Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad

marinated cucumber and tomato salad

I don’t know about you,  but Summertime in the South means looking for anything to keep me out of the kitchen for very long and lots of light Summery dishes to keep everyone cool. Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad is one of my favorite go-to salads of Summer.  It’s quick and easy and cool and delicious..perfect for Summer.   This nutritional side dish complements any meal from hamburgers to steaks and from chicken to seafood.

Raw vegetables are always a healthy choice and when you combine onions with fresh dill weed you’ve added even more nutritional value to the tomatoes and cucumbers, not to mention the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

Begin with one or two cucumbers, peeled and cut into about 1/4 inch slices. 1 cup of cherry tomatoes cut in half. Always cut cherry tomatoes in half,  so they don’t squirt out of  your mouth when you bite them….just saying. You may use fresh tomatoes cut into chunks, if you prefer.

I use Sweet Vidalia Onions. In case you didn’t know….Vidalia is pronounced “VI (long ‘I’)- Dale- Ya”  NOT “Vee DAhl Ya.” I live 40 miles from VI-dale-ya ….. So, for those who want to be ‘in the know’…now you know. :) About a cup of sliced Vidalia Onions…or any sweet onion.

For the marinade use: 1/2 cup fresh dill weed, 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar, 1/2 Olive Oil,  2/3 cup granulated sugar. You may increase the sugar or vinegar to suit your tastes. Salt and Pepper to taste.

marinated cucumber tomato salad

The amounts will vary,  based on how many people you plan on serving. You can use this amount of marinade for up to double the vegetables listed above. Just splash in some more vinegar and oil, if you need more.

marinated cucumber and tomato salads

If you use cold vegetables out of refrigerator,  it should be ready to serve immediately. If vegetables are at room temperature you may want to chill in fridge at least 30 minutes.

Any variety of vegetables may be included in this recipe. Or you may choose to use ‘cucumbers only.’

 

Marinated cucumber tomasalad

Stay cool this Summer with this Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad. Enjoy!

Marinated Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 Cucumbers, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 medium onion peeled and chopped
  • MARINADE:
  • 1/2 cup fresh dill weed
  • 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 Olive Oil
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Combine marinade ingredients and set aside.
  2. Toss all vegetables together in a bowl.
  3. Pour marinade over top and toss to cover..
  4. Cover with Plastic wrap
  5. Refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 30 mins.
  6. Enjoy!
  7. Vegetables MAY BE DOUBLED. Toss in more vinegar and oil if needed.
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Pappa al Pomodoro aka Italian Bread Soup

Pappa al pomodoro12

Pappa al Pomodoro is the ultimate Italian comfort soup. It’s what makes Italian men and boys come home to mama.  I was reading a novel a few weeks ago and the protagonist mentioned slipping into a cafe his first evening in Tuscany and being served this delightful soup that made him forget his troubles…

Ok. I could use some of that.

I’m making no promises, but for the moment, I confess getting lost in the delicious combination of basil and tomato sopping its way through my sourdough.  From a girl who considers Campbell’s Cream of Tomato Soup one of my go-to comfort foods….let me just say…this stuff is the ultimate comfort.

papa al pomodoro3

Since I’ve been on a quest to find recipes for my sourdough obsession, this jumped off the page into my lap. I did some research and found it is also called Bread and Tomato Soup or Italian Bread Soup. It’s a very rustic peasant soup with loads of flavor.  And it’s so easy to throw together for lunch. The great thing is,  it uses leftover sourdough bread or any kind of hearty bread you have on hand.

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Pappa al Pomodoro  is perfect made with fresh tomatoes or canned. The basil growing outside my kitchen has never been put to a better use.

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So, while I can’t promise all your troubles will melt away, I can promise it will be a hearty, satisfying and deliciously comforting soup.  And who knows, your troubles just might melt away.

Pappa al Pomodoro or Italian Bread Soup is the comfort of comfort soups. Enjoy!

Papa al Pomodoro aka Tomato and Bread Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves or 1 TBLS dried basil
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 3-4 cups stale, day old, bread cubes
  • Garnish: Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Saute minced garlic in 2 TBLS olive oil over medium heat, until fragrant, 1 minute.
  2. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Add broth, stock and bread cubes. Cook 10 minutes on low heat.
  3. Serve in bowls garnished with remaining olive oil and parmesan cheese
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Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon

southern style baked beans with bourbon

How about some Southern Styled Baked Beans with Bourbon for your next cookout? Who wants Boston Baked Beans with little sugar, no bourbon, no bacon and simply northern?   When you can make these beans full of brown sugar, bacon and bourbon? The only thing Northern in these babies are the beans. I did use Northern Beans, but then, I turned on the Southern charm and sass.

These beans are not made from canned beans. No ma’am. They are made from dried beans and they take all day to cook. I know that sounds like a pain, but really they aren’t. And besides that,  they are worth.every.single.minute.

Your kitchen will smell heavenly all day long.

Before you get turned off,  let me assure you,  this is not a slave over the stove recipe. It’s a mix it up, put it in the oven and let it cook….all day long.

My daughter wanted me to go the the antique mall with her in the midst of cooking these. I told her I was baking beans that cook all day long. She said “Mama, why would you do that to yourself?”  I told her to step inside.

The fragrant aroma melted her heart. Later on the taste sold her. And not only that, because they cook slowly, with lots of liquid, I was able to go to the antique mall with her. My husband was home, mind you. I don’t ever recommend you leave the house with anything baking in the oven all day…regardless of what the recipe says. But I did take an hour to run to the store with her, leaving my trusty husband at home.

southern baked beans with bourbon2

Why not just pop a can of baked beans? Well to begin with, dried beans are extremely good for you.  They provide dense nutritional value. They are a complex carbohydrate and low on the glycemic index. They contain beneficial dietary fiber and help to lower  LDL without compromising good HDL. They are a major source of protein, low in fat and are rich in Iron and B vitamins as well as plant phytochemicals. According to the American dietary guidelines we need 3 cups of dried beans a week.

Another reason…. they are very cost efficient. One bag makes enough for a party, large family or leftovers to freeze. So it’s possible to feed your family a very healthy diet on a budget. Win-win.

But what about the embarrassing issues associated with beans? No problem.  Let me tell you how to solve that problem. Dried beans need to be soaked overnight to rehydrate. Still, sometimes there remain embarrassing issues.

So to remedy the embarrassment… :) The night before cooking, I cover them with water in a large pot and bring them to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat off and allow the beans to sit in hot liquid over night.

In the morning,  pour off  the liquid and rinse the beans with cool water.  Then cover with cold water again and bring them to a boil again. This time I allow them to simmer for awhile on low. It doesn’t matter how long.

It’s according to how much time I have.  Anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. While they simmer, I cook breakfast, make the beds and get dressed.   Or I start getting everything ready for the recipe and simmer them very little.

When I’m ready to add the beans to the mixture,  I drain and rinse them once again. At this point you should have no problem whatsoever with “the bean embarrassment issue.”

Now, for the recipe. The night before, sort your beans in a large flat pan. Pick out the broken, cracked or discolored beans and throw away.

southern baked beans sorted

In a large pot cover beans with cold water and bring to a boil. Allow to sit, covered, overnight.

southern baked beans soaked

Drain and rinse in the morning. In the morning, cover with water and boil again….do you see the foam? Guess what that equals when you eat beans that have not been prepared properly? Lots and lots of gas…nope, not kidding. So, unless your teenage son has entered a contest….we don’t want this.

southern baked beans foamy

After it has simmered the next morning, pour this stuff off again. Rinse. Now, it’s safe to add beans to recipe. But first, while it simmers…..

Gather your ingredients…

southern  baked beans ingreds2

Cut up about 1/2 pound bacon and fry in a large dutch oven until crispy. Remove bacon from pan,  leaving drippings in the pan. Save the bacon to add prior to serving.

southern baked beans bacon

Next, sautee one large onion cut up in bacon drippings.

southern baked beans onion

To onions add all remaining ingredients and 6 cups of water in the large dutch oven pot.  Cover and bake in over 275* for 6+ hours.

If you’re concerned about the bourbon, I promise all the alcohol will be evaporated in the 6+ hours they cook…but, it may be omitted altogether, if you prefer. Out of bourbon? Rum is a good substitute.

southern baked beans pan

Check them every hour and stir the pot. Toward the end of baking,  check to see if sauce is getting thick and taste for tenderness.  If sauce is thickening and beans are not tender enough, add one cup of water and cook longer.

If beans are tender you may remove lid during last hour and continue to cook in oven until thickened. Just watch more closely toward end and stir occasionally. The sauce will thicken more as it cools, so allow for that….don’t over cook.

I transfer mine into a bean pot to serve. Stir in crispy bacon.  Serve!

Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon3

If  you aren’t serving children, you may add an additional 2 TBLS bourbon and stir prior to serving.

Southern Baked Beans with Bourbon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry Great Northern beans (or navy beans)
  • 1/2 lb bacon, chopped in 1" slices and cooked until crispy. Reserve dripping and drain bacon
  • 1 large Vidalia Onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup mustard
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, optional, seeded and deveined and chopped..the sugar cuts the heat.

Instructions

  1. Sort beans.
  2. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Over and allow to sit overnight
  3. In the morning drain and rinse.
  4. Cover again with cool water and bring to a boil again.
  5. Simmer 20 mins-2hours on low.
  6. Drain again.
  7. While simmering, cook bacon and drain. Add chopped onion to pan with drippings and cook until tender.
  8. Mix remaining ingredients in pan with onion.
  9. Add 6 cups of water
  10. Pour this mixture into a large dutch oven with lid
  11. Preheat oven to 275* Bake 6 hours or until tender and thickened.
  12. Check every hour or so and stir.
  13. Taste test at the 3 and 4 hour marks and add additional water if sauce is getting thick.
  14. After the 4 hour mark, add one cup of water as needed each hour until they are tender and sauce is thickened. If it is still soupy you don;t need to add more water...only if it is thickening and beans aren't tender yet do you need to add water.
  15. You may remove lid toward end of baking if beans are done and still sauce needs more thickening.
  16. Will thicken more as it cools.
  17. Enjoy!
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French Hatbox Inspired Planters

French Hatbox Planters pics

A couple of years ago we added a porch, where once stood an old deck. That deck had served us well.  Even though it was small and in the sun,  I never let it keep me from hosting outdoor dinner parties.  But, I always dreamed of having a real porch. We love to sit outside, rain or shine but having no roof presented a problem. The umbrella worked sometimes…but not always.  So, I dreamed of building a porch one day.

Finally, my husband gave me the go ahead to build a porch! Yes, a real covered porch. I love it. We love it. Our whole family loves it.  Most days, we live on our porch more than in the house. This picture shows one of the columns…along with  the small table and chairs…I call the Perfect Find!

my porch furn

When they built the porch,  they had to cut about a foot from the bottom of the columns they used. There were 8 of them and I asked the builders to save me the bottoms. I already had an idea what to use them for.

french hatbox planters0

Herbs are so invasive and my herb garden on the side of the house had really been more than I could handle. The oregano and pineapple sage had taken over. I needed containers to keep this from happening.

I knew these column bottoms would be perfect to make planters for my herbs.

I love the colorful planters in various catalogs that come in the mail…..

grandinroad planters

Have you seen the colorful planters in GrandinRoad?  They’re so pretty. I ended up taking my inspiration from them.

Of course, mine are not nearly as perfect as the catalog ones……but they’re perfect enough for me.

french hatbox planters 01

The furniture on my porch is blue, so I painted the ‘planters’ various shades of blue and white. I used stencils in different designs to vary each one.  When I stepped back and looked at them, I realized they looked like hatboxes. And the blue colors made me think of France…. so that’s the story behind my French Hat-box Inspired Planters.

french hatboxplanters 02

I found my stencils at Walmart and the base color is a spray paint.

French Hat Box Planters

It’s so nice to step out the backdoor and have herbs for cooking, at my fingertips. And know they won’t be taking over the flower bed…least not anytime soon.

french hat box planters8

Do you cook with fresh herbs? They can be expensive in the store, but they are very easy to grow. And they don’t need much tending to, if you plant them in a container.  And most of them live from one season to the next, at least at my house they do.  My favorites have to be a tie between basil and dill.

french hatbox planters9

You may not have access to the bottoms of columns…( if you know a builder, I’d certainly ask them to save you some)  You can achieve the same look using clay pots. I’d prime them first so your paint is the true color you want.

french hat box planters6

The above picture was taken a couple of weeks ago….now see the same plants:

french hatbox planters9

The bottoms are open because herbs need well drained soil. They don’t like to be wet and prefer hot sun. So do keep that in mind. I plan on a heavy mulch in the winter so they will hopefully survive until Spring. The clay pots in the same location did survive, … I have high hopes for these….

So, what are you waiting for? Be inspired….you can do this….:)

Blueberry Mousse Cheesecake

blueberry mousse cheesecake ad

Hope your Mother’s Day was great! Mine has been wonderful. All my children and grandchildren were here plus my parents. What a blessing to have 4 generations here for Mother’s Day Dinner….on the back porch. Plus we had a big reveal. I’m not quite sure how many knew and how many didn’t but my baby is having another baby. That much we all knew. [Read more…]

Perfect Loaf Sourdough Bread

Perfect Loaf Sourdough Bread

Finally! I’ve found a recipe for Sourdough Bread that satisfies my soul….I’m not kidding. Well, so far as bread can satisfy ones soul…Maybe it’s just my idea of what a good loaf of sourdough bread ought to be. [Read more…]

Why Jesus Rose from the Dead

Resurrection garden

Christ the Lord is Risen, today! I love having this reminder of the true meaning of Easter beside my back door. Nothing says who Jesus really is more than seeing the stone rolled away. Death couldn’t hold him back.

My husband is always full of insight, even when he doesn’t know it…One day he asked me if I knew why Jesus rose from the dead?  Of course I go into some discourse starting in Genesis…:) about it being God’s plan for the redemption of mankind…etc, etc…he said….but do you know why death could not hold him in the grave? And what he said is so simple, yet I’d never put these thoughts into words… He said:

“The wages of sin is death and Jesus never sinned, so death could not hold him.” I just looked at him stunned and amazed at the simplicity and truth in those simple words.

And you know what? Jesus took our sins…all of our sins, the nasty, dirty, rotten, sinful things we have thought and done or that have been done to us…and dumped them at Satan’s feet. Because they all originated with him and they belong to him and Jesus just gave them back to their original owner…

The Bible says Jesus is “the author and finisher of our faith.”  Craftsmen and builders put the finishing touches on their work…and when they are done, they clean up all the debris and trash, sweep the floors clean and dump it all in the garbage so the house is presentable to the new owners.

That’s what Jesus did for us…he, by the Holy Spirit, called us… making him the author…or the one who authorizes our salvation….and then he put the finishing touches on us and got rid of our trash, to make us presentable to God.

Jesus, the Bible says, made a public spectacle of satan. In front of all the minions of hell, Jesus showed him just what all the heartaches and ruined lives and hurt and pain he caused people on earth, was worth. Jesus took our sin and dumped it all at satan’s feet. It was nothing but garbage. Jesus gave it all back to its rightful owner.

As I sit in church this morning, I’m going to look around at all our friends and think about how new and clean and pretty everyone is today and remember, …the stone was rolled away because Jesus never sinned. He lived a perfect life for me…because I certainly couldn’t.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pay for our sin and we don’t have to carry the load of guilt anymore. We only have to accept the gift of God, His son, and believe Jesus died and rose again, for us.

It’s Resurrection Sunday and the stone is rolled away!

Christ the Lord is Risen Today!

Alleluia!

So, What’s So Good About Good Friday

A baby  lamb

Today is Good Friday. It’s the day Jesus died for you and me so we could be redeemed back to God.  That’s what’s so good about Good Friday!

The fickle crowd  who praised Him to high Heaven last Sunday now called for his death. “Crucify Him!” And so they did. Jesus could have fought. He could have refused. But He didn’t. He willingly laid down His life for us. For you and me!

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

That’s what’s so good about Good Friday!

And do you know what else is so good about today? 

It’s a Good Friday because we live on this side of the Passover Lamb laying down His life for us.  We can look back at scriptures and see the hand of God at work in the history of the world.  Most people never had that opportunity.

The most significant prophecies are found in the book of Isaiah and penned 700 years before Christ.

Isaiah 53

1Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
    and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
    and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
    he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
    and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors.

Jesus Christ

And this is the day we remember how very much God LOVES us. He gave His son to die in place of us, for our sin. It’s even better because we know God did not leave Him there…..…See you Sunday!

Yes, it is a Good Friday….

Do you still have a problem believing this message?  It was all in God’s plan from the beginning. It was promised thousands of years before Jesus was born. God would send his son to redeem us.  I hope you’ll take time to trace these promises in more detail here.

My Favorite Project: Hand-Painted Easter Eggs

hand-painted easter eggs sign

It’s time for one of my favorite projects!  Hand-painted Easter Eggs.  Not up to blowing out eggs? Last year I shared my secret. You’ll want to check it out…seeing as how I have no wind to blow eggs, either.  If you’re the same way, you’ll want this little secret for yourself! But, shhhhhhhh…don’t tell and no one will ever know! [Read more…]

Palm Sunday

Jesus on Palm Sunday

The Triumphal Entry…. Jesus knows what’s coming. He knows how fickle and easily led people are. He knows it’s easier to follow the crowd, than to do what is right. He knows we mean well, but our flesh is weak. He knows not to trust the praises of men. He knows, by the end of the week, these same people will be calling for his death. He knows all of this and loves us anyway. [Read more…]