Saturday, October 29, 2022

Fall fun and food passions

 As I write this, fall has been in full swing in many of the other parts of the country, not to mention up in Canada. Leaf peepers have seen the glory of the fall colors and now many trees are past peak. Not so much fall weather here yet. We've had a total of maybe a week or 10 days of cooler temps and crystal blue skies. Sleeping with the windows open and smelling that crisp air is so wonderful, I want more!

One of my wonderful neighbors gifted us with a stellar loaf of Iced Pumpkin Bread, how cool is that. It is delicious, especially after dinner with a cup of hot tea. Generous and thoughtful 💖 She gets the "good neighbor" award for sure.

So good, so moist and the spices are on point too.

For me, this is the food time of year. I can have fun making many of our favorite dishes and stock the freezer as well.  On the docket this week was the Ree Drummond King Ranch Chicken Casserole recipe, which is pretty labor intensive the way I make it, but hearty and oh-so-good. I do a lot of the prep work a day or 2 in advance to pace myself - (sounds so dramatic, huh?). Here's what it looks like at assembly time.

Top left, corn tortillas & chipotle sauce, well-simmered and
seasoned pinto beans, cheddar cheese shreds, a bowl of
sauteed mushrooms, onions and red & green bell peppers,
and a bag with the whole, torn up rotisserie chicken.

Let the layering begin! Out of the picture is a big pot of Tex-Mex seasoned "gravy" which gets ladled on after each layer. It's much like making lasagna; sauce, then torn-up tortillas, chicken, pintos, the mushroom mixture, shredded cheese then the magic gravy.. Repeat.

The first layer in process, with mushroom mixture just going on.
When you think about 2 layers like that you can tell just
 how hearty it will end up being.

Finally topped up and ready for the oven. After baking, I refrigerate it overnight to not only let the flavors develop but also to make it easier to divvy-up for the freezer.

I got 8 generous (can you say lunch leftovers?)
2-person servings out of this batch. Not bad.

There is always some yard work needed after we get home from the Rockies. The palm tree beds, on the dock level, are full of weeds and the silk flower arrangements are tired after being out in the summer sun. Time to put all that in order. Ship-shape and Bristol finish, haha, we try. 😊

Yep, this is pretty overgrown and awful.

I pull all the weeds and tidy up the lava rocks etc, and
the Boss gets the shop-vac after all the mess that's left behind,
This year our biggest queen palm had a couple of big seed pods
and the seeds were a mess, but we got 'em.

The after shot, taken from the deck, looks so much better.  Here's a shot of one of my silk floral arrangements that I made last year. 

It just dresses up the bulkhead wall and looks pretty.

The other day was the Air Show up at the Naval Air Station. We didn't go, but had hopes that we might get a good fly-by from the Blue Angels (like we did last year). Nope, we saw them from afar but they didn't pass overhead here.  Here's a shot courtesy of the Ft. Lauderdale Air Show.

Love the precision of their formations.

One last shot of a beautiful morning sunrise, so pretty.

Morning sunrise over the lake.

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Homeward bound

 Sorry this blog is long overdue, but we got very busy at the end of Sept and we're still playing catch-up.  And so it went, the buttoning up of Rocky, our summer abode, and then on the road heading back to Florida and our forever home, where the cleaning, unpacking and organizing is still in progress.  The trip is about 1900 miles and usually requires 4 overnights. We take the 1st night in Fort Collins because by the time every little thing is done, all we want to do is drive down the canyon (45 miles of twisty, slow-going road), shower, eat and crash.  This year we took an extra night so that we only had a short 3-4 hour final leg before rolling into town. This gave us a few hours to work on opening the house up, get the water & fridge turned on, the place aired out, do a small shop and get squared away throughout the afternoon and evening.

The last week out west was pretty busy, and most especially the last couple of days before leaving. We had several boxes with canned/boxed foodstuffs that couldn't go into the car until the last minute for fear of bear activity, so our other "bring-backs" got piled up here and there inside the rig. In our down time, we watched the turkeys enjoy themselves around the park and up on the fence next door to us.

These turkey's got to where they liked sitting up on the fence and preening.
They would come into our park to browse for bugs, then fly up and preen,
then jump down to the property next door which is largely undeveloped.

One day while up at the laundry room I was sitting outside on the phone talking to my sister and I watched this squirrel stock up on pinecones. He'd race across the driveway and up the pine tree, pick out a likely pinecone, and with it in his teeth, race back to the shed and into his entry hole to stash it. I guess his eyes were bigger than his entry point! These cones got stuck and he couldn't get them inside, lol.

Not the best shot but here he is.

And so it began, the long drive back home, first through the diminishing hills of Colorado, and into the huge stretch of agricultural land in the mid-west.

I often wonder exactly what is being grown, sometimes
it's pretty obvious but other times it keeps me guessing.

 As we made our way through the Missouri/Tenn territories we found a few roads with light traffic - what a treat! Driving through big cities, even on the bypasses really taxes the patience of my DH.

Made it home in one piece, and a couple days afterwards, started the big cooking projects, which is fun for me!! 😀  A visit to my handy Publix for a ready-made pizza crust, got a pie made up for supper one night. I always keep on hand the fixings for pizza, it's an easy fix up.

Before the stint in the oven.

One of my first priorities is always to make up some of the dishes that I haven't made over the summer and get them stashed in the freezer for easy, delicious meals on those days I'm not feeling it. The ground beef, black beans and rice filling for stuffed peppers and burritos is a bit time-consuming, (the meat is fully cooked), but so worthwhile. I add plenty of onions, mushrooms and corn plus all the taco-type seasonings that "Tex-Mex" it up, Hatch chilies too. They aren't super spicy, just flavorful. Here's what I ended up with; 3 sets of stuffed peppers, (we ate one set), and 6 burritos. Yum in advance.

With a few tortilla chips these are a favorite. They freeze well
and reheat easily in a covered frying pan, a low oven or the microwave.

I pop these into a covered frying pan, nestled in a "dirty rice"
mixture, pour on some salsa and sharp cheddar, cover them and
let them heat over a low burner for a half hour or so, again more chips.

One of the veggies I love, LOVE most is collards, and you can get a big bunch, cook them and end up with some for the freezer. This time I used a big bunch of turnip greens and a big bunch of collards. Add a ham hock, sauteed onions & garlic, some chipotle sauce and homemade stock and you've got greens to die for, for days! I got 6, 4-serving batches, 5 of which went into the freezer. 😋

Still mopping, polishing and doing laundry, not to mention clearing up our overgrown, weed-infested palm tree beds, but early morning sunrises like this are truly something to be enjoyed with your sweetie and a cup of coffee.

Thanks for checking in, see you the next time.