Don’t Quit Your Daydream

Don’t Quit Your Daydream.

It may be just what gets you through the day.

Travel in your mind on sunbeams and moonbeams
to bright and breathtaking destinations of wonderment.

Soar by the wings of your seeking soul
among the twinkling stars and zooming comets.

Give your heart swift, light feet
to scamper through golden fields and slide on frozen streams.

Swing freely in the balmy breeze among blue butterflies
fluttering through clouds made of cotton candy and snow cones.

Some say “Don’t Quit Your Day Job,”
but I say “Don’t Quit Your Daydream!”

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, & Feta Cheese Pizza

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Feta Cheese Pizza.

I am always looking for new ways to enjoy butternut squash, so I did a quick search and found a variety of pizzas using butternut squash.  Yum!

The one I found that had the flavors I love (and ingredients I had on hand), called for mashing the butternut squash as the “sauce” on the pizza, but I prefer the taste of cubed and roasted butternut squash, so I changed it up.

Each roasted chunk gets a bit browned and even a bit crispy on the outside corners, but is soft and sweet and tender on the inside.   I prefer that texture to mashed.

And I might just possibly eat anything with caramelized onions on top.  Just saying…

Add feta cheese – and SCORE!

We had this for dinner with a tossed green salad.

If you are looking for a new twist on pizza or a meatless meal, this may just be the ticket!

Here is how I made it.  Hope you will give it a try.

Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, and Feta Cheese Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp brown sugar, divided
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Pizza dough or Pillsbury crescent roll tube

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place cubed butternut squash on stoneware baking pan or baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp brown sugar, salt and pepper.  Roast approximately 20 minutes, turning once midway through roasting, until slightly browned and tender.

While squash is roasting, saute onions in 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp. butter, salt and pepper over medium heat until onions begin to caramelize, approximately 10-15 minutes.  Add balsamic vinegar and brown sugar, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Bake pizza crust five minutes short of done on a round baking stone.  Remove from oven, and layer butternut squash cubes, caramelized onions, and feta cheese on crust.  Return to oven for 5-10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

 

A Watercolor Sunflower – Painting Warmth

Sunflower Watercolor 11x14 140 lb cold press 012018

Sunflower Watercolor 11×14 140 lb cold press 012018

A Watercolor Sunflower – Painting Warmth.

I found a little time this busy weekend
to escape to my art room
and splash a little paint…

to create some warmth
amidst the bitter chill
that is our weather right now…

inspired by my birthday bouquet
and the need to
create art.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

This watercolor painting – original, prints, and cards – is available at McKinneyX2Designs ETSY Shop

Wisdom from a Snowman

Wisdom from a Snowman.

It’s okay to be a little bottom heavy.
Don’t get too much sun.
Everyone nose carrots are good for you.
Be a jolly happy soul.
It takes a few extra rolls to make a good midsection.
It’s fun to hang out in the front yard.
Remember, we are all a little bit flaky.
White is always appropriate.
Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize!

(author unknown)

 

The Christmas decorations are down, but my snowies stay out until Spring.  It has been so cold here lately, I thought it would be fun to share this wisdom from a snowman/person (aka snowies).

If you are somewhere cold, may you find warmth.
Wishing you comfort and contentment.
Happy Sunday!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

Hearty Beef Barley Stoup & Homemade Beef Broth

Hearty Beef Barley Stoup and Homemade Beef Broth.

Stoup…  Yep…  That is not a typo.

This “soup” recipe is so hearty, you might almost consider it a stew, so my clever blogging friend Kathryn at Another Foodie Blogger, aptly named this recipe Stoup.

I was dying to try this recipe, as I am a huge fan of soups, and a huge fan of barley.  (Grandma used to make a Beef Barley Soup, and I haven’t had it in years!)

Hubby is not much of a soup lover, but when I read Kathryn’s recipe and saw how hearty it was, I thought I might be able to get away with this one.

And did I ever!  Hubby actually ate it with a fork and happily ate leftovers the following night.

This is one of the best new recipes I have tried in a long time!  If all of Kathryn’s recipes are this amazing, I will be excited to try more.

This stoup literally tantalizes your taste buds with it’s bounty of complex textures and flavors, and I think what really took it over the top was the fact that I made homemade beef broth  for it (not canned beef broth or water and bouillon cubes).  I made the broth from scratch with beef bones ROASTED in the oven first with vegetables and then simmered for hours until it became a rich, dark brown pot of goodness.  I found the recipe at Taste of Home and will share below.

This recipe is not hard, but it takes time.  It is great for the type of weather we are experiencing in our part of the world right now… very cold and snowy.  It’s a recipe for when you have time to roast and simmer all day while you are home.  A recipe for when you are in the mood for chopping and dicing and then just totally curling up under a blanket by a fire with a crusty piece of bread to dunk in it and sop it up with.

I tweaked up Kathryn’s recipe just a bit.  She added mushrooms.  For those that like, please do add.  Mushrooms are one thing I just can’t eat.  Hubby on the other hand would have loved, but I just can’t put them in my mouth.  I added a bit more beef and veggies to make it even thicker.  And Barley is such a wonderful healthy grain.

I do hope you try this when you have time, and I hope you will visit Kathryn’s blog (or her Austin Street Taco Food Truck if you are anywhere near Bend, Oregon in the summertime) to check out some of her recipes.  She has become a great blogging friend.

Beef and Barley Stoup

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. high-quality beef roast, cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and pepper, for seasoning meat
Flour, for dusting meat
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 14.5-ounce can diced or stewed tomatoes
4 cups homemade beef broth (recipe follows)
1 bay leaf
3 small sprigs thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Season cubed meat with salt and pepper, then toss with some flour to dust it. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add beef to pot, and sear cubes on all sides until browned. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Add onion, carrots, and celery to pot that you seared meat in, and cook 8-10 minutes to allow veggies to wilt and brown slightly. Add garlic and tomato paste in the last minute of cooking.

Pour in the red wine, and deglaze the pot by scraping up the browned bits. Add tomatoes, beef broth, bay leaf and thyme. Stir well to combine. Add the meat, including any accumulated juices in the bowl.

Bring to a boil, then stir in the barley. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45-60 minutes or until the barley is cooked. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs and taste for additional salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Best-Ever Homemade Beef Broth

  • Servings: approx 10 cups
  • Print

Ingredients:

4 lbs meaty beef bones (beef shanks or short ribs)
3-4 large carrots, cut into chunks
3-4 ribs of celery with green leafy tops, cut into chunks
2 large onions, quartered
1/2 cup warm water
3 bay leaves
3-4 large garlic cloves
1 tsp coarse black pepper or peppercorns
3-4 sprigs fresh parsley or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 beef bouillon cube
1 tsp salt
12 cups cold water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  In a large dutch oven, roast soup bones, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Add carrots, celery, and onions, and roast an additional 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, and add warm water, stirring to loosen browned bits.  Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, and slowly boil for 30 minutes.  Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered 4-5 hours.  Skim any foam that forms.

Remove bones (and send for Charlie!).  Strain broth through a colander, discarding solids.  If time allows, refrigerate to allow removing fat that forms on top.  Otherwise skim as best possible from top.

Broth can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for 4-6 months.

If you want a super easy, homemade crusty rustic bread to go with it, try this recipe.

Stay warm, and enjoy this hearty and healthy meal.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

A Bright Spot in the Storm

Red Male Cardinal - Backyard, Mars, PA - taken through glass window - January, 2018

Red Male Cardinal – Backyard, Mars, PA – taken through glass window – January, 2018

A Bright Spot in the Storm.

Need we really look
any further

than out the window
amidst a storm

when searching
for a bright spot?

Nature’s examples
teach us

there is always a bright spot
amidst a storm.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Bright red male cardinals fill my backyard in the winter and seem even more vibrant when the snow is swirling and blowing and the tree branches are bare.  Such a bright spot in my day.

Grandma’s Old Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake

Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

One of the things I love to do around my birthday is bake Grandma’s Old-Fashioned Poppy Seed Cake.

Having a birthday so close after Christmas, when everyone is really “over” sweets, Grandma made this simple cake for my birthday every year for as long as I can remember until she passed away.

May sound kind of strange that I like to bake my own cake these days, but I really do.  For me, it’s more than baking.  It’s reminiscing.  It’s sweet, loving memories.  It’s kind of a tribute to my Stella Star.

I use Grandma’s old tin measuring cup as I measure out the flour and sugar.  I grease and flour the pan – a square tube pan – because that is the way Grandma did it.   I crack eggs and stir and think of conversations Grandma and I had in the kitchen while she cooked and baked.  I put it in the oven and wait for the smell…. That smell that takes me right there to her kitchen.  Right back to that feeling of comfort and peace and unconditional love.

So yep – baking my cake gives me almost as much joy as eating it!

I love the way the outside is crisp and crunchy, and the inside is tender and moist and just a little sweet, but packed full of flavor.

This is a very basic cake.  A cake likely made in times when ingredients were simple, money was tight, and everything was made from scratch with love.  And I love it!

Do you have a recipe like this that is just as much of a memory as it is something to eat?  Something that is a ritual of love?

Here is our recipe:

Grandma's Easy Poppy Seed Cake

  • Servings: One Yummy Cake
  • Print

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can evaporated milk
1/4 cup poppy seeds
DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 10 inch tube or bundt pan.
In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients.
Make a well in the center and add eggs, vanilla, oil, and milk.  Mix well.
Fold in poppy seeds.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.
Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn onto rack to cool.

When cool, sprinkle generously with sifted powdered sugar.

Enjoy!
Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Be a Sunflower

Be a Sunflower.

Be a sunflower
on a cold winter day…

A burst of sunlight
when the clouds are heavy and gray.

Grow in places
people never thought possible.

Have a sturdy stalk and soft petals…
be wild and unstoppable.

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

 

This little poem was inspired by a birthday bouquet of flowers from hubby.   As I gazed at them sitting bright and beautiful on the kitchen table despite the bitter cold and gray just inches away through the window, I realized we can all be bright and sturdy and soft and wild and unstoppable no matter what we or others think is or is not possible.  So let’s be a sunflower today.

 

Un…. A Charlie Guest Post

Un….  A Charlie Guest Post.

Un – decorated from the holidays.
Un – happy that parties are over.
Un – thinkable that there will be no snack spreads to snitch from.

Un – realistic that Mom thinks we need to go on diets.
Un – thinkable that there are still hours until dinner time.
Un – imaginably cold outside – so no walks again today.

Un – believable that mom has to go back to work already.
Un – able to stay awake.
Un – der the covers I go.

Un – derstand….   It’s a dog’s life.

Woofs & Wags,
Charlie

Charlie is an adopted dog with brown eyes and a white-tipped tail who brings joy and laughter to his family and friends.  Charlie is a gifted writer, raving food critic, cat, chipmunk, and donut lover, and exceptionally photogenic model.  Some of his best friends are Mike the UPS Man, Cliff the Mailman, and ANYONE who delivers pizza to the house.   If you would like to read more guest posts by Charlie, simply type “Charlie” into the Search box at the top right hand corner of this link: thecreativelifeinbetween.com.   If you would enjoy a companion like Charlie, please consider pet adoption.