June 29, 2011

Welcome to Maine!

The Maine House is on the countdown for the family to arrive. Yes, we have a ton of activities to partake in, and  as you know from previous postings, our days are going to be full of Maine events! On the first day of visiting, we will head out after breakfast for a tour of the area. We want everyone to see the local sights and then choose what activites they want to do and what places they would like to revisit and spend more time enjoying. We begin with a short ride around our little New England village, then venture over to Portland.

The city of Portland is a place that native son Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called his "jewel by the sea." Most people who are familiar with this gem of a city agree that his 19th-century sentiment still rings true today. As one of the Northeast's most sophisticated small cities, Portland pulses with a delightfully vibrant urban atmosphere, yet retains all the warmth and charm of a close-knit community.

Per capita, Portland is said to be home to more places to dine than any other American city, save San Francisco; the caliber of the fare to be found here has been noted in Bon Appétit, Travel and Leisure and Wine Spectator. Portland also maintains a thriving arts tradition, evidenced in its many galleries, theater and dance companies, performance halls and museums.

 A walk through the Arts District lining historic Congress Street rewards you with access to many of these arts venues. Prominent in this streetscape is the Portland Museum of Art, a landmark I.M. Pei-designed building, which houses one of the most revered collections of art in the Northeast. The museum hosts exciting exhibitions and programs that showcase the work of artists including Mary Cassatt, Andrew Wyeth, Edgar Degas, Pablo Picasso and Pierrre-Auguste Renoir. Of special note is a body of 19 significant works by Winslow Homer.

The Portland Performing Arts Center's elegant theater seats just 290 people, but has earned a reputation for the wonderful performances it hosts. It is home to the Ram Island Dance Company, a notable modern dance troupe.

New on the Portland Arts scene but already making a huge impact is the Center for Cultural Exchange, which hosts diverse and lively musical performances and events, featuring artists from all over the world. The newly-renovated 1913 Merrill Auditorium has also taken center stage in the recent past; it has hosted entertainers as diverse as Lyle Lovett, Taj Mahal, Itzhak Perlman and STOMP, and a Boston Globe opera critic deemed it "drop-dead gorgeous." Beautifully appointed with vaulted ceilings, balconies, elaborate ornamentation and a massive 5,000 pipe Kotzchmar Organ, the auditorium is well worth a visit - preferably when the resident Portland Symphony Orchestra is giving one of its celebrated performances.

Built on a peninsula, Portland is bounded by island-studded Casco Bay, placid Back Cove and the Fore River; such geographic constraints led to the happy solution of building the city up rather than out. The resulting urban landscape consists of tall and stately brick, granite and brownstone buildings in an array of 19th-century architectural styles. Portland is wonderful city to explore on foot; Greater Portland Landmarks offers walking tour maps of the city's four main historic districts.

The breadth of things to see and do in Portland warrants a stay one of the number of inns and hotels in the city proper. On the Portland "must-do" list is shopping and dining in the brick-and-cobblestone Old Port District; taking a scenic ferry ride to one of the Casco Bay Islands; visiting the highly regarded Portland Museum of Art and the adjacent Children's Museum of Maine; and touring the incredibly ornate, Italianate Victoria Mansion.

 From Portland, we head south on Route 77 to South Portland, where the Spring Point Light rests on a breakwater adjacent to the Portland Harbor Museum - which features as its centerpiece the bow of America's last clipper ship, the Snow Squall. This 157-foot beauty was left to rot in South America in 1864, but portions of the vessel were recently recovered and are being restored at the museum.

 Further south on 77 is Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, offering heart-stopping views of the sea and access to world-famous Portland Headlight. Commissioned by George Washington in 1791, this light enjoys a long and fascinating history, and has spawned its fair share of legends. A local favorite dates to the early 1900s, when the lighthouse-keeper's parrot (who reportedly cursed like a pirate) acted as a barometer, telling the keeper to turn the light on when a storm was approaching. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow also visited the light frequently, and is said to have penned some of his poetry here. Learn more about this landmark beacon at the museum housed in the former lighthouse-keeper's quarters.

 A few miles south on Route 77 are two beautiful sandy beaches at Crescent Beach State Park and Scarborough Beach State Park - stop to soak up some sun and frolic in the surf. Continue on 77 to 207, where you can take a side trip to Prouts Neck(where the actress Glenn Close calls home), home of revered painter, Winslow Homer. An unmarked trail beginning at Winslow Homer Road (ask for directions at the nearby inn) winds along the cliffs where the artist was often inspired.

 We will continue north on Route 1 to Brunswick, where you can roam the grounds of Bowdoin College and take in a show at the celebrated Maine State Music Theater. Exploring Maine Street is a great way to spend an afternoon - boutiques, galleries and historic homes line the wide avenue. At the top of the Village Green is the First Parish Church, where it is said that Harriet Beecher Stowe first conceived of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Also of interest is the home of Joshua L. Chamberlain, a Bowdoin College professor who, with no prior battle experience, went on to become one of the Civil War's most influential generals. After reportedly having several horses shot out from under him in battle, he became the Union hero at the Battle of Little Round Top, and later carried out the ceremonial duty of accepting the Confederate surrender at Appamatox. His home on Maine Street is maintained by the local historical society, and is open for tours.

This proves to be a full day of exploring the local area on their first trip to The Maine House! Estelle's will welcome the weary travelers home to our easy Italian night.

Estelle's is serving this family favorite appetizer!
This was a recipe Mother often served for their canasta parties!
 A great way for the kiddos to get their serving of fresh summer veggies!


Estelle's Cheesy Artichoke Dip
1 (8 ounce) package Cream Cheese cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded white Cheddar cheese
2 cups sour cream
1 (4 ounce) can green chile peppers
1 teaspoon  Worcestershire sauce
1 clove crushed garlic
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (6.5 ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 (1 pound) loaf round sourdough bread or round rye bread
1 cup chopped Roma tomatoes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft. Stir in Cheddar cheese, sour cream, green chilies, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, green onions, artichoke hearts, salt and pepper.
Slice the top off the bread, and hollow the bread out. Spoon cheese and artichoke mixture into the bread bowl. Replace the top of the bread, and wrap entire bread bowl in aluminum foil. Bake for 40 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from oven, and stir in tomatoes. Serve hot with bread cubes or fresh veggies!!

My family has loved this easy and homey Italian dish which
I have prepared for the past twenty years.
Children gobble this up and the men in your life will vote this a manly-men favorite!

Estelle's Pasta in a Pot
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup prepared spaghetti sauce (Estelle's prefers Ragu Traditional or Barillla 3-Cheese)
1 8-ounce can Italian stewed tomatoes
1 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms, drained
8 ounces large shell macaroni (about 3 cups)
1 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)

In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion, and garlic until meat is browned; drain off fat. Stir in spaghetti sauce, stewed tomatoes, and mushrooms. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a 2-quart casserole or a 4-quart Dutch oven layer half each of the pasta, the meat sauce, sour cream, and cheese. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.

Estelle's LOVES this bread!
 This is a terrific recipe to prepare in your
Bread Maker machine!
 A terrific recipe to utilize the fresh herbs from your summer garden and your
home will smell like you are dining in hills of Positano, Italy!

Easy Cheese Herb Bread
1 1/4 cups warm water
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, softened
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon active dry yeast

Place ingredients in bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Basic or White Bread cycle, and press Start! This bread turns out perfect every time I have made it. The aroma will knock your socks off ! This is sure to "melt yo' buttah'!"

June 28, 2011

Mississippi Summers.....Going Home!

I would call Miss Judy and say, "Hey! Are you gonna' go home this weekend?" Her reply was usually, "Yes, I had planned to." And so it was decided! We would load up that too-small Datsun with four children and two adults (ridiculous) and head out from Dothan on the seven hour drive to Jackson, usually arriving at 1:00 AM! Mother would  be waiting up for us. The minute we all entered the front door....the feel, the smells, the kitchen...all of it....I knew I was home! I would hug my tiny mother all wrapped up in her pink robe even though it was 99 degrees outside. She blasted the AC but she would always say "you know you get colder as you get older!" Off to bed we would go!

Miss Judy arrived on Saturday, usually late morning. We would look out the dining room picture window and see her red van drive up. She would unload the van and bring in arm fulls of summer produce that she had picked up along the drive from Pensacola. The most wonderful thing about the drive from Big P to Jackson was traveling through Mobile and all of the small Alabama towns in which local farms would display their summer crops at roadside produce stands. Tomatoes, Squash, Butter Beans, Pole Beans, Cucumbers (Cukes), ears of sweet corn,  Peaches, Watermelons, and Strawberries! This would last Mother for a month at least.

We would then jump in the car and drive up to Kroger. This is one of my favorite memories! Mother was no longer driving at this point in time after having had a little fender bender in the Kroger parking lot.  So the weekends we were able to visit, she would relish going grocery shopping and Kroger was her favorite grocery store! She would say, "ok, what shall we make for supper?" We took our time during the stroll through the grocery, as she would always meet up with a few friends she had not seen in a while. It was a social occasion for her obviously! Reminding Mother that we could only stay the weekend, and would have to head back to Dothan and Pensacola on Sunday afternoon, we would use some of the summer produce from Alabama to prepare (we call it "fix") dinner for Saturday night. We always made a squash casserole, summer succotash and a dessert. Judy's favorite was lemon chess pie so there were times, this calorie laden dessert was on the menu! I cherish those days. I always said I would try to live life with no regrets. That probably is a goal to strive for, but nearly impossible to ever achieve. I regret the time...not having enough of it! I can no longer go home to Jackson and walk in the front door of our house, sleep in my bedroom, share dinner in our dining room, have breakfast in the kitchen, or have morning coffee on the back porch. I can no longer kiss my mother good-bye. I can no longer share a grocery shopping trip with her. I regret not spending more weekends in Jackson visiting. So...I revisit these memories often....especially walking into the front doors at Kroger with mother.......

Miss Helen's Summer Succotash
1 cup fresh butter beans
 2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 large ears)
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
 1/4 teaspoon pepper

 Cook butter beans in boiling salted water to cover 20 minutes or until tender; drain.
 Sauté corn in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until crisp-tender.
 Whisk together lemon juice, next 4 ingredients, and remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; stir in corn and butter beans. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 3 days.

Summer Squash Casserole
1 1/2 pounds yellow squash
1 pound zucchini
1 small sweet onion, chopped
 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup grated carrots
 1 (10 3/4-oz.) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8-oz.) container sour cream
1 (8-oz.) can water chestnuts, drained and chopped
 1 (8-oz.) Pepperidge Farm package herb-seasoned stuffing
1/2 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Cut squash and zucchini into 1/4-inch-thick slices; place in a Dutch oven. Add chopped onion, 2 tsp. salt, and water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and cook 5 minutes; drain well. Stir together 1 cup grated carrots, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl; fold in squash mixture. Stir together stuffing and 1/2 cup melted butter, and spoon half of stuffing mixture in bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Spoon squash mixture over stuffing mixture, and top with remaining stuffing mixture. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown, shielding with aluminum foil after 20 to 25 minutes to prevent excessive browning, if necessary. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Judy's Lemon Chess Pie
1 (9 inch) pie shell
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
5 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, cream together sugar and butter or margarine until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and milk. Add flour, cornmeal, lemon juice, and lemon rind. Mix until smooth. Pour mixture into pastry shell. Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until set in center.

June 26, 2011

When Winter Finally Gives up the Ghost in Maine...a Celebration is in Order!

The big day is coming....we are on the countdown...all three grandbabies coming to The Maine House! This has been a dream of mine since we moved to New England over a year ago. We wanted to be able to share the fun and beauty of Maine with all the grandchildren. We have so many activities planned which will include, sailing, island hopping on the ferry, having lunch on one of the islands, a trip to Strawberry Banke ( ) in New Hampshire, a visit to The Children's Museum in Old Port and numerous family dinners around Estelle's dining table. We want to reserve the most perfect of summer days for a family picnic and explore the hiking trails along the coastline of Maine. Now the only problem with this is deciding which coastal town we will visit! This will be the first visit to Grandma and Papa's new home for Noah and Abbie and we cannot hold back our excitement. Little Luke has visited twice before, so perhaps he can tell his older cousins some of his stories of Maine, such as his first Lobster boil!

When visiting Maine, these are top spots to enjoy a Picnic by the Coastline!

Wolf Neck Woods in Freeport is the only major breeding area in the United States south of Alaska for the common eider duck, which makes this site a duck lovers paradise. The Casco Bay Trail offers the contrasts of ocean-side walking and woodland shade, with picnic tables and grills along the way. Spend a couple of hours and listen to eider calls across the salt marshes.

Fort Popham is the best place to take kids on a picnic. There is the old granite block fort on the Kennebec River to explore, located at the end of Route 209 south of Bath. Then walk along the beach and watch whirl pools form where river meets sea. Seals often frolic here, and the fishing can be good as the tide comes in. At the end of all this fun comes the picnic, in sight of this historic place were construction began in 1862 during the Civil War.

 The Giant Steps beckon ledge lovers who like to sit on the rocks and watch the sea. On Bailey Island, take the first left after passing Mackerel Cove and park in front of the little church. Walk the path out onto the ledges. The Giant Steps are marked with a plaque. Shelter can be found among the rocks on a windy day, and this is a quiet getaway for people who like to watch gulls dive for fish and listen to the sea.

Ram Island Light, built in 1883, is off Ocean Point on the eastern side of  the mouth of Boothbay Harbor and can be reached by boat. Maine Maritime Museum runs excursions to this site during the summer months. This experience is a must for lighthouse lovers, who can sit in the grass or on the rocks with their picnic. Fragments of beach glass can be found in rock crevices, and there are still rams in residence to keep the grass clipped! Pick a sunny day for this excursion and enjoy a sparkling boat ride.

 Mast Landing Sanctuary in Freeport is one of the best areas in the Midcoast to watch birds and animals. Combine your hike with a picnic, but be aware that fires are not allowed here. Wear hiking shoes and pick up a trail map. If you are seeking a bit of solitude and some quiet time for contemplating wildlife this is an experience you don't want to miss. There are six hiking trails in the sanctuary, encompassing a total of three miles.

These are selected picnic recipes Estelle's has chosen for us, as we celebrate Papa's birthday by the shore! Grandbaby Luke loves to "Dip" most anything in a condiment or sauce. So for our Chicken Tenders, Estelle's is serving little side dishes of Ketchup, Mustard and Jezebel Sauce (found on a previous posting).

Smoked Paprika-Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
2 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
2 pounds chicken tenders
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 quart Mazola oil for frying
(why use Mazola oil? Because Grandmother did!)
1 lemon

Combine the smoked paprika, granulated garlic and onion, and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. Season the tenders with salt and pepper. Add 1/2 the spices to the buttermilk in a shallow dish. Combine the remaining spices with the flour, in a second dish.
Heat the oil in a heavy pot over medium to medium-high heat, about 350 degrees F.
Using tongs dip chicken in the buttermilk, then the flour and repeat. Add the breaded tenders to the hot oil; do not crowd the pan. Cook the fingers in batches to a deep golden color, about 8 minutes per batch. Drain on a wire rack over paper towels. Serve warm or at room temperature with wedges of lemon to squeeze on top.

 Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined. Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake cake pans with butter flavored cooking spray.  Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then lift cupcakes out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Salted Caramel Frosting
2 sticks butter
8 ounces or 1 package of Philly cream cheese
4 to 5cups powdered sugar
1 cup salted caramels

 Bring butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Sift 3 cups of powdered sugar into the butter/cream cheese mixture and beat to combine. Add 1 cup of the salted caramels and beat to combine. Sift 2-3 cups of powder sugar, in 1 cup increments and beating between each, until you arrive at the thickness and sweetness you desire.  Frost cooled cupcakes with a generous amount of frosting. Sprinkle each cupcake with sea or kosher salt. Top with a caramel candy and pecan piece!


June 25, 2011

Natural Surroundings in a Carolina Cottage!

If we were to build a home in the mountains, which we have often talked about, be it the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, or North Carolina, somewhere along the Blue Ridge Parkway, we are gathering the inspiration for our own style of comfort! Growing up, we took several family camping trips to both places so we have often selected these two states to take our own children on summer retreats. This home known as Cow Rock Cottage features several of the elements that we love!

Reflecting its forested location, this beautiful mountain home is decked out in a variety of natural materials―from rough-hewn cedar siding and poplar-bark shakes to stacked indigenous fieldstone. The exteriors are accented with acorn-brown trimwork and shutters, which further link the home to the encircling woodlands. Other colors, such as the rusty, burnt-umber tone of the corrugated metal roof, give Cow Rock Cottage a slightly aged, weathered effect without diminishing its appearance. The home is infused with the look and feel of farmhouses and barns found throughout southern Appalachia. A mountain home would look beautiful as an aged home that appears to have withstood the passing of time.

Stepping Stone Entry
Randomly placed stepping-stones crafted from local granite lead to the front porch’s wide steps. Hand-hewn posts and railings, along with graceful brackets, are crafted from regionally harvested locustwood to further enhance this cottage’s connection to the land. Local fieldstone clads the porch walls

Simple Board-and-Batten Shutters
Shutters crafted from rough-sawn Western red cedar planks are held together with hand-forged-looking strap hinges. Complete with similar shutter dogs, these operable panels are anything but outdated.

 Poplar-Bark Shakes
The use of poplar-bark shakes is about as ecologically conscious as it gets. Hand-peeled and cut on-site from harvested tulip poplars, this siding choice creates the illusion that the cottage sprouted and grew from the land, just like the surrounding trees.

Western Red Cedar Siding
To prevent the bark shakes from stealing the whole show, vertical, rough-sawn Western red cedar siding adds texture to this already earthy mix of materials. Well-known for its natural resistance to moisture, decay, and insect damage, cedar takes stains and paints with ease.

Stone Porch
Randomly placed stepping-stones crafted from local granite lead to this front porch’s wide steps. Hand-hewn posts and railings, along with graceful brackets, are crafted from regionally harvested locust wood to further enhance this cottage’s connection to the land. Local fieldstone clads the porch walls.

Rusted Metal Roof
Cow Rock Cottage’s roof is crafted from recycled materials to create the look of an old tin roof. Metal can last three times longer than asphalt roofing. Even though it’s rusted, the reflective properties of the metal result in a cooler attic, saving more on energy costs than other options.

Estelle's Grilled Turkey Burgers
1 pound ground turkey
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon minced dried onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Fresh Herb Marinade
4 hamburger buns
Toppings: spicy mustard, shaved Parmesan cheese

Combine first 7 ingredients. Shape mixture into 4 equal-size patties. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until no longer pink in center. Grill buns, cut sides down, 2 minutes or until toasted. Serve burgers on buns with Onion Rings and desired toppings.

Estelle's Barbecue Pork Sandwiches
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
2 (3/4-lb.) pork tenderloins
Vegetable cooking spray
6 whole wheat hamburger buns
6 tablespoons Vidalia Onion Barbecue Sauce

Stir together first 4 ingredients; rub pork tenderloins evenly with seasoning mixture. Lightly coat pork with vegetable cooking spray. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350° to 400°) 10 to 12 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portions registers 155°. Remove from grill, and let stand 10 minutes. Chop or slice, and serve on hamburger buns. Drizzle each sandwich with 1 Tbsp. Vidalia Onion Barbecue Sauce.

Estelle's Vidalia Onion Barbecue Sauce
1 medium-size sweet onion, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients and 1/2 cup water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.

June 24, 2011

Catching Fireflies!

Darling and I have been discussing that age old question..."Where should we move for our retirement years?" I don't think there is any question on this from either of us. We are in must be near the water...lakefront property is calling our names!

A Maine House Mosaic

Lakefront living offers the best of both worlds ... gorgeous vistas and water views -- in beautiful communities -- where neighbors are friends, and peace and tranquility reign supreme ... combined with easy access to swimming, fishing, boating, and other fun activities you can dive into right from your lake house shore or dock. Living in a lake house would feel like being on vacation every day of the year. My Daddy's cousin, Louise and her dentist husband, Bill Mellor, had gorgeous lake property in Ohio. We would often visit them in the summer and stay at their cabin-like home. It was cozy, beautifully, yet comfortably furnished and you felt instantly at home when you walked through the front door. I remember that they had a twig rocker with a big red cushion in the seat....I used to love sitting in that rocker, looking out at the lake. Anytime you felt like it, you could go down through their yard, to the dock, jump in their boat and head out across the lake to a little homestyle community restaurant. We would spend cool evenings on their front porch, catching fireflies and listening to the adults talk about the "good ole' days!" Those were magical summer memories. Who knows where we will move next, but isn't it worth the dream?

Grilled Shrimp Gumbo Summer Salad with Fresh Corn Vinaigrette
6 (12-inch) wooden skewers
1 pound unpeeled, large raw shrimp (36/40 count)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
1 pound fresh okra
6 (1/2-inch-thick) sweet onion slices
1 green bell pepper, quartered
2 (16-oz.) packages baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half

Soak wooden skewers in water 30 minutes. Preheat grill to 350° to 400° (medium-high) heat. Peel shrimp; devein, if desired. Drizzle shrimp with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning. Thread shrimp onto skewers. Drizzle okra, onion, and bell pepper with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil; sprinkle with remaining 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning. Grill okra, covered with grill lid, 4 minutes on each side or until tender. Grill onion slices and bell pepper, covered with grill lid, 6 minutes on each side or until tender. Grill shrimp, covered with grill lid, 2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turn pink.
 Cut okra in half lengthwise. Coarsely chop bell pepper. Toss together okra, bell pepper, and onion in a large bowl. Remove shrimp from skewers, and toss with okra mixture, tomatoes, and Fresh Corn Vinaigrette.

Corn Vinaigrette
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Whisk together fresh corn kernels, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, minced garlic clove, balsamic vinegar, Creole mustard, and chopped fresh thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Estelle's Frozen Lemonade Pie
Graham Cracker Crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted

Lemonade filling:
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1 (12 ounce) container whip topping, thawed
1 (6 fluid ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, keep frozen
1 teaspoon fresh lemon peel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In medium bowl, combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the melted butter. Press firmly on bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake for 7 minutes and let cool completely.
In a medium bowl, add chilled sweetened condensed milk and cool whip and fold gently. Add frozen lemonade and continue to gently fold. Do not let the mixture become soupy. Pour mixture into the pie crust and freeze overnight. Garnish with fresh lemon peel.

"When I was a little kid, of course, I was brown all summer.
That's because I was free as a bird- nothing to do but catch bugs all day."
-- Roy Blount Jr.

June 23, 2011

A Day at the Shore!

That's the famous Goldenrod restaurant on the right --
more than 100-years-old and famous for its salt water taffy!
We pointed excitedly as we drove into the little New England community of York, Maine

We visited York and Short Sands Beach last July, continuing our exploring adventures as new "Mainers!" This was the place to be last summer. As you know from previous postings, we are a die-hard Florida beach family. The expression of "let's go down to the shore" sounded foreign to our ears...something that you would hear someone from the "Nawth" from New Jersey and New York.  However, it was a great visit and it felt as if we were spending a day on vacation in the summer of 2010.

A Maine House Mosaic

 It is still so odd to think we live here with all these New England villages just a hop, skip and a jump from The Maine House. People were walking hand-in-hand along the sidewalks, window shopping, eating at little outdoor cafes, relaxing over glasses of wine and cocktails as the summer bands played their music...the aroma's of seafood, candy apples and salt water taffy filled this community! All of the beach type rentals were filled with white Adirondacks and colorful flower pots of mandevilla's, candytuft and petunias! It is definitely worth the time to visit this quaint seaside town! Family visiting in July will find the Short Sands Beach area something they have not experienced before, with brownish sand and the rocky shoreline. On our visit, the shoreline was packed full with all ages sunning under colorful beach was fun in the sun for these New Englanders!

Estelle's is going to welcome family arriving from Boston with some of their
 favorite summer appetizers!
Upon arrival for these tired travelers will be cool Watermelon Mojitos!

Estelle's Summer Baby Hot Browns
24 pumpernickel party rye bread slices
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups diced cooked turkey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
6 bacon slices, cooked, crumbled, and divided
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat; add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk; cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Add Cheddar cheese, whisking until cheese melts. Stir in diced turkey, salt, and ground red pepper. Place spoonful of this mixture on top of each bread slice and top with tomato slice. Arrange bread slices on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil 6 inches from heat for 3 to 4 minutes.

Estelle's Summer Tropical Fruit Salad
2 cups (1-inch) cubed fresh pineapple
1 cup chopped peeled papaya or mango
1 cup sliced peeled kiwifruit (about 3 kiwifruit)
1 cup red seedless grapes
2/3 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carambola (star fruit; about 1)
1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Chill at least 30 minutes.
Combine honey and juice in a small bowl, and toss with fruit just before serving.

Estelle's Fresh Lemon Marinated Asparagus
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke heart quarters, drained
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimiento, drained
2 pounds fresh asparagus
Garnish: lemon rind strips

Whisk together lemon juice and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl; add artichoke quarters and diced pimiento, and gently toss. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight. Snap off tough ends of asparagus; cook in boiling salted water to cover 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain asparagus, and plunge into ice water to stop cooking process. Place cooked asparagus in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, and store overnight in refrigerator, if desired. Add asparagus to artichoke mixture, and gently toss. Cover and chill 2 hours. Garnish with fresh lemon rind strips.
Watermelon Mojito's
5 cups cubed seeded watermelon
1 cup sparkling water, chilled
3/4 cup white rum
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 (6-ounce) can frozen limeade concentrate, undiluted
Fresh Mint sprigs
Fresh Lime slices

Arrange watermelon in a single layer on a baking sheet; freeze 2 hours or until completely frozen.
Combine frozen watermelon, sparkling water, rum, mint, and limeade in a blender; process until smooth. Garnish with mint sprigs and lime slices. How pretty and refreshing!