you do with the leftover is between you and your bottle)
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks
  • 12 strips of sliced bacon (should be a pound)
  • 12 short wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before assembling and grilling*

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch x 2-inch cubes, you should have 36 pieces (you can soak in bourbon if you like)

Mix together Chipotle peppers, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and add enough whisky and pineapple juice to make a thick sauce. Cover chicken cubes on all side with sauce and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

To assemble: Start with a pineapple chunk, add one end of full bacon strip, add chicken cube, then wrap bacon around the top of the cube and skewer, add another cube of chicken, wrap bacon around the bottom of that piece of chicken, then skewer, add a third and repeat with the bacon strip, you’re creating a ribbon with the bacon. Finish with a pineapple chunk.

(And I wish I had a photo of that step for you, but we got so busy doing them, I forgot to get the camera out. When I make them this year, I’ll remember, promise. I barely got a finished picture, had to grab someone’s plate before they started munching).

Grill over medium high heat (if using coals, start over hot coals, then move away from direct heat for the remainder of cooking time), turning frequently. Cook until chicken is 160-165 degrees. Shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, don’t overcook or you’ll have dry, rubbery appetizers. Serve hot.

*please don’t forget this step or all you’ll have for appetizers is flaming skewers.

That’s it for this week. There won’t be a recipe exchange next week. And if you missed it, this week’s complete dinner menu and shop list is Pork Stir-fry and Tangy Lemon Pie (click here).  Have a safe and happy 4th! – TaMara

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Fireworks2

Buttermilk Pie, A July 4th Favorite

Buttermilk Pie 1

This has become a 4th of July favorite.

Fourth of July Buttermilk Pie Recipe

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted (half a stick)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 9-inch graham cracker crust
  • 1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
  • 8- 15 strawberries, halved
  • A handful of blueberries (opt)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Beat in the flour and melted butter. Beat in the vanilla and buttermilk.

Pour filling batter into an graham pie shell. Bake at 325°F for approximately 50 minutes, or until the center of the custard has just set (can still be a little wiggly). Remove from oven and let cool. The custard may puff up a bit in the oven; it will deflate as it cools.

Whip the chilled cream until it holds stiff peaks. Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, spread the whipping cream over the top of the pie. Arrange the raspberries and blueberries in a decorative pattern on top of the whipping cream.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Makes 8 serving pieces.

Dinner Menu: Pork Stir Fry and Tangy Lemon Pie

Lemon Pie plates_Snapseed1

When things get hectic, as they can be during the week, stir frying can be the quickest way to get dinner on the table. What I love about stir frying, along with the speed, is the freshness of the vegetables. Done properly, they are crisp and full of flavor. You can substitute chicken breast or tofu for the pork in this recipe if you desire.

And for dessert, a quick and easy lemon pie with a secret ingredient to make it extra tangy.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pork Bowl
  2. Tossed Salad
  3. Tangy Lemon Pie

Pork Bowl

  • 5 ounces rice sticks or noodles
  • 12 ounces boneless lean pork
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp dried lemongrass or 1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1 ½ tsp toasted sesame oil (or olive oil)
  • ½ to 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 to 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 green onions
  • ½ ea red and yellow sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 to 4 ounces snow peas, washed
  • 1 medium orange, peeled and thinly sliced

3 bowls, wok or large skillet

Prep rice sticks or noodles according to package directions.  Slice pork into thin strips.  In a bowl, combine pork with fish sauce, lemon grass, sesame oil, crushed red pepper and garlic. In a separate bowl, stir together broth, soy sauce and cornstarch, set aside. Heat olive oil in wok over medium heat, cook onions, pepper strips and snow peas for 2 minutes, until vegetables are tender-crisp.  Remove from wok.

Add more oil if necessary and add meat mixture and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until pork is no longer pink.  Push to sides of the wok, add soy sauce mixture, bring to a boil, stirring until thickened. Stir in pork and onion mixture. Drain noodles and add to meat mixture, toss until well coated. Add orange slices and serve immediately.

Tangy Lemon Pie

  • 12 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 tbsp lemon juice
  • 9 inch graham cracker pie crust (or Lemony Crust, recipe below)
  • 4 oz whipped cream (whip your own or use a pre-made real cream whipped cream)

Combine milk, yolks with mixer or blender until well mixed. Add 6 tbsp lemon juice, mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 250° for 20 minutes. When pie is cool, top with whipped cream and refrigerate. Decorate with lemon slices if you like and serve.

If you have time, I made a perfect crust to go with it that really enhanced the lemon flavor and was a big favorite with everyone.

Lemony Crust

  • 2 cups of crushed lemon sandwich cookies ( I actually used a mix of lemon sandwich cookies and frosted lemon cookies)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 9-inch pie plate

It took about 1/2 package of the sandwich cookies and a handful of the lemon frosted cookies to make 2 cups of crumbs.  Combine with butter, mix well and press into and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake in a 300 degree oven for 10 minutes and let cool thoroughly before adding pie filling.  Bake as directed above.

Note: You can use bottled lemon juice, but I found the taste was better with freshly squeezed lemon; it takes approx. 2 lemons for 7 tbsp of juice.

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2014 Copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook: Spring Edition

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