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Salad Serving Set

Salad serving set, salad serving set, salad serving set — say it real fast three times. Okay, that one is not as hard as Sally sells seashells by the seashore, but it is about something I treated myself to recently.

Beaded salad serving setA few months ago at the farmers’ market I enjoy attending the most in our area, I talked to a woman whose booth was full of cute gifty items like imprinted napkins and beautiful serving pieces. She beads and decorates them and does the personalized napkin imprinting herself.

Blue is my favorite color. I have some antique cobalt blue glass items that I just love and when I saw this gorgeous salad spoon and fork beaded in cobalt blue beads, I was feeling that happy shopping place feeling. But I didn’t get them the first time I saw them because we are, like everyone else we know, cutting back on the spending. Then after I got home, I decided I really wanted them. So, of course, the next few times I went to the farmers’ market she wasn’t there and I was really kicking myself for not getting them. But, happy day, she was there last Saturday and I am now the proud owner of this gorgeous salad serving set.

Each piece is about 10″ long and the set was only $29. I do have another beautiful set given to me by a friend, but they are most definitely Christmas in design and, as much as I love Christmas, I can’t bring myself to use them throughout the year.

Our salads may not be any more nutritious, but it sure is more fun serving them!

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What’s Cookin’ – Zucchini Bread

The zucchini in gardens and on farms is abundant and beautiful right now and just begging to be baked into something wonderful. Another one of my favorite recipes from mom is Zucchini Bread, which I have updated to be lower in calories. It’s still moist and dense and tastes fantastic!

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs, well beaten

1 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 cups sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3 tsp. vanilla

3 cups flour

2 cups raw grated zucchini

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Grease and flour 2 loaf pans (5x9x4″). Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.

Or you can get about 24 muffins out of this recipe. Bake at 350 for approximately 18-20 minutes.

Zucchini

Zucchini

Notes: If you have a food processor, grating the zucchini with the shredding disc is really fast, although a hand grater works just as well. While I haven’t tried this on my mandoline, this would be another good option.

The original version of this recipe called for 1 cup of vegetable oil. Although it is very delicious, in order to lower the calories I substituted 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce. You can also use both, i.e., 1/2 cup oil plus 1/2 cup applesauce or 1/4 cup oil plus 3/4 cup applesauce. But here’s a shocking fact … the calories in 1 cup of vegetable oil is 1,879 — the calories in 1 cup of unsweetened applesauce is only 100!

We normally use chopped walnuts, although pecans or another type of nut you like would be just as good. I’ve also made it without nuts and it’s great, too.

Personal note to mom: My original recipe card is from you, in your handwriting, yellowed and covered in grease spots. It’s perfect! Thanks for all the great recipes!!!

What’s Cookin’ – Stuffed Bell Peppers

The gorgeous red bell peppers from the farmers’ market made delicious Stuffed Bell Peppers. I’ve taken several different versions and tweaked them into this recipe that everyone seems to enjoy.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

1 cup long grain white rice

2 cups water

cooking oil

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound lean ground hamburger (ground turkey or chicken would also be good)

salt and pepper

1 – 26 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

4 large or 6 medium bell peppers (red and yellow are our favorites – mild and sweet)

1 cup shredded cheese (we use colby jack)

Directions:

Place rice and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes. When the rice is done, remove from heat and leave the lid on until time to add to the hamburger mixture.

In a large skillet, heat oil (I use extra virgin olive oil). Add onion and garlic, saute. Add hamburger, season with salt and pepper, cook until browned.

Melon Baller

Melon Baller

While onion, garlic and hamburger is cooking, wash and prepare peppers for stuffing. Cut peppers in half lengthwise, cut out stems and scrape out white membranes and seeds. (I have found the easiest way to do this is with a melon baller. They’re small, round and sharp and it goes much faster.) Place pepper shells, cut side up, in a large baking dish.

Once the hamburger is done, drain any grease. Stir in the cooked rice and the spaghetti sauce. Add a little hot water to the spaghetti sauce jar and shake it to get every last bit – put this in the hamburger mixture as well.

Spoon the hamburger mixture into the pepper shells. (I use a Pampered Chef Large Scoop for this.) Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle grated cheese over the peppers and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I have found that you can sneak other vegetables in, too. I like to chop mushrooms and saute them with the onion and garlic. This dish serves 4 to 8, depending on size of appetite. Hubby eats 2 pepper halves, I eat one at a sitting. They taste really good reheated, too, which is a bonus.

Saturday Chat

A booth at the farmers' market

A booth at the farmers' market

We had a big thunderstorm Friday evening with lots of lightning. The rain smells wonderful and cooled things off a bit. The high temperature today is only supposed to be 98 degrees, which is an 11 degree drop from yesterday. Went to one of our favorite farmers’ markets this morning. Have to support the local farmers and get great fresh produce!

Farmers' market buys

Farmers' market buys

Got some nice vegetables. Planning to make stuffed bell peppers next week and found some beautiful red ones. Going to do an herb roasted chicken with roasted veggies for hubby’s birthday dinner tomorrow. It’s one of his favorites. Got russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, baby bell peppers, onions and mushrooms to roast. We’ll also be doing one of the cholesterol laden southwestern breakfasts he loves in the morning with maple bacon, eggs, a pot of pinto beans, tortillas and, yes, more potatoes.

Went off on a tangent yesterday and decided to start knitting a Christmas gift. All I will say is this is the softest boucle yarn — absolutely yummy!

Also decided I want to learn Fair Isle knitting on the knitting machine. Working on a purse that was one of the learning projects in the book that came with it. I think it went well, although I had a few tense cuss word moments. Will put on a photo of it once completed, but here it is on the machine — the back of the knitting shows where you can see the floats of yarn.

Fair Isle on the knitting machine

Fair Isle on the knitting machine

Have a great weekend, everyone!