A Day At the Park

Larry’s company picnic was today. It was at a beautiful park in Northglenn. The park had a big lake where people could paddle around in the paddle boats, though there were no a lot of paddle boaters out on the lake today. There were lots of flowers, geese and ducks, and oh so much more too. There were about 20-30 people at the picnic. There was a wide range of BBQed items and typical picnic fare. Everyone had a good time, and most probably ate way too much good food. I was good though and only ate a little bit. Larry (and I) brought my herbed cream cheese and crab stuffed tomatoes. Herbed Cream Cheese and Crab Stuffed Tomatoes They were a big hit with everyone.

The park itself. I only took a few shots today, since I was only there for a short time, and I was visiting for most of that time. But it was an absolutely gorgeous park designed for a lot of good family fun. The theme of the park is to “be happy”. It was definitely a happy place to be too.

Can you believe these were the baby geese from not that long ago? Just look at how much they have grown. It won’t be long now, and they will be flying the coop too.

There were a few fun sculptures too. This one really caught my eye because of all the bright colors.

Have a Happy, safe 4th of July to all my American friends, and to Everyone, no matter where you call home, stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Herbed Cream Cheese and Crab Stuffed Tomatoes

Larry is having his company BBQ tomorrow and of course I was tagged to make something for him. All he said he wanted me to make was appetizers, with no guidance at all. I asked about a few things, but none of them were floating his boat, until I mentioned the herbed cream cheese and crab stuffed tomatoes. Then his eyes lit up and that was it.

You can use any kind of tomatoes you like, but just know that the smaller the tomato, the more difficult it will be to stuff. I chose Campari tomatoes. They are smaller than regular tomatoes but much larger than either cherry or grape tomatoes, which makes them the perfect size to stuff. For appetizers, the general rule is you want them to be bite sized or at most, 2 bite sized.

These are simple, quick and easy and only require a few basic ingredients.

2 containers of Campari tomatoes

1-2 tsp each fresh thyme, oregano, basil and chives, chopped fine

1 1/2 8 oz packages of soft cream cheese

3-4 oz lump crab meat minced

Remove the core and stem of the tomatoes, as well as some of the insides. I find my little strawberry corer is the best little tool for removing the stems and insides.

Whip the cream cheese and herbs together, using the whip or whisk attachment to your mixer, until smooth and creamy.

Use a pastry bag with a fluted tip and carefully pipe the cream cheese into the tomatoes. Fill them with as much cream cheese as they can hold.

Mince the crab and then sprinkle on top of the cream cheese mixture. I topped them with some minced chives. Serve these chilled. They will be a perfect starter for a picnic or BBQ on a hot summer’s day.

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

Coconut Lime Grilled Shrimp

I love shrimp any way I can get it. It is truly one of my most favorite foods. So I always get excited when I come across new recipes for shrimp. I even get excited when they are just variations of old recipes. Old recipes never die. They live to be cooked again and again.

This recipe for coconut lime grilled shrimp is so easy to make and it came out very good too. I served it over rice, that I topped with some of the remaining sauce and sauteed summer vegetables. It was a quick and easy lunch we shared with our friend Jonathan after church.

Coconut-Lime Grilled Shrimp

1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tsp lime zest

1 TBSP garlic

1/4 cup lime juice

1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped fine

1/3 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 soy sauce

1/3 cup fresh cilantro and/or lemon verbena.

Mix all the ingredients in the food processor until you have a liquidy paste. Then add the shrimp and marinate for about 1/2 hour in the refrigerator. I forgot to buy cilantro and I thought I had enough, but I did not. Fortunately though, I have a whole backyard filled with lemon verbena. So lemon verbena to the rescue.

When the shrimp is ready, carefully add it to the skewers and place them on the grill to cook. Cook them about 3-5 minutes per side, and flip them over so the shrimp all cook evenly.

Once the shrimp is cooked, serve it with your favorite side dishes, and you have a quick and easy summer meal. It was cool and refreshing and full of delicious citricy lemon-lime and coconut flavors.

Stay safe, sty well and enjoy your summer. ‘Til next time.

A Salad for the Season

Even though it is technically summer, it is a very pleasant, cool a day. My favorite kind of day too. But I still made a cool, refreshing salad for my women’s group meeting. I made a summer salad that was just perfect for the season.

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This colorful salad was loaded with all kinds of fresh, seasonal goodness, like blackberries, raspberries, red onions, green beans, baby spinach, goat cheese, bacon and toasted almonds. This salad is both colorful and nutritious. It was a big hit with all my guests too. As with all of my recipes, use what you like and forget the rest.

Summer Spinach and Fruit Salad

The Salad

1 lb fresh baby spinach, stems removed

1 basket of raspberries

1 basket of blackberries

4-5 pieces bacon, cooked and crumbled – I used pepper bacon

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

1/2 cup cooked green beans, cut into pieces about 1 inch in size

3/4 cup toasted almond slivers – I cooked mine in the bacon grease

4 oz, crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese

You can toss this salad all together or your can neatly arrange it all on a platter. I do both, it just depends on whether or not I am striving for a nice presentation or if I am just eating it on my own and the presentation is not necessary. I added the dressing right before serving it so the salad would not get soggy.

The Dressing

2 TBSP toasted sesame seeds

1 TBSP poppy seeds

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp dried minced onions

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup olive oil

black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. When you are ready to serve the salad, add the dressing and serve immediately.

This is a perfect summer salad that you can whip up in no time at all. It is full of color and is bursting with fresh good summer flavors. This will be a perfect crowd pleaser any time you serve it.

Stay well, stay safe and stay cool. ‘Til next time.

Painting At Tracy’s

My friend Suzanne invited some of us to go see her husband Bill play and sing at a fun little paint, craft and coffee shop called Tracy’s, in Arvada. It was a perfect way to enjoy the evening after a crazy fun time at the pool earlier. The Seals vs. the Dolphins While Bill was performing, my friends Suzanne, Albi and Shawna and I all decided to do a little painting while we were listening to Bill play. Larry was the photographer for the evening’s events.

Tracy’s has a little something for everyone. It has coffee, art, wine, snacks and now music and entertainment too. And Tracy’s was voted Best of the Best coffee shop in Arvada in 2020.

They even have their own special brew that was made especially for them.

Owners Jeff and Mary-Ruth Tracy, proudly displaying some of their awards, with more coming their way.

Just hanging with the Girls.

Tracy’s actually started as Tracy’s Place in August, 2016. It started with a dream that Mary-Ruth Tracy had. She wanted to create a space where people could gather, connect, and reconnect with their creative selves. Tracy’s Place was founded on being comfortable, cozy, and inviting. As planning began Mary-Ruth wanted to provide a launching pad for people to explore new art forms and hobbies. Knowing that it is expensive to do it at home. Business was booming and Tracy’s Place needed to grow, so in 2020, they moved into their new, larger “home” and just became Tracy’s.

Tracy’s offers painting classes as well as jewelry making classes. Or if you just want to sit and relax with either a cup of coffee of a glass of wine, this is the perfect place to do just that too.

Their motto is “Create what you want, when you want. [They] provide the tools and materials and you do the creating. You create and [they] clean up”.

This rolling garage door window was the selling point for both Jeff and Mary-Ruth, and they knew this was the place for them. The painting on the ceiling was a family affair, and you can just feel the love and creativity that went into painting it.

We all decided to paint and we all did something different. Albi was painting Yoda for her granddaughter.

Shawna is hard at work perfecting her craft.

Suzanne and are I are hard at work creating our masterpieces as well. I choose to paint something that is 100% me! You will soon see the finished results. Obviously, none of us will be setting the art world ablaze with our talents, but we all had a good time and that’s all that really matters.

And Voila …. Our finished pieces. We are done.

I choose a beach scene as seen through a wine glass. Larry said my seas were a little rougher than the seas in the picture I used as my inspiration. Oh well, I am not afraid of few rough seas. 🙂

If you prefer trying your hand at jewelry making instead of painting, they offer classes for that too. One of these ladies is Mary-Ruth’s mom and the other lady is her best friend. They were hard at work beading some jewelry pieces.

They also sell what they make at Tracy’s too.

So if you are looking for something a little different and creative, go check out Tracy’s. I am sure they can help you find your creative side and you just may end up having more fun than what you thought too. 🙂

Tracy’s is located at 8770 Wadsworth Blvd, Unit F, in Arvada, CO, off the SE corner of Wadsworth. You can fine them online at http://www.tracysplc.com, or on Facebook or you can call them at (720) 476-4431.

The Seals vs. the Dolphins

We had another duel in the pool, this time with the Louisville Dolphins. We were concerned about time constraints since they are a big team and we are as well. As it turns out though, time constraints were the least of our worries. Mother Nature had other plans in store for us.

We had only completed a little over 1/2 of the meet when the skies turned dark gray and the storm rolled in. We had to call the meet, and whoever was ahead at that time was declared the winner of the meet. We had no choice. It would have been way to dangerous to keep swimming with all the thunder and lightening all around. Always, safety first. My Seals did not win this meet, although it was pretty. We all had fun though, and that is really all that matters. The Dolphins were worthy “adversaries” and in the end, they out swam us.

My coaches and myself showing our team spirit. The kids went to the party store and picked up all this fun gear. They said my hair was the new do for me, and that style was what they specifically chose for me. I like the new look. What do you think? Is it me?

selfie seals sea lion marine life seal poster  Lucia image 0

Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo & The Chicago Zoological Society

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

Red Chili Onion Rings

Sometimes you think about something, and then you just have to have it. That’s how it was with me the other day. I was craving some onion rings and just had to make some. We don’t eat them all that often, but every now and then, they just start calling out to me. I saw a new recipe that sounded really good that I needed to try. They are spiced with red chili seasoning and spices. I served them atop my orange-rosemary pork chops. Rosemary & Orange Pork Chops

These onion rings are a lighter version with less breading and coating on them than a lot of other variations. The flavor on the onions rings was really good, but I guess I am a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to my onion rings. I prefer more coating and breading them than these had. This is a very easy problem to fix though. All I need to do is to dip them in in a little buttermilk first, and then coat them with the flour and seasoning mixture next time. Perfect Light and Crispy Onion Rings.

Red Chili Onion Rings

2-3 large white onions, peeled and sliced into thick rings

3-4 cups vegetable oil for frying

2 1/2 TBSP chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1 /2 cups flour

Mix all the ingredients together and place in a plastic bag. Then add the onion rings and shake well to completely coat them. If you like them with more coating, like I do, skip this step, and completely coat them with a buttermilk mixture, then coat them with the flour mixture.

In either a deep fryer or a deep skillet, heat the vegetable oil until it reaches 325* F or about 170* C. Then carefully add the onion rings into the hot oil and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until they turn a nice golden brown in color.

Drain the onion rings on a paper towel and add more salt if so desired. Serve them up and eat them immediately. These do not taste nearly as good when they are cool or reheated. They are best when eaten HOT, HOT, HOT!

This coating is also good on shrimp as well, to make some good Cajun popcorn shrimp. You can also use it to coat a variety of vegetables too, such as mushrooms broccoli, carrots, yams or cauliflower. As I am always telling you, don’t be afraid to play with your food. Who knows, you may end up having more fun than you think and you’ll be amazed at the results. 🙂

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

Rosemary & Orange Pork Chops

Maybe because it is summer, and summer and oranges just go together so well, but lately, I have really been in an orangy kind of mood. I have been making a lot of foods with orange. And I just did so once again for dinner last night.

I made a spicy range sauce and marinade for my pork chops, which gave them a little south of the border flair. They had a hint of both sweet and spicy, and were simply delicious. I served it over wild rice with my leftover black beans Cubano style that I used for , and made some light onion rings to go with the pork as well. Chicken Kebabs with Garlic Jalapeno Mustard Vinaigrette, Fajitas y Frijoles

Orange Rosemary Pork Chops

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 TBSP brown sugar

1 tsp garlic

1/4 cup orange juice

2 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped fine

1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste

1 tsp spicy orange powder

3-4 pork chops, about 1-1 1/2 inches thick.

Mix all the ingredients together well and marinate the pork chops for at least 3-4 hours before cooking. Then grill up the pork chops until they are completely cooked. This marinade also goes very well with lamb too.

Of course I served this dish with wine. I went with a cool, crisp chardonnay because it is summer time, and I drink a lot more white wine in the summer than I drink red, but a pinot noir or a Malbec, or any other lighter red wine would do just fine as well.

Stay safe, stay well and stay cool. ‘Til next time.

Mediterranean Steak Salad with Caper Vinaigrette

Once again, our Colorado weather is all over the place. Yesterday, it was another very hot day, which was yet another perfect day for a cool, healthy and delicious salad. This time, we had some left over steak, which I used to create a Mediterranean steak salad. I made a caper vinaigrette to dress it up. The dressing had just the right amount of tanginess to really make the salad pop and come to life.

This salad is very colorful and was loaded with all kinds of vegetable goodness. It was so cool and refreshing and just hit the spot.

Caper Vinaigrette

4 tsp capers, drained

3 TBSP lemon juice

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

4 tsp Dijon Mustard

1 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp sugar

2 TBSP fresh herbs, chopped fine – This time, I used lemon verbena rom my yard and thyme

Blend everything together well and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

The Salad

1 head Romaine lettuce

1 1 /2 lbs rare cooked beef, sliced into thin strips

3/4 lb green beans, blanched, chilled and cut into pieces about 1 inch in size

1/4 red onion, sliced very thin

1 cup sliced mushrooms

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

1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and cut in 1/2

cheese, optional

dry roasted pepita seeds, optional

I arranged my salad as a beautifully composed salad on the plate, and then added the sliced beef on top. Larry likes cheese on his salads and I do not, so I always make them both with and without cheese.

Because it was a salad, and the weather was so hot, I opted for a cool, crisp chardonnay. But a lighter pinot noir or rose would have gone very well with this salad too. And to balance everything out, I added a nice toasted sesame seed bun on the side.

Yesterday, was hot and it was a good salad day. Today, the weather is considerably cooler, which means I will be coming up with something other than a salad for dinner tonight. Go figure. This is so typical this time of year. 🙂

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

Fun Wine Facts

Since wine and food are partners in life, and I love to share fun food facts with with you, More Fun Food Facts I think it is only fitting that I share some fun wine facts with you as well. You also know how much I love my wines too. Good wine and good food are two of my favorite things in life, and it is even better when shared with good friends or loved ones.

  1. Grapes are the most planted fruit in the world. And a large portion of those grapes goes into making wines from all over the world.
Bordeaux Grapes On Vines In French Vineyard Medoc Stock Photo - Image of  grapevine, beautiful: 161774576

2. In order to make 720 bottles of wine, you need 1 ton of grapes.

Who much wine do you get out of a ton of grapes? | Italian wine, Wine  vineyards, Italy wine

3. To quench their thirst, people drank wine instead of water centuries ago. During that time, water wasn’t clean all the time, and natural fermentation, when the wine is made, could kill germs caused by typhi (salmonella) and cholera.

History of wine - Wikipedia

4. During the early Roman times, it was forbidden for women to drink wine. Wives who were caught by their husbands drinking wine could be killed if caught in the act. All I can say to this is thank God I am NOT living in the times of the Ancient Romans. I would have been killed a LONG time ago!

Newsweek AMPLIFY 30 Fun Facts About Wine

5. In ancient Greece, the host of dinner would take the first sip of wine to assure that the wine served to guests wasn’t poisoned. The act of courtesy was where the phrase “drinking to one’s health” originated.

The Cycle of Wine: Wine Goes Back to Original Form

So drink up. Drink the nectar from the Gods and drink in good health. A Votre Sante! Salud! Slainte! Cheers! To your health!

Stay safe, stay well and don’t forget to drink your wine. ‘Til next time.