Friday, July 3, 2020

Egg Roll in a Bowl

Want a simple, quick recipe that is also delicious (and low carb)?  This recipe for Egg Roll in a Bowl checks all the boxes.  What drew me to this particular version (there are a lot out there) is that it is made with ground chicken instead of ground pork.  I will eat ground pork, but I much prefer chicken.

The recipe goes together quick, in one pot and the only thing I had to buy, besides the chicken and coleslaw mix, was sesame oil.  After eating it, I would recommend one change.  There could have been a bit more sauce to coat the chicken, so next time I would add more soy sauce at that stage of the recipe.  I served this with coconut shrimp on the side and the combination was perfect.

I love Chinese food and all the flavors, but don’t always like what in does to my blood sugar numbers, so this is a healthy version that I will make again and again.

Happy 4th and God Bless America!

Friday, June 26, 2020

June (so far) In Photos

Yes, Florida covid numbers are up, but in my little Gulf Coast bubble, we are fine.  We are smart and mainly do things outside if we go out it the world.  Not a lot of words today, but a lot of pretty pictures showing I have been golfing, gardening, enjoying my beautiful surroundings and having a few cocktails on restaurant patios.

Just another month in paradise.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Easy Summer Cocktail for One

Recently, as a fun way to unite all the guests at our half virtual and half in person bridal shower, we sent everyone invited a cocktail recipe in advance.  I made it for my Zoom session that day and found it so delicious that I have been making it as my go to pool side cocktail all month.

I did make a few tweaks of the original recipe and will give you my quick version for a single cocktail.  The biggest substitution is to use sparkling water or club soda instead of Prosecco.  It’s not really practical to open a fresh bottle of expensive Prosecco every time you want to make a cocktail for one.  Also, I regularly substitute gin for vodka depending what I am in the mood for.  The frozen blackberries turn the drink a pretty shade of pink, but you could use frozen strawberries or raspberries if thats what you have.

Here’s how I make it:

Fill a glass with ice and then fill halfway with light lemonade.  Add 1 ounce vodka (or gin) and fill remainder of glass with sparkling water (or Prosecco).  Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Finish by adding a few frozen blackberries and a slice of lemon.


Thursday, June 11, 2020

Virtual Bridal Shower

So, when Covid happened, one of the things that was cancelled was my nephew’s fiancĂ©’s bridal shower in April.  It was going to be at a wine restaurant in Michigan and at that point, no restaurants were open and gatherings were forbidden.  I couldn’t fly from Florida to Michigan and the bride to be had family and friends who couldn’t fly from Massachusetts.

Plan B had to happen, so we rearranged, got creative and pulled off a lovely, half virtual and half in person shower this past Saturday.  Luckily, the stay at home orders in Michigan were relaxed just in time and about 12 people were able to come and sit by my sister’s pool on a beautiful summer day.

We each shared a memory, the happy couple did a cute quiz about each other and they opened gifts that we had previously shipped there.  My sister served food, but those on Zoom shared in the fun by preparing the same cocktail that was served at the shower.

My daughters and I were in charge of the favors and we had planned a “bouquet bar” that the guests could visit on their way out and make a bouquet to take home.  That had to change, so we found the cutest herb infused lollipops with a stick that contained flower seeds - after enjoying the lollipop, the guests could plant the stick and “watch love bloom”. They were easy to mail to everyone too.

It may not have been what we all imagined, especially our sweet bride to be, but you do what you can to make things special.  Now, on to figuring out wedding plans in late July in Massachusetts.  We are still saving the date and hoping for the best.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

No Sunny Days

The world feels upside down at the moment.  Just a comment, not a political post.  We have law enforcement officers in our family, so it all just feels personal.

Tropical Storm Cristobal is causing rainy conditions that started yesterday and will continue through the weekend, as the outer bands reach Florida.  Sometimes in Florida it’s hard to lend credence to the turmoil happening in the world when the sun shines most days, the water is blue and the flowers bloom year around. Perhaps, these rainy days are appropriate.

In a way it feels like whiplash.  On top of losing both my parents within a few months, first Covid and now this. Is the lockdown over?  I will use these rainy days to hit the pause button.  The sun will shine again soon.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Weekend Snapshots

We started off the holiday weekend by indulging in one of our favorite things to do here on the gulf coast. There are tiki bars all long the Intercoastal Waterway and we hired a boat with a captain (we used her before for my husband’s surprise birthday weekend)  to cruise and bar hop for three hours, from Venice north to Sarasota.  The weather was hot and sunny, we enjoyed  introducing the fun to another couple and felt confident the gulf breezes and the heat would kill any nasty germs.  A few rum runners were enjoyed by all.

Otherwise, the holiday weekend was quiet.  We started our rainy season right on cue, with lots of rain and thunderstorms.  It was feeling very tropical with high heat and high humidity, which will be the norm the rest of the summer.  Here’s hoping the big hurricanes stay away.

Of course, we flew the flag all weekend, remembering those that sacrificed to make us free.  And somehow, the word freedom seems to mean a lot more right now.

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Banana Bread in a Mug

There are many variations of this and other “in a mug” recipes that are cooked in your microwave.  I have tried brownies, chocolate cake and omelettes, to name a few.  This one looked good too, so since I had all the ingredients on hand, decided to give it a try on one of our rare rainy mornings.

It’s pretty much pantry staples, a quick stir and 3 minutes in the microwave, so what’s not to like.  I keep cut up ripe bananas in my freezer to use for smoothies, so that was easy too. This was a combination of a few recipes  and tweaked to how I prefer.  You can make changes easily, depending on what you like.  I don’t care for chocolate in the morning, so I didn’t use chocolate chips, but used sliced almonds instead.  Chopped pecans would be delicious too.  The banana provides sweetness, but if you want more, add about 1 or 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.

Banana Bread in a Mug

Mash 1 ripe banana with a fork in a large microwave safe mug.  Add 1 egg and mix well. Add 1 T milk, 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp cinnamon and 3 T flour.

At this point you customize with chocolate chips, nuts or chopped fruit.  I used sliced almonds and sprinkled them on top, but you could also mix your additions into other ingredients.

Cook in microwave for 3 minutes.


Friday, May 15, 2020

May So Far - In Photos

Now that we have a bit of freedom to enjoy life in Florida again, May seems to be moving along much faster than life in quarantine.  We have made up for lost time on the beach and have even gone out to dinner once using all the social distancing guidelines that are in place. We live in an oasis of calm, without a lot of tourists and I felt totally comfortable.  It was so exciting to order a cocktail and have it served to me.

I have been planting all kinds things in my neighborhood, for my HOA Landscape Chair position and I love having a huge space to be creative.  It was fun to go to the plant nursery and design the clubhouse flower bed.

Mother’s Day was without my daughters, but they sent beautiful tulips, we face timed (via Pittsburgh and metro Detroit) and my hubby picked up our favorite steak salad, seafood bisque (with a shot of sherry on the side) and key lime pie.

We took coffee and doughnuts to the beach one morning and spent quiet evenings marveling at the beautiful spot we have created, where the sunset is something to be celebrated every night.

Feeling normal feels good.  Have a great weekend.

Friday, May 8, 2020

A Little Pout

In my favorite movie, Terms of Endearment,  Emma (Debra Winger) tells her husband “I think I’m entitled to a little pout” when he shares news about an upcoming move. In light of all the things being cancelled due to Coronavirus, what I am sharing is not nearly of the same magnitude, but it still feels sad to me.

After my mother passed away in February, I got it in my head that I could get through the funeral and the first weeks of grief, if I had a plan in place to spend time with my daughters.  Time gets away and since we live in three different cities, it’s important to keep connected.  I knew it would help me heal.

After much schedule arranging, we made plans for them to fly to Florida for Mother’s Day weekend, all meet in Ft. Myers and take a boat to Key West together.  A weekend of sunsets, margaritas and bar hopping on Duval Street was in store.  And lots of catching up.

Sounds so simple, but right now, seems unimaginable how we can even reschedule.  I know we will figure out a way to be together, even if it’s a weekend around my pool, but the fact that I should be giving them both a hug right now is making me sad.  And worth a little pout.

Happy Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Cinco de Mayo Beach Style

As life starts to open up in Florida, we are finding ways to get back to normal, but in a smart way.  We all feel pretty comfortable with being outside and maintaining social distancing.  Social interaction with friends is necessary and in the midst of this cataclysmic change to how we interact, we will find new and different ways to connect.

Dinner parties at home are out, but what we did for Cinco de Mayo, may become the new normal.  We each brought our own “picnic dinner”.  We each brought our own margaritas.  We were the required distance apart, but conversation still flowed freely.  We laughed, we shared stories and we did everything we could to build a bridge between what was and what will have to be.

We are blessed to live in a beautiful location, with wide open space on the beach.  There was no one around our little group of six, the gulf breezes are nothing but heathy and the sunset is a balm to the soul.  How could anyone say that this type of moving forward is a bad thing?

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Florida Opening

First, don’t believe everything you see on the news or read about Florida’s response to Coronavirus.  The residents were not the ones congregating on the beaches during spring break.  We were already sheltering in place, because we were concerned about our neighbors, many who are elderly and at risk.  We patiently waited for the influx of visitors to lessen and have been following the rules since then.  Our governor has taken a one size does not fit all approach and is treating the hot spots and vulnerable populations differently than the areas less affected and continues to give power to local governments.

My county (Sarasota), never a hot spot, has opened our beaches for walking, but kept the parking lots closed for now.  This gives locals the opportunity to get back on our beaches, with proper social distancing.  On Monday, Florida begins “Phase One” where restaurants are opening with capacity limits and those of us who are healthy, are free to go out and about with guidelines on masks, group size and continued social distancing when possible.

The Governor  talked about hope and seeing a light at the end of the tunnel today at his news conference.  And, not giving in to fear.  Going for a walk on the beach today, with very few people around, gave me that sense of the hope he was talking about.  Just a little bit of normalcy, with common sense, was just what I needed and something I hope you all can experience soon too.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Stay at Home Reading List

I realize that for some of us, the strict stay at home orders may be coming to an end, but it still looks like we will be advised to continue social distancing a bit more, at least until the summer months.  I always find myself reaching for something to read, rather than the remote, so here is my Stay at Home/ Pre Summer list of books I want to read in the weeks ahead.

The next book I plan to download will be the latest featuring private detective,  V.I. Warshawski .  It’s one of my favorite series and really never disappoints after all these years (first in series published in 1982).  The rest on the list are a mixture of familiar and new and as always, I hope to discover a book I get caught up in and can’t put down. I have high hopes that American Dirt might be that one.  If you are a reader and book nerd like me, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Happy Reading!

Dead Land by Sara Parentsky  (V.I. Warshawski series)

Camino Winds by John Grisham

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Willa’s Grove by Laura Munson

The King’s Justice by Susan Elia MacNeal  (a Maggie Hope Mystery)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Hello Fresh Review

 Because we are all looking for ways to stay out of the grocery store and also think of something new to cook, I decided to finally give Hello Fresh a try.  For those not familiar, it is a meal delivery service with fresh ingredients needed to prepare a restaurant quality meal at home.  You sign up, pick your meals and they are delivered on dry ice, right to your door.  You can skip a week anytime.

My experience has been a good one, but I learned a few things along the way.  First, the two person meals are not for us.  For this plan, you choose three different meals, which brings too much pressure for me to cook them while everything is still fresh.  Also, I like to have leftovers and depending on the meal you choose, it’s barely enough for two.  For example, two small pork chops doesn’t work for my husband and I.

The second week I switched to the four serving meals and it was much better for us.  Plenty of food and only two meals to choose and cook.  It’s not a budget friendly choice, but still less expensive than going to a restaurant.

The recipe cards are fun to cook with, but I wouldn’t say that this is novice cooking.  You have to understand timing and have some basic cooking skills.  There is usually a lot happening at once and a lot of pots and pans are used.  I think it would be a fun couple activity and an extra pair of hands would be helpful in my experience with this so far.

I have another delivery scheduled for next week and I look forward to working it into my meal plan.  Did I forget the most important part of a cooking review?  Everything has been flavorful and really good quality.  Let me know your experience with Hello Fresh or any other meal delivery.

Happy Wednesday!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Let’s Cook Together 3

Easter will feel a little different this year for all of us.  But, even if its just 2 people, there are ways to make it still feel like a holiday.  A special recipe can be the easiest way to create a holiday feeling and this year, breakfast while you watch an online Easter service, might be what memories are made of.

This recipe for  Baked French Toast with Streusel Topping is so easy and delicious you will want to  keep it handy to make again and again.  Aren’t the best recipes the ones that look and taste extraordinary, but are really the most simple to prepare?   (Original publication date April 29, 2013)

I make this sugar free by using Splenda brown sugar.  But, you can use regular as well.  Serve with some fruit on the side and a mimosa in a pretty glass and most important, have a truly blessed Easter morning safe at home.  Let me know if you make this!

Monday, April 6, 2020

Making Me Smile

In the past few weeks since being home 24/7, I have purchased a few things for delivery that have made me smile.  And, I fight for smiles these days.  There is nothing big, that will break the bank, but things that make the day to day a little more pleasant.

Because I spend a good part of my day in my bathing suit and it’s heating up here, I ordered a light, sleeveless coverup to use if I need to go outside in the front, where its a little more public than on my lanai. I have a few others, but they have long sleeves and are not comfortable this time of year.

One of my weaknesses is pretty dishes and these bunny plates from Pottery Barn were on sale and speaking my name.  I have been using them for my morning toast the past week and they definitely make me smile as Easter approaches.  I also will use them for dessert at our Easter dinner for two.

Thinking ahead to the hair situation that all of us are going to be experiencing soon, I ordered a fun headband to give me some help when the highlights start disappearing.  Or, just a change of look, because I am getting a little bored with all the repeat casual clothes every day.

Finally, a couple tropical candles are the perfect stay at home accessory.  Dinner, a cocktail and a
candle burning have become the perfect end to these stay at home days.

Happy Monday and stay home and stay safe.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Let’s Cook Together 2

How is the cooking going?  I have decided that we are at the point where dinner and a cocktail are the highlight of the day, so I might as well keep some variety going.  We are barbecuing a bit, I’m making some tried and true favorites and even tried Hello Fresh for the first time.  I thought it would be a good way to get fresh food in the house, without going to the grocery store.  At some point, I will write a post on my thoughts, but I will say now that I have enjoyed the cooking process and every meal I ordered has been full of flavor.

My recipe choice to share as a cook along is a hearty soup made with ingredients most have in their pantry, fridge and freezer.  Its comfort food that can be made either in the crock pot or on the stove top and the ingredients can be adapted to what you have on hand.

Its hot here in Florida, but for the rest of you dealing with rainy, spring days, this is the perfect simple meal with some bread as an accompaniment.  First published January 15, 2015.

Let’s cook together and then tell me what you think.  Stay safe!

Farmhouse Hamburger Soup

Monday, March 30, 2020

How I Quarantine

I am a social person, but I am also a homebody.  After too much time out and about, I crave time alone at home.  I have always loved days during the week when a day comes up with nothing on the calendar.

But, this is different.  I am able to be happy at home, and don't really get bored, but I miss people.  I feel very far away from my daughters.  I feel sad about all the fun times my snowbird friends and I are missing, before they leave to head north (if they can leave).

 Thats why I am so thankful for the Zoom and Face Time interactions we had this past week.  FaceTime  happy hour with other couple friends.  FaceTime with my daughters, making us all feel a little more normal.  And the most fun, was a Zoom meeting with my Michigan Book Club.  I keep telling them they are never getting rid of me, even though I can’t attend.  But, I’m always there in spirit and through technology, there in the hardest of times when we all needed a connection.

So thankful also, to know you all are out there living this crazy quarantine life right beside me.  It makes our big world seem connected in a way I have never felt before.  Love and best wishes from Florida.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Let’s Cook Together

I don’t know about you, but it’s the on line interaction with family, friends and the world at large, that is keeping me positive.  Thank goodness for face time, zoom, blogs and all the social media sites, but especially Instagram stories.

I have really enjoyed all the recipe cook alongs people have been doing and it gave me an idea, since we are all cooking a lot more.  My blog is approaching its 9th year, so I have built quite an archive of recipes.  Starting today I’m going to dust a few of the oldies, but goodies off and repost one or two at a time, at least once a week.

To start, here is a perfect, comfort food meal that shines in the crock pot.  It’s a little different with the addition of tomatoes, but really, really flavorful.  First published October 4th, 2017.

Let’s virtually make it together and if you do, I would love to hear about it. Happy Thursday!

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Dinner

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thoughts and Questions

Doesn’t it seem like things changed in an instant?   A random virus none of us really worried about as it began to close things in Europe, suddenly changed life in our country, our states and our hometowns in a matter of days.  What I find the most unsettling, is that every morning here in Florida, I wake up, the sun is shining, my street looks exactly the same, yet everything is different.

After the initial panic buying, the stores are restocking, so I’m not worried about food.  The restaurants still have takeout too.  It’s the uncertainty and the unknown end to all of this that is the most frustrating and frankly, scary. How do we make any kind of plans, beyond the day to day?   I have a lovely home, with a pool and beautiful outdoor space, so I am luckier then many, but how long is staying in your house, without social interaction, a viable option to our mental health?

I do go out and walk my neighborhood, the beach and other walking paths around my city. My husband and I may take our bikes to ride a bike trail tomorrow. But, because I am diabetic, I am being extra careful to stay a distance from other people.  It's funny, but also not, the side eye everyone is giving each other in passing.  Will we get back to the point of natural interaction, including hugs and handshakes?

So many questions, so much unknown still.  As my late father in law used to say, “Keep the Faith”.

Sometimes that is all you can do.

Keep safe everybody!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Recipe Redo - Grasshopper Martini

Since it looks like we will all be staying in for St. Patrick’s Day, here is a fun martini recipe to celebrate the wearing (and drinking) of the green right at home.  This recipe for a  Grasshopper Martini was first published on this blog in 2015 and like I said then, will take you back to seeing your mother and friends enjoying a Grasshopper cocktail with their teased hair and seventies mini dresses.

It’s minty, it’s green and it’s delicious.

Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I’m also making Cabbage Potato Soup in the Crockpot since we are not a fan of corned beef and cabbage. Provided my grocery store has cabbage and potatoes this morning - the new normal for a while I guess.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Boca Grande Bike Adventure

Because of some balance issues that I have dealt with for years, riding a bike didn’t seem like the best idea. But, when you live in Florida, there are just so many lovely spots and trails to ride on, I decided to get a bike and give it a try.  I’m not ready to bike on any main roads, but as long as I concentrate on what I’m doing, I do just fine on neighborhood streets or bike paths.

On Monday, we joined some friends for a perfect weather day of biking on Gasparilla Island and the charming Old Florida town of Boca Grande.  There are cars, but the primary mode of transportation is golf carts, so it’s relatively safe for bikers.  We headed towards the southern end of the island on a paved bike trail stopping at a light house, a quirky marina, a historic inn and ended at a beach front restaurant for lunch (blackened grouper tacos for me) and a libation.

Riding back to town was great exercise after lunch and we then put the bikes back on the cars and walked to a bar for one more drink before heading home.  There is so much more to explore on the island, that we are already planning our next trip back.  It’s only 45 minutes south of us, but the vibe makes it seem much farther away and it’s the perfect spot to get away from the spring break crowds.

Another Florida adventure in the books.

Happy Friday!

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Michigan ➡️ Florida
family, books, gardening, palm trees, the beach, golf, up north, msu football, detroit tigers, walking with my dog, trying new recipes, musicals, BBC, martinis, yoga, lilly

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