No recipe today. Instead, I'm going to share what I did today with our family.
My mother-in-law and her boyfriend are still visiting and Mr. 365 had the day off, so we decided to go on an excursion to get out of the 105 degree heat we're now having into the balmy (haha) weather up north.
If you're ever in Arizona, I highly recommend that you take a trip to the Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. It's off the beaten path, so to speak, but it's truly a thing of beauty and it only cost $5 per person. Well worth the trip and the kids were even thanking us for going. Ok, so maybe the Dairy Queen on the way home had something to do with it, too, but they said they really enjoyed it.
I took pictures, lots of pictures, to share with you.
Of course, to get there, we have to get some gas and some drinks. This IS Arizona, after all!
Looking down before we started on the trail.
I LOVED the bark on this tree! Isn't it cool? I've never seen anything like it.
There she is. We're going in!
There's no swimming under the bridge and the rocks are very slippery, so you definitely need to watch your footing. There are other spots that people can get into the water, but we didn't.
Under the bridge, looking up at the water dripping down.
The water dripping from the top inside the bridge into the water below.
This was just absolutely magnificent and breathtaking. To think that this was naturally formed just blew me away.
Heading out the other side.
On the way home, we saw the following tree.
This tree is special. It sits in the middle of the divided highway, I-17, north of Sunset Point. Every time I drive by, someone has decorated it. There was an article in the local newspaper about it and I think they said that the local Kiwanis are the ones responsible, but no one owns up to it. They like their anonymity. It's pretty spectacular to see and something I look forward to every time I drive north. At Christmas, it is decorated with tinsel and ornaments. I don't think I've ever driven by and not seen this little tree with something on it. Today it was decorated with yellow ribbons and small American flags for Memorial Day.
It's a special thing that this person or people are doing by continually decorating this. I know for a fact that it gives a lot of people much happiness when they see it and just knowing that someone is taking the time out of their day to "pay it forward". Thank you, whoever you are.
I give you BIG baking hugs and muffins!!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
With the arrival of Memorial Day comes the beginning of summer.
And with summer comes the grilling season.
I am definitely not one to grill outside or inside for that matter because I really don't know what the heck I'm doing.
My chicken becomes charred on the outside and raw on the inside.
But I figure with vegetables, how can I go wrong?
I have a grill pan that sits on top of the stove, so I'm golden!
How difficult can this really be?
So what if the house gets a little smoky and the fire alarm goes off sending the dog into a tizzy with his tail between his legs.
Just blink a few times, it's probably your eyes. It really isn't that smoky in here, is it?
So, note to self, while grilling the vegetables, it may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium because you've smoked your children out of the house and into the 105° F. heat outside and scared the living bejesus out of your family pet.
You live and learn.
I told you I have yet to master the grill.
It's on my to-do list.
Next time, we grill outside.
Grilled Vegetable, Feta and Orzo Salad - serves 6-8 as a main course
1 pound Orzo, cooked according to package directions and drained
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 medium zucchini sliced lengthwise with slices about 1/4-inch thick
1 medium yellow squash sliced lengthwise with slices about 1/4-inch thick
1 red pepper, seeded and quartered
3 ounces Portobello mushrooms, sliced
3 slices large red onion
2/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese, seasoned with Mediterranean herbs
1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
Preheat your grill on medium-high heat.
Place cooked orzo in a large bowl, mix with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and freshly pepper.
Place the sliced vegetables into the large bowl and toss to coat. This may need to be done in batches.
Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side or until grill marks appear on veggies and they are tender. This may also need to be done in batches.
Remove vegetables from heat and place on a plate to cool.
Cut into bite-sized pieces.
Place all cut vegetables into the bowl containing the orzo. Make sure you get all of those wonderful drippings off of the plate, too - that's the best stuff!
Add the Feta cheese and parsley.
Mix to thoroughly combine.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.
I rate everything I make on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best and this Grilled Vegetable, Feta and Orzo Salad earned 3 1/2 rolling pins. 4 out of 5 family members liked it and the one that didn't prefers his pasta with sauce.
I can't win them all.
We will definitely be having this again. Mr. 365 said I could make this salad "anytime", and he usually says that for dishes that he really likes.
I just need to perfect my outside grilling technique, so I don't smoke up the house again.
Oh, and next time, I'm using the whole 6 ounce package of the Portobello mushrooms. Those things were the BOMB, man!! They were the absolute best tasting thing on the salad!!
I give you BIG baking hugs and muffins!!
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
First of all, I need to give a BIG baking shout out to our wonderful new followers here on the blog and on our FB page!
I am amazed that 365 Days of Baking is spreading as quickly as it is and I have all of you to thank for it. You are amazing and I thank you so very, very much for spreading the word and passing us onto your friends and family.
I love the comments I receive and even though I don't respond to each of them personally, they mean a lot and I'm very grateful that you take the time to send me a note.
Thank you all so very much for reading, commenting on, Tweeting, "Like"ing, and Pinning 365 Days of Baking.
I am so humbled that you are all reading my little corner of the web and trying the recipes and enjoying them!
You rock my world and I love you.
So very, very much!
What a week it's been, but it's been so very, very wonderful.
Our daughter graduated high school last Friday and most of my husband's family was able to fly in from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to spend it with us.
We were very blessed to have them spend this wonderful occasion with us and wished his brother and his family could have joined us as well.
Mr. 365's sister and her family left on Saturday to complete the rest of their trip out west by heading to Sedona and then out to California.
On Sunday, my mother-in-law and her boyfriend went to Las Vegas for a few days and will be returning tomorrow night to stay with us for a few more days.
Yes, the company leaves over the weekend and I come down with a cold and fever.
At least it happened after everyone left. I would have been miserable if it had happened while everyone was here and especially during my daughter's graduation.
I think I was just going so much before they arrived and while they were here that my body just literally crashed after they left - a definite sign to slow down.
Since I'm still not feeling "up to par" so to speak, I haven't REALLY been in the kitchen the past few days. Throwing penne in a pot of boiling water and then covering it with some jarred Ragu doesn't constitute a blog post to me. I'll spare you details of our meager dinners.
I have baking on the brain, so I'm hoping to fire up the old oven tomorrow and take care of that.
In the meantime, here's a round-up of some successful snacks (like the alliteration?) I've posted here on 365.
1. Baked Spiced Almonds - these were SO yummy!! I made them before we did a hike in the Grand Canyon and they were the perfect snack for our trip. They had the right amount of spice and were quite addicting. Hmmm...now I'm thinking I may be making some of those tomorrow, too!
2. How about making some of these Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices? These were so easy and such a great after-school snack. Even though school is over for us and nearly over in other parts of the country, you can still feel good about giving your kids a snack they're sure to eat.
3. Another great idea for the kids are these Strawberry, Blueberry and Pomegranate Fruit Roll-Ups. I LOVED when I was younger and fruit snacks and fruit roll-ups came out. I couldn't get enough of them. I liked these because they are much healthier than the store bought items. Instead of the pomegranate juice next time though I'm going to go with apple juice because I thought the pomegranate was just a bit too tart for my liking.
4. An extremely popular post here on 365 both because it was so easy and so very delicious was the Homemade Cheese Crackers. I have received multiple comments and e-mails from readers who absolutely loved these. I really do think they are better than the crackers in that big red box.
5. And finally, if you're not into a cheese cracker, you can make these Homemade Wheat Crackers. These were good, but not nearly as good as the crackers above. It would be fun to experiment with the spices in the cracker to find the taste best suited to your liking.
Hope you enjoy the review. If you're looking for more snacks, be sure to check out the Recipe Index.
I give you BIG baking hugs and muffins!!!
Friday, May 25, 2012
I have a very special person to introduce you all to today if you haven't already been by her blog. She is none other than Joan of Chocolate, Chocolate and More Chocolate!!!
You all MUST go by and visit her. Her recipes are incredible and her pictures are out-of-this-world drool-worthy!!
I am both extremely honored and excited that Joan accepted my invitation to guest post on this very special day for our family ~ our second daughter and middle child is graduating high school, a very big event and Mr. 365 and I are blessed and so very proud to be able to say she is our daughter.
I cannot believe that she is off to college in just a few months. It seems like just yesterday she was climbing out of her crib and I was having to use duct tape to keep her in her footie pajamas.
It'd be the middle of winter and at the age of 18 months she would unzip her pajamas and fall asleep in just her diaper. Granted we had the heat on in the house, but I didn't want the kid to catch cold, so I'd put duct tape around the chest.
About 15 minutes after I'd put her down for bed, she'd climb out of her crib, stand at the gate we had set up in at the door of her room (so she wouldn't stumble down the stairs), attempt to unzip the zipper of her pj's and finding she couldn't, yell, "TAPE!"
It was awfully cute, and still brings a smile to her face.
I really miss her at that age, but I love the age she's at now.
She's grown up to be a beautiful, driven, extremely intelligent, compassionate, sensitive (though sometimes overly), fun, and very loving young woman even though she can't stand it when I hug her.
I think that will change however when she's away from me for awhile. ;-)
Congratulations, baby girl! You've done so very, very well and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you!!
It is now with great pleasure I introduce to you, Joan from Chocolate, Chocolate, and More Chocolate!! This recipe has been added to my list of all-time baked goodies. I LOVE the combination of flavors. Thank you so much, Joan for sharing this recipe and taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us today!
I'm so excited to be guest posting here at 365 Days of Baking. Lynne is awesome and I think that maybe we should be sisters. I love her honesty when she posts, she shares the good and the bad. And I've tried several of her recipes, her Texas Roadhouse Rolls are dead on! Oh and she has awesome dessert posts!!!!!
I wanted to share a family favorite and everyone's probably had or made these at one time or another. It's a Seven Layer Bar. Yummy, kid friendly and the possibilities are endless. When I first started making these years and years ago, my layers were always the same. But this is my go to, clean out the cabinets recipe. I don't always have the same thing. I love using the cheap, dollar cookies that really don't taste that bad in recipes. I use the oatmeal cookies in my Millionaire Bars.
My original recipe consisted of graham crackers, butter, chocolate chips, pecans, peanut butter chips, flaked coconut and sweetened condensed milk.
So what if you change up the graham crackers for a chocolate cookie and then the peanut butter chips for those Andes bits? Pure heaven! Or how about throwing in crushed Butterfingers? Crushed Oatmeal cookies and butterscotch chips? Don't like pecans, use a different nut, or leave them out. There's just so much possibility with this recipe. So have fun, play with it.
Seven Layer Bars
2 cups crushed cookies, I used butter cookies this time
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 to 2 cups peanut butter chips
1 to 1 1/2 cups flaked coconut
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray then line with parchment paper. I only worry about my parchment paper going up the long sides of the pan. Lightly spray again.
Combine cookies crumbs and melted butter with a fork till all moistened. Spread crumbs in bottom of pan and press down to create your crust.
Now just start layering the rest of the ingredients, Chocolate chips
Peanut Butter Chips
Now drizzled the sweetened condensed milk over the top of it all. Be sure to get in the corners, and around the edges, and in the middle, and don't miss that crack over there...
This is the longest part of your prep, waiting for all that sweet goodness to slowly, oh so slowly creep out of the can. And you want to use every last drop. Yes you do.
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until coconut is a beautiful golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.
And congratulations to Lynne, her daughter and her family, just one more left in High School! Time goes by so fast.
Monday, May 21, 2012
It's May and it's the third Monday of the month!
Do you know what THAT means???!!!
Oh, you are SO smart!!
Yup! It's the monthly post for...
The Secret Recipe Club is a great group of bloggers started by Amanda of Amanda's Cookin' just over a year ago. It is based on Secret Santa where you are assigned a blog in your group and you need to find a recipe that you would like to make and then post about it. The fun part is that we aren't supposed to tell the blogger that we've been assigned to them until our reveal day. It is SO much fun!
Our fearless group leader is Angela of Big Bear's Wife, and she along with Amanda have done an AMAZING job keeping this group together and going so well! Thank you, ladies!!
For the month of May, my blog assignment was Kelly's blog,...
By day, Kelly is a "communication strategist and aspiring cook/baker/artisan cheesemaker by night". She is one busy woman! Her "pie in the sky dream is to someday open a working artisan sheep’s milk cheese farm that is also a yoga and knitting retreat". How AWESOME would that place be??!! Kelly, when you open it, I would love to make a reservation, but you'll have to teach me yoga and how to knit first. ;-)
Kelly has a wonderful selection of recipes on her blog, so I don't think you'd have a problem finding something to make for dinner, breakfast or dessert. She even has a few recipes for the canines in our lives! Take a few moments to hop on over to visit Kelly and say hello ~ you'll be very happy you did!
Since I made Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream a few weeks ago, I decided when I saw this recipe on Kelly's blog for Ridiculously Good Cake Batter Ice Cream, I knew I just had to try it out. I've been SO into the cake batter lately, it's not funny. Now I need to find a way to use up the remainder of the stuff I used for this recipe. I don't think that will be a problem though.
This is never a flavor I get when we go out for ice cream because it's usually too sweet for me, but I really wanted to try some homemade.
The only change I made to Kelly's recipe was that I used Butter Recipe Yellow cake mix instead of the white mix she had suggested only because I already had that in the cupboard.
Cake Batter Ice Cream - makes about 1 quart
3 1/2 cups half & half
1 cup butter recipe yellow cake mix
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons colored sprinkles (or as we New Englanders call them, jimmies)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together half and half, cake mix, sugar and salt until warm.
Using a ladle, slowly drizzle about a 1/2 - 1 cup of the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly (you don't want your eggs to cook, but you do want to raise their temperature. Nobody likes the taste of cooked eggs in their ice cream. Hmmm...well, maybe there's someone.)
Continue heating while constantly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the mixture thickens and the temperature reaches between 170 - 175 degrees F. on a thermometer. The mixture will be somewhat thicker than other ice cream if you've made it and may have some clumps because of the flour in the cake mix.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the contents.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the contents.
Refrigerate for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until well chilled.
Place in ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's directions.
I rate everything I make on a scale of 1-4 with 4 being the best and this Cake Batter Ice Cream earned 3 rolling pins.
I LOVE ice cream and this was really good.
It was smooth, but definitely thicker and sweeter than the roasted strawberry ice cream I made.
And the sprinkles were a nice addition, adding a little crunch.
Thanks, Kelly for sharing your recipe with us!
I give you BIG baking hugs!!