Archive for May, 2011

Dear Readers,

Mimi is going to Louisville, Ky. to visit family and will not be posting any blogs during the week of May 29.  Be sure to check in on Tuesday, June 7 for a new posting.  In the meantime, have a super Memorial Day weekend.  I know I will!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s that time of year to enjoy locally grown strawberries and here’s a quick and easy recipe to highlight those luscious berries.

Strawberry Apricot Pie

1 – 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese

3/4 cup apricot preserves

1 pint strawberries

2 tablespoons water

1 – 9″ graham cracker pie crust

Mash softened cream cheese until smooth and light.  Gradually blend in half the preserves.  (It will not look like enough.)  Spread into the crust.  Place capped berries cap side down, well into the cheese mixture.  Melt the other half of the preserves with the water, and spoon 1/2 teaspoon over each berry.  Chill.

Enjoy and remember to always

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Come along with me on an early morning walk on Saturday, May 7, 2011 in downtown Raleigh.

Fayetteville Street is blocked off from traffic as it is the starting point for a 5 or 10 mile run.  I’m not sure which as there are no signs to indicate the length of the race.  There is an area designated for children’s races and kids are eagerly waiting with their parents, numbers pinned on their tee-shirts and sneakers laced up and ready to go.  Adult runners are jogging up and down the street warming up for the big race.  They are dressed in tank tops and running shorts even though the morning air is quite chilly.

As I approach Peace Street, a skeleton of a building that is the future American Institute of Architects’ Design Center comes into view.  The metal framing juts out at acute angles, guaranteeing that the structure will be visually interesting and well-suited for the architects’ use.

Across Peace Street, a large white tent mushrooms from the green grass on the campus of Peace College.  It is Commencement Day.  Cars full of graduates in dark green caps and gowns along with their family and friends are streaming into the parking lot awaiting direction from parking attendants handsomely clad in crisp white shirts with black vests and slacks.  The sky is a brilliant blue, the sun shines and the scent of magnolia blossoms fills the air.  I’d say it’s a picture perfect day for a graduation celebration.

A few blocks down I notice drivers with puzzled looks on their faces as they approach detour signs at numerous intersections.  No traffic is allowed on the runners’ route.  I just hope they know an alternate route through the city.  I’m not sure I do.

Near the end of the walk I pass the small neighborhood farmers’ market with its doors pushed open.  I peek in to catch a glimpse of rows of tomatoes, green beans and potatoes ready for sale.  Bins of fresh produce spill out onto the brick sidewalk where oranges are priced at 3/$1.

As I round the corner to ascend the stairs to our condo, I notice new neighbors moving in downstairs.  They are friendly and jokingly ask me how good am I at carrying leather couches.  I chuckle and reply “No good at all!”

I’m back home and ready to start another Saturday in downtown Raleigh.

Keep smilin’!

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Lee Osterman’s Beer Bread

Dear Readers,

When my mother-in-law passed away in 1997, I saved her collection of recipes stored in a small tin golden yellow box decorated with deep red hibiscus blossoms.  It was the perfect size for 3″ x 5″ index cards.  Some recipes were indeed handwritten on index cards but it also contained magazine and newspaper clippings.  But this particular recipe for Beer Bread was written on the back of a deposit ticket from her checking account from Citizens Fidelity Bank and Trust Co. in Louisville, Ky.  She probably copied the recipe on a lunch break because it came from Lee Osterman, a co-worker of hers at Stewart’s Department Store.  It is dated January 31, 1977.  The directions are concise and simple.  But the results are very delicious.  I’ll reprint it exactly as it is written.  No size of pan is noted but I used a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

Beer Bread

1 – can beer

2 – tablespoons sugar

3 – cups of self-rising flour

Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Grease pan and brush butter down center on top of dough before baking.

Lee Osterman  1/31/77

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

The air was filled with the fragrance of roses and peonies on a recent morning stroll.  Smelling these blooms transported me to my Catholic grade school days where each May, altars were erected in a corner of the classroom to honor the Virgin Mary.

The altar consisted of a large statue of Mary placed on a table or wide shelf that was covered with a white cloth or pale blue crepe paper.  Candles were ensconced on either side of Mary.  Gold, silver or dark blue cut-out letters were fastened to the cloth or paper and spelled out “Mother Mary, Pray For Us” or “Mary, Queen of May”.

Flowers that adorned the altar were provided by the students and were harvested from backyard flower gardens.  The floral cuttings included roses, pink and white peonies, lavender lilacs and purple Irises or flags as we nicknamed them.  The teacher had a collection of vases in which to arrange the blooms.  But some students brought in flowers in old pickle jars their mothers had saved for just that purpose.

I loved bringing a May bouquet to school because I secretly thought it was the prettiest one on the altar.  You see my Dad took such loving care in creating a bouquet.  He would cut the roses early in the morning before he left for work.  Dad had a variety of rose bushes from which to choose.  A few of these rose bushes had been planted by my maternal grandmother and at that time were already over 20 years old.  He would select the choicest buds of white, pink, deep velvet red and even yellow roses.  Some mornings a bud from his beloved “Peace” rose bush was included.  But the crowning touch to the bouquet were the delicate sprigs of lily-of-the-valley cut from our shady side yard that he nestled among the rose buds.  The stems of the finished bouquet were then enclosed in tin foil to keep them fresh and ready for me to take to school.  I felt so proud carrying this exquisite bouquet, all the while pretending I was a bride marching down the aisle.

My teachers acknowledged the beauty of the bouquet and I was certain the Virgin Mary was smiling at me from heaven.

Such lovely memories of days gone by and all because the aroma of a rose greeted me on a morning walk in May.

Keep smilin’!

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Chicken Barley Chili

Dear Readers,

Do you ever read the recipes printed on food packaging?  Well, I do and recently found an interesting recipe on the back of a box of Quaker Quick Barley.  Tried the chili recipe and found it to be delicious.  Try it – it’s simple to make, healthy and low in calories.

Chicken Barley Chili

1 – 14-1/2 oz. can tomatoes, diced, undrained

1 – 16 oz. jar or can salsa or tomato sauce

1 – 14-1/2 oz. can fat-free chicken broth

1 cup Quaker Quick Barley

3 cups water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 – 15 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed

1 – 15 oz. can corn, whole kernel or corn with peppers, undrained

3 cups cooked chicken breast cut into bite-sized pieces

Reduced or fat-free cheddar cheese (optional)

Reduced or fat-free sour cream (optional)

In 6-quart saucepan, combine first 7 ingredients.  Over high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add beans, corn and chicken; increase heat to high until chili comes to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for another 5 minutes or until barley is tender.  If upon standing, the chili becomes too thick, add more chicken broth or water until chili is desired consistency.  If desired, top with shredded cheese and sour cream.  Makes 11 (1 cup) servings.

Each serving contains 270 calories and 4 grams fat.

Note:  I used fire-roasted tomatoes and salsa.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi loves snacks and knowing what snacks to choose for only 100 calories makes diet control  very palatable.  Judy Hevrdejs in an article titled “What can you have for 100 calories?” printed in the Chicago Tribune lists a number of healthy and not so healthy snacks containing only 100 calories.  Here is the list of snacks.  Use it wisely because the “Mayo Clinic points out that to work off 100 calories (if you weigh 160 pounds):” one has to “cycle or play volleyball (about 20 minutes): bowl, ballroom dance or walk (about 30 minutes): or do low-impact aerobics (about 16 minutes).”

Snack List

Hard cooked egg (1 large):  78 calories

Raw spinach (10 ounce package):  65 calories

Raisins (about 3 tablespoons):  81 calories

Fresh blueberries (1 cup):  84 calories

Apple (1 medium):  95 calories

Smooth peanut butter (1 tablespoon):  94 calories

McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets (2 pieces):  95 calories

Doritos Nacho Cheese Flavored Tortilla Chips (about 7 chips):  95 calories

Fresh strawberry halves (2 cups):  98 calories

Dry roasted peanuts (about 16):  99 calories

Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies (2 cookies):  120 calories

Dry roasted almonds (about 13):  99 calories

Baby carrots (25):  100 calories

Well, now you have a choice – two chicken McNuggets or 2 cups of strawberry halves.  Looks like a no-brainer to me.  What will you choose?

Keep smilin’!

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