Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Stony Brook State Park

This year, our 8th wedding anniversary day trip took us to Stony Brook State Park. Located in Dansville, NY, this park is a great spot for nature walks, swimming, picnics or camping (if that's your thing). We spent a gorgeous Saturday afternoon hiking the (rather steep) forest trail, up above the gorge. 


We were surrounded by tall trees and peaceful nature. Such a welcomed change of scenery. 

I couldn't wait to walk along/in the gorge. I remember camping at Stony Brook with my church youth group when I was about 11. There were sections of rock carved out and smoothed by the water that you could slide down like a water slide. There's even a large "pool" at the start where you can swim.

Each section has a waterfall (I think there are 4).

Just beautiful. 

I love our little "adventures" together. I think it only cost $7 to park for the day. There were a TON of people, kids, families and dogs - all trying to cool off and enjoy the summer weather.

Definitely a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle and breathe in God's beautiful creation. Especially with the one you love.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Homemade Pesto with Shrimp and Pasta

Having a food processor has changed the way I cook. I can now make recipes that I couldn't before. My regular blender just didn't cut it (literally) and doesn't have the same chopping/pureeing power as a food processor. 

This week I made pesto for the first time. It was both easy and delicious. There are so many ways to use pesto - mix it with pasta, spread it on sandwiches or panini's, use it as a dip for bread, put it in salads, or make it with chicken. The possibilities are endless. 

Traditionally it's made with pine nuts, but I used slivered almonds instead (which were a fraction of the price). It gave it a nice texture and I hardly noticed the difference. 

2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 - 2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil (depending how thick you want it)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese 
1/4 cup slivered almonds
salt to taste

Add all ingredients to food processor and pulse until desired thickness. Add more olive oil as needed. Use immediately or store in refrigerator. May need to add olive oil after refrigeration. 

That's all there is to it! I made the beautiful pasta dish pictured above with:
half of the pesto
spinach leaves
1 small tomato (diced, skin removed)
cooked shrimp
Girelle pasta (or other textured cut that can hold sauce)
a sprinkling of feta cheese
chopped fresh parsley

A delicious fresh summer meal!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

One Mean Quiche

I like to make quiche for breakfast on Saturdays. Today's recipe was probably the best one I've ever made. I had a couple of unusual ingredients on hand, so I made a few adjustments, which turned out to be especially delicious. I even used my scalloped "tart" pan, which baked wonderfully and made a beautiful "crust" edge. You can find my regular favorite quiche recipes here and here. But if you want to kick it up a notch, here's what I did.

5 eggs
1 cup of sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup Bisquick baking mix
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup diced ham
1 cup baby spinach (rough chop)
3/4 cup chopped broccoli floretts 
1/4 cup leaks diced and sauteed in a little olive oil for a couple minutes to soften (you could use onions instead)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together eggs, both milks, Bisquick, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, toss together cheese, ham, spinach, broccoli and leaks. Spread tossed ingredients into the bottom of a greased (sprayed with cooking spray) 11 inch tart/flan pan (or large deep dish pie plate). Pour liquid into pan and distribute evenly, pressing vegetables down. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown. Rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Paper Treat Pouch

Raise your hand if you're addicted you like Pinterest. Raise your hand if you pin more projects than you actually do. Now, raise your hand if sometimes you actually try a Pinterest project and it turns out to be, in fact, as easy and wonderful as it looked. This cute little paper craft was one of those projects. You can put your hands down now.

I don't know what it is about sewing paper, but it makes me giddy. Like when I sewed Christmas cards and Valentines. I just love combining thread with paper. 

I made a bunch of these little triangular pouches as favors, filled with pieces of saltwater taffy, for a ladies luncheon that I hosted. I also went through a saltwater taffy addiction. Cute sewn paper pouches AND candy. It was a lethal combination. My favorite flavors are orange creamsicle, cappuccino, and butter popcorn. Weird, I know.

All you need is:
scrapbook paper (mine were 6.5 by 5 inches)
double sided tape
sewing machine
frilly scissors

Look at that cute little paper edge. Adorable.

I found the idea here with excellent directions.

Cut your paper to size. Make it into a cylinder (like a toilet paper tube) and tape it together. Pinch one end and sew it across. Fill with candy. Pinch the other end in the opposite direction (making it triangular) and sew it closed. Trim the edges with decorative scissors.

That's it! You can make a whole bunch of them for a party, bridal shower, or birthday celebration, in no time. The paper can match your theme. Add stickers. Make large ones to hold more candy, or even wrap a small gift.  

And, if you're my age, this shape might also remind you of those triangular popsicle icey treats from the cafeteria in elementary school. Who remembers those?   

Friday, July 5, 2013

Father's Day Surprise Visit

On our drive back from NYC, which happened to be Father's Day, we made a surprise visit to see Andrew's parents in PA. Laura and the girls (from Ohio) had actually surprised them on Friday, and David was there, too. It turned out to be a very special father's day. I'm pretty sure there were a few tears of joy. We arrived just in time to have dinner as a family. 
And we got to celebrate David's birthday! 

I think it goes without saying that Denny was a very happy Dad. 

We got to see our niece, Sydney, who is growing into such a sweet young lady. 

And our niece, Morgan, an adorable little cutie pie, who always makes us laugh. 

Even though we were there for less than 24 hours, is was so much fun surprising everyone and getting to see each other. And, we were able to snap a great family photo (we're just missing Aaron).

NYC 2013 Part 2

On day two in New York City, we got up early to find some place to have breakfast. We ate at Sweet Life Cafe in Greenwich Village. The perfect little spot to start the day with coffee, eggs and french toast. 

While walking, we wandered through a small park in the middle of the street with a waterfall, gardens and benches. It's unusual and refreshing to see little havens of greenery surrounded by buildings and concrete. 

After checking out of our hotel, we headed to Prospect Park in Brooklyn for the second half of our day, and visited the Prospect Park Zoo

Just in time to see the sea lions do tricks and have their lunch. 

It's a small zoo with quite a few animals. The most interesting were the baboons. I got to watch them up close on the other side of the glass. 

Best of all, there's a petting zoo area. My trip to the zoo wouldn't be complete without it! My favorite were the babydoll lambs. So. Cute. 

They had turtles, exotic birds, monkeys, reptiles, prairie dogs, even a dingo. They also had a garden with really cool iron sculptures. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon. 
After that, we wandered around looking for something to eat. We circled the block and happened upon the Prospect Park Food Truck Rally - our lucky day! 

There were some really good options. Our pick was a selection of empanada's (chicken, pork, mushroom and spinach) and a raspberry lemonade ice tea slushy - it was goooood.

After a wonderful whirlwind couple of days, filled with memorable sights, we were exhausted and it was time to leave the city. We couldn't have asked for better weather or a nicer weekend. 

I still love New York.