Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blueberry or Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

With a drizzle of Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
The flavor started to grow on meBalsamic Vinaigrette!  I'm not sure when, but whenever we ate dinner out this dressing was my choice for salads.  Then, I purchased a bottle of a commercial brand for my salads at home.  When I discovered the OXO Salad Dressing Shaker for making/ storing salad dressings, I purchased one.  That's how it all started.  Balsamic Vinaigrette is quite simple to prepare.  The ingredients are placed into a container & shake, shake, shake and shake again.  Repeat if necessary!

Then one evening while dining out I enjoyed Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Oh, the sweetness combined with the tang & flavor of raspberries!  Yum, yum, yum!

Now fast forward... it's Blueberry season!  Blueberry Freezer Jam time, too!  Last night I took out the handy green OXO Salad Dressing Shaker and made another delicious Balsamic Vinaigrette - Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Drizzled over our cold grilled chicken salad plate it was delicious!

Grilled Chicken Chunks Salad
with Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

I haven't purchased dressings in quite a few months, because I'm totally hooked on Balsamic Vinaigrette.  What can be better than a dressing made with Olive Oil???   And making it yourself???  And controlling the ingredients???

About 20- 25 minutes before using a Balsamic Vinaigrette, I take it out of the fridge to warm it up a bit, before shaking it & drizzling.  Then back into the fridge it goes. 

Blueberry Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 Cup Olive Oil for salads & marinades
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
Dash Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Blueberry Jam or Jelly

***Salad Dressing Mixing/ Shaking Container

  1. Place Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar in shaker container.
  2. Add dash of Black Pepper.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon Blueberry Jam or Jelly.
  4. Place cover on container.
  5. Shake, shake, shake & shake again.  Repeat.
  6. Drizzle over salads.
For Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette use Raspberry Jelly.

Do you enjoy the taste of a Balsamic Vinaigrette?  Try it, you'll like it!  Plain, Blueberry or Raspberry!  A little drizzled over a salad goes a long way!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Blueberry Freezer Jam

Waiting for Certo/ Lemon Juice to be added.
Was just jammin today.  Well more like listening to Rod Stewart, Billy Joel & Bruce Springsteen while making Blueberry Freezer Jam.  It's Blueberry season here!  The time to purchase the fresh local blueberries from Calabrese Farms in Southwick, MA.  It's just a short drive away.
Calabrese Farms
It's a tradition for me to prep & freeze the sweet yummy local berries & also make the year's supply of Blueberry Jam!  3 batches each made separately was accomplished this afternoon.  Now the freezer containers are sitting on our dining room table for the 24 hour period - basically making itself!

Suddenly this past spring, there no longer were containers of my homemade jam on the top shelf of our large freezer.  The good news was that we enjoyed it.  The bad news was that a commercial brand needed to be purchased.  Well, it doesn't have a consistency nor a flavor that we are fond of... at all.  I've been waiting for the fresh local fruit to ripen!  The Certo liquid fruit pectin was purchased weeks ago along with containers & Sugar.  ***The directions are found in the Certo box!  I was almost good to go!  Yesterday, the fresh local Blueberries needed to be purchased from Calabrese Farms.

After arriving, I headed to the blueberries:
Pints & Pints & More Pints of Blueberries!
2 trays (24 pints) were purchased.  Enough to enjoy now, prep for the freezer & make Freezer Jam.  A discounted price was available with the larger quantity. :)  

Yesterday was Day 1 - freeze the year's supply of Blueberries.  Today was Freezer Jam Day.  Tomorrow afternoon at the designated times, the 3 batches of Blueberry Freezer Jam will be placed on the top shelf of our freezer - next to the Strawberry Freezer Jam

This is a great time of year with all of the local veggies & fruit!  It's great to enjoy them now & also prep/ freeze them to enjoy later!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grilled Haddock Dinner

Grilled Haddock Dinner!
The sun is shining and we are surely making up for the chilly damp days of spring.  This AM I was unsure what we would have for dinner.  When I asked my DH, he reminded me of a blog - A Tasty Thought by JG.  It is summer and suddenly I remembered my top blog post of ALL time.  So, it was definitely a day to purchase the fresh "wild caught" Haddock in our local grocery store and find my grill basket, because it's outdoor grilling time tonight!  This recipe is very easy & yes, previously frozen "wild caught" Haddock also tastes great!

Grilled Haddock

Haddock Fillet(s)
Olive Oil

Grilling Basket/ Container

  1. On a large dish pour about 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil.
  2. Sprinkle a little Paprika & Thyme on top. 
  3. Rinse Haddock Fillets under cold running water and place on top of Olive Oil & Spices.
  4. Turn Fillet(s) over to coat other side.
  5. Place Haddock Fillets in grilling container/basket that has been sprayed with PAM.
  6. Grill Fillets on preheated grill.
  7. **A 1 lb. piece requires 5 - 8 minutes on each side, depending on thickness of Fillet.
  8. Turn Fillets over one time to grill during grilling process.
  9. Enjoy!  
**Grill the Fillets slowly using a Low to Medium heat setting to retain the moisture.

Summer, the outdoor grill, an easy meal to prepare - what can be better?  The 2 side dishes will be posted other days.  They were so tasty served along with the Grilled Haddock!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Happy July 5th!

Arthur brought rain yesterday, so the Fourth of July celebrations including grilling outdoors are being enjoyed today by so many of us on the East Coast.  This AM the blue sunny sky brought a wonderful surprise- the "first of the season" - a Salmon Daylily in our front cut-out!  Buds #2 & #3 will open tomorrow!

Happy July 5th!!!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

~Happy Fourth of July!~

Have a 
wonderful, safe & happy 
July 4th!!!


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Strawberry Freezer Jam!

Local fresh juicy sweet Strawberries!
"Timing is everything!"  How often have we all heard or used that expression?  It's been so true these past few days for me.  My year's supply of local, fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries had not been purchased, so they were not yet cleaned/ prepped for our freezer.  June was leaving & it was getting late in the strawberry season, here.  Sunday was designated "Strawberry Day".  The short drive to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow was made.  That afternoon bags of cleaned sliced strawberries were placed in our freezer.

Yesterday was "Strawberry Freezer Jam" day!  The Certo, sugar & 1 cup Freezer containers had already been purchased.  A little mass production was going on in my kitchen to prep those 3 batches of Freezer Jam.  Henry Ford would have been impressed!  Today those 3 batches of jam will be placed on the top shelf of our large freezer - each batch at a different time. 

***At a different time, because for best results, each batch is prepared separately.

The cleaned utensils, containers & strawberries were ready!  The directions for Freezer Jam is located in the Certo package.  I also read over my own helpful hints (click here) before starting.

Now, I usually make 2 batches of this variety of jam, but this spring, suddenly there were none left of any variety.  Commercially prepared jam/ preserves/ jellies are o.k.  I'd much rather spend the time during the summer making jam when our local fresh fruits are ripe & prepare my own that tastes so yummy!  It is so much more tasty than just o.k.

The Strawberry Freezer Jam is now sitting on our dining room table "doing its thing" for 24 hours.  After the 24 hour time period, the containers will be placed in the freezer.  (The foil covered custard cup of jam will find a home in our fridge.)  The last batch will be placed in our freezer at 4:30 PM. 
Strawberry Freezer Jam
I will definitely need a "place the Strawberry Jam in the freezer" break while watching our USA Soccer team!  Timing is everything!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"Welcome Bag" Cookies!

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies cooling!
A beautiful day, loving family members/ close friends, happy guests, a meaningful ceremony, delicious food.  These are some of dreams on the "wish list" for Brides & Grooms as they prepare for their wedding day.  My son's & daughter- in- law's wishes did come true when they were married a little more than 2 months ago!

They wanted their guests to feel very special and also very welcomed during the weekend!  They did succeed!  A Welcome Bag was waiting at the hotels where the overnight guests were staying.  This was a very thoughtful gift and it was also a gift that was new to me.  Each bag with a cute logo contained bottled water & munchies.

After I learned about the Welcome Bags, I knew that I wanted to add a tidbit for the happy guests who would be celebrating a very special occasion.  Suddenly it came to me!  Cookies, specifically
Sour Cream Sugar Cookies!  These rolled out/ cut out cookies are definitely a family fave and they would be a great surprise!  They are my holiday cookies

My Heart and my Bell cookie cutters were located quickly!  The wedding colors were Purple + Sage, so Lavender & Green colored sugars were purchased for the bells along with plastic bags & ties.  The Red colored sugar I already had  for the Hearts!  Fat Free Sour Cream, Low Salt Butter, Sugar & Flour were placed on my grocery list.  These cookies were baked 3 weeks before the wonderful wedding & placed in our freezer until needed.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies are a 2 day process.  I prepared 4 batches of batter - each separately and placed in my fridge overnight.  The next day 250 rolled, cut- out cookies were baked.  After they cooled, stacks of cookies were carefully placed into Gallon Sized Ziploc Freezer bags.  Then they were placed very carefully on a shelf in our large freezer.

The day before we drove to upstate NY for the beautiful wedding, the cookies were defrosted.  Each cute cookie bag contained 1 decorated cut out Heart + 1 Bell per person.  These soft, light, yummy cookies were for a very special couple & their guests!

For those of you who have a special family member or friend who will be getting married, bake these delicious cookies to place in the Welcome Bags!  They are definitely a yummy treat!  There is nothing like a homemade Sugar Cookie!  The Sour Cream makes it very light.  This is my fave Sugar Cookie!

Packaged & ready for the "Welcome Bags"!
***Note:  1 batch required 1/2 hour to prepare the dough.  1 batch required 1 hour to roll out/ cut out & bake the next day.  The recipe for 1 batch is below along with a printable recipe card.

Sour Cream Sugar Cookies
     printable recipe card (click here)

Oven:  375°F
Yield:  About 5 dozen, depending on size

4 Cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 Cup unsalted Butter, softened
1 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Sour Cream (can be Fat Free)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Colored Sugars for Decorating
Cookie Cutters


Day 1-
  1. In large bowl with electric mixer beat Butter and Sugar until light and fluffy. 
  2. Add Egg, beat.
  3. Add in Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Salt and Nutmeg. 
  4. While beating on Low, slowly add Flour, 1 Cup at a time. 
  5. Add in Vanilla and Sour Cream. Beat on Medium until well combined. Dough will be stiff
  6. Remove dough from bowl and place on plastic wrap, wrap dough.
  7. Place wrapped dough on aluminum foil and wrap well.
  8. Refrigerate overnight.  
 Day 2-
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Unwrap dough and cut into four parts. 
  3. On well floured surface, roll dough to 1/4" thickness. Use cookie cutters.
  4. Place cookies on pan/ sheet 1" apart. (Maybe 12 cookies to a sheet.) 
  5. Sprinkle with colored sugars. 
  6. Bake 10 - 11 Minutes. Bottom of cookies will be a light golden brown. 
  7. Remove with spatula to wire cooling racks.  
  8. When cool store in airtight containers.
***My very thoughtful hubby definitely helped on baking day!!!  Four hands worked twice as fast with an oven door opening & closing every 11 minutes!   :)

The 4 batches of Sour Cream Sugar Cookies were cooled & a few hours later packaged in freezer bags.  Into our large freezer they were placed.

Yes, they were a delicious treat for all of the over night guests, including our family!  :)

We all Enjoyed!