Friday, November 17, 2017

Saintly Women of the Week

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, 
all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).

To be honest, this piece of scripture has always been hard for me to fathom. There are times that I might have felt that I've done it right, but that's usually when I totally blow it. Arguing, snarky comments, disrespectful attitude- I have done it all. 
That's the reason I am so grateful for my little posse of Saints. I can look at their lives as well as ask for their intercession when I am messing up. This week there are a number of saintly women we celebrate who are part of the "communion of saints". Some were wives and moms, one was a brave missionary, and one a martyr. Even with their different stories, they have all helped me to be able to work on being that "unfailing prize" as a wife and mom, but even more importantly, as the woman God is helping me to grow into!

     






St. Elizabeth of Hungary

































Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- From Garden to Table Fried Green Tomatoes


My Piccolo Di Luce Studio

We have been in our new house for a little over a week now. It is starting to feel a bit more like home even with a mountain of boxes still needing to be unpacked and so much stuff needing to be put away. I've started to set up my studio space, and I thought I'd share the view into our backyard. The little house on the right is our chicken coop which will be occupied in the spring. I can't wait to be able to watch our chickies enjoy themselves whilst I am sewing- not to mention being able to see the little birds and all the different plants we have!
What a view!

Tomatoes are still in the garden!!
Freshly picked!

Talking about plants, the previous owners were really nice and left a fantastic garden area for us. We've got everything from grapes to blueberries to an apple tree plus herbs and three raised beds. They even left an artichoke plant which I am super excited about!! There are also a good number of tomato plants in one of the raised beds. I've picked a bunch of the cherry tomatoes for salads, but yesterday thought I'd be a bit more adventurous. I picked green tomatoes to make some Fried Green Tomatoes for breakfast. Normally I have a small breakfast, but I thought it would be fun to use garden fresh produce~ the whole garden to table thing was like a siren's call to which I gladly succumbed. They were so delicious and easy to make that I wanted to share the recipe. I made a couple of poached eggs (can't wait to be able to have eggs from our own chickens) to serve them with although they would be yummy on a sandwich or as a side dish with dinner. Even if you have never eaten them before, give these a try. They are so good plus they're a great way to use up those unripe tomatoes you have in your garden!!

Fry 'em up!
Just a few ingredients needed!
Garden to Table
Fried Green Tomatoes

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1/4 cup half & half
1 egg
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper, divided
1 tsp. Italian herbs
2 poached eggs

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Whisk together half & half, egg, salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in medium bowl. Mix together bread crumbs, remaining pepper and Italian herbs on plate. Dip tomato slice in egg mixture than bread crumbs, being sure to press bread crumbs onto tomato slice. Place on another plate; repeat with all tomato slices. When they are all coated, place a few gently into frying pan being sure not to crowd the pan. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes then flip to other side, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan with spatula and place on plate, covering with foil to keep warm. Repeat cooking process with all tomatoes. 
To serve with poached eggs, place tomatoes on plate, top with poached eggs; sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil. 
Mangia!!
Garden to Table Breakfast


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Moving Right Along

Which way to the Keatley's?
Over the last couple of weeks we have been packing, prepping and getting ready in all sorts of ways to move into our new home. As I wrote a few months back in my post, A Better Place Could Not Be, we had thought we were called to Virginia then realized we were supposed to actually stay in Salem. This last week we finally finished up one part of our #keatleyfamilyadventure as we moved all our belongings to a new home about 6 miles from where we have lived the last 22 years. As we settle in a bit more each day, I am awed by the mercy and blessings of God. We will have many opportunities to do a lot of things we haven't been able to do before. We now have a chicken coop- more to follow on that in the next few months, a garden with raised beds- also more to come, not to mention a gas stove and oven that I can't wait to try out recipes on to share!

What I have really been learning is how to not only be grateful for what we have, but also for what we get to do with our gifts and talents that have been given to us. In our previous home, I was always so happy to have it filled with our kids and extended family and friends. Now that our kids have grown, I so look forward to opening our home in new ways. We want to have dinner parties and kids gatherings and maybe even a regency dance or two. There will be picnics and BBQ's and Epiphany Feasts. How fortunate we are to have a home to share with others while serving the Lord with these gifts and talents.

Gnome Sweet Gnome



I haven't cooked a lot in our new home yet, but I did make some delicious quesadillas with salad and my simple Honeyed Dijon Dressing. Here are a couple of photos of the new house plus the easy recipe I hope you enjoy!






Honeyed Dijon Dressing

1 cup Dijon Mustard (Brian likes Grey Poupon)
1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. garlic granules 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper


Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl. Pour into jar and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for flavors to meld. Delicious over green salad and can be used as marinade for chicken or pork too!


Little Kitty Josephine loves our bedroom!




Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Pumpkin Pie DIrty Chai

On the Way to Mass in Mt. Angel
A sparkling spider web
 I talked in last week's Tasty Tuesdays about the weather changing here in Oregon. I do love this time of year for so many reasons. The foggy sunrise over the Cascades, the dew shimmering on a spider web (outside, of course), and the flavor of pumpkin spice (PS). I know a lot of people think it's a bit overkill on the PS- with it in everything from hot drinks to ice cream to waffles and muffins to even beer. It's been funny to see that people are not on the fence about this. You either like it or hate it. There just isn't much middle ground. Without getting into too much of the PS politics, I must admit I like me some pumpkin spice. What I don't like (not just now, but anytime of the year) is paying a lot of money for a PS latte or mocha or chai or...you get my drift. In the interest of saving money without sacrificing flavor, I have been experimenting with some new hot drinks at home. My newest favorite, just in time to be in with the PS crowd, is a Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai. Did you know you can either buy Pumpkin Spice or Pumpkin Pie flavored syrup? There are a number of companies out there that have these, but I hav found I like DaVinci the best. I also like the Pumpkin Pie syrup better than Pumpkin Spice. They are pretty much the same, but I think the Pumpkin Pie one has a deeper and richer flavor without being bitter at all. I love to go to our local Cash & Carry as they have a huge selection of syrups for anytime of year. I have also come to really enjoy the Caffe D'Vita Chai mix. You can find it all over & I know Fred Meyer carries both regular and decaf which is great if you aren't supposed to have any caffeine. Of course, drinking anything out of my adorable and lovely "hobbit at heart" mug from Tea with Tolkien is a treat, but this time of year you'll find it filled with my Mangia Mamma version of  the Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai. Here are the easy directions to enjoy your own taste of Autumn that packs a PS flavor without the price!!


I love feeling like a Hobbit at Heart!
Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai

Prepared Coffee- enough to fill mug 3/4 full (I make a pour-over using my favorite decaf)
4 teaspoons Caffe D'Vita Chai Mix
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Spice flavored syrup
2 tablespoons half and half or non-dairy creamer


Place chai mix in your favorite mug. Add hot coffee (or use the pour-over method right into your cup). Stir well until smooth; add syrup, half and half or non-dairy creamer. Stir again and enjoy!





Friday, October 20, 2017

Piccolo Di Luce Update & Sale

It's been a great year for my little business, Piccolo Di Luce. For those of you that don't know, I started making pocket oratories and quilted icons a few years ago. It has grown a bit into having online shops on Etsy and Peter's Square as well as being able to be a vendor at a couple of women's conferences this year. 


When November comes, we remember those who have died with All Saints and All Souls Feast Days. There are a number of really cool traditions around the world to celebrate the lives of those who have meant so much to us while here on earth. Our family always makes a trip to the cemetery to visit the graves of my Great-Grandparents, Grandparents and other relatives, taking flowers to decorate. I also love looking through old photos and recalling stories that they shared about the family. This month is always a wonderful time of remembrance.




In honor of this celebration, I am having a special All Saints Sale in my shop on orders placed between today and November 2nd. You can shop at either Etsy or Peter's Square and get 15% off any order over $20.00 by simply using the code ALLSAINTS during checkout. 




I hope you have the chance to stop over to Piccolo Di Luce and check out my new products as well as the special items I have in stock ready to ship. They all make great gifts, and you may even find a little something for yourself!




Thursday, October 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday- St. Wenceslaus' Feast


I wanted to post this sooner, but I thought I'd play the "throwback Thursday" card instead! Three Thursdays ago (September 28) was the feast day of St. Wenceslaus. He was an amazing man of faith who lived in Bohemia in the 10th century. You can learn more about him here. Bohemia is now part of the Czech Republic which lies in the center of Europe. During his 2009 visit to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI called the country's patron saint “a martyr for Christ” who “had the courage to prefer the kingdom of heaven to the enticement of worldly power.” (Catholic News Agency). 
That Thursday was also a special day for a number of people in our Archdiocese. They were going to be confirmed by Archbishop Sample. I had the pleasure of making dinner for him and a small group including our pastor and parochial vicar before the confirmation at St. Joseph's. It's always fun to make special dinners, so I wanted to do this one with a Bohemian flair in honor of St. Wenceslaus. I searched the internet for Czech recipes and found a few I thought I could try. I am linking to most of the recipes because I was so pleased with how simple (even though time consuming) each recipe was. I wish to give full credit where it is due! With Brian's terrific help as my sous chef/prep guy, we make the following menu:

My version of
Svíčková 
Salad with Romaine, Strawberries & Plum Dressing 
(salad dressing from last weeks plum sauce recipe)

Rohlíky- Czech Rolls  from Czech Stuff

Svíčková with Houskový Knedlík-
Beef Roast & Vegetable Sauce with Bread Dumplings

Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce

Turecký Med- Czech Big Hunk Candy from A Little Bit of Czech



It took almost all day to prepare, but it was totally worth it. The Svíčková was probably the best pot roast I have ever eaten, and the Rohlíky were perfect for dipping in the delicious vegetable sauce. It was such a joy to see the plates come back to the kitchen empty & a few of the guests even had time to finish their Turecký Med before heading off to Mass.

I did make the salad and dessert with my own recipes. I thought I'd share the recipe for the Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce for you today!

Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce 

Apple Squares:
1 box of frozen puff pastry 
6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin (I used Liberty, but you can use your favorite)
1/3 cup raw sugar, 
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
more raw sugar, for sprinkling over the top of the squares

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces (thimble size)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Himalayan pink sea salt (I buy mine at Winco in the bulk section)

To make the apple squares, start by thawing puff pastry according to directions. While that is thawing, line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat pads. Prepare filling by mixing apples with 1/3 cup sugar and apple pie spice in a medium bowl. When the pastry is thawed, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each piece of pastry into 6 squares and place 6 on each baking sheet. Divide apple mixture onto each pastry square. Fold up all four corners of each pastry square to the middle, making a smaller square with filling in the middle. Secure each apple square by pressing the middle point of pastry together. Sprinkle each square with a bit of raw sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

To make the sauce, begin by heating the sugar in a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan over medium high-heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, start whisking it.  Keep whisking, even though the sugar will clump up as this will help it melt faster. Once the sugar is liquified, you can stop whisking. and just swirl the pan to keep the sugar moving. Turn the heat to medium and Continue swirling the pan until the sugar reaches a deep amber color. You will need to watch the pan closely, so the caramel doesn't burn. When the sugar reaches the dark amber color, add the butter, one piece at a time.  Using a wooden spoon, stir butter until it is almost melted before adding the next piece; continue until all the butter is added.  Remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour in heavy cream and whisk until blended. This takes a bit of time, but just be patient.  Once it's all smooth and silky-loooking, stir in the salt. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before pouring into container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

To serve: Swirl sauce around on each plate however you want. I tried a swirled circle using a plastic condiment container with a pointy tip. Place your Apple Square on top of the caramel. Make a cannel of ice cream or whipped cream to serve alongside. It would also be delicious with slivered almonds sprinkled over it. 
Makes 12 servings





Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Very Veggie Soup

Autumn is definitely here in the Willamette Valley. While we await the move-in date for our new home, we have been trying to stay warm as the weather keeps getting chillier. Little did we realize we would still be in our current home in this cooler temperature. If not we probably wouldn't have sold our space heaters at this summer's garage sale {insert face palm emoji here}. One thing we have been doing to keep a bit warmer during the waiting is making hearty home cooked meals. Last Friday Brian made a really yummy vegetable soup. We had it with some crusty pretzel rolls and glasses of my favorite Chateau St. Michelle Riesling. You can actually change up the recipe by putting in whatever veggies you have. You can also make it vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken stock. Brian said he thinks it would be delicious with a little fried pancetta on top, and I said we should add some yams and smoked sausage next time. The other great thing about it is that it's simple and hearty and freezes really well too!

Very Veggie Soup
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, sliced thinly (white part only- save the green part for future vegetable broth) 
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin 
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced 
3 quarts chicken stock
1 cup red lentils
4 cups chopped tomatoes (you can also used canned diced tomatoes)
2 cups corn (preferably off the cob, but frozen would be fine too)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, cut into quarters and seeded

Heat a large stockpot over medium-high. Pour in olive oil and heat until oil shimmers. Add leeks, garlic, and a 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Turn heat down to medium and cook until leeks and garlic are translucent.  Add carrots and potatoes; cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add stock, turn up heat to high, and bring to a boil. Turn back down to medium and add lentils. Cook for 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn kernels, remaining salt and pepper; cook for another 20 minutes.
Serve garnished with parsley and a few squeezes of lemon juice. 




Monday, October 16, 2017

Salem Bites- A Quick Restaurant Review of The Coin Jam



 We have our favorite places to eat out here in Salem as I am sure most people do wherever they may live. Even though we are a mid-size city, not to mention the capital of the state, there had been a lack of interesting and delicious restaurants for a very long time. In the past 10 or so years, the food scene in Salem has been slowly blossoming into what I would now consider a collection of eating-out-worthy establishments.

I had heard about one of the newer "kids on the block" for quite a while but hadn't the opportunity to try it before Saturday. It's called The Coin Jam as it not only serves food and a selection of adult beverages, but it has a great collection of vintage arcade games. I know these type of places are popular all over the country, but after having eaten there this weekend, I am more than happy we have one in Salem! 

I went with a group of long arm quilters, who I have found are as particular about their food as they are their quilting. The group ordered a number of menu items- Philly Cheese Steak, Cuban Sandwich, Cheddar Potato Soup. I, however, was there to try the famous Pork Belly Tacos. I had been told how delicious they were, and I was game to give them a try. Upon opening the menu, I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of items they offer, not to mention their beer selection. But even with this, I knew I had to first try that most popular item, the Pork Belly Tacos. I also thought I'd give their Scotch Egg a go as it's something that I really like to try at different places. Browsing through their beer selection, I decided for something not too strong and ordered a Newcastle Brown Ale.

We enjoyed a rousing conversation as the server took our order and remembered everything without writing it down (always an impressive thing). Our drinks and food came out quickly and was lovely to look at as it was plated really well. After one bite of a taco (the plate comes with three), I knew why it's their best selling item. The bit of Asian glaze on the pork belly, the crispiness of the cabbage and freshness of the thinly sliced radish all meshed together topped with a nice drizzle of sauce that just topped it all off. I mustn't forget to mention the Scotch Egg- crispy, seasoned just right with a perfectly soft boiled egg inside and served with a delectable dipping sauce- it fit the bill and tasted just like I had been hoping. 

Everyone else enjoyed their food as much as I did. My one disappointment is that we had to go back for our afternoon class, and I didn't get to test my skills at Pac Man or Asteroids. Oh well, I guess that will be one more reason to be sure to head back to The Coin Jam soon!

439 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301
Hours: 
Mon-Thurs 11:30-11:30
Fri-Sat 11:30-1:30
Sun 11:30-9:00


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Asian BBQ Bowl

Tasty Tuesdays- Asian BBQ Bowl

I don't know about you, but after eating out for a few days, I am always ready to come home and cook...to be honest, not always but at least most of the time. Last night was one of those{insert whiny voice}, "I'm so tired, but we need to eat, and I should probably cook". So, I opened up the fridge and found a good amount of food just waiting to be made into something easy and tasty! 


Whenever I get the chance, I love to try new ingredients- especially if they are something that might be a little unusual in my daily cooking routine. I love it even more when I can find them on sale!
Sometimes you can find the coolest cooking ingredients at places you may not think of looking. We have enjoyed shopping at Cost Plus World Market since we have been married. It's always such fun to check out their food section. As Brian looks around for new wines or other goodies he can find, I usually head to the clearance shelves at the back of the department. Here's what I found last time we were there: 
It's Korean BBQ sauce called Go-Chu-Jang. I had been reading about it and had thought of making my own for a while as I love the flavors of Korean food. At 55% off, it ended up only costing me $2.70. It's spicy and tasty, and it only takes a little bit to add a big boost of flavor, so I would chalk that up to a food win for sure!

I also love shopping at Winco Foods. It's another place that I've enjoyed going to since it was known as Waremart when we first moved to Salem, It's the place I get most of my groceries, and of course, I love looking for deals there too! The meat department is always a good place to look for bargains, and this was my find a few weeks ago. I popped it in the freezer when we got home to wait for the right time to use it. Well, last night was that night!

I decided to put together the pork and Korean BBQ sauce with a few veggies we had and make a tasty Asian BBQ Bowl. Even though it's a simple process- I think everyone can stir fry- I'll still share my easy recipe with you. I mostly want to share with you it is fun to try new flavors and taste combinations at home. Keep looking for those unusual ingredients and when they're on sale, be bold and try some!

Asian BBQ Bowl
2 tablespoons sesame oil (it gives a great flavor and has a high smoking point which is awesome for stir-fry)
4 cups cut up vegetables of your choice (I used what we had- green, red & yellow bell peppers, fresh green beans & green onions)
1/2 pound meat of your choice, cut into strips (I used the pork strips, but chicken or beef would work great. You can even make it without the meat if you want)
2 tablespoons Go-Chu-Jang Korean BBQ Sauce
2 tablespoons liquid aminos or soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch (I get mine in bulk at Winco)
2 tablespoons raw honey (more bulk from Winco)
1/4 cup cool water
Cooked noodles or rice to accompany it
Roasted peanuts & Wasabi peas for garnish

Before cooking, mix together liquid aminos, cornstarch, honey and cool water in medium bowl. Heat large skillet or wok over high heat. Add sesame oil. When oil is shimmering add vegetables and stir; cooking for 3-4 minutes. Move vegetables to side a skillet and add meat; continue to stir for another 3-4 minutes. Turn heat down to medium high. Add BBQ sauce and cook for another 3 minutes until everything is coated. Pour in liquid amino mixture and stir well until sauce is thickened. If it gets too thick, just add a bit more water (this makes more sauce too). You can serve over noodles or rice or you can mix in noodles (I used Udon noodles). Garnish with some roasted peanuts and wasabi peas (they add a nice crunch if you like the spice of them). Serve with a nice glass of Riesling. I have found one at Grocery Outlet from a Washington Winery called Pine & Post that I just love!

















Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Monkeying Around Banana Cake


Most of us have seen them in our kitchen. Many of us have look with frustration on them. They are the bananas that have sat on our counters, either ignored or forgotten about until they have turned a color no one really wants to eat. What does one do with these now more black than yellow fruits?
Well, you can freeze them, just as they are, for smoothies or future recipes. They don't even need to be peeled. This is normally what I would do. Yesterday, however, I decided to stop monkeying around with the three bananas that had gone the way of the dark side.



I got out my trusty 9 x 13 pan and made Banana Cake. Moist and chock-full of flavors, this simple recipe is one that I have enjoyed making both with regular as well as gluten free ingredients. I want to share the regular recipe today, but feel free to substitute the flour for gluten-free flour mix! 

Monkeying Around Banana Cake 
with Vanilla Frosting

Cake:
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 medium bananas, mashed (super ripe or even overripe work best)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9 x 13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, cream butter & sugars until blended. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla; stir until well combined. Mix in mashed bananas. Fold in dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes. 
While cake is baking, prepare frosting. Mix together melted butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Add heavy cream, 1 tablespoon at a time until it is thick but pourable. 
When cake is finished baking, remove from oven and set on cooling rack; let cool for 15 minutes. Spread frosting over top of cake. Let cool for 10 more minutes. Slice and serve by itself or with vanilla ice cream. Makes 16 servings



Thursday, September 28, 2017

An Egg-cellent Idea

How do you like your eggs? I would usually just say, "cooked". There hasn't been an egg that I haven't enjoyed. I thought I had eaten them in every way imaginable, but I realized a few months back that I hadn't ever tried soft boiled eggs. The reason being they just sounded pretty bad. I had viewed them as something that would be runny and goopy and just not something I'd want to eat. Well, I am here to tell you, thanks to Cooking Light Magazine, I decided to brave the world of soft boiled eggs. They had great directions for easy and foolproof soft boiled eggs in a recent issue. So, I took the dive and have found my new favorite way to eat eggs. They are perfect over toast, not to mention eggs benedict, salad and even pizza. Once you master making them- not hard, I promise, you will want to try them in all sorts of ways. Since their recipe and directions were so great, I am simply going to link it here!