Hot time in the summertime…..

I made these today on a very hot summer day. I used a rotisserie chicken and jarred jalapeño peppers. It’s even easier and I think it tastes better! I added these changes to the recipe.The house did not heat up and I have leftovers for lunch!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

I made these the other day before that summer sun heated up my house. Of course, I forgot to take a picture! Don’t despair, this recipe was lovingly adapted from this Easy Chicken Enchilada recipe. Here’s a picture of them ready to be cooked!

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Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe is super easy. I often cheat and used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. If I have any leftover chicken, that goes right into the pan! You can make this as spicy or as mild as you’d like. This kind of meal doesn’t require a precise recipe, but some guidelines. I just eyeball the amount of chicken I use. You top the enchiladas with the remaining sauce. If you don’t think you have enough sauce to cover them, just add a splash of water or a little more of the cilantro base. The top is covered with cheese, so you don’t…

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Dark chocolate makes the very best…..broooowwwn-ies!

These are perfect for the Fourth of July cookout you’re having. Rich and delicious. Cut them in small squares.

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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The Baked Brownie

I somehow stumbled upon this fabulous Brooklyn bakery while cruising along online. I have several of their cookbooks. They are droolish-ish. I have made several things, all chocolate, and am very pleased with their recipes. So, chocolate you say? Well, my favorite chocolate is milk chocolate…..ummmm…semi-sweet chocolate.. errrrrrrr……white chocolate. Well, let’s say I love most chocolate but dark chocolate. Until now! The original brownie recipe calls for all dark chocolate, but I used a blend of dark and semi-sweet chocolate. I was scared of too much dark chocolate. Of all things to be afraid of…..this fear stopped me cold. What if I didn’t like these brownies after using 5 EGGS? I hate when things don’t come out right. I mentally calculate the wasted ingredients and mope. This is the first recipe that I can say, beats out any brownie mixes I’ve used. I’ve…

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Friends

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”

William Shakespeare

 

Well, thanks Bill but I don’t think it’s quite so nice and tidy. I’m not sure I have the talent or capacity for friendship. Friends are supposed to be those people that mirror our own character. People are supposed to be drawn together with common interests, history and common values. Please allow me to disagree.

I have been sitting here for weeks waiting for my friends to visit. I’ve thought long and hard. My friends are an odd lot. They are all around different. Let’s discuss.

I’ve had some moments of lapsed judgment in the friendship game. When I worked at the courthouse I befriended Miss Demeanor. I can’t be mad at her, she’s, um, indisposed…..for 5-10 years. Miss Adventure is off traveling. We met at the bookstore looking at travel and self help books. Maybe I should have bought a few travel books.  Miss Informed is off studying. She’s getting her umpteenth degree. We met at a grad school open house. I fell asleep. She’s studying in London. Miss Communicated has never understood anything I’ve said, not even when she was my boss. It’s like I’m speaking a different language. I told her I was home and she thought I said I was in Rome. Miss Shapen is off at the gym. She’s won’t miss a work out. We used to walk around the neighborhood. Well, I followed her around the neighborhood.  If I want to see her I have to get off the couch. Not happening this week. My oldest friend is my cousin, Miss Judge. She is an “ABC” kind of gal: assess, blame and criticize. It’s, apparently, my fault for having arthritis and needing surgery at a time that wasn’t good for her. Oh to be perfect!

All my friends will come around eventually. They are all good people who just are busy. I haven’t always been there for them, either. But when we do get together, it’s like no time has lapsed. Like Nietzsche said, “Love is blind; friendship closes its eyes”.

There are countless other friends, who are busy. So I will read my books and hang out with my book friends. I’ll search for the perfect item to knit my friends, dreaming of their gracious reactions. James Taylor will continue to sing to me and my new bestie, the UPS driver, will always stop by for a visit and bring me presents!

 

Minestrone Soup for me and you!

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Nothing warms the heart during the winter than a hot bowl of soup and a hunk of fresh bread with butter. I found this minestrone soup online last week. I don’t think I’ve ever made minestrone. We grew up on my mother’s vegetable soup. None of us can make it quite like she does. I do love the concept of vegetables and pasta together in a bowl. I make a lot of soups, but this one is the best. I changed the original recipe a bit. I love to tweak recipes.

I ordered some delicious dried Marcella beans online from Rancho Gordo a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure what to use them for until I read the label. It mentioned using them in a minestrone soup. Perfect! It all came together.  I followed the directions on their website to pre-cook the dried beans. They were very creamy. I tasted a small bowl with a sprinkle of salt and olive oil. They were very satisfying. For the minestrone you can absolutely use canned beans. You can save yourself the steps of pre-cooking.

I decided to cook the pasta in the soup to thicken it. I don’t like watery soups.I can’t decide if it’s because I like the texture of a thick soup or that I usually spill soup of my shirt. Maybe it’s both reasons!  You may choose to follow the directions of cooking the pasta separately. I would suggest cooking half in the soup and the other half in another pan, al dente. I think adding a Parmesan rind adds a creaminess to any soup. I freeze my rinds and sometimes even buy them at Whole Foods.

The original recipe has directions for making it in a crock pot or on the stove top. I don’t have a crock pot. I love using my Le Creuset Dutch ovens for soups. You may choose your methods.

 

Let’s get cooking!

 

1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained, rinsed (cannellini or navy)

32 oz. chicken broth or vegetable broth

2 tsp. olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 carrots diced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

28 oz. canned petite diced tomatoes

Parmesan cheese rind (optional)

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. dried basil

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ tsp. kosher salt and fresh black pepper

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach

1 1/2  cups small pasta like ditalini or elbows

extra Parmesan cheese for garnish

 

Puree beans in 1 cup of broth in a blender or food processor. You can mash them with a fork if you don’t have these pieces of equipment, and then add in the broth.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, mushrooms. Salt the vegetables lightly and saute them until tender, about 15 minutes. Don’t let the vegetables brown. You want them more translucent.

Add the remaining broth, tomatoes, beans, parmesan cheese rind, salt and pepper. Add the basil and parsley, cover and cook on low for 40 minutes. Add the zucchini and spinach, cover and simmer until the zucchini is tender. I add the uncooked pasta now and let it simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and parmesan rind and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked pasta if you are using any. Let the soup simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can all blend together.  Serve the soup with some extra Parmesan cheese on top! Enjoy!

 

 

Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I just threw this together in anticipation of snow. Baking before snow is my own tradition. I got the coffee brewing. I’m ready to hunker down!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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Raspberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I discovered this recipe years ago in a church fundraiser cookbook. I tried it on a whim and found that it is a hit wherever I bring it. During the Christmas season, I shape it as a candy cane or a wreath. Easy peasy. I’ve adapted it a little.

4 oz. of cream cheese

¼ cup of butter

2 cups of Bisquick

1/3 cup of milk

½ cup of seedless raspberry jam

1 cup of powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons of milk

½ tsp. vanilla extract

Let cream cheese and butter become room temperature. Cut the cream cheese and butter together. Add the Bisquick until the mixture is crumbly. I use a fork for all of this. Mix in the milk. Form the dough into a ball. Sprinkle some flour on your hands and the dough. Knead about 8 to 10 strokes. On a piece of…

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Learning is living

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I love the Boston Public Library. If you find yourself in Boston you need to visit. The physical structure is an architect’s delight. I love going into the Bates Room and looking at the rows of tables with green library lights. photo.JPG

The main stair case is beautiful marble. There are beautiful chandeliers throughout.

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It is a library lover’s happy place. Besides the physical presence, the library offers many services. You can check out their website, but let me tell you about something I just discovered.

Last year I upgraded from my eCard to an actual library card. You can apply for the eCard online and with it, you have access to all of their databases. There are certain requirements to get a library card, such as being a resident of Massachusetts. I’ve been more vigilant to read their emails and peruse their website. Recently I read about their online classes. I like to take online courses in areas that interest me, like writing, or may help me professionally, like Excel. I have relied on ed2go.com. They offer many different kinds of online classes for a cost. The Boston Public Library offers the same courses through the database GALE Courses for FREE!!! This is such an opportunity for continual education. I encourage you to check this out. If you’ve never taken an online course, this would be a great introduction. You don’t have to worry about your grades because there are none. This is all for you to continue learning. You should never be discouraged from learning.

 

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

John Dewey

American philosopher

A taste of Fall

Yesterday I celebrated Fall by making this bread. The house smelled wonderful. I find this quick bread tastes better after chilling in the fridge. I hope you try it. It’s been a family favorite for years!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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 Hot Applesauce Cake

Back in the day, people exchanged recipes on recipe cards. Sometimes the recipe cards were just plain old index cards and sometimes they were decorated. There were no food blogs, not many cookbooks, and only Julia Child on television. Friends and family exchanged recipes that had been handed down for generations. We learned to cook from the masters, our grandmothers and mothers. Today we use the Internet to find a new recipe, or to revisit an old. We have thousands of cookbooks to peruse, many food shows on TV that entertain and educate us. Cooking and food have become entertainment instead of just a way feed our families. I’m not much for food competition shows. I find them stressful. Cooking to me is relaxing and a way to express creativity and love. We have so many new foods to explore and new techniques to try. No longer…

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Cutlet out!

I searched my own blog for dinner ideas tonight. Three hungry men, almost 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs with boiled potatoes and corn…..are.all.gone. This really hit the spot. I loved the easy cleanup!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

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Chicken Cutlets with Quick Pan Sauce

This is a quick and delicious meal that looks elegant but is perfect for a weeknight meal. I serve it with Crispy Smashed Potatoes and steamed broccoli. It’s very quiet when the family eats this meal. Very.Quiet.

The original recipe calls for chicken cutlets, but I like to use skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are more flavorful than cutlets. You can often buy these thighs on sale. Buy several packages. Remove any extra fat, pound them to uniform thickness and toss them in the freezer. You can use these for a delicious Chicken Parmesan as well.

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs

salt and pepper

2 tbsp. olive oil

3 tbsp. butter

½ cut white wine

½ cup water or chicken stock

¼ chopped fresh parsley, or freeze-dried parsley, plus 2 tbsp. for garnish

1 lemon, juiced

Heat the…

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A tasty summer side dish

I made this tonight with Vidalllia onions. Its’ nice change from mayonnaise based salads. The vinegar and salt help soften the harshness of the onions and the sometimes bitter cakes. Try it!

Knosh and Knit: the world according to Nora

Cucumber Salad with Onions and Balsamic Vinegar

So many summer side dishes are filled with mayo and other fattening ingredients. Don’t get me wrong, I love them but sometimes you need tasty and low in calories. This cucumber salad fits the bill. This time of year the markets are brimming with Vidalias or Walla Wallas. This recipe is perfect for these onions. You can even double the amount of these because the recipe is written with red onions in mind. If you don’t have balsamic vinegar you can use only red wine vinegar. When you put the mixed salad in the fridge, the olive oil  may get thick. A few minutes on the counter will bring it back to a liquid form.

4 medium cucumbers

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 medium tomato, seeded and diced

½ cup of olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

½ tsp…

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Love is in the air and the tuition bill is in the mail…….

What a wonderful time of the year. Winter’s snow is gone; Spring visited for a day or two and Summer’s heat has already greeted us. But to me, the most wonderful undertaking is the season of high school graduations. My son, my last child, will be graduating soon. I have a mental checklist of “Lasts” and this almost completes it. College searches are long over and May deposits have already been cashed. Soon, we will be watching our sweet child marching up for his diploma. This makes my heart heavy and happy. There are no others behind him that will need my devoted attention and that’s okay with me. I’ve enjoyed raising all my children. I wouldn’t say we sacrificed anything, because that implies we went without, or missed out. They’ve enriched ours lives, and still do.

Having visited endless college campuses with various children, the college search often reminds me of finding your true love. Nowadays, the college search can last longer than some marriages. You innocently start looking for a college. There are many ways of initiating your knowledge about a school. You can hear about colleges through ads, friends, or guidance counselors. It’s such an emotional time that it is much like developing a love interest. What starts as a practical, fact-based process, soon becomes an emotional attachment like no other.

Much like dating, you meet online. This is window shopping at its finest. The college website entices you with dreams of grassy knolls, beautiful dorms, delicious food, gorgeous students and a secure future. Dating websites make similar promises of hope, happiness and a future. But neither can really guarantee the construction of a foundation for a lasting connection. In both instances, you are curious. You ponder deep questions, “Are you as wonderful as you appear?” You look for the good qualities, “Oh the buildings are beautiful and there are concerts on campus!!” The attraction builds.

Instead of meeting at a café for a speed date, you schedule “the” campus visit. It’s love at first sight. “He’s so tall and handsome.” to the college visit’s “Oh there are so many cute boys.” You’ve forgotten the practical and rely on your heart. In both cases, the attraction is superficial. You engage in a conversation, sharing thoughts. You tour the college, attracted to the new gym and dining hall. All things “new and shiny” are wonderful.

Next comes enlightenment. “You live with your mother?” and “You look nothing like your picture!” to the college love fest “It costs how much?” You suddenly start looking at your attractions in a different light. You ponder whether the initial information exchange is accurate and if you have a future for a growing number of reasons.

Finally, the commitment stage. Is there really a commitment, the understanding and sharing of values? “You don’t have a job?” to the college buzz kill “I have to take a math class?” You start looking more closely at both loves. He suddenly looks more like a paunchy, balding middle-aged man than a hunky romantic interest. Your dream college is situated outside of high crime housing projects and won’t guarantee you a dorm next year.

Harsh reality sets in. There is no real attraction. You don’t exchange phone numbers and give a full-body shudder as you part ways. Your “first college choice” has dropped to the “Only If They Give Me Money” list. You now know the difference between attraction and love. You are wiser. You are beyond falling for admissions cheerleading. You look beyond the student tours and notice what isn’t mentioned. You know love can be fleeting. Your “pro” and “con” lists grow. You start looking at state schools and re-evaluate your choice of majors. You know that you can make changes and take chances. Life is an adventure that needs to be taken. You’ve learned to look past the “something shiny” attractions and know what is worth exploring. Go learn and go love!