Italian Sausage Wraps

You all know I can cook ANYTHING.  I can cook the fancy foods with flair, but I can also cook the simple foods that are fun.  In the summer, I tend to cook more fun, simple foods than fancy foods.  I want to enjoy the summer too.  Usually, I am in the pool, swimming my arms off, but not this year (all the pools are STILL closed), so I just don’t have the time or the desire to be in the kitchen all day when I would rather be outside and in the water.

We had some Italian sausages down so I thought I would dress them up a bit, and make them a little more fun.  This recipe could not be any easier to make and only requires a few simple, everyday ingredients.

As you know, I am the wine aficionado.  The Mountain Dew is all Larry’s.   I guess I didn’t do such a good job of getting it out of the picture this time.  🙂  We fried up some French fries and I made a cool green bean and tomato salad to go with our Italian sausage wraps with some marinara sauce on the side for a perfect, easy-peasy summer meal.

You can use any kind of sausage links and cheese you like, I just happened to have hot Italian sausage links down.  Larry likes cheddar and I prefer Mozzarella.

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Italian Sausage Wraps

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1 package ready made crescent rolls

Italian sausage links, or your choice of sausage links

cheese of your choice

marinara sauce

 

Cook your sausages first and let them cool.  Separate the crescent rolls and flatten them out with your fingers on a lightly floured surface.  Place the cooked sausage onto the wide end of the crescent and roll it up, making sure to cover as much of the sausage link as possible.

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Preheat the oven to 350* F of 180* C.

When the sausages are all rolled up, add the cheese on top.  Lightly press the cheese into the dough.  Place them on a baking pan sprayed with cooking spray.

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Bake for about 15 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.

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Serve these sausage wraps with your favorite side dishes and some warmed marinara sauce on the side, and sit back and relax.  Dinner is done.  Enjoy!

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks -More Colorful Flowers

My camera and I are very close, intimate friends.  We go walking together all the time.  My camera is an extra set of eyes that often sees things I would not see.  It certainly makes me look and notice things in a completely different way.  This time, we were looking at more flowers.  There were so many brightly colored flowers to see, both common and exotic.  They all shine in their bright beautiful colors.

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Look closely.  Do you see the bee?

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Roses on the run.

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Lilies and exotics in all shades of orange and red.

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Life is colorful.  Enjoy all the colors of life.  Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

From Supporting Role To Rising Star

The other day when I made my strawberry jalapeno salad/salsa, Strawberry Jalapeno Salad I enjoyed it so much as a side dish, that I decided to have it again.  This time, however, I made it as the main attraction.  It was so cool and refreshing, especially with a cool, crisp white blend on the side.

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To transform the salad into a main meal, I added fresh spinach, red onion slices, cucumber slices and red bell pepper slices, then topped it all with sliced chicken breast.  It’s cool, easy and very refreshing, especially with a lime vinaigrette.

 

Lime Vinaigrette

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1-2 TBSP honey

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/3 cup lime juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1-2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp salt

 

Combine everything together and mix well.  Top or toss your strawberry chicken salad with it right before serving.

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For the finishing touches, I added some toasted almond slivers and sliced green onions on top of the sliced chicken breast.

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This quick and easy salad is definitely a delicious way to cool down on those days when the temperatures are really soaring.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – A Sunset Stroll

Sadly, we are not doing our walks as much as we were before.  It has been too hot during the day time, and then we have been getting thunder and rain in the evenings.  Mother Nature has not been cooperating for us to do our walks lately.  Vinnie has been missing his walks, and so have I, but Mother nature gave us a perfect evening this time, so we were able to take a walk again last night.  It wasn’t quite sunset, but close enough to sunset to call this a sunset stroll.  We all enjoyed it, and we all needed it.

We saw gatherings of geese.  And yes, the “babies” are mixed in here too.  It is hard to tell the babies apart from the grown-ups now.  You have to really look closely to tell them apart.

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We saw the ducks out for a swim as well.  Yep, these are the “babies” too.  Once again, they are almost all grown up.

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Then resting after.

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We saw a couple of egrets, but I had a hard time getting good shots of them today.  This is the best I could get this time.

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And we also saw a bunny hiding in the grass.  He was afraid of the “big bad wolf” who was walking along the path.  That big bad wolf was Vinnie, our happy, go-lucky big goofball.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

Don’t Skimp on the Scampi

Most of us are very familiar with shrimp scampi.  It is a well known and well loved Italian-American dish made with lots of garlic and olive oil, both of which are staples in ANY Italian kitchen, as well as my own kitchen (and I am not Italian).  In America, we often use shrimp instead of the tiny langoustine, as they are known in Italian or langostino in Spanish.  Scampi is Italian for langoustine which are small, tiny lobsters that are more closely related to porcelain and hermit crabs than either shrimp or lobsters though.  They are the most important commercial crustacean in Europe.

Scampi is traditionally cooked with the small langoustines, although here in America, we often use shrimp of all sizes too.  But what do you do when either you do not have shrimp or langoustines or do not have enough?  Make it with chicken.  Chicken scampi is just as delicious and just as flavorful as shrimp scampi.  Or, you can make it with both chicken AND shrimp, like I did, and enjoy the best of both.  I used some left over chicken and only had a few shrimp left.  Neither would have been enough for a meal on their own, but by combining them together, we had plenty, AND I created a new dish.  As I always say, be creative and work with what you have.  When cooking in my kitchen, you never know what is going to happen.  You just have to go with the flow. We enjoyed our chicken and shrimp scampi with some garlic-herb cheese bread and a delicious, crisp white blend.

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Lemony Chicken and Shrimp Scampi

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1 lb chicken, sliced

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 eggs

salt & pepper to taste

3/4 cup flour, divided

6 TBSP olive oil

2 TBSP garlic

1 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 TBSP lemon pepper

1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional

1 TBSP mixed herbs – lemon verbena, thyme, basil, chopped fine or 2 tsp dried herbs, optional

4 TBSP butter

 

Mix the flour, salt and pepper together, then coat the chicken with it.  Beat the eggs together and dip the chicken in it.   Heat 2 TBSP of the olive oil then carefully place the chicken strips into the oil and cook for about 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Because I used chicken that was already cooked, I skipped this part.

Saute the shrimp, garlic and bell pepper in the oil and about 1/2 of the butter for about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp is completely cooked and is a nice shade of coral-pink.

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Add the wine and let cook for about for about 1 minute.

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Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together well.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes.

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When the sauce thickens to your liking, it is ready to serve.  I served it over angel hair pasta, but you can eat it on it’s own or serve it over rice too.  If you like, top it with some Parmigiano cheese and mangia!

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

Talking About Food, Talking About Life

Sometimes life happens and I do not have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.  I love it when life happens.  That is exactly how it is supposed to be.  Even though I may not be the one in the kitchen on these days, I am still listening to those who are gathering in their kitchens, and talking about food and talking about life.  Life and food go hand in hand.   You can’t have one without the other.  Friendships through food are celebrated all over the world.  Food is life, no matter where you are.  So live your life and enjoy all the food and friendships along the way.

 

“Those who are at one regarding food are at one in life”.

~ Malawian Proverb~

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“Warm food, warm friendships.”

~ Czech Probverb ~

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Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

~ James Beard, Cookbook Author ~

 

“Good food and a warm kitchen are what make a house a home.”

~ Rachel Ray, Cookbook Author and TV Host ~

 

“You can’t just eat good food.  You’ve got to talk about it too.  And you’ve got tot talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”

~ Kurt Vonnegut, American Author ~

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grill Your Mojo

Mojo is a type of sauce or marinade used in a lot of Cuban cooking, and all throughout the Spanish Caribbean world. It is believed to have originated in the Canary Islands because this was the first place where all the ingredients came together; chili peppers from South America, pimentón and olive oil from Spain, and cumin from North Africa.  The name mojo comes from the Portuguese word mohlo, meaning sauce.  Many of the first residents in the Canary Islands came from Portugal and settled there because of the sugar cane industry.  Later, the Spanish came and took over.  Both the Portuguese and the Spanish left their marks and their influences on the cultures and the cooking of the Caribbean Islands and other territories they conquered and settled.  Variations of mojo sauces are common all over Cuba, Puerto Rico and other Spanish-Caribbean islands. Mojo is also believed to have influenced the sauces, marinades and barbeque of Deep South cuisine in the USA.  Mojo sauces can be mild or spicy, red or green.  They are  like a supercharged citrus vinaigrette made from the juice of sour oranges or other citrus juices, garlic, spices and olive oil.  Mojos are used to cook and marinate just about everything, but are really used a lot for chicken, pork and potatoes and are known to be the cornerstone of Cuban and Caribbean cooking.

As you all know, I love all kinds of foods, and I love to play with and experiment with many different ethnic foods.   I am always on the lookout for new ways of preparing foods, or at least new ways to me.  When I came across this recipe for mojo chicken it sounded just perfect for a hot summer’s day, and believe me, it was too.

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Grilled Mojo Chicken

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1/3 cup olive oil

1-2 TBSP garlic

1/2 cup citrus fruit juice – orange, lemon, lime, pineapple, or a combination thereof

2 tsp grated of either orange zest, lime zest or lemon zest, or 1 tsp of each

1 1/4 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

2 TBSP chopped cilantro

1 jalapeno, diced fine

1/4 red onion, sliced fine

2 lbs chicken

 

Mix all the ingredients together well and pour over the chicken.  Completely cover the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before grilling it.  With all the citric acid in the marinade, do not marinate for more than 4 hours though, or it will make the chicken very mushy.  You can also use this for pork.

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When you are ready, fire up the grill and grill to your heart’s content.  When it is done, serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy.  !Desfruitas!

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Tripping – Part 2 – The Bucksnort Saloon

Saloons and whiskey joints played a huge role in forming the wild, wild west, and played a huge role in Colorado and Denver’s history too.  According to historian Tom Noel, the first Denver Government was established in a saloon called the Apollo Hotel in what’s now Larimer Square. And today, deals political and otherwise continue to be hashed out in watering holes across the state.

While we were out and about day tripping, Day Tripping – Part 1 we stopped for lunch at a local saloon called the The Bucksnort Saloon.  The Bucksnort Saloon is one of the most iconic bars in the state. The Bucksnort got its start shortly after the turn of the last century, when Lydia and Howard Newhouser ran the Sphinx Park Mercantile out of a circa 1919 wooden structure perched at 7,040 feet in the narrow canyon above Elk Creek. The store catered to railroad workers on the narrow-gauge Denver and South Park Railroad, which ran to Buena Vista, as well as miners who lived in the area and early vacationers trying to avoid the heat (and smell) of a Denver summer in rustic cabins that dotted the area of Pine and Sphinx Park. The spot has always been a community gathering place, and as the mercantile business trailed off in the ’50s, Pete Smaltz would host square-dancing events there. The store closed entirely in the ’60s, and the building turned into a venue for live performances and dances, then a full-fledged bar/restaurant. By the ’70s, it was known as the Bucksnort, reportedly because the then-owner’s dog was a noisy sleeper. Or maybe it was because of a certain decor item left by a rowdy patron.

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The Bucksnort Saloon is a rustic, wild west icon that is full of personality.  When you walk through the doors, you feel like you have stepped back in time by at least 100 years.

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Upon walking through the doors at the Bucksnort Saloon, time stands still.  As the sign on the door says, “If you are in a hurry, go to McDonalds”.

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The walls are covered with dollar bills that have been autographed by all the patrons, both old and new, and the tables and walls have all been autographed by The Bucksnort’s patrons as well. Yes, we added to the decorations too.

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The menu is simple.

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Larry enjoyed the Forest Fire Burger with potato salad, named after the wildfires that have threatened the Bucksnort before, topped with jalapeño cream cheese.  This is a HUGE monster burger alright.

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I had an elk brat with the house recipe baked beans.  This brat was full of flavor and cooked to perfection.  It was juicy and tender and had a little bit of a kick to it as well.  YUM!

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The view is spectacular.  We dined outside on the patio, and met some really fun people as we were waiting for our food.

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This is a little B & B nestled into the mountains, right across the creek from The Busksnort.

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When driving up through the mountains, and you go through Pine, CO, you have to stop at The Bucksnort Saloon.  They are located at 15921 Elk Creek Road.  You can call them at (303) 383-0284 or you can check them out online at thebucksnortsaloon.com or at their facebook page.  It will an ex experience like none other, and you will get to live a little in the times of the wild, wild west.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

Day Tripping – Part 1

About once a month, Larry and I take little day trips throughout our beautiful state.  We Just pack a few snacks and off we go to explore what’s around us.  Larry plans the trip out, but even then we are always up for quite a few twists and turns, and things don’t always go as Larry plans them.  Me, I prefer to just wing it, and go where the winds take me, or in this case, the roads.

We were day tripping through our beautiful Rocky Mountains again.  This time we went a more Southern route than we normally do.  Different mountains, and different sites, but equally as beautiful.  It was a beautiful day, with bright blue skies and plenty of warm sunshine.

The mountains in all their glory.

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The flowers of the mountains.

 

 

Larry pulled over for me to take this shot, but he did not realize I could not get out of the car or I would have ended up floating down the river.  So I literally was hanging out of the car window to take this one.

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The contrasts of these two just struck me – Now and then.

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I hope you enjoyed our trek through some of our Southern mountains as mush as we did.

Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

 

Nature Walks – The Birds

Aside from all our big, beautiful water birds, like our ducks, geese, pelicans, herons, egrets and cormorants, we also have a wide variety of beautiful small birds too.  The things we see most are the swallows, sparrows, robins, spraques, doves, magpies, red-winged black birds and orioles.  But we have many other types of beautiful small birds too.  I try to capture them all on the camera as much as possible, but often times they are just too quick for me, and as soon as I get them in focus, they fly away.  This happened the other day when we saw this beautiful bright yellow bird that we had never seen before.  I tried and tried to get him in my sights, but could not do it.  I will keep trying though.  Here are some of our small birds that we call friends and neighbors too, that I have been able to capture with some good shots.

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We’re flying the coup.  We’re outta here.

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Stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.