Cooking for Bluebirds

Trust me, you'll be making more than bluebirds happy with this tasty recipe. Feed as suet. 

Be sure to set out the goodies in a place were you can snap some pretty pictures. :)


* 4 cups yellow corn meal
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup lard or melted suet
* 1 teaspoon corn oil
* Plus sunflower hearts, peanut hearts, chopped, soaked raisins.


Melt lard and stir in other ingredients. Spike with sunflower hearts, peanut hearts, or chopped soaked raisins, as desired. Let set, cut into chunks, feed as suet.


The Lazy Girl's Artisan Bread

Prepare to be dazzled.
While the East Coast digs out from yet another epic snowstorm, here I sit in my {grumble grumble} Western ski resort with the windows wide open, peering out on a muddy brown landscape. Ran errands without a jacket earlier this morning. It's all adding up to be a very non-wintery winter. 

Kind of disappointing because I love winter. And, the whole idea of hunkering down, indoors, with a good book, a great movie or marvelous aromas wafting from the kitchen. Just something about a cold, snowy day that inspires a yummy homemade bread.

Been baking this bread for a few months, now - to rave reviews from family and friends - and thought you might like to try it, too. It's a no-fuss process that requires about 3 minutes of your attention.

The Lazy Girl's Artisan Bread

In a large bowl, mix: 
  • 3 cups of bread flour (3 cups of flour = a 1 pound loaf of bread.)
  • 1 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 + 1/2 cups warm water
* Resist the temptation to add more water; the dough will look a little dry.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, or a lid, of some sort. The cover will trap moisture, inspiring the mixture to work it's magic.

Leave your bowl on the kitchen counter for several hours.
* I combine the ingredients in the morning and bake it for dinner.

If you've been on this blog before, you're probably aware that I never have any of the necessary utensils.
* Saran Wrap works much better than my ill-fitting lid.
* AND, this recipe is ideal for a Le Creuset Dutch Oven ~ should you be so fortunate as to own one. I use my Lodge Dutch Oven.

Don't be as lazy as me. Go buy some Saran Wrap. :)
Bake that Lovely Loaf:
  • Preheat the oven to a whopping 450 degrees.  
  • Put your empty dutch oven pan in the oven while it preheats. Yup. It's gonna be really hot.
Put a cup of bread flour on your bread board. Pour your precious dough out onto the bread board and work a wee bit more flour into it. Don't spend more than a minute on this process. And, don't worry that your bread isn't rising.

* I use a cooking spray on my Lodge Dutch Oven - you may not need to for the Le Creuset.

Once the oven is preheated, place your dough in the very hot dutch oven and, put the lid on it.
  • Bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for 15-30 minutes more. Until it's a scrumptious golden brown.
  • Once the lid is off, I spray the loaf with an olive oil cooking spray to make it super crusty.  You could opt for an egg white/water wash, if you prefer.
Re-blooming African Violets
A most amazing artisan bread that rivals anything you could purchase at a bakery. It requires very little work -- other than the fact that you'll have to bake one every other day. It's so yummy it disappears quite quickly. :)

PS: This has been adapted from the no-knead bread recipes that have been flitting about the internet.

PPS: Pray for snow.

Follow Me on Pinterest


Sweet Tater Dog Treats

What is it with Mother Nature that she hands us 5 gorgeous, sunny days in a row ~ all the while I'm working. Then we get high winds and rain to ruin weekend plans??

With the winds nearly blowing the doors off the hinges, I shifted gears, deciding to bake up a special treat for the great love of my life: Bad Dog.  Have you ever given your puppy sweet potatoes? Mine goes absolutely ga-ga over them! And, that is the basis of this very simple recipe.

Kickin back... watchin' Animal Planet. (And waiting for the cookies to be done!)
Sweet Tater Dog Treats for Puppy
Bake 2 large sweet potatoes, or yams, remove the peelings and cool. (You can save time by nuking them, but they don't taste as good.)
  1. Grab a great, big bowl.
  2. Toss in the baked sweet taters.
  3. Add 4 eggs.
  4. 1/2 cup applesauce.
  5. 2 1/2 cups of flour. (You may need a little less if you are baking at lower altitudes.)

Shmoosh this mess altogether. Roll the dough quite thin ~ about 1/4 inch. Grab your favorite cookie cutter and have at it! Bake @ 350 (F) until the edges of the cookies begin to turn brown. About 45 minutes. :)


Follow Me on Pinterest


The Avocado App

* The Avocado App: Were you thinking this was a gadget for your iPhone? Nah. I was just trying to get you to read my post. :)
What are YOU wearing to the Easter Parade?

Last year, the biggest hit at my Easter Dinner was the ultra-easy appetizer vs. the ham and side dishes that I slaved over for hours and hours and hours. (Isn't that always the case?) Green Eggs and Ham recipes abound but this one is absolutely to die for.

Tips to Make it Totally Tasty:
Pah-leeeze! No creepy, toxic green food colorings, por favor. And, let's skip the frozen spinach while we're at it. Too yucky. Plus, it's lost all of it's nutritional content. (Which is a Godsend, if you ask me. I hate that stuff.)

Thoroughly mix in the Avocado and your Deviled Eggs will look greener.
√ This deviled egg recipe calls for fresh avocado.
√ And the lighter [than bacon] flavor of crumbled, crispy-cooked prosciutto.

Green Eggs & Ham Recipe:
  1. Boil a dozen eggs. Yes, it seems like a lot but you haven't tried this recipe ~ yet.
  2. Crisp-cook about a half dozen slices of prosciutto and crumble. Use it as the garnish. Chopped tops of chives, or green onions are a great second garnish.
  3. Slice the eggs in half, smoosh up the yolks, stir in a full, fresh avocado and light mayonnaise. (I like to add a little lemon pepper and some brown mustard to spice things up a bit.)
  4. Then borrow the coolest deviled egg platter you can find...
And, voila! Your guests will be so delighted they'll be back at your dinner table every single Easter from here on out. { Uh. Oh. }

* Leave it to our beloved Doctor Seuss to inspire kids to eat Deviled Eggs. This recipe adapted from a bunch of different recipes found on the web. Those geese were posted on my timeline on Facebook and I thought they were so delightful I had to share. Happy Easter!


Lobster Bisque

Make it pretty: Dollops of sour cream, 
snips of green onion tops 
+ a drizzle of cocktail sauce.

This is the easiest dinner to cook for a special night! Soup, wine and crusty artisan bread for dipping.

Speaking of dipping... finish the meal with a gigantic bowl of strawberries and packaged chocolate fondue.

Lobster Bisque Recipe
  1. Steam: As much lobster as you can afford. I used about 1 pound. Shred it into bite size bits.
  2. Simmer: 1 cup chicken broth and 1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion.
In a separate pan:
  1. Melt 2 tbsp. butter. Stir in 2 tbsp flour.
  2. Add 2 cups milk, bring to boil (I use 1 cup half and half + 1 cup 2% milk ~ which is why it tastes so yummy. You could go completely nuts and use heavy cream!)
Stir In: Chicken broth, onions, plus:
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp. Cocktail Sauce
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste
* This decadent mess can simmer or crockpot for however long you want.
** I add the lobster about 20 minutes before serving so it has a fresher flavor.


Cauliflower Tater Tots

Oven Roasted Cauliflower Tater Tots
I made a commitment in 2012, to drop a pound a month. I didn't succeed, though I got pretty close! I lost 10 pounds and it has made a world of difference in my energy level.

Diets don't work, at least not for me, but sadly admitting what it is that makes me fat? Well, that seemed to do the trick this year. Because it's not the cakes and cookies that's a problem for me. It's the bread. And, potatoes. I'm slowly evolving into a potato. I get rounder and plumper every year. :(

So that's what inspired me to get creative with veggies. This recipe, which was adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe, is about half the calories of regular tater tots and it tastes better than the potato version! At least, I think so.

Cauliflower Tater Tots
1 large head cauliflower
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Deer Valley Oomph*

Begin by turning that head of cauliflower into 'rice.' Pop this raw veggie into a food processor and chop it up very fine, into teeny tiny rice-like pieces. If you live in the desert southwest (like I do) the air will dry out the cauliflower bits rather quickly. In more humid climates, spread the little cauliflower bits onto a paper towel to absorb some of the moisture.

And, then... Put the Cauliflower rice into a bowl, whisk an egg, pour that onto the cauliflower, stir in the Parmesan cheese. Using your hands, shmoosh these goodies into tater tot shapes. Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake @400 degrees (F.)

* TIP: Do not use low fat, low sodium cheese.  That's just bad, bad stuff. Fat and sodium contribute mightily to the flavor and texture of cheese. If you want to go that route, skip the cheese altogether. (I worked for Healthy Choice for many years and I know a thing or two about what goes into that crap.)

** Deer Valley Oomph is a southwestern seasoning that gives veggies a great flavor kick. I live in Park City, just down the road from Deer Valley Ski Resort, so this is an easy seasoning for me to find. If you're looking to create your own, try something like this:

Southwestern Seasoning Ingredients: 
  • 1/4 cup EACH: chili powder and onion powder 
  • 2 tablespoons EACH: ground cumin, ground coriander, dried oregano, dried basil, & garlic powder.


Simple Sugar Cookies

Back when I had a real job... whenever I wasn't doing a good enough job... my boss would crab at my lack of creativity and accuse me of taking a cookie cutter approach.

That was a confusing way to insult me because I've tried to make perfectly consistent cut out cookies since L was a baby and it's a whole lot harder than it looks.

This is my theory as to why most of us leave the creative cookie cutting to Pillsbury:

After we turn 40, we figure out that women's magazines are filled with re-touched photos of flawed people. Once we realize that Angelina Jolie could very well be fat and ugly in real life, we feel a whole lot better about ourselves.

For some odd reason, we haven't quite accepted the fact that food photography gets the same specialty treatment.

I can assure you it does. I once spent 16 hours at a photo shoot because an incredibly annoying art director needed the peas in the pasta salad to be placed in exactly the right spots.

Today, I'd like to encourage everyone to shrug off those ill-conceived notions of perfection. Haul out the cookie cutters, roll up their sleeves and think... Picasso, Dali, and Pollock ~ definitely Jackson Pollock!

Because there are a whole lot of creative masters out there who happily failed Art Class 101.

Simple Sugar Cookies Recipe
No matter how they look, they all taste delightful. This recipe makes 3 dozen average size cookies or 1 gigantic cookie sculpture (in case you'd like to pay tribute to Gaudi!)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1.25 teaspoons baking powder
How to:
  1. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla.
  2. Add flour and baking powder in intervals. (Dough will seem too dry but it will improve when chilled.)
  3. Divide dough into four equal parts and refrigerate about an hour.
  4. Roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper, 1/4 inch thick for crisp cookies or 1/3 inch thick for soft cookies.
  5. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and and bake for 7-8 minutes @ 375 F.
TIP: Be sure to eat lots of cookie dough. This dramatically reduces the amount of time you waste baking the cookies.