Category Archives: TaMara

Friday Dinner Music: Sinead O’Connor, Nothing Compares 2U

This song was written by Prince which is why I think it’s held up.

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Fry Breads

DSC_7165 (1600x1060)

I was working on the Dinner Menu for the week and lamenting the fact that I have a difficult time finding good pita breads in my area. I decided the next time I make the Chicken Pilaf and Cool Dill Dip menu (recipes and photos here) I would try using  Fry Bread as a substitute. Then I thought that would make a good topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. (I cannot lie, what really tips the scales for the recipe exchange is which pretty, yummy photo of JeffreyW’s can I highlight)

First up, JeffreyW makes Fry Bread (pictured at top) for Fry Bread Tacos, click here for recipe and great photos.  He took the same recipe and sweetened it up with honey, cinnamon and sugar, as pictured below:

DSC_7172 (1600x1060) Not satisfied with a flat product, he decided to experiment with making it into a bowl and serving it with an awesome soup in his Bean Soup in a Fry Bread Bowl, recipe and photos here.

What’s in your bowl this weekend? Do you have any special or unique family or cultural recipes to share? Hit the comments with your ideas and recipes. I love to add new flavors to my repertoire.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I turn to friend of blog, Aji for a fry bread recipe she sent me months ago, at my request: Read the rest of this entry

Dinner Menu: Golden Curried Chicken

Golden Chicken Curry4

Been crazy busy, but didn’t forget about the weekly menu. I love the flavors in this chicken recipe and the dill dip is the perfect complement to the spicy main course. If you can find really good pita bread you’re luckier than I am. I have to really search to find the soft, chewy kind I like, that isn’t dry and flavorless. I think next time I make this I might try JeffreyW’s Fry Bread recipe.

On the board tonight:

  1. Golden Chicken Pilaf
  2. Cool Dill Dip
  3. Applesauce w/chopped dried figs Curried chicken spices

Golden Chicken Pilaf

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 8 oz diced carrots
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup raisins
  • 2 tsp (2 cubes) chicken bouillon
  • ½ to 1 tsp curry powder
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup slivered almonds

skillet, saucepan

In saucepan, melt butter and sauté onions for 2 minutes, add carrots, rice, water, bouillon, curry, and thyme.  Bring to a boil, stir well, reduce heat, cover and let simmer until all water is absorbed (about 20 minutes). Add raisins and fluff rice with a fork.

In skillet, heat oil, add chicken and brown on all sides.  Add salt & pepper, reduce heat and allow chicken to simmer until rice is done.  Toss chicken to rice and garnish with almonds. 

Cool Dill Dip

  • 8 oz container plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cucumber, finely diced
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (or ½ tsp dry dill)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 pita bread pieces


Mix together all ingredients, except pita.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Serve with pita bread, torn into large pieces.



View from My Desk

Paperweight named Zander1

Paperweight. Doesn’t get much better than this.

Sunday Morning Zen: Spring Hike

Mt View1

Warm weather beckoned yesterday, so I went out for a couple of hours. My bike is in the shop, having a spa day – they take it completely apart, soak everything in lubricant, replace the chain, polish everything, put it back together and tighten everything up – so I went on foot.


This Heron decided that she’d stick around while I dug my camera out. Usually I can’t get within 100 feet of them before they take off. She was content to stay and at least let me get a long shot of her.

MT View 2

Spring has clearly not sprung here yet and we even got a fresh round of snow middle of last week. Luckily, it melted immediately, but it really gave the mountains a nice refreshed topping.

Click on any photo to see uncompressed.


So This Happened

Marshmallow Treats1

Last week my cousins and I were having a Facebook discussion about the little dehydrated marshmallows in Lucky Charms. Seems they sell just the  marshmallows by the bag. We were all happy about this, since everyone knows that’s the best part of the cereal. I also love the little dehydrated ones in instant cocoa, too.

My cousin Bret said he’d actually found them and bought them for the kids, who were less than impressed. He offered to send me some if I couldn’t find them locally. I was tempted to take him up on the offer because the only ones I could find were on Amazon and expensive. Yesterday I was shopping and saw a colorful bag of  fruit flavored mini-marshmallows and an idea formed. I bet I could dehydrate my own.


I spread them out on a baking sheet and placed them in a warm oven. I had to preheat the oven to its lowest temp, 175 F, and then let it cool down a bit, because it seemed warm enough that it would have melted the marshmallows instead of dry them. When it felt cool enough, I put the tray in there and came back a few hours later and they were perfect. Instead of being hard and compacted like the ones in the cereal, they were big, puffy, but with the exact texture, especially when added to milk.

I have to wonder if I had an actual dehydrator if they would have compacted down to the exact texture of the store bought kind. No matter, I would call this experiment a success, though I’m not very excited by the flavors. I will try just plain mini-marshmallows next time and use parchment paper. And for sure there will be a next time.



Friday Dinner Music: Sophie B. Hawkins, Damn I Wish I was Your Lover

Friday Recipe Exchange: Blueberry Sweet Treats


I was thinking all week I wanted to do a dessert theme for the recipe exchange tonight and when I went to put it together this morning, blueberries are what called to me. So it went from desserts to blueberry desserts. For most recipes you can substitute any fruit if you prefer.

If fruit desserts aren’t your style, if you search on chocolate on the blog, you’ll find over 100 recipes.

But back to the blueberries. Pictured at top are Mrs. J’s Famous Fruit Pies, and the recipe is here and a lot more photos here.

JeffreyW makes a nice Lemon Blueberry Bread, combining two of my favorite flavors. Click here for the recipe and photos.

For a healthier option full of blueberry flavor, how about a Blueberry Sorbet, recipe here.

And my first try at a Blueberry Pie, which turned out pretty good for a rookie, click here for the recipe.

What’s on your plate for the weekend? What’s your favorite dessert, something healthy or total decadence? Share your thoughts and recipes in the comments.

Tonight’s featured recipe was just me goofing off in the kitchen wondering what I could come up with for something different.

Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies Final4


I wondered what would happen if I substituted blueberries for raisins in a traditional oatmeal cookie.  The results were tasty and moist.  The blueberry flavor was intense. I used frozen blueberries and left them frozen to keep the dough from turning into ‘smurf dough’.

Oatmeal-Blueberry Cookies 

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats (long cooking)
  • 1 cup blueberries

baking sheet & bowl

In bowl, cream together butter & sugar, add egg and mix well. Add cinnamon, vanilla, soda, baking powder and flour. Slowly mix in oats until well blended. Gently fold in blueberries. Drop onto cookie sheet.   Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden.  Makes 24 cookies.  Refrigerate.

As a note, I’ve used chopped apples instead of blueberries with great results.

That’s it for this week. If you need the Enchilada Pie dinner menu and shopping list, it’s here. Until next week – TaMara


Dinner Menu: Enchilada Pie and Black Bean Confetti

We are expecting snow tonight, I’m hoping it be a quick, brief storm and spring will soon be in full swing and the green up will begin. I’m tired of brown everywhere. I should go out and grab some forsythia branches and force them indoors. If you’ve never done it, it can be a treat and it’s very easy. You cut a few branches, bring them indoors, submerge them in warm water. Under water, cut about an inch off the stems and they’ll bloom in a day or two. It helps if you cut the stems once or twice more, under water, to keep them soaking up the water. Now you’ll have a little bit of spring in your house. You can do this will pussy willows, too.

For this week’s dinner menu, this is one of my recipes from my kid-friendly series. It’s quick, easy and full of flavor. And I finish it off with banana sundaes, one of my favorite things, it takes hot fudge sundaes up a notch when you add sliced bananas.

On the board tonight:

  1. Enchilada Pie
  2. Vegetable Tray
  3. Black Bean Confetti
  4. Banana Sundaes

Enchilada Pie

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated

skillet & 8×8 glass baking dish, lightly oiled

Add beef and onion to skillet and cook until beef is browned and onions are translucent. Add spices and sauces; let simmer while you prep tortillas. Tear tortillas into strips and use some to cover the bottom of a well-oiled casserole dish. Layer a portion of the beef mixture and cheese on top, then repeat (tortillas, beef, cheese) to fill up casserole; finish with layer of cheese. Bake 30 minutes at 350°

Black Bean Confetti

  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Dash of limejuice

saucepans & large serving bowl or platter

In saucepan, add ingredients (except limejuice) and heat on medium. Toss with limejuice and serve.

Banana Sundaes

  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream (opt, and if you’re going to do it, it’s most fun using the spray can cream)

4 dessert bowls

Scoop ice cream into bowls. Peel and cut bananas in half, then quarter each half, lengthwise. Place four slices around the sides of the bowl, tucking down into the ice cream to help them stand. Pour a generous amount of chocolate on the ice cream and top with walnuts and whip cream.

Shopping List:

  • Vegetable tray fixins
  • Vegetable dips & dressings
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ large onion
  • 20 oz. enchilada sauce
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 8 oz grated cheddar cheese
  • 14 oz can black beans
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 stalk celery
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Half gallon vanilla ice cream
  • 2 bananas
  • Favorite chocolate sauce (I prefer Hershey’s but some prefer the thicker hot fudge sauce)
  • 8 oz Walnuts, chopped into large pieces
  • Whipped cream

The Life of Kittens

Kitten Best

Ten years ago this month, I became the godmother of 5 one day old kittens and a very young mom, Missy. She was only 7 months old. She has lived with me since, as has Jake (he’s the one in the basket looking far and away). How Jake came to stay will become evident as you read further. They came to me from a house that, let’s just say, had too many animals and no one was ever spayed or neutered. Harley already lived with me and came from the same house. Emma was queen of my house, then, even though she wasn’t even 9 mos old. I also had three Great Danes, so five kittens and their momma made for a house full. But we coped and it was an experience I would never forget (or hopefully repeat).

At the time, I wrote a letter to a friend, telling him of my adventures. I’ve copied it below. When you get to the part about the little kitten who continually hid in my desk drawer (still not sure how he kept getting in there) know that little boy was Jake,  and after all the other kittens were adopted out, it became obvious he wanted to stay. He ignored anyone who came looking to adopt and curled up next to me whenever he could.

From my letter (May 2004):

A soft heart and large home made me the likeliest candidate to take care of a young cat and her litter of 5 kittens, when her owner couldn’t.  I won’t go into my spiel about spaying and neutering your pets, an unexpected litter of 5 kittens when shelters are overflowing, should say it all.  Unexpected maybe, unwanted never, a daily, joyful surprise, always.

Since I’ve never raised kittens from birth (actually a day old when they came to my house with their not yet year old mom, Missy) I wasn’t sure what I’d gotten myself into.  My beloved BJ, who died a year ago, came to live with me when she was only five weeks old and motherless, and my calico ball of spunk, Emma, arrived at 8 weeks last summer.  So I suspected I’d have my hands full.  I truly had no idea how full.

I thought I’d make list of what I learned while raising kittens.

1. Mother knows best.  The first few days, when I was unsure of the care and feeding of 4-ounce fur balls, first time mom, Missy, made it clear she had everything under control:  Would you please keep your big germ-y paws off my kittens…and could keep those big, slobbering beasts somewhere else, I hear Peoria is nice…I just got them to sleep, DON’T wake them up!

2. Great Danes make great babysitters.  Missy and I both began to understand that regardless of their size, if the Danes were around, the kittens were safe and protected, wet with slobber, but safe.

3. Being the runt doesn’t necessarily mean you should panic.  On their third day in the world, I weighed the kittens and was shocked to see one of them was at least ½ ounce less than the rest.  I quickly rushed out to get kitten milk and proceeded to try and supplement Missy’s milk.  Mostly I just wore it.  By their fifth day it was obvious that, like his brothers and sisters, he was gaining an ounce a day and was in no immediate danger…except maybe from me drowning him.  He’s turned out to be a charmer…small, but charming.  And he always gets the girl. 

4. Herding cats is an apropos description.  Two weeks old and suddenly they were mobile, Read the rest of this entry


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