BEANIE & MITTENS .. the crochet story.

When I was in nursing school one of my classmates would crochet in the evening.I believe her name was Cindy. She was very serious about everything and also very intelligent. I asked one evening after watching her, “would you teach me how to do that”. She did and probably got a few grey hairs but I finally got it.

I am one of those people who loves to craft as well as cook. There is such a sense of accomplishment when a project is finished. Recently, I made a crocheted hat and mittens for my friend’s birthday. The weather has been a bit bitter here and she has refused to come out of the house until the temperatures are above 40 degrees. Seemed like a perfect gift to me.

Well, true to Maryland style weather, the temperatures have gone from 9 degrees to the 50’s and I am still holding onto her gift. I haven’t seen her come out of hibernation yet!  I’m sure she has; I just haven’t seen her head emerge to gift her. I know, in true Maryland style, we will have more cold weather before winter is over. Hopefully she will get to use them.

I hadn’t crocheted for a while so it took me a few attempts to get my crochet on.  All in all the project went well and I have the goods to prove it. I used a pattern from http://www.leftinknots.com for the mittens. The hat is done in a simple double crochet with the edges and the top of the hat joined at the seams. I purchased a fur like pom-pom from a seller on Etsy. It looks real doesn’t it?

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Do you like to crochet? I would love some good patterns or ideas since I’m on the chain gang kick again. I would love to hear from you and hope you enjoy the patterns.

Had to post a pic of the birthday girl! I finally got her gift to her. She loves it!!!!

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Mittens: http://www.leftinknots.com    The Perfect Fit Mitten

Hat: 4.0 Hook, Worsted Weight Yarn

  1. Chain 62, add 2 chains to turn, (total 64). Leave a long tail for sewing the seam.
  2. Double crochet, starting in the second chain from the hook, crocheting in the back loop only which will create the rib. Continue to the end of the chain, turn, chain one and continue again across the piece in double crochet.
  3. Continue in that pattern until the piece fits securely but not too snuggly around the head, usually 20- 22 inches wide. (the ribbing should be going in an up and down pattern.
  4. Sew the back seam together with the long tail and continue to the top. Going. in and out of every other stitch at the top, then pull tightly and bring to the inside to secure with a knot. (this will close the top of the hat)
  5. You can make a pom-pom or purchase one as I did. and secure it through the top of the hat.
  6. Roll up the brim. You can also purchase buttons for decoration or it can be left without them. A pretty rhinestone pin would also have been cute.

Until next time,

Ciao xoxo

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I’m Back…..Air Fried Bagels

I promised myself I was going to write at least twice a week. So far I haven’t been great about it but today prompted me to remember my committment to myself. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a very happy New Year.

I don’t make resolutions because I feel like we should be the best we can be every day. Let’s face it, nobody is perfect! I am striving to be happier and healthier this year. I think that’s a great start.

So on that note…..I am following the new Weight Watchers Freestyle program along with the hubster. I have always loved Weight Watchers because I don’t have to buy special foods. I don’t have to cook something different for guests. I can still go out on occasion and I can still have a cocktail or dessert if I want to. While my daily points have decreased, the number of zero point foods has increased. It’s a learning curve, but we are getting there.

Recently posted was a WW recipe for air fried bagels. They can also be baked. I just happen to own a Cooks Essential air fryer and love it. Really, “everything topped” air fried bagels. I had to give it a whirl. It makes 4 nice sized bagels at 3 points.

So here’s the before air fried pic’s…..

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and here’s the after…..

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Can I just tell you………YUM. They really were excellent. I will make these over and over again. They were very simple to do. I will, in the future, make them into a thinner rope before shaping them into a bagel. Mine seemed to be a tad doughy. Taste wise, hands down, a great bagel. If you could only see the many possibilities rolling through my brain………..it’s exhausting.

So without further ado, I will post the recipe. Give it a try! Oven or air fried, it was well worth giving it a test run.

WEIGHT WATCHERS OVEN OR AIR FRIED BAGELS

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 FS POINTS PER SERVING

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (make sure it’s not expired)
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C non-fat Greek yogurt that has been strained overnight. (do not use regular yogurt, it will be too sticky)
  • 1 beaten egg, or egg white
  • Toppings of choice (you can purchase “Everything Topping” from King Arthur Flour) or use sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic or onion flakes or make your own everything topping.

DIRECTIONS:

OVEN METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Place parchment or silpat on a baking sheet. If using parchment spray with oil to avoid sticking.
  2. In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and whisk well. Add the yogurt and mix with a fork until well combined. It will look like small crumbles.
  3. Lightly dust flour on a work surface and remove dough from the bowl, knead the dough a few times until dough is tacky, but not sticky, about 20 turns. (It should not leave dough on your hand when you pull away).
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal balls. Roll each ball into a 3/4 inch thick rope and join the ends to form a bagel.
  5. Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice. Bake for 22 minutes in 350F oven then increase to 550F for 4 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

AIR FRYER METHOD:

  1. Pre-heat the air fryer  325F and set for 11-12 minutes.
  2. Repeat steps 2-4 as above for the oven method.
  3. Top with egg wash and sprinkle both sides with seasoning of your choice.
  4. Transfer in batches without overcrowding and bake 12 minutes, or until golden. No turning needed. You can check them at 10 minutes for color.
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

Family Means Everything..

Since our cruise it has been a very hectic time in the Del Grosso household. We returned from a cruise to have Thanksgiving 3 days later. Thanksgiving brought all of our family together which was my in-laws greatest wish. Then on December 2nd we lost one of the greatest men I have ever known.

My father in law passed away on this Saturday in December. Sadly, it was also my sister-in-laws birthday. Our third childs birthday falls on the 3rd of December. This time of year is never easy to lose someone, then again, no time is an easy time.

As soon as we learned of the news we went to be with my mother in law. My sister-in-law immediately flew home from Michigan. Our 2nd child and her husband drove from Baltimore. The other children followed shortly from Michigan to Maryland, and this family was complete. We attempted to surround her and comfort her with all the love we have for both of them. Preparations had to be made!

My husband and his sister and mother had to bear the burden of making arrangements. Pops, as fondly known to our family, was well-loved by many and respected by all. As difficult as it was, people from vast geographic areas had to be given time to pay their respects to this giant of a man.

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I love this family and feel so privileged to be a part of it. All of our children could not have been more supportive and thoughtful. The grandchildren were equally impressive in their show of support and love for everyone. I looked around and my heart was so filled with love……..this is my family.

We take so many things for granted in this life. We always think there is going to be time. “I can do that tomorrow” or “I really don’t have time right now”. Truth is, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. Consider this encouragement! Make time for the ones you love. Take the time to make that phone call. Include your loved ones in your plans. Say I love you, hold hands, give hugs, share a kiss, and tell people how much you care. One day that won’t be a luxury you have any more.

I would like to tell you how wonderful Pops was to all of us and what he meant. Never an unkind word, always supportive and encouraging, wise in advice. The list goes on and on. Most of all there was unconditional love for all of his family. You knew it without it being said. It was like a big warm blanket that comforted all of us. There will never be another and he will be missed greatly every day.

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In closing I would like to thank all of the friends and family that supported us and continue to do so. All of the kindness and caring, and outpour of love made this difficult time a little easier for this family to bear.

Just remember, family is everything! Please hold your’s dearly and keep them close. Make sure they know how much they are loved and needed. Tomorrow will come but today is more important. Make it your mission to live for today.

Respectfully for my father in law “Pops”, til we meet again.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

KALE SALAD WITH CREAMY GARLIC DRESSING

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Well….the cruise is upon is. I am trying to use everything in the fridge that is perishable. This one was inspired by a party we were recently invited to. A local restaurant catered the event. I fell in love with their Kale Caesar. My daughter has had it before and raved about it. Now I know why!

I used the same salad ingredients but came up with my own dressing. Fresh kale, cherry tomatoes, charred corn, black beans, candied pecans, and grated parmesan cheese. My husband used an adjective that I can not repeat…..LOL; followed by the word “great”! After he had two helpings I was convinced blogging it would be a great idea.

Kale has gained popularity over the past few years in restaurants and particularly as salads. I have loved kale since I was a child. I still love the cooked version and we have it in our house quite a bit.

It looks like a lot of ingredients and instructions, but it is well worth it. Make the candied pecans ahead of time. Make the dressing ahead of time. The hardest part is not eating too much. Seriously, it is very simple to make.

I have included instructions for the candied pecans, creamy garlic dressing, and the salad ingredients. Kale is at it’s best this time of year and very easy to find. I hope you give it a try.

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Kale Salad with Creamy Garlic Dressing

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 8-10 C of kale, washed well, and chopped into ribbons
  • 1 C of grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
  • 1 C of fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 C freshly grated Parmigiano / Reggiano cheese

Dressing

  • 1/4 C sour cream (I use light)
  • 2 Tbsp light mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper

Candied Pecans

  • 1 C pecan halves
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 T packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp water
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

For the pecans:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla, and salt in a small bowl and set aside near by.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, add the pecans and toast until just fragrant and hot.
  3. Quickly pour the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss to coat, cook for about 15-20 seconds. Do not walk away, they will burn very quickly if not watched.
  4. Pour onto a parchment or waxed sheet lined pan and allow to cool. They will harden as they cool down.
  5. Once cooled break apart if needed. Use immediately or store in an airtight container for later use. * You may want to make a double batch. They will disappear quickly.)

For the dressing:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients and with an immersion blender mix and slowly add the olive oil. You can also use a blender for this step.
  2. Add the salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Set aside while putting the salad together.

For the salad:

  1. Put the kale into a large bowl and massage with your hands to help break it down. Immediately add half of the dressing to help soften it and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. While that is sitting cook the corn kernels with a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat until the sugars produce a nice charred look. Place on top of the salad.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans, and cheese, and pecans. (I used a full cup of pecans)
  4. Add the rest of the dressing and toss all together until everything is coated.
  5. Garnish with additional shaved cheese if desired.

Nothing left to do but eat and enjoy.

See you after the cruise. Hopefully I will come home with some new taste sensations or at least some great stories.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

Halloween is here and all the goblins and ghouls will be out tonight. My handsome grandson is going as Indiana Jones. Bullwhip and all! Shame we couldn’t find a monkey to perch on his shoulder.

As soon as October is over I start getting ready for Thanksgiving. I happened to run across this recipe, posted by “12 Tomatoes”. When I read the ingredients I knew I had to try it. My husbands exact comment was “why bother cooking a turkey, this is fantastic.” I could not agree more.

The only thing I changed was some of the seasonings. I have some leftover and I have a vision. I don’t know what you do with turkey after Thanksgiving. As for us it’s turkey sandwiches with the works. I am going to do the same with this meatloaf. A nice slab of meatloaf, topped with cranberry sauce, between two great slices of bread and maybe a little mayo. Can you taste it??

Please forgive the photo. I really wanted to take a picture of it with sides. Sorry folks, it didn’t make it. I served it with cauliflower puree and a baked sweet potato. Seriously, it smelled like Thanksgiving in here.

Thank you “12 Tomatoes”. This one is a keeper. I will be making this over and over again. I guarantee if you try this one, you too will make it again and again.

TURKEY & STUFFING MEATLOAF

SERVES: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of ground turkey
  • 1 (6oz) box Stove-Top herb seasoned stuffing
  • 1 C jarred Turkey Gravy
  • 1/2 C carrots, diced
  • 1/2 C onion, diced
  • 1/2 C celery, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 t ground sage
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 2 T milk
  • Kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Grease an 8×8 loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet, saute’ the carrot, onion, and celery til softened.  Add the garlic and continue to cook until just fragrant.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, stir in 3 T of gravy, cooking for 2 minutes more, remove from heat and let it cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, stuffing mix, eggs, and milk. Fold in the cooled vegetable mixture, add the poultry seasoning and sage, and season all with a more salt and pepper. (Using a large serving fork to mix this with keeps it from becoming to dense and compressed)
  5. Turn the mixture out into your greased pan, shape so the sides are uniform and it appears to be in loaf form.
  6. Top with the remaining C of gravy.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes.
  8. Serve hot topped with additional gravy if desired.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo

BUBBLE UP CHICKEN POT PIE

Hi there! Have I got a quick and easy recipe for you to try. Quick and easy being the key words here. It’s an adaptation from a Weight Watchers recipe. I added a few seasonings to add flavors that I like.

I am getting ready for a cruise. I have never been on one so I am getting a lot of feed back from my friends. I am also doing a lot of on-line research. Stuff like, what to pack, do’s and don’ts kind of things. I am told that cruises are great! Lord I hope so; because neither my husband or myself are thinking we are cruise type people. The one positive,  we are going with a group of good friends. It will definitely be a party!!

My time has been consumed with work and what to pack. I have been trying to keep meals simple and also low in points values. If you have been following me you know I am a firm believer in the Weight Watchers program. This recipe delivers great flavor, and it’s done in no time at all.  You can use my quick cook chicken method, CROCK POT CHICKEN FOR THE WEEK, or a rotisserie chicken. Best of all it’s very satisfying and a one dish meal.

Hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. Send me a photo or a comment when you try it!

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BUBBLE UP CHICKEN POT PIE
SERVES 6
10 SP per serving

Ingredients:
• 2 C chopped cooked chicken
• 1 can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
• 1 C light sour cream
• 1 C shredded 2% cheddar cheese
• 1 ½ C frozen mixed vegetables
• Sherry, a splash or to taste
• 1 T poultry seasoning
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 (7.5 oz) can of biscuits

Directions:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Lightly spray an 11×7 glass casserole dish with cooking spray
3. In a large bowl, stir together the chicken, soup, sour cream, cheese, frozen vegetables, sherry, salt and pepper.
4. Remove and separate the biscuits from the can and cut each into 4 pieces. Toss with the chicken mixture.
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Make sure the biscuits are evenly spaced throughout the mixture.
6. Bake for 35 minutes.

Til next time,

Ciao xoxo