Dave’s Delish Bourbon Chicken

“There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves.”― Thomas Wolfe

Last week I shared my Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze recipe and promised this one would be coming next… so here it is!!! You will not be disappointed!!! This is one of Dave’s recipe and our family just loves it served on a bed of Basmati rice with my veggies! Just in case you missed it, here is the link!

Farmers markets are abounding with fresh produce, farm fresh eggs, honey, maple syrup, flowers, and of course delicious grass fed meats. I like to get my meat from several farmers who participate at the markets I frequent. These delicious & meaty thighs were purchased from Vestergarrd Farms located in Ann Arbor, Michigan! They participate in the Ann Arbor Farmers Market, which is where we go most frequently due to it’s location.

Now lets get into this super yummy recipe you will all just love!

Our Favorite Recipes

Ingredients:
8 boneless chicken thighs

Marinade:
¼ cup Soy Sauce- I use Braggs
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup Jim Beam Bourbon
2 TBSP fresh minced red onion
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp herb garlic salt or regular garlic salt 
***You can use garlic powder in exchange for salt if you’d like
½ tsp pink Himalayan salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Farm raised meats are so wonderfully delicious & fresh. However if you purchase your meat from a grocer, you are still supporting local!

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a gallon size Ziploc bag combine all marinade ingredients; mix until well blended & set aside.

3. Take chicken thighs and cut into 1” strips leaving most of the skin on; put strips in the bag of marinade and place in the fridge for at least 5 hours or overnight if you want to plan ahead.

4. Pour both marinade and chicken strips into a 9” x 13” x 2” baking dish; cook uncovered for 1 ½ hours stirring occasionally.

This is delicious served on a bed of Basmati rice and my Roasted Root Vegetables with Balsamic Glaze.

If you enjoyed this recipe post, please LIKE, share, & of course follow me to receive notifications on all my posts. 

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Added bonus: You can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Happy day,
Jean

Roasted Root Vegetables & Balsamic Glaze

“I feel a recipe is only a theme which an intelligent cook can play each time with a variation.” 
— Madam Benoit

My super yummy Roasted Root Vegetable recipe pairs wonderfully with Dave’s Bourbon Chicken seen here on a bed of Basmati rice!!!

Summer has her bounty, but oh how autumn glory abounds in the garden! If you are a gardener you know exactly what I’m talking about. Here is Michigan we have 3 full seasons we can relish in our gardens sustenance! Spring with her lovely greens, summer with a bounty of tomato’s, and autumn with squash, potato, onions, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots… and so much more. Root storage crops, which all the above mentioned are, flourish in the cooler days of fall.

This savory blend of root storage crops including Brussels sprouts, fingerlings, baby purple potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions and more tossed in a blend of Balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and olive oil is absolutely delicious. This recipe pairs well with any meat dish, but especially delicious with Dave’s Bourbon Chicken. This recipe will be coming next week… so keep posted!

Our Favorite Recipes

Ingredients:

1 quart or 4 cups of cleaned Brussels sprouts, halved
1 cups cherry tomatoes, mixed Heirlooms are awesome
2 cups of mixed purple & red baby potatoes, halved OR use Fingerlings
1 large sweet potato peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 cup carrots, cut into 1/4 inch coins
1 cup parsnips, cut into 1/4 inch coins
1 medium red onion, sliced lengthwise
2 garlic cloves, minced or 2 tsp jarred
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup Olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Pro Tip: You can add any veggie you like to this recipe!

You will need a large bowl to toss all the veggies in once they are cleaned, sliced & diced.

Sweet Dumpling Squash

Root storage crops are very easy to store over winter.

I wanted to share more root storage crop recipe’s. Click this link to see my post with several super yummy recipes!

Click this link: https://wordpress.com/post/fordragonfliesandme.com/2477

Heirloom veggies are so beautiful!

1. Cut off the stem end; then remove the first layer of leaves and any bad spots off your Brussels Sprouts; slice in half.

Pro Tip: Cut the stem end off first, then the outer leaves will fall off much more easily!

2. Wash potatoes well, do not peal; Cut in half or quarters depending on the size. If you use fingerlings, cut them into 1″ coins if they are large or cut horizontally if they are smaller.

This would be considered a small fingerling potato.

3. Peel sweet potato; slice 1″ thick.

4. Peel carrots & parsnips; cut into 1/4 inch coins.

5. Peel onion skin off and slice lengthwise.

6. In a large bowl toss all prepared veggies in; mince garlic into veggie mixture.

7. Add remaining ingredients and toss until evenly coated.

8. Put all ingredients into a 9x13x2 inch baking dish making sure all veggies are coated.

9. Bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes covered stirring every 15 minutes; remove cover & cook for an additional 30 minutes stirring every 15 minutes making sure potatoes and sprouts are cooked through. A knife should slide through without resistance.

Be sure to keep posted for Dave’s Bourbon Chicken coming next Wednesday!

If you enjoyed this recipe post, please LIKE, share, & of course follow me to receive notifications on all my posts. 

Follow me on Facebook for daily inspirations, & more tips and tricks for your garden & home!
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Added bonus: You can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Happy day,
Jean

Thanksgiving: How-to host the perfect holiday dinner!

“Thanksgiving just gets me all warm and tingly and all kinds of wonderful inside.
~Willard Scott

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of year right along with Christmas. Autumn is so beautiful with the splendid colors, the rustic smell of fallen leaves, and of course the cackling of the blue jays. But even better than all that, I love to decorate for the the holidays.

I wanted to share a few of my holiday decorating tips with all of my wonderful Dragonfly friends. I thought I’d start with Thanksgiving as I don’t really do a lot of Halloween décor. I generally keep to a fall theme. I hope you enjoy this post, and please be sure to leave me a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

My delicious recipes will be coming the week before Thanksgiving, so if you aren’t already following me on Facebook, click this link & hit the LIKE & Follow buttons so you don’t miss any of my wonderful posts!  https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778

I always prep the day before I host a holiday meal or party. I love to entertain and make my guests feel incredibly special. As most of you know I am a mother of six with two grandsons, so we often gather at my home as it has the most space.

Pro tip: If you are bringing in additional tables & chairs, bring them in the day before and get them set with whatever linens, dinnerware, flatware, glasses, etc. This will alleviate so much day-of event stress! As you can see from these pictures, each guest has a linen napkin tied with a piece of raffia and then a special name tag at their place.

Layering makes a showy table! As you can see, I have a table cloth, table runner, dinner & salad plate along with a linen napkin. Each place setting is different which adds to the elegance of the table.

Name tags make people feel special! When your guests arrive and see the extra effort you made to the point of making handmade name tags, they will feel all the love you put into this task!

Use real greenery & gourds!
I have a smorgasbord of living vines including bittersweet in my woods and the ditches around me. I love to incorporate beautiful fall leaves as well. A table centerpiece is so inviting!

Pro Tip: To make name tags I simply cut 4″ x 4″ squares of card stock, fold in half to make a tent style card, and then place a black name label on it. I used chalkboard paint markers to write my guests names. Be careful to let them dry adequately or they will smudge!

Pro Tip: Be eclectic!!! I do love things to match, but I also love showing off several different styles of linens & plates.

My grandson’s love to see their special plates and personalized name tags!

Pro Tip: Shop the dollar stores & thrift shops! I love to find interesting, one-of-a-kind pieces of glassware, linens, and glasses.

Our Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

All these wonderfully yummy recipes will post on November 16th right before Thanksgiving, so keep posted on my Facebook page for that reminder!

What is a holiday with a Mimosa!

Pro Tip: DON’T use Brut Champaign, it is too bitter!

Herb Roasted Turkey

Our Favorite Pecan & Apple Pie Recipes!

Pro Tip: If you are not a baker like my daughter Taylor is, don’t feel bad to purchase pies from a bakery new you. Supporting local is awesome!

So-Yum Mashed Potatoes & Dad’s Delicious Stuffing

Grandma’s Cabbage Rolls!

Mimosa’s are so easy to make! All you need is a Spumante Champaign, some orange, pineapple & cranberry juice.
Mix 1 part Champaign with 1 part juice. I like to mix the orange & pineapple, but my favorite is a cranberry mimosa!

Pro Tip: If you don’t want all the work of making cabbage rolls, you can make a cabbage roll casserole! You can find this recipe in my popular cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats. Purchase at this link: www.fordragonfliesandme.com

Of course we will have my famous Real Pumpkin Pie as well. For those of you who have my cookbook, this recipe can be found on page 304 of my cookbook.

If you enjoyed this blog, please LIKE, Follow & of course Share! Let me know what you think ! I love your feedback!

Happy Day,
Jean

Marinara Sauce

“To get the best results you must talk to your vegetables.”
Charles, Prince of Wales

The late summer garden calls out with her exuberant abundance in a teasing way. Almost saying… “Whatcha gonna do with all this smarty-pants?” Well this weeks bounty made more salsa & this wonderfully easy marinara sauce.

To see more recipes like this one (and my spaghetti sauce recipe) click this link https://bit.ly/3PzAkXG
to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the testimonial page while you’re here as well!

Our Favorite Recipes

Aaron & I went out to the garden this afternoon to check on the harvest… and wow did we score! After he saw the load of tomatoes he said, “Let’s make spaghetti sauce!”

This recipe is for a single batch, but can easily be adjusted for canning by simply multiplying the quantities. It’s super easy and so delicious. You can add other ingredients to spruce it up, however it’s great just the way it is.

If you want to make this a meat sauce, just add 1 pound of lean organic ground beef or pork. Delish!

Pro-tip: Be sure to use only the ripest tomatoes as these will give you the most flavorful sauce.

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of pureed tomatoes- about 8-10 tomatoes- Heirlooms are the most flavorful

1- 8 ounce can of tomato paste

¼ cup minced onion- about 1 medium onion. NOT white onions

4 fresh garlic cloves minced or 4 tsp of jarred

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 TBSP sugar

4 tsp basil- dried

1 TBSP pink Himalayan salt

Dave’s Eggplant Parmesan

Keep posted for Dave’s delicious eggplant parmesan recipe coming soon!

Our garden harvest!

What you’ll need to have to make the marinara sauce:
Large stock pot
Food processor
4 cup measuring cup
Measuring cups & spoons

Chop onion in food processor

Prep before you start:
Chop onions in food processer before sautéing and wash the tomatoes. Be sure to have all your ingredients ready.

Make sure you have all your ingredients before you start!

1. While the onions & garlic are sautéing, chop washed tomatoes into quarters removing any bad spots and the stem; place in a large bowl. After all the tomatoes are quartered begin pureeing them in your food processor until you have 4 cups.

Cut tomatoes into quarters
Put quartered tomatoes in processor & puree

2. Leave the pureed tomato in the processor; add oil, onion & garlic mixture, spices and sugar, blend until completely pureed. Move the mixture back to the stock pot.

Add tomato mixture back into stock pot and bring to a low boil

4. Bring tomato sauce to a low boil on medium heat covered, stirring often; cook on medium heat covered for 2 hours or until mixture has cooked down one third.

5. Add the tomato paste and whisk in; cook for an additional hour stirring often so the bottom doesn’t scorch.

If you would like to add meat, cook thoroughly and add to sauce for the final half hour of cooking. 

Serve over pasta noodles, or make a delicious eggplant or chicken parmesan!

If you enjoyed this post, please LIKE & Follow me for more great recipes and home & garden tips. Be sure to visit me at my Facebook page for more informative & fun posts! Be sure to say “Hi!”.

Happy Day,
Jean!

Bruschetta with Feta Cheese & Balsamic Glaze

“To make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity”
Sir George Sitwell

Aaron & I were in Myrtle Beach last summer and visited a local restaurant where we ordered pizza & bruschetta. To my surprise it was served with feta cheese & a delicious balsamic glaze. The best part about it though was that Aaron loved it!! I could hardly get him to eat my ‘basic’ bruschetta, but he devoured this. So of course I decided to put my own spin on this for my sweet little guy to enjoy at home! 

Our Favorite Recipes

INGREDIENTS:

  • I loaf Italian bread unsliced
  • 6-8 large roma tomatoes diced, Heirlooms are the most flavorful!
  • 2 fresh garlic clove minced or 2 tsp jarred
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup+
  • ½ cup fresh basil, snipped- Watch my video on how-to snip basil or any fresh herb in the video to the right
    OR 2 TBSP dried
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, snipped OR 1 TBSP dried
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1- 8 ounce container feta cheese crumbles
  • 1- 8.45 ounce bottle of Balsamic Vinegar of Modena glaze (I love the Kroger Private Selection brand).

With the garden bursting at the seams with ripe tomatoes, now is the perfect time to experiment with new recipes. Let me know if you have any tips for your bruschetta in the comments below!
Watch this video on how-to snip basil & other fresh herbs!

1. Combine in a medium sized bowl all ingredients EXCEPT feta cheese and balsamic glaze; mix well. Set in the fridge for 30 minutes.

2. While the tomato mixture is in the fridge, cut 6- 1” slices of Italian bread; use the ¼+ cup of olive oil and brush oil on both sides of each slice; place on a cookie sheet and toast bread on both sides under a broiler until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

3. Once bread is toasted, spoon tomato mixture evenly over bread; sprinkle 1 TBSP feta cheese on top of tomatoes; drizzle glaze over top.

Serve immediately with any pasta dish, chicken or fish dinner!

PRO TIP:  When snipping your fresh basil, bunch about 8 to 10 leaves, hold firming with your fingers and snip with kitchen shears. Also, be sure to only use the ripest tomatoes, and of course Heirlooms are best!

Added bonus tip: This recipe has been altered from the original in my cookbook. You can go to my blog at www.fordragonfliesandme.com to purchase my original cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats and Treats. The cookbook has almost 1000 recipes on almost 500 pages! Check out the Cookbook Testimonials while you’re there!

Italian Wedding Soup with Cheese Tortellini

Several years ago my good friend Kate Lawson, former food writer for The Detroit News shared her Italian Wedding soup recipe with my daughter. It quickly became one my families favorites. I have of course altered it to be my own & to suit our taste buds over the years. Hers was of course dynamite, but I love to be creative in the kitchen.

Pro Tip: I always use fresh veggies from the garden or the farmers market if in season & if not I purchase them. Fresh veggies always give a much fresher flavor to this delicious soup!

Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 small red onion minced- about ½ cup
1 egg (farm fresh are best)
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 fresh clove of garlic, minced
1 TBSP Italian Seasoning- see my recipe here: https://bit.ly/3dRCzIW
½ tsp Himalayan sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper

  1. In a large bowl mix all ingredients until evenly blended.
  2. Form into walnut size or 1” balls.
  3. Place on a cookie sheet and place in the fridge for 30 minutes until firm.
    Makes approximately 24-28 meatballs.

While the meatballs are setting, start soup.

1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced baby carrots- cut into ¼ inch coins
½ cup minced red onion, packed
1 fresh clove of garlic, minced
1- 48oz container of beef broth
4-6 tomatoes pureed to make 2 cups OR 1- 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes or sauce
(I like to use either a variety of Heirloom tomatoes or Roma’s)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ tsp Himalayan sea salt
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1- 16 ounce bag of 5 cheese tortellini
1 cup baby spinach, packed

  1. In a large pot put oil, butter, onions, carrots, and minced garlic in. Cook on medium heat for approximately 7-10 minutes or until veggies are fork tender.
  2. Add meatballs into veggie mixture, mix thoroughly, and sauté meatballs until golden brown on outside- approximately 10 minutes.
  3. Add broth, tomato puree, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper; stir until thoroughly blended, cover and cook for 30 minutes on medium heat stirring occasionally bringing to a low boil.
  4. Add tortellini and spinach, stir in and cook for 7 minutes.

This is a hearty soup and is delicious served with fresh Italian bread. Sprinkle a bit of freshly grated parmesan cheese on top & enjoy!

What’s your favorite soup? Tell me in the comments!

If you enjoyed this blog, please LIKE it & Follow me for weekly posts!
Happy day friends,
Jean

Spring To-do List, Using Old Ladders In Our Gardens, Yummy Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Spring is a time of new birth and rejuvenation. It’s when we look around and simply stand in awe at the beauty surrounding us… forsythias vibrant yellow… the sweet aroma of apple and cherry blossoms… lavender lilac bouncing in the breeze carrying the scents through the open windows… searching out the first tips of rhubarb and asparagus.

This is a hedge of 'Miss. Kim' lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

This is a hedge of ‘Miss. Kim’ lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

Spring… there isn’t quite anything as perfect in my mind.

Yesterday I was walking to the greenhouse when my feet went ‘squishhhh’ in the mud… I loved it, especially wearing flip-flops. Yes, I know it was cold, but it was almost 85 degrees in the greenhouse when the sun was shining! Neil was helping me and his feelings were a tad bit different… more of exasperation from the heat- he likes the cold. I’ll take the heat and a sweaty brow any day of the week over bundling up to keep warm.

Spring is also a time ‘to-do’ lots of stuff! As most of my dragonfly readers can testify, I strongly encourage lists- for everything! Garden and yard projects are no exception. I love the feeling of making the list and scratching off each item as it’s accomplished. I’m a visual person and I think that’s why lists make so much sense to me… plus they keep me on track.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my 'daily' lists.  I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my ‘daily’ lists. I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

Scanning through my yard and gardens I’m seeing the multitude of things I need and want to get accomplished this season. I have a couple windows of opportunity before and after my ‘busy’ times, so I must utilize that time wisely. I thought it would be interesting to share this years list with all my dragonfly friends… now don’t be alarmed when you see it… I have lots of helping hands around our farm!

My list of outside jobs to do this year…
Painting:

back of garage
potting shed
front of greenhouse
back of hoop house
repaint back door where dog scratched

2. Fix arbor in front of hoop house- put new lattice on sides and top
3. Put post up at small herb bed for wisteria
4. Move raised beds from beside hoop house to cut flower raised bed garden
5. New flower bed around potting shed

6. Plant:

Pink climbing roses at back corners of potting shed
Rose of Sharon at back corner of house in back yard
Rose trellis on front of house at living room window

7. Finish Patio:

planters
floor and sides

8. Ladder trellis on side of garage over tea bed in Potager

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day.  I'm so excited to do this on my garage this summer!  Can't you just see it covered with pink roses!

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day. I’m so excited to do this on my garage this summer! Can’t you just see it covered with pink roses!

Number eight is one of the topics of this post. I often talk about my love for garden junque, it’s one of my favorite things about cottage gardening. I love being able to artfully incorporate what I absolutely adore, even though some people consider it trash. There are oodles of items that can be used, but lets look at old wooden ladders today.

A few posts ago I mentioned this ladder trellis- well I stopped the other day and took a photo of it… not the greatest, but you get the idea. I plan on doing this on the side of my garage over the tea bed in our Potager and planting… you guessed it, a climbing rose… but first I have to find them! So if you read my guest post at Flea Market Gardening ( http://www.fleamarketgardening.org/2013/04/04/flea-market-windows-how-to-make-a-decorative-mini-greenhouse/ ) you’ll understand how patient I can be!

Uses for ladders…
*Ladders can also be used in your flower beds to put potted plants on (see photo).

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks... so cut with pots!

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks… so cut with pots!

*I also have a ladder on one of the columns on our front porch that a climbing rose uses.
*Lattice/ trellis- I have a few ladders that go across the top of my pergola for the vines.

To many they are just something to climb up, but on my list, they have a much higher calling 😉

Spring is here and greens are coming in abundantly… and so are the eggs! Here’s a yummy recipe to use what you have- Enjoy friends!
Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

1 Bunch of Chard, Kale or Spinach, stems and ribs discarded
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Chop your greens into bite size pieces and toss in the oil and seasoning to coat evenly. Spread evenly in the bottom of a 10″x10″ glass baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, till crisp. Remove from oven and divide into 2 bowls and create a ‘nest’ with a hole in the center.
2. While greens are baking, bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil and gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat and cover. Let eggs sit in water for 6 1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.
3. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let sit for about 1/2 minute. Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests. Season and serve immediately.

Be sure to come on over to Dragonflies Facebook for lots more photo’s and extra info plus tons of great links to other interesting sites. Hope to see you there…
https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?ref=stream
Happy Day,
Jean

Serendipity Discovered, My Banister Garden and Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

pansies_pail_emailver

As you stroll through my garden’s you’ll notice many unusual things sprinkled here and there… peaking out of a cluster of tulips or bowing over a rash planting of zinnias… Friends say that I have a flair for mixing my passion for plants and garden junque, marrying them together into welcoming and intriguing garden rooms. As I place these abandoned and unappreciated objects throughout my gardens it allows me to express my passions using my innate creativity.

Recycling things that no one else wants is something I enjoy doing… I can see the ‘practical’ and artistic use of an old fashioned metal canner… a rusty old wagon wheel… wooden crates or drawers… a wash tub or even more exciting, a derelict water trough… tin buckets, old wheel barrows… garden bikes, chairs… oh the list could go on and on! In my last post I talked about that discovered element… stumbling upon some tiny treasure you’ve been unknowingly looking for. My eye has become quite keen to spotting usable junque at estate sales, thrift shops and even along the curbside. My minds eye is in tune with what I love in my gardens. I’ve been to sales and there and behold an old wooden crate and tin bucket cast off in a corner… yes that will sit beautifully on my porch topped by that tin bucket over flowing with double petunia’s in it!

pansies in old canner_emailver<

As my friends and I walk and talk meandering here and there I watch their faces… I delight in seeing the shocked look at how cute 'they think' my antique metal canner's look planted up with purple pansies… how whimsical that old banister appears in the garden surrounded by a cascade of nasturtiums… and the 'wow' when they see hot pink geraniums in a white enamelware bucket that now sits on a rickety old chair… I love inspiring people, especially in the home and garden.

Banister Garden10 emailver

I name all of my gardens. When we bought our home the upstairs railing was kicked in and totally destroyed by the previous owners… but a beautiful, old white banister still stood. As the men were removing what was left of it and getting ready to toss everything in a ‘junk’ pile, I was quick to say, “Hold on to that! That’s not junk… that is going in a garden!”… and so was born my Banister Garden.

Legend for The Banister Garden
Here is my rendition of my Banister Garden. This garden is just under 200 square feet.

The Banister Garden Emailver

1. Knock Out Rose Bushes- 2 pink
2. Daylily- 2 orange
3. Creeping Phlox- 3 lavender
4. Burning Bush shrub
5. Lavender- Hidcotte
6. Peony- 2 pink
7. Bee’s Balm planted behind Antique Two Burner Antique Canner filled with geraniums. The Banister stands behind the Bee’s Balm
8. Hydrangea- old fashioned white- just planted last summer
9. Iris- purple
10. Purple Bell Flower
11. Varrigated Sedum
12. Purple Ruffles Basil
13. Spirea- pink
~I have a garden chair that sets in the garden and I usually have a tin bucket planted up on it.
This garden like the Side and Bistro was dug up and replanted as well. I didn’t do all of these gardens in one year, it has been a process going on since 2009. This garden has had many faces as you will see in the photo’s at the end of this post under the recipes.

I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to plants as well as for garden junque. If I can’t grow it myself, swap or get from a family member or friend then I wait for stuff to go on clearance. In 2011 I ‘stumbled’ upon a great deal at a big box store on a couple Knock Out rose bushes. They were discounted 75%… now I never would have paid the full price for these even with all the hype about them… I can’t say that anymore! They are worth every penny… honestly, they don’t stop blooming except for about two weeks in mid summer. I would like to get several more and make a hedge with them in another garden… I always have a garden plan in mind!

Banister Garden11 emailver

Here are some idea’s for things to combine in your gardens!
*Tin or Enamelware buckets with either geraniums or double petunias.
*Wash tubs- I purchase nice big hanging baskets and plant them right into them… instant wow! I have also planted them with cascading nasturtiums. (see photo).
*Wooden crates and drawers- I like to incorporate right into my gardens. I will take the bottoms out bury part way, fill with dirt and then plant herbs or again hanging baskets. I also like to use crates on my front porch as both planters and as objects to place other pots on.

front_porch_fall_emailver

*Tea Kettles, coffee pots, old oil cans, any other type of metal container plant worthy. I have planted succulents like Hen’s & Chicks in these, pansies and petunias.
*Mailboxes- I have not done this, (yet) but I have seen some really cool ones done up. You need to use a ‘top’ door type- one where the top opens and the mail drops in (see photo at my blog 😉 )
…here are a few other ideas of some things I have seen, but haven’t done and don’t really fit into my garden scheme, but may be of interest to others…
*Old fashioned claw foot bath tubs- I would plant something tall down the entire center- zinnia’s, cosmos, cleome or all and then have something that trails out all around the edges- Wave Petunias, trailing nasturtiums.
*Row boat or other nautical piece- I would bury it and then do as with the bath tub- height and cascade
*Antique Metal Bed frame- Plant the bed’s legs or just set the frame down on the ground and then using appropriate flowers, plant a design of a quilt block- obviously not too detailed- maybe a Bow Tie, Diamond, Nine Patch or something along those lines.
… there are many other ‘found’ objects that you can use… be creative, you know what you like!
~The key to using any type of container is proper drainage!

Gardenbike2_emailver

We are still in the grips of winter and here is Michigan we just got another six inches of the white stuff… so today I thinking comfort food! Enjoy friends!
Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

FLAKY PIE DOUGH:

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp slat to combine. Add 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water, 1 tbsp at a time). Form dough in a 1 inch thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerated until firm, 1 hour or up to 3 days).

“So… what are you going to do with a rickety old wooden chair with chipped paint Jean?” my husband asks me…”It’s serendipity Neil….”
Happy Day,
Jean
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Banister Garden8 emailver

This photo was taken in Spring of 2009. This was the first ‘face’ she had… the tulips were beautiful and the creeping phlox looked stunning. Notice the lattice on the side of the front porch… The wisteria that now covers that side of the porch was just a baby in this photo.

Banister Garden14 emailver

Here is a photo of the same garden, same spot but taken in 2012. You can see it is deeper and quite a bit different. The burning bush in the far left corner is larger and now there is the spirea bush in the front right corner.

Banister Garden4 emailver

This photo was taken in Summer 2011. You can see the black ground cover still laying around the edges from the ‘re-do’ that this garden received early in the spring.

Choosing Perennials, Lavender Heart Card, Easy Flavored Sugar’s Gift & Yummy Apple Pie Oatmeal

Flavored Sugars make a super cute gift.
See how to below

Lavender Heart Card… see how to below

Our gardens are filled with love, patience and long suffering… these are attributes that we as spouses, parents, co-workers and such strive to maintain and build in our personal character.  I believe that gardening helps us grow these virtues.  I always tell my my friends that God made me to love gardening because that was the only way He was sure to get these virtues instilled in me.   Perennials I believe help along with this much more than annuals.  My closer friends know how much I enjoy ‘instant gratification’ 🙂 ~ which is why I probably will always incorporate my beloved annuals… petunias, nasturtiums, pansies and the likes~ they are ever faithful!  Today we will look at perennials and the pro’s and con’s to them along with some tips & hints on maintenance.

Perennials can create a challenge for some due to the simple fact there are so many to choose from.  Several factors come into play when deciding on what, where and when.  I will touch base on what I believe to be the most important factors to take into consideration. Perennials will be where ever you place them for a long while and if they are larger plants such as shrubs and trees, you need to make sure you love what you choose!  The color of your home, whether it be dark, light or painted brick, vinyl siding or painted wood~ all play into the choices. You wouldn’t want to put a white flowering pear in front of your white house- you would loose all interest because when the tree is in full bloom you would loose the tree into your home.  A pink flowering crab on the other hand would be much more stunning.
Many of the factors listed with annuals are also relevant for perennial, for instance sun & shade tolerances.
~Size is one factor with perennials that does differ from perennials.  You will be looking at trees and shrubs as well as bush types, ground covers, small to mid-size growers. 
~I would suggest that first you go to a nursery or garden center with a note book, plan on spending some serious time there.  Go through each category of plant that you are interested in; jot down what you like and the details to that plant.  If you have a really good plant encyclopedia at home, you won’t need too much of the detail, but if you don’t be sure to get these details- sun requirements, blooming time, height & width at mature stage and any special requirements that might be listed.
~Bloom time is one factor to pay close attention to.  You will want to be sure to incorporate plants that will give you seasonal blooming.  Here are a few more common perennials and there bloom time:
*Spring bloomers: Ajuga, bergina, bleeding heart, columbine, coral bells, hellebore, lady’s mantle, peony, poppy, primrose, viola and of course bulbs such as snow drops, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and my favorite of all, tulips.
*Summer bloomers: Astible, baby’s breath, bee balm, coreopsis, day lily, delphinium, dianthus, helianthus, hosta, lupine, obedient plant, phlox, purple corn flower, black eyed susan, Shasta daisies, Russian sage, scabiosa, sedum, verbena, veronica and yarrow.
*Fall bloomers: Aster, chrysanthemum, lobelia, Japanese anemone and goldenrod.
The next thing to take into consideration when you are ready to purchase is, “What size plant/shrub/tree do I start with?” Well the fact of the matter here is truly how much money and patience do you have! I most often times want the biggest bang for my buck and therefore typically will go with a smaller plant and be patient with growth.  There are a few ‘slow’ growers that I don’t, like trees for instance.  I’ve done the catalog mail order and get a ‘twig’ in the mail, which has in every situation been mowed over, run over by a child, week wacked or dug up by an animal! No thanks~ too many disappointments and wasted time in this area.  What I do is wait until August and go to the garden centers when everything is typically marked down 50% and buy the 8′ to 12′ trees.  I mulch heavily and water deeply and regularly so the tree will have plenty of time to take root and make it through the cold Michigan weather I live in.  I have not lost one yet!  This is also what I do with some of my larger shrubs if they are going to be in a ‘high risk’ area. Otherwise I go for the small pots here too.  Mulching and watering is the key to success.
* A few other tips:
~Prepare the soil well- add plenty of organic matter to ensure adequate water and air circulation.
~Always plant the plant to the same depth of the size of the pot that you purchased it in.
~Water often the first season. This will aid the plant in developing a strong root base.
~Fertilize in spring- most growth happens during this time.  Choose appropriate fertilizers according to type of plant.
~Mulch year round- this aids in maintaining moisture and protecting roots.
~Get more blooms!  Dead heading certain varieties, such as roses will stimulate more blooming.
~Division of plants, especially Iris’s and bulbs are crucial to long life and better blooming.  Be sure to read on each plant before dividing, some prefer spring, others fall!
There is so much to be said and time and space would never allow me to do it all in a day’s blog.  I hope this helps you get started!

For a thoughtful gift, create on of these simple Lavender Filled Heart Cards. 
*First you will need to choose a sheet of card stock and cut to the desired size;  fold vertically in the center. Cut two heart shapes from a piece of printed muslin to fit nicely on the front of your card; stitch them together, outsides in, leaving a small opening; invert the hearts; loosely fill with dried lavender; stitch the opening closed and attach the heart to the card.  See attached photo!      

Flavored Sugars are an easy thing to make, here is a quick recipe that you can use on oatmeal or in your tea.  They make super cute gifts as well.  See attached photo!
Start with 2 cups organic raw sugar.
For Vanilla Sugar: Split 1 vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from the bean into the sugar; then bury the bean in the sugar.
For Cinnamon Sugar:  add 1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon and 2 sticks.
For Cardamon Sugar: add 1/4 cup whole green cardamom pods.
The sugars will stay flavorful i a sealed container for up to one year. 

To make it gift worthy put the sugar’s in pint size jelly jars; using pinking shears cut a cute piece of fabric circle 1 1/2 inch’s wider in diameter than the metal lid; place fabric circle over the lid, place on filled jar and then seal with ring.  Create a cute contents label to put on the front of jar. Happy giving!

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be the way grandma made it- goopy & thick!  This alternative to an already hearty breakfast goes a long way when it tastes like Apple Pie.  Sometimes we are really busy in the morning and getting a good breakfast can be a challenge.  Here is a quick, forget about it in the crock pot till morning meal that is sure to please!
Apple Pie Oatmeal

2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup steel cut oats, uncooked
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. apple pie spice
1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup raisins, optional
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker sprayed with non stick spray; stir well until well mixed. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Happy Day,
Jean

Mountain Pie Suppers, Homemade Napkin Rings, Cute ‘Cookie’ Packaging, Taylor’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Spring is here and how I just love to be outside~ especially where entertaining is concerned.  Nothing is as enjoyable to me as having my friends over for a lovely evening of food & fellowship… listening to the gobs of children running and playing and laughing… Spring and summer come to an end much too quickly for me, so I try to take advantage of my outside time as much as possible.  Our family really enjoys Mountain Pie suppers- in Canada we call them Hobo Pies.  Our children think this is so fun because they get to ‘make’ their pie just as they want with what they want.  Some of you may be saying, “what in the world is a Mountain or Hobo Pie?” Well you can purchase the pie irons at most big box stores and at all the hunting outfitters out there.  The are simply called ‘pie irons’ on the package. 
*How to get started: First build a good camp fire and get a nice hot bed of coals with very little flames- you will need to keep it going though.
*Supplies you will need: Organic non-spray & bread. Have a table set up with all the toppings on where all guests can make their pies; make sure you have a board or something ‘melt’ proof to place the hot irons on when they are ready to come out. 
*Toppings can be anything savory or sweet.  Here are a few ideas
    ~Sweet- Nutella & Banana, PB&J, any kind of fruit pie filling
    ~Savory toppings can include: pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, bacon, ground beef regular or seasoned, ham, sausage, tomatoes, sweet &/or hot peppers, pineapple, olives or onions. 
    ~Use pizza sauce, ranch dressing, mayo or any other dressing/sauce that goes with your combo!
*How to make: Be sure to spray both sides of the pie iron; place a slice of bread in each side; put your sauce on first and then layer on the toppings of your choice; carefully close iron and latch; put on the hot coals turning often, check the bread by opening the latch and carefully lifting to see how things are coming.  When toasted to perfection take iron out of the fire, place on prepared area and carefully open iron and remove the ‘pie’.
Enjoy one after another and watch your guests have one of the most enjoyable meals they’ll ever have!
Charming Homemade Napkin Rings…
When I entertain I love to add special touches. In many of my previous entries I have described table settings, special dinner ware and other little touches.  I often use linen napkins, they are just extra special. Here is a really cute idea to make an already special touch sweeter.  We all have extra buttons and now is the time to round them up and put them to use as charming clasps on napkin rings.  Use several different ones for an eclectic and wistful look. 
*You will need to use ‘shank’ type buttons- buttons with a loop on the back, not holes.
* Choose a theme for your set, such as flowers, mother of pearl types or seashells.
*Decide on how many you want to make- I would say at least eight.
* I would recommend your buttons be at least 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ in size.
*Next thread a 12″ length of cording through each shank, and tie its ends in a knot.  Secure knot to shank with a needle and tread so that it will stay hidden behind the button.  Wrap cording around a folded napkin, looping it back over the button to secure.
Giving gifts is so much fun, especially food gifts~ and cookies are always well appreciated!  Here is the cutest and simplest Cookie Packaging idea I have ever heard of, so I wanted to share it will all of you.
*First purchase a package of paper C.D. envelopes with a window- yes you are reading correctly!
* Next create a label- (a good size would be an Avery 5198 or a label about 3.5″ wide by 1.67″ high)- with what ever you want it to say- Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, It’s A Boy/ Girl or whatever the occasion is!  Add a cute graphic to the label and you’re all set. 
*All you need to do is put your cookie inside the envelope and seal- you get to see how yummy it looks through the window!
*Adhere the label so it’s center is on the top of the envelope so half is in front and the other half seals the back down.
These make great party favors as well!

We have growing boys in our house and after school snacks are a must have around here.  One of the favorites around here is Taylor’s chocolate chip cookies.  Some people say to use semi sweet or dark- but forget that, nothing makes a cookie like Milk Chocolate!  Enjoy one of families favorites, 
Taylor’s Best Ever Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies!

1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup raw organic sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup mini Milk Chocolate Chips

1.  Preheat over to 375 degrees.
2. Mix shortening, butter, sugars, egg and vanilla will.  Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.  For a softer, rounder cookie, add 1/4 cup more flour.)
3. Stir dry ingredients together and blend in; mix in chips and nuts if adding.
5. Drop rounded teaspoons of  dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until delicately browned.
Cookies should still be soft.  Cool slightly before removing from pan!

Happy Day,                                                   
Jean