RaeDi at Hummingbird Hollow

Thoughts on Food, Words from the Heart, 'The Little Winged Ones'….

Grilled Chicken Breasts and Tomato Mix Bruschetta

We had a nice break in weather yesterday afternoon and T decided he would grill chicken breasts.  It has been weeks since our last barbecue.   I put the chicken breasts to marinate before he changed his mind.  First I crushed some garlic and in a zip lock bag I put some olive oil, the crushed garlic, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a mix of herbs: oregano, sage, and a little parsley.  A couple of shakes of smoked paprika and mixed it up and added the chicken breasts.

I decided it was time we could use some of our cherry tomatoes that I had frozen last summer.  I have been saving what was left of them for exclusive uses… celebrating that spring is springing and that we had some sun and would be having a grilled meal seemed special enough.  I would use a third of them and hideaway the rest for a couple of other exceptional meals for their use.

T cut up the veggies for the bruschetta: red and yellow cherry tomatoes, red onion, green and black onions.  While he was busy chopping I cut the French Bread down the middle and put some butter on to melt adding a small clove of well minced garlic and some fresh dried parsley to the butter.  Once the butter had melted and had simmered just a bit I spread it on half of the bread.  T was through with the veggies about the same time.  We misted the veggies with just a little olive oil and sprinkled some seasoning on them (basically the same mix as I had just put in the marinade for the chicken.) 

While I was broiling the bread and veggies… I decided to throw together a quick apple salad… T was getting the grill ready.  I waited until the chicken on the grill was about finished to add the broiled veggies to the bread and topped it off with some shredded Apple Smoked Gruyère Cheese.  About the time he was coming in with the grilled chicken breasts, that smelled like heaven I put the bruschetta under the broiler to melt the cheese some, just to add a little color.

The meal took no time at all to come together and it was delicious.  All the blends from grilled chicken, the seasonings and the wonderful little tomatoes, crusty bread were a wonderful blend of flavors and textures that we both enjoyed immensely.  The leftovers would be really good tomorrow….

Taken last summer by one of my deck gardens

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Dried Tart Cherry Shortbread Cookies

I have not made cookies in a long time… T has a major problem when it come to managing his intake count of cookies eaten… and of course it is my fault.  So to curb his consumption it was easiest for me to just not make cookies!   We both joke and laugh about his uncontrollable ‘need to eat’ when it comes to cookies!

It is nice to have some simple cookies to have once in a while when having a cup of tea or just for a quick sweet treat.  So today… I decided to cross the line and make some quick and easy shortbread cookies and hope that T could curb himself some and not sit down and eat the whole lot in one sitting.  I guess I could take it as a complement that he likes my cookies so much to have no restraint!

This recipe makes about a dozen cookies give or take a few… I have found it is best to make cookies in small batches for T’s sake!

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, sliced and cold
  • 1∕8  cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼- ½  cup dried tart cherries

Directions:

Line baking sheet  with parchment paper.  When you are ready to bake they will bake in a 325˚ oven.  But you will need to chill for a few after you have made the cookies before you bake.

Combine sugar and orange zest in a small bowl and rub the  zest into the sugar with you fingers.  Using a food processor, mix all ingredients (except for dried tart cherries) for about 20 seconds.  Add the cherries and pulse a few times until they are chopped up a little, I like to have a few nice size pieces of tart cherries  left in dough.

Turn out the mixture onto the counter and compact into a ball (you will need to knead the dough a bit… do not give up it will come to a nice smooth dough ball!)  On a lightly floured surface roll dough to about 1∕2 inch thickness.  Using cooking cutter cut out cookies (you can just cut them into easy squares at this point!)  After cutting the cookies gather left over dough and roll and cut again til you have used up all the dough.

Place the cookies on the prepared cooking sheets as you go.  Once I have them all on the cookie sheets I place in refrigerator and chill good.  When ready to bake preheat the oven to 325˚.  Bake until light golden-brown, about twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Keep a watch on them the last five minutes or so.  Let them cool on the cookie sheets for a few minutes before transferring to cookie rack to finish cooling.

Combine ½ cup of powdered sugar with 1 tablespoon orange juice…  after they have completely cooled I glaze them with the simple powder sugar glaze and let them dry good (before I hide half from T.)  No I do not hide half from  T but probably should….

The combination of orange zest and dried tart cherries wakens up the taste buds and makes for a delightful cookie!

Florida Pink Shrimp Salad

We eat a lot of salads for our main course dinners.  I love to make richer dinners and deserts as you all know… but to make up for the caloric highs, fat and such we revert to lots of wholesome salads.   It makes up for the guilty pleasures in life.  Cannot have too much of a good thing all the time.  We also eat a lot of homemade cabbage soup and such for lunch.

Tonight we had a lighter dinner with our Florida Pink Shrimp Salad.  I make my own croutons… they have very little olive oil misted on the bread cubes I have cut from my bread with adding seasoning of garlic powder, onion powder, a little dry sage or oregano (depending on the meal I am mixing with,) parsley, smoked paprika, freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt.  I put them in the oven and bake to a golden brown… I bag them and then have the extras for many others uses.

The shrimp I marinated for about an hour in olive oil with crushed garlic, pepper flakes, parsley, some fresh ground black pepper and a little sea salt.  I stir fried them in a little olive oil.  Then I placed them on a paper towel to drain some of the oil off before adding them to the salad.

The salad can be any lettuce you like or a mix of lettuce and add anything you like, in ours I added some avocados, red onions, cherry tomatoes and julienne carrots  (basically what I had on hand…) adding the croutons and shrimp.  The dressing can be your choice.

T had been working on the wood pile this afternoon so I made up a small 6” skillet of baked rolls for him to have with his salad.  When I make bread I always take some and make dinner roll size dough and place on baking sheet several inches apart and place in freezer.  When frozen I put into a freezer bag… when I need to have rolls for dinner I take out what I need (they will rise as they thaw) doing this we always have fresh dough dinner rolls ready anytime we should want.   

The Pink Florida Shrimp salad makes for a nice light dinner and fills you up with a very appealing as well as appetizing meal.  It was delicious….   

Taco Pizza

First I have an update to my last post… Hummingbirds!  I was stating that the Rufus Hummingbirds were late in arriving this year.  While I was having my first morning cup of tea I was watching the feeder and a bright little male Rufus Hummingbird arrived and shortly after he was followed by a female Rufus Hummingbird.  They made repeated trips to the feeder all morning.  It has been a long haul for them coming all the way from South America.  It sure was good to see them!  Before long we will have lots of hummers… the Anna Hummingbirds were not too happy with the new arrivals… but they will get use to them pretty quick.  I will give them a few days to get use to the area again and get settled in before I start pointing my camera in their direction!

Now for the pizza… When my children were young Friday night was usually reserved as  Pizza night.  They loved pizza, and Taco Pizza was their favorite, mine too.  I do not know why we have not had taco pizza in a very long time… I cannot even remember the last time we had it!  T says he has never had Taco Pizza and I have been with him for fourteen years! 

I have to admit at this point in time I have a little secret that I do not tell too many people.  I like Taco Bell Taco Sauce.  Not much else at Taco Bell makes me want to eat there, but I do like their sauce.  I noticed at Amazon the other day when I was looking for some things I needed to buy they had Taco Bell Taco Sauce by the bottle, you had to buy two, but hey… maybe I will make Taco Pizza more than once every fourteen years!

While there I decided to see if they sell Santa Fe Instant dried beans… Santa Fe Bean Company makes the best instant dried beans and has a variety of beans including black beans, pinto beans, southwestern style beans and I think there is one more.  I was introduced to the dried beans several years ago and they are delicious.  The store we usually shop at quit stocking them, we have not said anything… maybe if we spoke up they would restock… but I now know where I can buy the instant dried beans!  I could not make any better beans from scratch!   I do not normally go with instant anything but the taste and texture of these beans is incredible.  They are so good and Amazon did sell them (and at a better price)… you had to buy at least eight packages… but that was okay I love these beans, they are that good, I would give them a high hummingbird score!  They make a nice side dish with so many different meals.

The pizza dough was from Central Market; they have ready-made pizza and sell their dough too!  It is very easy to use and makes it so much quicker to make your own pizza.   There are many good recipes out there for making pizza dough if you want to make your own.  Besides when you are basically for the time being a one-armed person… you take all the help you can get! Once I have the dough spread onto the pan I spread the dough with a layer of the Santa Fe beans I have already made per package directions (you can use canned refried beans or make your own they do not have to be instant beans.)   I spread half of the pizza with seasoned cooked ground turkey meat (when cooking I added some onions and when cooked I add some taco seasoning, chopped fresh parsley and then mixed well.)  Next you will spread on some Mozzarella Cheese.  Bake in 475˚ oven, placing rack on the lowest position for 9-14 minutes… when the crust is golden brown it is done.  Watch it carefully, you do not want to over-cook and let it get dried out!

Once you have your pizza out of the oven you cover with thin sliced avocados, some thin sliced lettuce, thin sliced red onions, and diced tomatoes, then throw on a few black olives.  I put some sour cream and taco sauce into squeeze bottles and put the finishing touches on the pizza.  It was now ready to eat.

T said the pizza was really good and would like to have it again… I do not know why it took me so many years to revisit one of my favorite pizzas; it was delicious and full of flavor… excellent to the last bite ….

Making a good dent!

 

 

Hummingbirds

Male Rufus taking care of business!

Ninnie being Ninnie – catnap in the sun!

First I thought I would start off with a picture of Ninnie, she has not been corporative at all with me taking her picture of late!   Normally she just ignores me while I point and shoot.  I found her lying on her back in a sunny spot this morning.  She had no idea I had taken her picture, if she did she did not let on… it is something how an animal can pretend to be sleeping when you are talking… their ears gives them away, they move with the voices!  So afraid they might miss something, you just might be talking about them!    She looks so angelic… don’t you think!

Male Rufus

Now I will get back to the subject… hummingbirds.  We have been eagerly awaiting our seasonal hummingbirds.  Normally the Rufus Hummingbirds would have arrived by now.  The Calliopes’’ are always a month or so behind.  I am wondering if they are in the desert!  Will have to call my nephew Mickey who lives in Phoenix and see if they had a higher than normal bloom in the desert this year.  That would explain the non-appearance of the hummingbirds here.  (The Anna’s who winter over do not mind, they are always so up in the air so to speak when the others start arriving!  It does not take long for them to get along and share… most of the time!)

Male Rufus

I have a little story I want to share with you… A few years ago I was in Tucson, Arizona.  It was March and the total opposite weather that we were experiencing here in the Northwest!  Not that unusual to say the least.  Lots of sun it got up into the 80’s and a couple of days in the 90’s.  I had no need for a sweatshirt or sweater.  I had packed for the sun.  I took sundresses, short sleeves, crops and Bermuda shorts along with some sneakers and stylish sandals of course!   For a change my house coat was what took the most space in my suitcase! 

Male Rufus

At lunch time one day I decided to take a long walk along the main business street in downtown Tucson… lots of State and Federal Buildings along the way.  Besides getting in a little exercise and sun… I could people watch something I love to do.  What better time than at lunch time walking among hundreds of folks coming and going on their lunch time.  I experienced something on that walk… it is a point in time I will never forget.

Male Rufus

I think everyone knows that city blocks are pretty long… I had just pasted through one intersection to start the next city block and a male Rufus Hummingbird came right up to my face and was staring at me.  Then he started his excited zee-chupity-chuping, chipping and buzzy notes as he hovered a foot in front of my face.  Whether I stood still or kept moving he stayed with me, flying backwards at the same speed as myself, if I stopped he hovered until I made an advancement… his musical buzzing and just being present had everyone’s attention.  These folks that were so busy in their everyday lives running errands, getting things done on their short lunch hour took the time to come along and watch this colorful little winged one. 

Female Rufus (bad hair day!)

They were as amazed as me at the actions of this hummingbird.  Some that were going in the opposite direction decided to join in and see what this little winged one was up to!   This went on for the full length of this city block.  So much commotion… it is something that something so small and of little consequence to each of their daily routines could make so many people stop their day and take part to just see what he was up to.  He was flashing his colors for all to see.  He had so much to tell me and sometimes I thought he was actually scolding me!  It sounded like it anyway!

Two Female Rufus at feeder

People were asking me if this had happened before, not in the city… my little hummers at home did this all the time.  Someone in the crowd spoke up and said, “It is like he knows her!”  I was thinking the same thing.  Was this one of our seasonal hummers on his track to Hummingbird Hollow and just staying over for a rest and to take in the desert bloom before continuing on? 

I decided to take another walk the next day and ran into a couple of women that called me the Hummingbird lady… they wanted to talk about what they had observed.  We sat down on a park bench and I told them about Hummingbird Hollow and all the little winged ones that call our home theirs for several months out of the year.  I also said the one thing that I did not say aloud the day before, I thought the little winged one was one of ours and wanted to know why I was not at home and was afraid he would not have a feeder of nectar waiting for him when he arrived!  That will never happen….

I think he is telling me to stop watching!

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