Nature Walks – April Showers Bring May Flowers

Right now I am looking out the window and my view is grey, cloudy, overcast and rainy. They say April showers bring May flowers, and I totally agree. Lately we have had a lot of showers. In fact, the weather statistics are showing that this is going down as one of our wettest months. But because of all these showers, we have some bright, beautiful, colorful flowers all around, and on days like today, when it is grey and cloudy, I appreciate all these beautiful flowers even more.

Have a beautiful and colorful day.


Nature Walks – The Turtles Are Out

We have two kinds of turtles that live in our lakes. We have the bigger snapping turtles and we have the smaller red-eared sliders. When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, I see a lot of turtles out basking in the sun. When the skies are grey and the weather is cooler, they tend to stay “indoors” more.

Red-Eared Slider

The Snapping Turtles really look like something leftover from the prehistoric days.

Look. He’s smiling for the camera.

My turtles are saying it’s time to come out of your shells and enjoy the beautiful days ahead.

Southwestern Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

Larry was in the mood for shrimp again, but he wasn’t really sure how he wanted them prepared, other than he wanted them bacon wrapped and for me to use some of our roasted hatch green chilies. So I created this delicious recipe on the spot, making it up as he was calling out what he wanted. Fortunately, I have years and years of experience of thinking on the fly, so this wasn’t as daunting as you may think.

I served the shrimp over a bed of rice and corn with some green beans on top, and of course a dry white wine on the side. Larry’s was topped with feta cheese. I opted for just some roasted pepita seeds on mine.

Southwestern Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

1 1/2-2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili lime seasoning

1 tsp corriander

1 TBSP garlic

red pepper flakes to taste

2 TBSP lime olive oil, optional

2 TBSP olive oil

1/4 cup chopped roasted Hatch green chilies

1 lb bacon

Mix all the wet ingredients and spices together and let the shrimp marinade for about 15-30 minutes.

While the shrimp is marinating, cut the bacon in half and par cook it. Bacon takes longer to cook than shrimp and no one wants to eat raw bacon. Cook it for about 5-7 minutes, or just until it starts to lightly brown. If it is cooked too much, you will not be able to work with it. You want the bacon to still be pliable and soft.

Once the bacon is ready, lightly spread a little of the chopped Hatch green chilies on the bacon, then carefully warp it all around the shrimp and skewer them up to put on the grill.

When the shrimp is all skewered, pour the rest of the marinade over them, then grill them on a hot grill for about 5-7 minutes or until the shrimp and bacon are cooked, turning them over at the half way point.

Each bite will have a little sweet shrimp with the salt of the bacon and just a hint of heat from the chilies. Heat the marinade up and bring to a boil, then pour over the cooked shrimp. Delicious!

You can serve these over anything you like, such as pasta or rice and beans. You can even serve them with steak or chicken on the side for a Southwestern surf and turf too. They are quick and easy-peasy and I promise you’re going to love them. You can also do the same thing with chicken or salmon bites for something a bit different as well.

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – More Barn Swallows

I am just so intrigued by the brightly colored and beautiful little barn swallows. They are here for the season and I see them all over the place. I love their vibrant blue and rust and tan hues. As with all my other birds lately, I am seeing more and more of these beautiful little birds all around our lakes, and I love it.

Have a great day and make everyday great. ‘Til next time.

Chinese Chicken Salad

You would think with a name like “Chinese Chicken Salad” that this delicious salad was a Chinese recipe from China. But no. Instead, it was created by famous Chef, Wolfgang Puck, in the 1980’s. It was one of his many creations featured at his restaurant, Chinois. Since then, it’s popularity has grown and spread and you can find a version of a “Chinese Chicken Salad” just about anywhere.

My version is closely related to Chef Wolfgang’s, but as usual, I have added my own personality to it. I loaded it up with all kinds of Asian vegetables, oranges, and fried wonton strips. I like a lot of different flavors, colors and textures in my foods, especially in my salads. Just like with anything, there are always many different versions. When it comes to cooking, there is NEVER just one way to make something, so make it how you like it.

Chinese Chicken Salad

My dressing was also my marinade for my chicken. I marinated the chicken for about 4 hours before grilling it. It came out so tender and juicy and just full of flavor too.

The Dressing/Marinade

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

3 TBSP ginger

3 TBSP sugar

1 TBSP chili garlic sauce

1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/2 cup olive oil

2-3 TBSP orange balsamic vinegar

2-3 TBSP juice from canned Mandarin oranges

Whisk everything together and set aside. I also marinated my chicken in the same dressing too.

The Salad

1/2 cup canned Mandarin orange segments

2 lbs chicken breast

1/4 head Napa cabbage, shredded

2 heads Romaine lettuce, or mixed baby greens

1 red bell pepper cut into thin matchsticks

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

6 green onions, sliced thin

1/3 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained

1/3 cup baby corn, cut into pieces

1 carrot, sliced very thin or shredded

1/4 cup peanuts, chopped fine

2-4 wonton wrappers sliced into strips

oil for frying the wonton strips

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped fine

Layer your salad adding all of these delicious ingredients. You can make this ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator until ready to eat.

Cook or grill the chicken until done, then slice into thin strips and add to your salad.

Get a skillet very hot with about 3-4 TBSP of oil. Then add the wonton strips and fry. These will only take a couple of minutes to brown up. Once browned, remove them from the oil and drain on a paper towel until ready to use.

Add the cooked and sliced chicken to the top of the salad. Add your dressing, then top with the cilantro, green onions, chopped peanuts and fried wonton strips.

DELICIOUS!!! You’ve got all kinds of vegetables and a hint of sweetness from both the oranges and the dressing. You’ve got salt from the soy sauce. And you’ve got some crunch from both the peanuts and the wonton strips. This salad has it all. It definitely has a little something for everyone. You could substitute salmon or shrimp too if you want to make this salad a seafood salad. As I always say, play with your food. Be creative. And as Wolfgang Puck would say, “Live, Love, Eat”.

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – I Just Love All The Goslings

Believe it or not, my goslings are already starting to get big. They grow up so quickly these days. 🙂 I thought I should share some more pictures of my precious little goslings before they are all grown up and fly the coup.

Mommy and/or daddy are never far from their babies. There are lots of family outings and activities.

It’s hard being so darn cute. I’m sleepy now.

Have a great day and make everyday great. ‘Til next time.

Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins

I try my best to give a wide variety of goodies on my weekly coffee cart. And I try my best to have a something for everyone too. And I do take requests. Most people do not actually request anything and are happy with being surprised at what I bring. However, that being said, I did have a request for some lemon cream cheese muffins that I provided on Mother’s Day. You know, it was a request that “was just asking for a friend”. 🙂

I had been sent a picture of what was wanted, but no recipe. No recipe, no problem. I did a little online research and found the exact recipe that had been requested.

Lemon Cream Cheese Muffins

Preheat the oven to 425* F or 220*C.

Line muffin or mini muffin pans with cupcake liners.

Streusel Topping

1 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

6 TBSP melted butter

Combine all the ingredients together and mix together with your hands or a pastry cutter until it resembles sand. Set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling

1 cup softened or whipped cream cheese

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon extract

When making something like this, I prefer using the whipped cream cheese. I find it is easier to work with and everything mixes together better. But that is just me. Either one works just fine. Add all the ingredients together and combine well. Set aside.

The Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 TBSP lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon extract

2/3 cup yogurt

2 TBSP lemon juice

Combine all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing in between. Add the vanilla and lemon extract and mix again. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and mix, then half the yogurt, and mix, then repeat until it is all added to the batter.

Fill the baking cups to about 1/2 full. Add a dollop of the cream cheese filling to the center, then add a little more batter to fill the baking cups to about 2/3 full. Top with the streusel topping.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden and the centers are set. Let cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan. Share with friends and enjoy.

Needless to say, these were a huge hit. And the friend asking for a friend, was very happy indeed. 🙂

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – Lunch Break

Usually when I see my pelicans, they are leisurely swimming around in the lakes. But this time, I guess it was lunch time, and they were diving for fish on their lunch break. At first, I only saw one, then a little later, some friends had joined him so they could all dine together. They looked like they were thoroughly enjoying their lunch too. 🙂

Lunch for one.

Can I add a small side salad with my order please?

Lunch with friends.

Lunch is always better when enjoyed with friends.


Ophelia’s was the last of the restaurants from the Edible Beats Group that we had yet to try. And now we have completed the L.O.V.E.R.’s list of five, at least Janet, Bob, Larry and I have. A Trip To Linger; The Birthday Party Mike, Lauren, Marc and Wendy all have some catching up to do. We have all volunteered to help them along on their journey too. 🙂

The L.O.V.E.R.’s restaurants are:

L – Linger – formerly Olinger’s Mortuary

O – Ophelia’s – former brothel

V – Vital Root – vegetarian restaurant with plants growing on the walls

E – El Five – you have to take the elevator to the 5th floor to get to the restaurant

R – Root Down – former gas station

Each of these restaurants is truly unique. Their buildings all have an interesting story too. Ophelia’s has always had a colorful past, once being a brothel in 1894. Then it was turned into a peepshow place, and then an adult video library. Today it is a restaurant, bar and entertainment venue. Today it is known as a restaurant with delicious food and a sexy vibe. It is also still operating as a hostel and a hotel on the upper floors.

Larry and I had visited Ophelia’s before, as part of Open Doors Denver, that is a walking tour of interesting and unique buildings in Denver, but we had never eaten there before, until now.

We went in celebration of both Bob and Wendy’s birthdays and Mother’s Day. There were eight of us who were enjoying this unique dining experience together – Marc, Wendy, Mike, Lauren, Bob, Janet and Larry and I.

As you would expect with a restaurant with such a colorful past, the decor inside was just as colorful and unique. Because this is a family friendly post, there are some pictures that I can’t share, but the displays of it’s wild past are still present today too. The bathrooms were all decorated with old, colorful yard sticks. I just love how creatively repurposed everything is. It just goes to show that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

As always, when we get a big group together, we sampled many delicious and interesting dishes. We started off with a variety of different appetizers that we all took a few bites of as they were passed around the table. We all nibbled on the fried cornbread with marmalade,

grilled plantains with cilantro pesto,

giant pretzels with cheese sauce,

and cheese curds with fried pickles.

There was just enough for all of us to try a little bit of everything, without filling up too much before our entrees came. Which was a good thing, because the portions are huge.

Janet and I each had a tropical drink made with blue curacao.

After the nibblies, it was time for the main courses to come. They were just as varied as the appetizers.

We had two kinds of pizza,

a risotto salad,

a snow salad,

chicken fried chicken topped with a fried egg,

and some crispy chicken sandwiches scattered around the table.

As you can see, the portions are large, but when everyone is sharing little bits of this and that, and food is being passed around the table, it all disappears quickly. We were all having a good time, swapping fun stories and lots of laughs too.

You would think with all this good food we would be totally full. And we were too, but that didn’t stop us from getting a couple of desserts as well. We were, after all, celebrating. The desserts too were passed around, so no one was eating them all by themselves. We enjoyed the churros with caramel sauce and the apple pie ice cream cookie.

At the end of the evening we were all very full and very satisfied. We all shared a lot of good food, a lot of good laughs and a lot of fun friendships and love. It was definitely a fun evening.

Ophelia’s is located at 1215 20th Street, Denver, CO. I would definitely call for reservations, either for dinner, especially if in a group, or for the entertainment. Their number is (303) 993-8023. You will definitely be in for a truly unique evening, filled with all kinds of unexpected pleasures.

Life is always lived best when shared with friends. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you lovely ladies out there. Even if are only a mother figure or a fur mom, you are still a mom and you still deserve to be celebrated for all the wonderful thigs that you do everyday. I am a fur mom. I have always had a houseful of fur babies, but no actual two-legged children. But I am still Mom to (currently) Juneau, Otis and Nicodemus. They are my babies and I love them just like any other mom would love her two-legged children.

I have been giving roses to all the lovely ladies I come into contact with for years, whether in the restaurants I have worked in, or when I was teaching water aerobics, or the ladies in church. Today was no different. I bought about 8 dozen long stem roses and handed them out to all the ladies in church today. The roses we had leftover were taken to a local nursing home and given to all the lovely ladies there. I am sending all of you lovely ladies a virtual rose as well.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you lovely ladies. I hope you have a very special day filled with love and appreciation for all that you do.

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