I am so happy that you have landed in my little corner of cyberspace. If you join me here, you will, hopefully, get to know a little about me. You will read my thoughts, my hopes and dreams, and see some of my favorite things. I hope you will visit often. I will try to update it regularly and hopefully you will see an improvement in the blog along the way. Thank you for stopping in to see me as I travel on this journey called "life"!

Monday, August 29, 2011


For the MOST AMAZING taco filling ever,
 you have to make these carnitas.

Seriously. so. good. 
Crispy on the outside...full of flavor on the inside.
They are even delicious in Sausage Veggie Chowda.

Visit Heather at girlichef here for the recipe. 
The whole site is full of amazing food.

This post is being linked up
here for Ruby Tuesday.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


Hello Irene! Sausage Veggie Chowda

What can I say? 
We love food around here. 

When it's rainy and cool, there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of chowda.  This one delivered.  It all started with a post about German Sausage Chowder that I read here at Cooking Creation, a blog that I've only recently discovered.   If you haven't been over to visit Celeste at this blog, you need to hop over there and say hello to her.  She has some really yummy food featured over there.

 Not only did her chowder sound good to me, it looked even better.  The photo was "pin worthy(Have you checked Pinterest out yet?  If you would like an invite, send me a message with your email address and I will hook you up.)   Sadly, I knew that I would never be able to make it the way that Celeste did because her version contains cabbage.  I would have loved it; however, other than the occasional eggroll or coleslaw, my husband won't eat cabbage.  Because of his cabbage aversion, I was going to have to modify it into some sort of chowda inspired by the hers.   The sausage part really intrigued me.  I don't know what kind she used; but, I had some turkey kielbasa in the fridge that worked for me.  I, also, had some leftover roasted cauliflower and roasted asparagus that begged to be put in there too. Cauliflower kind of has that "cabbage-y" smell to it and my husband doesn't feel the same way about it as he does cabbage so we were good there. 

By the way, have you ever roasted cauliflower?  A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt over the top and into a 450 degree oven until golden brown and tender, turning occasionally and you will have the most amazing cauliflower ever.  Seriously.  It's so easy and so good that way.  We do asparagus the same way.  Love it.  

Anyway...moving on...I knew the cauliflower would add a level of flavor to the soup that wouldn't be there otherwise and make a nice substitute for cabbage.  The leftover asparagus was begging to be used. I didn't have much of it; but chopped up and thrown into the chowda, it added another level of flavor when you were fortunate enough to get a bite of them. 

I had a handful of sad little baby carrots and celery that I diced up and threw in along with  a minced fresh jalapeno,  some chopped red potatoes, and a very small little portion of leftover carnitas (which I need to tell you about soon!).  I used frozen corn in my chowda along with a cup of Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese and a cup of freshly grated Romano Cheese (because that's what I had!).   My fresh lemon thyme made an excellent seasoning along with the cayenne pepper.  I left out the parsley altogether  because I was too lazy to climb behind the zucchini to harvest it; but, we did crown the top of each bowl with some chopped green onions.  Delicious!

I hope wherever you are that you weren't affected by the wrath of Irene.  If you were, my thoughts and prayers are with you.  At our home, we had a few leaves off the trees and maybe a limb or two.  All in all we had a beautifully, rainy and cool day with no problems.  David and I snuggled on the couch (sorry if that's too much information) and watched a Mad Men marathon. 

Have you seen that show? 
I know, I know...

We have been living in a cave.  We had not seen it before and started the series from the beginning on Netflix.  It's basically a "soap"; but, I am intrigued by the time period and it is sadly interesting to see how wrongly women and the African American race were viewed and treated back then.  This was before I was born so I missed it.  In some ways, things have changed and in some ways, I know that they really haven't.  Even though there have been some improvements over the years, sadly, there have not been enough.  That's another blog post though and one that I doubt I will ever write.  I try to keep it much lighter on here.  Moving on....David and I are such geeks.  I think our favorite part is seeing all of the retro props that they have on there.  Awesome.

So about Irene....

Even though we made it through unscathed here at mi casa, the town that I live in didn't.  It could have been MUCH worse; but we did experience some flooding in town and in the surrounding communities.  The Sugar River is expected to crest this afternoon so I'm praying that it won't be too bad for those living near it.  We got out and about yesterday to see what was going on and I thought I would share a few photos with you.

I wish we had thought to have brought our Flip because these photos do not do these scenes justice.  You really should have heard the sound of that water rushing by to get the full effect.  Everyone was down there with their cameras in hand.  It was quite the event.

Even Monkey had to get in on the action.  She's been watching her Mommy carefully, can you tell?  She's almost ready for one of her own.  

In my opinion, those people were way too close to that water.  I could see it quite well from where I was standing.  I felt it completely unnecessary to get a closer view.

And personally, I think that the people in the next photo had some serious risk issues.  The water was right at their feet.  I told my mother-in-law that perhaps we should photograph them just in case they didn't make it.  Morbid, I know; but, it was scary, people.  Seriously.  We read about tragedies like this every day where people dare to go where they shouldn't.  If these two guys are, by chance, reading this (doubtful),

I.was. scared. for. your. lives.  
I'm so happy that I'm not your mother.

At one point, they were just sitting on that rock.  Not a place to get comfy in my opinion!
David and I were down at this very place last spring and I posted some photos of what it looked like  at that time here.  If you scroll down to the photo of our Kelly Moore bag sitting on the rocks, that photo and the next one were taken at this place.  Those rocks were not visible yesterday.  They were under the torrent of water rushing through.  Sobering.

The town experienced some flooding, as well, with the storm.  The water had to go somewhere, right?  The park where we take Monkey to play got some water.  It was rising the whole time that we were there.  My stepdaughter got a photo of this sign when we arrived and then snapped another one later and compared them.  You could tell by looking at the photos that it had been slowly rising.  There was a definite difference and we were not there very long.

Have camera. Will travel.

Thankfully the playground was not underwater and hopefully it won't be after the river crests today.  Miss Monkey got a chance to ham it up on the hippo and we were able get 47 a few pictures, of which, I will only make you look at one.

The town, itself, suffered some flooding which made it necessary to close some of the streets in town. 

Including one section of one of the main roads leading out of town.  That section includes the McDonald's and the Dunkin.  Thankfully, if the residents can take other routes, they can get their Dunkin fixes in about 100 several other locations nearby.  New England runs on Dunkin, ya know?

If they would only learn to make a Chai Tea Latte, I might run on Dunkin too.  

So that concludes this episode of "Life, as I know it".  I am seriously not loving Blogger today as this is the second of these posts that I've had to compose today.  Apparently, my clicking on "save" earlier this morning did no good and nothing was saved.  Grrrr!   I just did preview a few minutes ago and this post looks nothing like it should.  What is up with that?  I wasn't going to rant about my Google issues and I'm still not; but I'm going to leave you with this.  If you get an Anonymous comment on your blog from me, it is because it won't let me post a comment otherwise.  Sometimes it works fine....sometimes it doesn't.  I try to post my name and my blog site in the comment NOT TO BE ANNOYING or to make you think, I'm asking for a return visit.  I'm doing that so that you know that it's me commenting.  Seriously, it is getting a little old.  I apologize for any confusion.  I am thinking that I'm going to save the necessities on this laptop, wipe it clean and start fresh.  Maybe some of it is my computer and compatibility issues.  I don't know.  I'm grasping at straws here.  A fresh start can't hurt though.

Thanks so much for visiting and sticking with me through this post.  Please remember to keep the victims of Irene in your thoughts and prayers.  We made it through okay; but it will be a long time recovering for some.  I'm going to see if I can repair this post into something that looks reasonable and publish it and then I'm going to do a few things before Miss Monkey comes to play this afternoon.  Did I tell you that I'm loving living up here?  Getting to be closer to some of the kids and getting to know that precious little girl has been priceless.  That's what it's all about, you know?

Have a beautiful day!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Some of you already know; but, for those of you that do not.....

My last post here was a mistake.
Yep....a mistake.

See, I was trying to decide if I would post that photo in black and white or if I preferred it in color.  They both looked good to me and I really couldn't decide.  Instead of "previewing" it, I "viewed" it and guess what?

It published.

I had planned to just leave it be for a little while and come back to it later hoping that the decision would be easier.  Imagine my surprise when I was scrolling through my Google Reader and found a post at Mi Chiamo Candace.  Not only was there a published post; but, there was already a comment by the time that I saw it.  I decided to just leave it as a true Wordless Wednesday and share the one in color this week in honor of Ruby Tuesday. 

While out driving around Sunapee, New Hampshire a couple of weekends ago, we stumbled upon this barn.  I know that I've driven by this barn on a number of occasions.  On this particular day, the lighting must have been just perfect as it immediately caught my attention. 

So which do you prefer?
Color or Black and White?

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Maple Oatmeal No Bake Cookies


 There is just something special about it. 

Not having grown up in New England, I was sadly missing this experience in my life until I moved up here last year.  The south has Ribbon Cane Syrup which is fantastic in its own right.  I love it mixed with soft butter and spread on a biscuit; but, maple syrup is just amazing.

When Ben's Sugar Shack announced on their Facebook page that they were holding a contest for recipes using their maple syrup, I was on it.  That is what you do when you are a blogger, right?  

My Spicy Maple Dijon Vinaigrette that I told you about here was a winning entry for a pint of their delicious syrup.  I received my pint of Grade B (my choice) of syrup last week and started thinking about what I would make with it next.   I originally thought that I would make a version of the White Bean Blondies that I made here using maple syrup and walnuts instead of chocolate chips.  I just couldn't seem to get the beans soaked with everything going on lately so that idea hasn't worked out.  Yet.  

My next idea was Old Fashioned Southern Tea Cakes made with maple syrup and I actually made some of them.  Sadly, I didn't get any photos and even sadder, while they were hands down the best tea cakes that I've ever had, they did not have enough maple flavor for me.  I had envisioned something even better.  I will keep trying though because my stepdaughter loved them.  She told me that they could be her birthday cake substitute.  Noted!

So the past few days, I've been thinking about what would come next.  After french toast this past weekend, I knew that I only had a limited amount of syrup left to experiment with.  I had been playing with the idea of making some no bake cookies like the ones that my mom made when I was growing up.  You know the ones....cocoa, oatmeal, peanut butter.  My mom called them "mounds" which was pretty accurate since that's pretty much what you they look like.  Mounds of goodness...

Surely they could be made without the chocolate and peanut butter, right?  Wouldn't maple flavored mounds taste good too?

I had to take some creative liberties with this recipe due to the ingredients or I should say "lack thereof" in my pantry.   It will seem kind of odd when you read it; but trust me on this one....

They are a cross between maple sugar candy (if you are from the north), pralines (if you are from the south) and an oatmeal cookie.  Unlike the tea cakes, the maple syrup shines through. 

3/4 cup Old Fashioned Oats

1 packet Weight Control Maple & Brown Sugar Flavored Instant Oatmeal

2 packets High Fiber Maple & Brown Sugar Flavored Instant Oatmeal

4 packets Original Instant Oatmeal

1 cup Flaked Coconut

1 tablespoon Vanilla

  3/4 cup Ben's NH Grade B Maple Syrup 

1 cup Sugar

1 cup Brown Sugar

1 stick Butter

1/2 cup Milk

In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut and vanilla.  Set aside. In a heavy saucepan over high heat, bring the syrup, sugars, butter and milk to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring often.  Remove from heat and pour over the oatmeal mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a sheet of waxed paper and let cool completely.  The cookies will harden as they cool. 

Note:  I am sure you could use only regular oatmeal instead of using any instant oatmeal.  The total amount of oatmeal measured about 4 1/4 cups.  I originally planned to do that; however, I didn't have but the 3/4 cup of regular oatmeal so I had to improvise.  I usually don't like to use processed food and buy it very sparingly.  I did have the instant oatmeal packets laying around in the pantry so I took this opportunity to use them up.   I, personally, think that they helped with the maple flavoring.  I am very sensitive to artificial flavorings and so is David.  These cookies had none of that artificial flavor.  I will use them again.  You may feel free to use your discretion with this.

 This post is being linked up with 

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you have a wonderful day!

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Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Sunday, August 14, 2011

MYM Sunflower...

This post is being linked up here for Mellow Yellow Monday.


My mother-in-law has the prettiest sunflowers growing in her side yard garden.  I love how the neighbor's blue Thunderbird formed the perfect backdrop for this photo.

It has been quite a summer around our house and it seems to be drawing to a close.  My "baby" left today headed south on the next adventure of his life.  After a week with his dad, he will start college.  

Our summer has been full of activities with family and friends and now it is time for us to move into the next phase of our life.  There are still so many things to do around our home.  We I have kind of put it all on hold to enjoy the summer.  The time has come for us me to get organized and do some things that we I have neglected to do since we moved into our home in May.  I know that it probably seems like I have been taking a break all summer as I have been posting so sporadically.  I guess in a way that is true.  I certainly haven't posted with the regularity that I have in the past.   There has been too much going on and it has been hard to keep up with it all and share it here on my blog.   My posting will probably continue to be sporadic, at best, until I can get into a new routine around here.  

I really appreciate each and every one of you.  You have continually taken the time to stop by and say hello over the summer.  Your comments and love mean more than you know.  I hope that when I get things a bit more organized around here and establish some sort of routine that I can come back and share more consistently of our life here in New England.  I hope you have had a fantastic summer and that you are taking the time to enjoy each and every precious moment.  Time just keeps flying by.  

Have a great week!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My first time...

...to grow broccoli was successful.
It has never tasted so good.

Have a beautiful day!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Award Winning" Spicy Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

I didn't win anything this past Maple Monday when Ben's Sugar Shack held their weekly giveaway on their Facebook Page.  Did you see that post here?

I was so hoping to win some delicious Maple Syrup. 

When I saw here that Ben was holding a recipe contest for the chance to win some Maple Syrup, I was pretty excited.   Maybe this would be my chance to win! All that I had to do was come up with a recipe and email it to Ben along with a photo. Easy peasy, right?  I sure hoped so!

A few minutes in the kitchen using some of the best dressing recipes that I've tried over the last six months and combining them together with some of the best ingredients that I had available and it worked.  It was delicious!

I was notified just a little while ago that my recipe won!  
So excited!

I couldn't wait to share this with you on here.  Thanks so much, Ben!  Your awesome maple syrup was the star of the show.

Spicy Maple Dijon Vinaigrette

1/2 cup Avocado Oil with Chili*
1/4 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Ben's Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1/4 cup Canola Oil

Place avocado oil, cider vinegar, maple syrup, Dijon mustard and garlic into a food processor and pulse until blended.  With the food processor running, slowly add the canola oil until emulsified. 

*Note:  If  you cannot find the Avocado Oil with chili, you can substitute plain Avocado Oil and add ground cayenne pepper to taste or if you don't like it spicy, you can replace the Avocado Oil with Chili with something mild like plain Avocado Oil or Olive Oil or even use all Canola Oil.  It's pretty versatile.  

I served this dressing drizzled over some freshly picked lettuce from my garden.  I added some chopped pear, dried cranberries and toasted walnuts to complete the salad.  Tomorrow night, the vinaigrette will serve as a marinade for some grilled pork chops.  I expect them to be even better than the salad.

This is not the end of the contests on Ben's Facebook Page.  Oh, not at all!  Maple Mondays have just gotten underway and the recipe contest has no deadline for submissions.  You all have a chance to win some wonderful of Ben's Award Winning Maple Syrup and other goodies.  The cotton candy and maple candies are crazy good, as well!  All you have to do is "like" Ben's Sugar Shack on Facebook "here".  Once you have done that,  you can win one of two ways:

1. Watch Ben's Facebook page every Monday for your chance to win Maple Monday.

2.  Submit your recipe and photo to Ben@BensMapleSyrup.com.  All recipe submissions must include a photo.  There is no limit to the number of recipes that you can submit. For each winning recipe, you will receive a pint of syrup!!  

So what are you waiting for?!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  I wish you all the best on winning!

This post is being shared here with
Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday and
here with This Chick Cooks.

Miz Helen’s Country Cottage