Favorites Friday!

I’ve been enjoying taking my camera with me out in the garden, during the sunnier times of the day- and using my all-time favorite lens (which I used for all these photos today).

My favorite- really truly favorite- are southern peaches… southern peaches

Thank heavens they’re in season again. Have a great weekend!


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Passive Aggressive Weather

Hi Friends. I really wanted to go hiking at Graveyard Fields the last few days to have another family-style adventure to share with you here- I really did! But every time I grab my camera and start to head out, this happens:

stormy weather

and then this:

stormy weather2

blaahhhh. I’ll get there- eventually. In the meantime, this looks like a great time to go get some chicken and try out this new recipe I found today at Cooking With Thas:

Baked Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks (I’ll probably use boneless thighs)

Thas says, “…take it easy and be creative in your kitchen… your taste buds will admire and embrace you.” Sounds good.

baked-parmesan-chicken-drumsticks

Ingredients
  • Chicken Drumsticks- 12
  • Ground pepper- ½ tsp
  • Bread crumbs- ¼ cup
  • Parmesan Cheese, grated- ¼ cup
  • Chili powder or Paprika- ½ tsp
  • Dried Oregano- 1½ tsp
  • Salt- to taste ( don’t add too much as parmesan cheese has salt in it)
  • Non-stick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Clean the chicken drumstick under running water, you could use skin on or remove the skin according to your preference.
  2. In a large bowl, combine ground pepper, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, chili powder, dried oregano and salt.
  3. Put the cheese mixture into a ziploc bag.
  4. Put the chicken drumsticks into the bag and shake it for sometime till the drumsticks are evenly coated with the cheese mix.
  5. If you don’t have a ziploc bag, you could just roll each chicken drumstick on the cheese mix and coat it evenly.
  6. Let it stand for 1o minutes.
  7. Pre heat the oven to 400 For 204 degree Celsius.
  8. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  9. Place the drumsticks without crowding them.
  10. Spray each drumsticks with non-stick cooking spray.
  11. Bake for total 30 minutes or until drumsticks turn golden brown in color.
  12. After the initial 15 minutes of baking, flip over the drumsticks to the other side and if needed spray some more oil on it.
  13. And then, bake for the remaining 15 more minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce or salad on the side.
Notes
You could use boneless chicken breasts instead of drumsticks.
Happy Trails and Bon Apetit!

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Sundays In My City

Blue Ridge Mountains - AshevilleBlue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, North Carolina

Biltmore EstateBiltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina

Blue Ridge ParkwayBlue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, North CarolinaMorning Light in the KitchenMorning light in my kitchen, near Asheville, North Carolina.

Linking to:    Sundays In My City  Skywatch Friday  Our–Beautiful–World


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Friday Favorites!

Happy Friday – the perfect day for a favorites roundup!

Favorite Funnies: funny1

from: fatbottomfiftiesgetfierce.com and write good

Favorite iPad Photo Apps of the Week:

Simply HDR HD: This photo of my sweet labrador retreiver, Gracie, came out beautiful:

favorite labrador retreiver

Favorite new recipe of the week:

homemade chicken ramenFrom: forkknifeswoon.com

Simple Homemade Chicken Ramen

Prep time 15 mins
Cook time 45 mins
Total time 1 hour

Recipe by: Fork Knife Swoon
Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts (boneless, skin-on)*
kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to season
1 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 tsp fresh garlic, minced
3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
4 cups rich chicken stock
1 oz dried shitake mushrooms (or 1/2 cup fresh)
1-2 tsp sea salt, to taste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup scallions, sliced
2 (3 oz) packs dried ramen noodles
optional: fresh jalapeño slices, for serving

Instructions
Cook the chicken*: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook until the skin is golden brown and releases easily from the pan, about 5-7 minutes. Flip the chicken over and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until golden. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the oven, transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil until ready to serve.

Make the ramen broth: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for a few minutes until softened. Add the soy sauce and mirin, and stir to combine. Cook for another minute. Add the stock, cover, and bring to boil. Remove the lid, and let simmer uncovered for 5 minutes, then add the dried mushrooms. Simmer gently for another 10 minutes, and season with salt, to taste.

Make the soft-boiled eggs: Fill a pot with enough water to cover the eggs, and bring to a boil. Gently lower the eggs (still cold from the fridge) into the boiling water, and let simmer for 7 minutes (for a slightly-runny yoke) or 8 minutes (for a soft, but set-up yoke).

Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. When the timer finishes, transfer the eggs to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wait at least 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, then carefully peel away the shell and slice in half, lengthwise. Set aside until ready to serve.

Assemble the ramen bowls: Meanwhile, chop the scallions and jalapeño (if using). Slice the chicken into thin pieces. Set aside. When the eggs finish cooking, add the ramen noodles to the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft, then divide the noodles into two large bowls. Add the sliced chicken and the ramen broth. Top with the fresh scallions, jalapeño and the soft boiled egg. Serve immediately.

Note from Laura:
Ask your butcher to remove the rib bone from the chicken breasts (leaving the skin on), or use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and increase the oven roasting time 5-10 minutes, as needed. You can also cut your ramen prep time in half by using a store-bought whole rotisserie chicken, simply slice off as much as you wish, and add to the ramen.

Note from Patti:
I substituted spinach ramen noodles for the noodles, sliced baby bella mushrooms for the shitake mushrooms and a dab of white miso for the mirin, because that was what I had, and it turned sooo delicious!

Have a beautiful, inspired, delicious weekend!


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Nautical Themed Baby Shower Ideas

Our lovely daughter is expecting twin boys, and I recently had the pleasure of blessing her with her first baby shower. This was also the first baby shower I’ve ever given, so I turned to Pinterest (of course!) in search of ideas for a baby shower for boys including everything from DIY invitations, decorations, fun games, and brunch recipes, to party favors and games for children. The shower turned out beautiful, and was so much fun!

First, I determined to make my own DIY invitations. By simply googling “nautical baby shower invitations” and “nautical baby” I found a nice collection of graphics to use, and put them together in Pages, with this being the daughter-approved result:diy nautical theme baby shower invitation

I printed two to a page (using white card stock) and used big- enough white envelopes that I found at the nearest office supply store.

Next, with my Pinterest inspired ideas in mind, I started shopping for decorations, and materials for DIY decorations. I found a few nautical decor items at Michael’s, and what I couldn’t find there or at Goodwill, I was able to find on Amazon. (I’ll list links to these at the end of this post.) The DIY decorations I had in mind were a few pennant flag banners, (that I learned how to make from this blogger), a clothesline of nautical themed baby clothes (which turned out to be my favorite decoration of all!), and the table covering. I found all the cloth and Stitch Witchery for my flag banners at a local fabric outlet, and used twine I found at Michael’s for the pennant flags and the clothesline. For the table covering, I couldn’t find any nautical gift wrap paper, but I did pick up a huge roll of blue and green striped wrapping paper somewhere, and a huge roll of (super cheap,) pretty, glittery blue burlapy type netting (at Walmart) that looked great set over the other striped paper.

baby shower decorations nautical

baby shower party favors nautical

Instead of a cake I baked two kinds of muffins that you can link to here and here.  I used a diaper cake as the centerpiece, which turned out really cute. I just learned about washi tape and used some to make the muffin toppers, and made favors out of chains and nautical charms I found on sale at Michael’s. I used another blogger’s brilliant idea for the bags to put them in (as pictured above), after stamping them with an anchor rubber stamp. (The bags were purchased through Celestial Gifts and the anchor stamp from Dragonflybuzz through Etsy.)

My daughter got a good laugh from things our guests wrote on her Late Night Diapers…

baby shower gamesAnother game we played was Guess How Many Goldfish are in the Baby Bottle…

baby shower game We had such a good time! It was well worth all the planning and effort that went into making her shower so special for all of us.

Click on images to find them at Amazon- and have a great party!


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Biltmore Estate: A Behind the Scenes Tour

We could not have planned our recent behind-the-scenes venture at the magnificent Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. My husband, son and I simply decided to go rent bicycles there on a Sunday afternoon, and, as our family friend, Kyle, works at the Inn on the grounds, our son gave him a call to see if he was there so we could say Howdy. Kyle was there, and we quickly received a call back from him saying that the bicycle rental would be a gift to us that day- just give them our name and everything would be set. How nice! After meandering down the winding pathway awhile, soaking in all the gorgeous mountain scenery along the way, we arrived at one of the many duck ponds and stopped to get a few photos (and catch our breath!). While there, we received another call from Kyle saying he was driving over to meet us at the pond. He arrived, shortly, with his lovely friend, Miss Aubrey – in her big (and I mean really big!) white pickup truck. They lifted our rental bikes into the back of the truck, dropped them off back at the bike barn, and took us for an afternoon behind-the-scenes tour- on the other side of the huge, mysterious, gated bridge…

The serene, heavily wooded, driveway eventually opened up to sublimely beautiful farm space with sheep pens, a barn, and around the bend, Aubrey’s charming old farm house. Just inside the front door of her home lies a modest living room with a quaint fireplace and some original paintings splashed about- if I remember correctly they were Aubrey’s paintings of horses- and there’s a whole row of ribbons she has won in horse competitions over the years. After our quick pit-stop we walked up the gravel road just past her home a ways, to a large sheep pen area. As we approached, the lambs made sweet little lamby noises- but the sheep made the most hilarious deep honking sounds- OMG- not at all like my little pygmy goats!

Biltmore Estate: lambs & sheep

Then we walked back down the gravel road the other way, with Aubrey’s adorable black lab,

Biltmore Estate: Aubrey Cecil's sweet black lab

where we met the massive black bull, and the silly donkey. Fortunately I had my trusty Nikon camera with me that day as they proceeded to give us the grand tour of old barns and storage sheds, the old clay tile silo, guinea hens (which I love), more sheep, the shooting range (which my guys love), which, all in all, amounted to a thrilling adventure I will always remember with great fondness.

If you’re panning a trip to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate, you may be interested in my collection of favorite books about the Estate and the area, so I am providing links to them below (just click on the book covers to follow the link to Amazon). To see my photos of the actual Biltmore House and gardens, see my blogpost, “Autumn & A Walk Around Biltmore Estate”. Following  is a quote from Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

What William Cecil has accomplished at Biltmore Estate is one of the great preservation success stories of all time. He has set a high standard for what all historic house museums strive for: magnificently preserved buildings and grounds, engaging interpretation, and–perhaps most challenging of all–economic self-sufficiency. It is no surprise that Biltmore Estate is widely recognized as one of America’s finest places to visit.”

It certainly is!

My favorites:



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