Monday, December 31, 2012

Wishing You the Best!

Family Christmas photo

On this last day of the year, I thought I would share our Christmas photo.  It was a miracle this year in that all of my girls (and son-in-law and two adorable grandchildren) were all here at the same time!  If I look like an after thought in the photo, it’s because I set the timer and ran around to be in the pic. 

A couple of outtakes:

Thank you all for spending a little bit of your day here at Sidewalk Shoes.  I love each and every one of you, and I wish you a very Happy New Year’s Eve. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #139 Buffalo Grove Zinfandel

Buffalo Grove Zinfandel

California, 2010, $7.99, total wine.  We say:  soft and creamy, dark cherry.  Well balanced, black pepper, nice finish.  Buy again: yes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #395 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Find the real cat

Can you find the real kitty cat?  This is one of those photos that is not very good.  I just happened to see Patchouli sitting there and snapped as quick as I could before she realized I was behind her.  This is on my back porch.  We have 3 small plaster cats that sit looking out our screened in porch.  I happened to walk out and see Patchouli sitting with them looking out!



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Judi, Jules and Vincent.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Roman-Style Fettuccine with Chicken

Roman-style Fettuccine with Chicken

I could never go low carb.  I can’t go a week without pasta.  Pasta is my secret weapon for not having to cook every night.  Every Tuesday I make a pasta dish and every Thursday, I reheat it for leftovers.  So, when I found Roman-style Fettucinne with Chicken in Everyday Pastafrom Giada DeLaurentis, I didn’t hesitate.

I was intrigued by the addition of the prosciutto and the white wine and tomato combination.

Turns out I had a good reason to be intrigued.  This was good.  Very good.  When you look at the pasta, it looks as if it is not sauced, and yet the tomatoes and white wine have flavored each and every strand of fettuccini.  The prosciutto added just a bit of salty pork flavor and the salty flavor matched the capers. 

Easy and tasty! 

You can find the recipe online:  Roman-Style Fettuccine with Chicken



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter Sarah Jio

After having enjoyed Sarah Jio's The Violets of March: A Novel I was expecting to enjoy Blackberry Winter: A Novel and I did.  

Blackberry Winter is the term used to describe a late cold spell or in this case an unusual snowfall in May.   It is this snow in May that connects two events in Seattle.  

In 1933, when Vera Ray leaves work she finds that a May snow has covered the city of Seattle.  She hurries home to see her small son who she had to leave alone while she works.  She discovers that he is missing and finds his teddy bear, discarded out in the snow. 

In 2010, another May snow covers Seattle.  Claire Aldridge, a reporter is given the assignment on reporting on the unusual snow.  While researching the story, she learns of Vera and her missing son, Daniel.  She decides to find out what happened to Daniel. 

The story has a bit of everything..there is the mystery of Daniel, there is the love story between Vera and Daniel's father, Charles, there is the love story between Claire and her husband, Ethan.  

I didn't highlight any passages, this is not a book with necessarily memorable writing, what it is a sweet story, with a sweet happy ending. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at May 8, 2011.  Some sort of soup.  Possibly a Thai curry??

***What Was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas Everyone!

cat sleeping with tree

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you have a blessed holiday!

Monday, December 24, 2012

SodaStream Source ~My new love~

SodaStream Source

While browsing through my favorite blogs, I came upon Grapefruit and Thyme soda from Reclaiming Provencial.   As it is many times with the web, that lead to another link, and another link, and some googling, and some more googling, and then I found SodaStream Source.  

How could I have not known about this!!!  This is totally something I would embrace with open arms.  I love making my own liquid libations:  Orange Liqueur, Dark Cherry Liqueur, Cranberry Liqueur, and Limoncello.   Imagine making my own soda!!

SodaStream Source

Now, what is funny about this is that I don’t drink much soda.  As a matter of fact the only time I have a soda is when I’m eating out and for whatever reason do not choose my usual sweet tea.  But what I do drink is subtly flavored water.  You know those bottles of water with a hint of cucumber or lemon, that are quite expensive when you figure that it’s really just water.  So, what if I could make my own?!!  I would definitely drink grapefruit thyme soda!

You can get several different models of SodaStream with prices ranging from $79 all the way up to $199.  I chose the Source model, purely based on how it would look on my counter.  I got the very attractive black model.  It comes with a sample pack of soda flavors, a heavy duty bottle and a CO2 cartridge.  You simple install the CO2 cartridge and you are good to go!   You fill the water bottle up to the indicator line, snap it into place on the SodaStream and push down on the lever block to get the desired degree of carbonation.  I use three short bursts. 

The above photo is orange soda made with the orange soda sample pack. 

I love it!!  Totally love it. 

I immediately went on Amazon and ordered:

Homemade Soda: 200 Recipes for Making & Using Fruit Sodas & Fizzy Juices, Sparkling Waters, Root Beers & Cola Brews, Herbal & Healing Waters, ... & Floats, & Other Carbonated Concoctions

and The Artisan Soda Workshop: 75 Homemade Recipes from Fountain Classics to Rhubarb Basil, Sea Salt Lime, Cold-Brew Coffee and Much Much More

I have already tried several recipes and will be posting a review of each book after I complete a few more.

This would make a lovely Christmas present to yourself!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #138 Rosso Toscana per me sola


Rosso Toscana per me sola, 2009, 100% Sangiovese.  $7.99, total wine.  We say:  cherry, earthy, raisin, medium body.  Very nice.  Buy again:  yes.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #394 HERE!! and Saturday Pet Blog Hop



With the passing of Scrappycat and then Smudge, we are now a two kitty cat household.  It’s hard to adjust.  I am still buying way too much cat food.  And Patchouli and Coco do not get along, so Patchouli has her basement apartment and Coco has the two upstairs floors.  We are a house divided.

I tried to get some kitty Christmas photos, but couldn’t get any in time!



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by US right here, right now!!!!.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop! 

Link up below for Weekend Cat Blogging – which will be ending at the end of this year.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

There are many variations of shrimp baked with feta.  And I think that I have tied them all.  And I think that I loved them all!  How could you go wrong with a one-pot meal that cooks itself in your oven, blending all the flavors together perfectly. 

But when I saw the Roasted Shrimp with Feta in Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy TipsI was intrigued by the fennel. 

Roasted Shrimp with Feta

I don’t think I have tried a version with fennel before, and let me just say, it was a wonderful addition!  I totally loved this recipe.  I loved everything about this, the sweet fennel, tomatoes and shrimp pairing nicely with the tangy feta.  The softly cooked veggies with the shrimp, contrasting with the crunch of the bread crumbs.  And yes, I know, I have bread chunks not crumbs (I got a little lazy with my food processor and my stale bread). 

You really have to try this! Roasted Shrimp with Feta.



This will be my entry for Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weeknights with Giada

Weeknights with Giada

I have decided that after I’ve made a few recipes from a cookbook I will do a review of that book!  This way you can see the recipes that I’ve tried, all in one place and find out some more information about the book.  It is sad that it has taken me many, many years of blogging to come up with this idea.  Very sad.   But have no fear, I expect this to become a regular feature!

So, without further ado, let’s begin with Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner 

Like all of Giada’s books, it is filled with gorgeous pictures of both the food, Giada and her family.  Some people have complained that there are too many photos of family and not enough of the food, but I love the family shots. 

The book is organized in 8 sections:  soups & salads; bruschettas, sandwiches & pizzas; pasta & grains; meat, poultry & fish; change of pace; breakfast for dinner; veggies & sides; and desserts. 

From the bruschettas, sandwiches and pizza section, I made the Arugula Pesto, Ricotta and Smoked Mozzarella Pizza.  

Arugula pesto, ricotta and smoked mozzarella pizza.

From the meat, poultry and fish section, I made the Broiled Tilapia with Mustard-Chive Sauce.

Broiled Tilapia with Mustard-Chive Sauce

From the Breakfast for Dinner section, I made the absolutely wonderful Crispy Breakfast Pita and the Baked Potatoes with Sausage and Arugula.

Crispy Breakfast Pita

Baked Potato with Sausage and Arugula

And from the Veggies and Sides section, I made the amazing awesome Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemon.

Fried Smashed Potatoes with Lemon

Every single thing I have tried, I have loved!  Seriously.  And I still have lots marked to try:  Grilled California-Style Chopped Salad with Shrimp;  Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Pancetta;  Risotto with Currants, Pine Nuts and Feta Cheese; Crispy Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt; Asian Quinoa with Salmon;  Fig and Brie Panini;  …..I could go on and on. 

Highly recommend!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Was it Wednesday?

You’re looking at April 10, 2011.  Soup obviously.  Chicken noodle?


****What was it Wednesday – my attempt to work my way through my backlog of cooking photos!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Garden Tuesday or Link up you Holiday decorations!!


I’ve spoken many times about one of my favorite shrubs, Nandina.  It embraces fall and winter with the prettiest bright red berries!

Dogwood tree just finishing up it’s fall colors!

These last two pictures are my oak leaf hydrangea, another one of my favorites for all seasons!

I’m opening up this week’s Garden Tuesday to include any links to any holiday decorations!!  Some of us are so busy making how homes look so festive, we might not have time to step out and take photos of our sleeping gardens!  So feel free to link up a holiday decorations link!

Please join me for Garden Tuesday.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Rich Barley Beef Soup

Rich Barley Beef Soup

As soon as school starts back for me, which now seems to be practically in the middle of summer, I start making soup on Sundays in my slow cooker.  School back in session on August 1st?  I still officially declare it fall.  But now that the weather has finally caught up with fall declaration, it really is soup weather. 

Even though I make my soups in the slow cooker, I don’t necessarily look for a slow cooker recipe.  I look for soup recipes everywhere.  Pretty much any soup recipe can adapted for the slow cooker.  Sometimes I do the initial browning of meat and veggies, because I know it will add another layer of flavor, and sometimes I embrace my inner laziness and throw it all in, turn it on, and blissfully go about my day.

One of my favorite combinations for soup is beef and barley, so when I saw Rich Beef Barley Soup in Barefoot Contessa, How Easy Is That?: Fabulous Recipes & Easy TipsI knew I wanted to try it.  I was intrigued by the two cups of leeks, that seemed like a lot, and I don’t recall making a version like that.

It was yummy!  Unfortunately I couldn’t find oxtails, so I used a chuck with some bone.  And again, I just tossed everything in the slow cooker, except for the barley, and set it on low for 8 hours.  I cooked the barley separate and added it to the soup about 30 minutes before serving. 

Perfect for a cold day!  You can find the recipe online:  Rich Beef Barley Soup


This will be my entry for Souper Sundays (Soup, Salad, or Sammie) hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Weekend Wine Reviews #137 Santiago Station Devil’s Back Carmere

Santiago Station Devil's Back

Santiago Station Devil’s Back Camere, $4.99, total wine.  We say:  a hint of tobacco, smooth, berry, rich, but light, fairly complex finish.  Very nice.  Buys gain:  yes.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Weekend Cat Blogging #393 and Saturday Pet Blog Hop

Cat with Christmas tree

Cat with Christmas tree

Cat with Christmas tree

Christmas decorating can be exhausting.



This will be my entry for Weekend Cat Blogging hosted by Amar & Luna.

This will be my entry for The Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!