Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kicking back with my Rum Punch

Ultimate Rum Punch
3/4 Amber Rum 1/2 Cup Coconut Rum
1/4 Cup Apricot Brandy
1 Cup Pineapple Juice
3/4 Cup Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Grapefruit Juice
Mix all ingredients together in 2 qt. pitcher. Serve over ice with a lime wedge in a tall glass.

Goombay Smash
Combine 2/3 cup apricot brandy, 1 1/4 cups coconut rum, 1 1/4 cups white rum, and 1 (46 ounce) can of pineapple juice. Serve over ice. Beware both of these drinks pack a wallop. Cheers!
"This is the ultimate beach drink!" Recipes from Coastal Living Magazine


Spinach Artichoke Dip is one of B's Secret Recipes. I made my own version of this dip for 20 years, but Bethany wanted to find a recipe that was more like the TGIF dip, extra creamy and garlicky. And now our friends routinely ask us for her version. Bethany, you are turning into a great cook! Keep it up girlfriend.

Artichoke-Spinach Dip

1 can drained artichokes
1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1/2 c. sour cream
1/2 c. mayonnaise
3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 c. shredded Mozzarella
1/4 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder or granulated garlic

Cook spinach according to the directions on package and drain. Drain the artichokes and chop them. Mix the artichokes and spinach with the remaining ingredients. Put in greased 1 quart dish; sprinkle a bit more garlic powder and shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita wedges, crackers. Also good with sour cream and salsa on the side.
This recipe is easy to double for parties.

Cooking Shows A-Z

This is the only my second weekly rant but it is not a rant in the tradition sense of the word. Have any of you considered the number of cooking shows there are on Food Network, The Travel Channel, Fine Living and DIY? I spent a few minutes counting the list on the Food Network today and came up with 81 cooking or food related shows. My question for the week is, "Who in the world needs 81 cooking show options?" I admit that I am a foodie and have been ever since my parents treated me to filet mignon, lobster, rare roast beef stuffed with garlic gloves and homemade ravioli. Some of these mouth-watering meals were prepared by my Italian mother, grandmother and aunts as well. But seriously, 81 shows!
Here's a brief rundown from A-Z:
$40 a Day, 30 Minute Meals, 5 Ingredient Fix, Ace of Cakes, All-American Festivals, Ask Aida, Barefoot Contessa, BBQ with Bobby Flay, Behind the Bash, Big Daddy's House, Boy Meets Grill, Chefs vs. City, Chic & Easy, Chopped, Cooking for Real, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Down Home with the Neelys, Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, Emeril Live, Everyday Italian, Extreme Cuisine with Jeff Corwin, Feasting on Waves, Food Detectives, Food Network Challenge, Food Network Specials, Giada at Home, Giada's Weekend Getaways, Glutton for Punishment, Good Deals with Dave Lieberman, Good Eats, Grill It! with Bobby Flay, Guy Off the Hook, Guy's Big Bite, Ham on the Street, Have Fork, Will Travel, Healthy Appetite with Ellie Krieger, Heavyweights, How to Boil Water, How'd That Get on My Plate?, Hungry Detective, Inside Dish, Iron Chef America, Next Iron Chef, Jamie at Home, Molto Mario, My Life in Food, Nigella Bites, Nigella Express, Nigella Feasts, Party Line with the Hearty Boys, Paula's Best Dishes, Paula's Home Cooking, Paula's Party, Quick Fix Meals with Robin Miller, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels, Rachael's Vacation, Recipe for Success, Restaurant Makeover, Road Tested, Al Roker on the Road, Sandra's Money Saving Meals, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, Sara's Secrets, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Semi-Homemade, Simply Delicious with Ingrid Hoffman, Sugar Rush, Ten Dollar Dinners with Melissa d'Arabian, The Best Thing I Ever Ate, The Chef Jeff Project, The Cooking Loft, The Essence of Emeril, The Next Food Network Star, The Next Iron Chef, The Secret Life Of, Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Tyler's Ultimate, Ultimate Recipe Showdown, Unwrapped, Viva Daisy!, What would Brian Boitano Make?, and Will Work for Food.
I love many of these chefs and their shows. It does make me laugh however when I see that certain celebs get their own shows--such as NBC's Al Roker and former skater Brian Boitano. I guess I naively believed you had to have some cooking expertise or formal culinary training to land such a gig. And while I regularly tune in to Anthony Bourdain (Mr. Snarky) and Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, Iron Chef, Bobby Flay, Chopped, Guy Off the Hook, Unwrapped, and the Next Food Network Star, I find myself wondering how many recipes I could find for a fabulous Chicken Piccata on the websites of these networks. More than I care to try. So for now I will continue to tune in if only until my mind goes numb or until I prepare 5 of the recipes in my own cookbook collection. Once a foodie, always a foodie. Hey, just give me a hunk of bread, a wedge of sharp cheese, kalamata olives, soppressata and a glass of $2 Buck Chuck and I'm a happy camper. But if you're a serious wannabe I understand if, "You have the cooking know-how and a personality that pops, now is the time to apply to be on Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star." I might even apply myself unless Danny DeVito gets his own show first...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome to my weekly rant!

Some days there are just too many thoughts floating around in this head of mine. Good thoughts, bad thoughts and completely random thoughts. For instance, if I could be anyone in history right now I would choose to be Dave Barry, cranking out witty commentaries for a syndicated paper. Since that position is no longer available I have to decided to include a weekly "rant" here on my blog. And I will touch on subjects likely to challenge your thinking and/ or provoke you (hopefully, not to anger), but you get my point.
So, get ready because I am about post my first rant. I hope you come along for the ride and as always feel free to leave me your comments.
Should we in your opinion honor the position of President of the United States, even when we do not agree with his policies? I am merely talking about giving honor or paying respect here folks. I certainly am not an Obama fan but I do not think hearing one speech from our President would have scarred my children for life. And I do believe in teaching our young people to respect those in authority--police officers, soldiers, etc. This week President Obama addressed school children in a speech and parents had the right to keep their kids out of school so as to avoid liberal indoctrination. Hot button, right? It's just one of the things I have been thinking about this week because several friends & relatives brought up the subject ad nauseam.
I leave you with this. Think it over and get back to me. And by all means, please don't shoot the messenger.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"You might be a coffee snob if..."

It all started in 1986, our coffee obsession that is. Our son Jordan was just a baby and we were having dinner with our friends Brad & Sue. Following a delicious meal, Brad pulled out a small appliance that neither Allen nor I were familiar with: Eureka, it was a Krups or Braun brand coffee grinder!! At that time in our marriage and being the parents of a newborn baby, we bought Eight O' Clock coffee, but had it ground at our local grocery store. I'm sure there are those of you who can remember the tantalizing smell of Eight O' Clock from your childhood Kroger or A & P. The cashier or bagger would grind your coffee beans on the percolator setting and you took the red bag home and scooped out your own freshly ground Joe.
Once we found out that a decent coffee grinder could be purchased for less than $10, we were hooked. I'm waxing philosophic here, but really that grinder changed our lives~We were still perking our own coffee every day, sometimes twice a day when the mood struck. But now we were coffee junkies.
Sometime in the 90's my husband stumbled across Baltimore Coffee & Tea, a coffee roaster located in a business area he frequented. He came home one day with bags of freshly roasted Baltimore Blend. The folks at Baltimore Coffee were beyond savvy. They had slapped labels on each bag that read, "Freshly ground on July 18th for Karl Ziegler. Pure marketing genius! We were now coffee connoisseurs.
To this day my husband cannot buy regular ground coffee unless I drag him kicking and screaming into the coffee isle. We have a coffee situation on our hands and it's not likely to change any time soon. Now the Ziegler family mostly purchases fair trade extravagant coffees like Ethiopian Harrar, Tanzanian Peabody or our longtime favorite Baltimore Blend. NO Folgers, Maxwell House, Chock Full of Nuts in this house. And definitely, none of that half-caffeine crap some drink and call it real good. Yep, we are coffee snobs here and proud of it.
P.S. As a side note, my husband rants a lot about Starbucks but...we do occasionally support them to keep Bethany & Erin happy... And we are currently only on our 2nd grinder in 25 years of marriage. No other appliance has survived as long. I wonder if we should read more into this curious fact. Perhaps over that morning cup of coffee.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

In Passing...

We have lost 2 dear souls in the past 24 hours. One was a man neither of us knew personally, but we share the grief the Senn family feels right now. (Craig Senn works with Allen at ID Shop.)
Today, our dear neighbor Alvin Putnam passed into eternity. We got to visit Alvin and his wife Ina about 3 weeks ago when he was on the CCU unit of Self-Regional Hospital for fluid build-up around his heart, lungs and overall weakness. Alvin was a good neighbor, the kind who appreciated the small gestures in life. He touched our lives while we lived in the Driftwood community.
Craig Senn's dad, Bill Senn, had a stroke yesterday. He was taken off of the ventilator and died today. Mr. Senn leaves behind a wife, family and grandchildren. He passed around 11:25 this morning.
Mr. Putnam left this earth around 1pm. His wife and son were with him during this time. His wife is now in a fragile state herself.
I can't help but wonder if either man met Jesus as he took his final breath. Jesus is never too late; nor is he ever far away when you need Him the most. All He asks is that you call on his name. Please pray for the Senn and Putnam families this week as funeral preparations are underway. Family members will be coming in from the state and from far away places. Pray that Jesus was a friend who was present at the very end, an end that was really only the beginning of an eternal life. Pray that the families who are left experience Christ's love in a real way. Two dear souls passing each other within a matter of minutes. Because no one is guaranteed another day, let alone another hour, please tell those closest to you, "I Love You."