Nature Walks – Coyote Sighting

We have been hearing the coyotes howl and yelp a lot in the evenings, so we knew they were out and about.  But we actually say our first one of the season today.  He was very bold and was out hunting in the middle of the day.  Usually, they are more likely to come out at dusk or in the evenings.  At first, he was right at our fence, then started wondering around the top of the first lake.  Our dogs, Lucie and Vinnie, scared him away, which was a good thing too.  He was on the prowl for the goslings that were out enjoying the day with their parents.  Lucie and Vinnie came to their rescue and were the heroes of the day, by loudly barking, which eventually made him change his plans.  Sadly, I did not get the camera in time to catch him.  But I am pretty certain there will be plenty more opportunities in the near future.

Most animals, and people, will definitely think twice before attacking when the guardians and protectors are much larger and stronger than the attackers.  This was certainly the case with our coyote attacker.  Lucie and Vinnie are each 140 lbs.  It was definitely a wise decision for the coyote to turn the other way and to rethink his plans for the day.

IMG_2190

The Guardians – Lucie

IMG_2123

Vinnie

IMG_2126

Thanks to the guardians, the goslings live to see another day.

IMG_2417

IMG_2414

IMG_2416

IMG_2418

IMG_2412

‘Tis the season for wildlife to be about and about, and it’s not only the cute ducklings and goslings or baby bunnies.  The predators are out too.  So be aware and be cautious.  So even more so than normal, stay safe and stay well Everyone.  ‘Til next time.

 

Roasted Pepper and Mushroom Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

It certainly wasn’t planned this way, but it has been a Southwestern kind of week.  But you won’t hear any complaints about that from me though.  I love Southwestern food and will enjoy it anytime I can.

We got together with our friends Jonathon and Priscilla and they were cooking Southwestern burgers, that were served on warm tortillas rather than buns.  So of course, I had to come up with more Southwestern dishes to go with the burgers, right?!  I was more than happy to oblige.  I made a roasted mushrooms and pepper salad with a rosemary vinaigrette that went perfectly with the Southwestern burgers.  I also made a pine nut tart for dessert, but you will just have to wait a bit longer for that one.  🙂  This salad is super simple and very tasty; just the way I like it.

IMG_2425

Roasted Mushroom and Pepper Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette

2 lbs portabella mushrooms, stems removed

1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 green pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 jalapeno pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 onion, sliced and roasted

1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in 1/2

5-6 oz lettuce or mixed greens

2/3 cup olive oil

1 TBSP red wine vinegar

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP fresh rosemary

salt & pepper to taste

1 TBSP sugar

roasted pepitas, optional for topping

 

Preheat the oven to 375* F or about 190* C

 

Coat the mushrooms and onions with olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes.  I did not add onions to this.  I have to admit, they were an after thought, but a delicious one.

IMG_2383

Roast your peppers, with on an open flame or in the oven or on the grill.  I prefer roasting mine on an open flame, but it is just a personal preference.  I like the smoky flavor that can only come from an open flame.

IMG_2382

Once everything is roasted and cooked, let it all cool.   Then peel the peppers and seed them and slice the mushrooms.  Toss everything together with the rosemary vinaigrette.  Line a bowl with the lettuce and place the roasted vegetables on top of the lettuce.  Don’t add too much dressing.  It will make everything soggy.  You can always add more later if you need to.

IMG_2424

Rosemary Vinaigrette

2/3 cup olive oil

1 TBSP red wine vinegar

1 TBSP garlic

1 TBSP fresh rosemary

salt & pepper to taste

1 TBSP sugar

 

Put everything into a food processor and blend until it is creamy and all the rosemary is finely chopped.

IMG_2385

Spread the tomatoes around the dish and top with the pepitas.  I used a variety of tomatoes.  I like the colors and dimensions that come from using a variety of different tomatoes.  This salad is best when served either warm or at room temperature.  This bright, colorful salad is a true representation of the Southwest, in both color and in flavor.  DELICIOUS!

IMG_2426

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

 

Still Doing Our Part

Since this whole pandemic crisis started, businesses, particularly small businesses, have really been feeling the pains of being indefinitely shut down and/or severely restricted.  So we have been doing our best to help our small local businesses at least once a week.  Plus we are enjoying our socially distanced dinners with our friends Janet and Bob as well.  So for us, it is most definitely a win/win situation.  We are doing our best to make the most out of these troubled times.

This time, we were sharing the love over empanadas from Rincon Argentino and wine. Empanadas de Rincon Argentino  We were actually supporting two local Boulder businesses, since the wine was from Bookcliff Vineyards, Bookcliff Vineyards in Boulder and the reason for the get together, not that we need one, was to retrieve our wines that Janet and Bob had picked up for us.  We are all wine club members at Bookcliff Vineyards, as well as InVINtions, A Creative Winery.  I brought over my leftover Southwest sweet potato and corn salad to go with the emapanadas Southwestern Sweet Potato Corn Salad and some cookies that we topped with ice cream for dessert.  The Southwest sweet potato and corn salad went very well with the empanadas.

The cookies were traditional British cookies I had made for my British puzzle and dinner series, London Calling but they did NOT turn out the way I wanted them too at all.  They tasted really good, but the cookies were flat as a pancake, and not fluffy like they were supposed to be.  I was not even going to mention them at all, BUT, I figured out how to make them better for next time, so I will share them then, when I make them again.  That’s what happens when I follow recipes.  Every time! But now I know what to do though, so there will be a next time, to be determined later, and you will get to try then at that time.

We ordered a variety of different emapanadas, and each of us had two different ones a piece.

IMG_2360

Of course, we had to have wine with dinner.  The Malbec, being a traditional Argentine wine, was our wine of choice for the evening.

IMG_2358

We got a variety of salsas to go with our empanadas.   We ordered a spicy chimichurri sauce, as well a salsa roja and a salsa verde.

IMG_2359

After finishing our emapnadas, and a bit of a rest, it was time for dessert.  We heated the cookies and served ice cream on top, along with a cuppa to complete the evening and the meal.  Everything was delicious, just as expected.  Yet again, another great dinner with great friends in the books.

IMG_2361

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

 

Nature Walks – More Ducklings

There are a lot more little ducklings around these days than there were earlier in the spring.  Like the goslings, I am seeing varying stags of growth for the ducklings, from the little babies to ones that are now getting older and more independent.  They are all just so darn cute though, it doesn’t really matter what their age.  I never get tired of seeing them, whether they are waddling on the grass or swimming alongside mom in the water.

In the beginning, it is just the two, out on the grassy knolls.

IMG_2094

And then the two become the many.  The babies are discovering the grass.

IMG_2340

IMG_2339

IMG_2342

IMG_2240

IMG_2241

 

 

 

On the waterfront.

 

IMG_2009

Mom and her babies out for a swim.

IMG_2095

IMG_2097

IMG_2098

Just playing around.

IMG_2203

IMG_2201

We’re outta here.

 

 

IMG_2246

See ya later.  ‘Til next time.

IMG_2204

 

 

Southwestern Sweet Potato Corn Salad

Sweet potatoes don’t seem to get near enough attention compared to their cousins, regular potatoes of many different colors.  I don’t know why either.  Sweet potatoes are very nutritious and are filled with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.  They are considered low glycemic and help, maintain blood sugar levels.  They are high in fiber, which helps with weight control.   And they are actually considered to be a super food.  Plus, they just taste really good.  So why wouldn’t people want to eat them more?  I don’t have the answer to that.  But I love sweet potatoes and try to incorporate them into our diet on a fairly regular basis.

When I made my Southwestern pork chops with the chiptole-peanut butter sauce,  Simple Southwestern Pork Chops I wanted a Southwestern side dish to accompany them.  My Southwestern sweet potato corn salad was a perfect match.  It’s sweet and spicy and cool and refreshing all at the same time.

IMG_2292

Southwestern Sweet Potato Corn Salad

IMG_2287

1 large red bell pepper, roasted, peeled and seeded

1 large jalapeno, roasted, peeled and seeded

3 lbs sweet potatoes, cubed

1 cup mayonnaise

3 TBSP hot honey mustard

1-2 tsp Tabasco sauce, or to taste

salt & pepper to taste

1 lb corn

1/2 cup green onions, sliced thin

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine

toasted pepitas, optional

 

Roast the bell pepper and jalapeno, either on an  flame or in the oven until they are completely blackened and charred.  Place them in a plastic bag to let them sweat, then peel away the charred skin.  Roasting Peppers

IMG_2288

IMG_2289

Cook the sweet potatoes until they are soft and tender, then drain and let cool.

As your sweet potatoes and peppers are cooling, make your sauce by blending all the other ingredients together well.

IMG_2290

Mix in the sweet potatoes, jalapeno, bell pepper and corn, and voila!  You now have a Southwestern potato salad.  Let chill for at least a couple of hours before serving, to let all the flavors really blend in together and pop.  I also topped mine with a few toasted pepita seeds.

I used my Sweet Heat Honey Mustard Bread and Jam which really brought the sauce to life.  Also, for salads I always use frozen corn vs. fresh corn on the cob.  I love corn on the cob, but for consistency’s sake, I find the frozen corn is best.

IMG_2293

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

 

 

 

Nature Walks – Flying in the Wind

I am seriously enjoying all my “Nature Walks” and from the feedback I get from all of you, it seems you are as well.  I just never know what I am going to see or if I am going to see anything at all.  But everyday, there is always something that just catches my eye and I just have to capture it on camera.  And more so than not, I can’t wait to share it with all of you as well.

The lakes were pretty quiet today, but I saw a lot of fun and colorful things flying in the wind.

This fun wind sculpture is out past the open space, in a community garden.

IMG_1889

IMG_1933

 

 

Egrets and pelicans flying free.

IMG_1929

IMG_2062

Flags of all colors.

IMG_2216

IMG_1968

Fun with a kite.

IMG_2302

IMG_2309

IMG_2308

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the most beautiful of them all ….

IMG_2217

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

 

 

Simple Southwestern Pork Chops

We always have our freezer full of a wide variety of meats.  Larry pulls stuff out and I never have any idea what he is going to pull out at the time, and then he lets me have free reign on how I want to cook and prepare things.  This time, he pulled out some pork chops.  Once I know what I am cooking, all I need to do from there is figure out how to cook it.  That’s when I start checking out what’s in my library to come up with something yummy and most often different.  This time the pork chops were prepared Southwestern style.  I LOVE the big, bold flavors of the Southwest.  Southwestern cooking is one of my favorite ways to cook.  I made chitpotle-peanut butter BBQ sauce for the pork.  It is a Southwestern sauce that is like an Asian satay sauce.  This sauce is very versatile and will also go very well with chicken or shrimp, or even just used as a sauce for vegetables too, if you like.   I like cooking themed meals whenever I can.  So, the Southwestern pork chops had a Southwestern sweet potato salad and corn on the cob to go with it, as well as a very smooth, fruity, velvety malbec.  Simple, yet delicious.

 

IMG_2298

Like most of my recipes, this one is made from simple, everyday items we all have in our pantries.  More so than not, simple is best.  At least for me, and especially when the temperatures and the mercury starts to rise.  I don’t want to be chained to my stove when I can be enjoying life outside.

Chipotle-Peanut Butter BBQ Sauce

IMG_2283

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky is fine

4 chipotle chiles, with sauce

1 TBSP Tabasco sauce, optional and to your taste

2 TBSP brown sugar

2 TBSP sherry wine vinegar

1 TBSP soy sauce

1 TBSP Dijon mustard

1/2 cup orange juice

1 TBSP dried onion

1-1/2 TBSP garlic

 

Put everything in a food processor and blend until you have a thick, creamy sauce.

IMG_2284

IMG_2285

Once this simple sauce is made, you can use it to marinate your favorite meats or as a dip for your vegetables.  I used it as a marinade for my pork chops.  I let them marinate for about 4 hours before grilling them up.  Once again, grilling is best for this recipe.  The fire from the grill accompanies the “fire” in the sauce perfectly.  Reserve some for the sauce for topping the meat once it is grilled too.

IMG_2286

IMG_2299

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