Saturday, February 21, 2015

Winter on Lake Michigan



I've been posting a lot of snowy Lake Michigan pictures on Instagram lately taken with my iphone, but thought it would be fun to post some on the blog taken with my real camera. This is our second winter living on the lake and I am amazed all the time of how beautiful this lake is.  Even in the winter in freezing temperatures!  The most amazing thing is how different the lake looks every single day.

Before all of the icy snowy pictures, how about a look back to November...



It's so hard to believe that these were taken just in November!  It seems like it's been so long since I've seen sand down at the beach.  The next two were also taken in November.  Snow on the ground, but no ice on the lake yet.
 


Slightly different view now. 
 











See the mounds out there?  When I took these photos, there was nothing but open water behind them.  Now, it's all frozen.  The mounds themselves are the craziest thing.  They are much higher than they look in these photos, probably 20 feet high.  When the water is rough, all the snow and ice from the lake gets tossed up on the mounds and they get bigger and bigger.





I thought these frozen ripples of water at the shoreline were the most amazing sight.  Aren't they beautiful?  Nature is amazing. 





Another day, another look for the lake! I love it when the sun comes out! 

 



I took the next photo last Sunday, the day after we had a Winter Storm Warning.  With these pretty blue skies, you would never guess that you couldn't even see the lake the day before - the snow was so intense! We had a lot of snow, but you can never tell from our back yard - it's always too windy for much snow to stick.




I hope you are having a wonderful winter, wherever you are!  Spring will be here soon, right? 


Monday, February 2, 2015

Weekend Kitchen: Butternut, Ricotta, and Spinach Stuffed Shells with Browned Butter


Ever since seeing and pinning this recipe on Pinterest it has been calling my name.  What I liked about this recipe is that even though it's great comfort food, it wasn't too heavy.  The combination of butternut squash and ricotta makes a delicious and light filling. 
 
 { Recipe adapted from this one found on Mel's Kitchen CafĂ© }
 
Ingredients:
- 1 large butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 ounce package jumbo pasta shells
- 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 cup frozen chopped spinach (measure before thawing)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
 - Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
- 10-12 fresh sage leaves
 
Directions:
1.  Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.  Cut butternut squash into 1" cubes.  Place squash into 9 x 13 glass dish.  Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.  Mix to coat squash pieces.  Place in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until squash is tender when poked with a fork.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Use a potato masher (or fork) and mash up squash until smooth. 
 
2.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook shells according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
 
3.  Meanwhile, add ricotta, parmesan, garlic, spinach (make sure to squeeze all excess water out of spinach before using), egg, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and lemon juice to squash.  Stir until combined.
 
4.  Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees.  Stuff shells with mixture and place in baking dish.  You may not need to use all of the shells.  Place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until completely heated.
 
5.  While shells are in the oven, make browned butter.  Place butter in small sauce pan.  Melt and then continue to cook over a low-medium flame until butter is browned; 10-12 minutes.  Stir almost constantly so butter doesn't burn.  When butter has browned, add sage leaves.  Cook, continuing to stir, until leaves are crispy.  The butter is very hot - this won't take long!  Remove from heat and set aside until shells are finished.
 
6.  Remove sage leaves from butter and set aside.  Pour butter over shells.  Serve warm with additional grated parmesan, if desired.  Add sage leaves as garnish, if desired.  Enjoy!
 
Above is the squash, all ready to go in the oven. Below is the browned butter, just after adding the sage leaves.  Yum!
 
The shells, fresh out of the oven...
 
I served the shells with a simple side of arugula dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper.  So good! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Flower Love: The Bouqs



January in Michigan:  It's cold.  The sun is hardly out.  It snows.  Sometime a lot.  It's the time of year when I want fresh flowers in every room of the house to cheer me up and get me through the seemingly endless winter.  Bouqs to the rescue!  I can't tell you how excited I was when I was contacted by The Bouqs wondering if I would be interested in reviewing their flowers.  Heck yes!  Bring on the fresh flowers! 

 
 
Have you heard of The Bouqs?  Flowers are cut on the day you place your order and are sent directly from the farm. This means that you receive your flowers 2-4 days after they are cut vs.10-14 days when ordering through traditional flower services.  Ordering is also very simple - $40 flat fee including shipping for their standard size bouquets. 
 
 
There aren't many flowers that I don't like, so it took me a while to decide what to order.  I finally settled on roses called 'Dawn'.  The orange / coral color is so pretty and is just what I needed to cheer me up on the cold, grey days we've been experiencing.
 

My flowers arrived on the day I specified, all packaged up neatly in a long narrow box.  I ordered the Deluxe size (24 roses) and had plenty to make a few different arrangements.  I decided to share the love around the house!



I love having flowers on my nightstand.  I only needed 6 roses for this pretty little arrangement.  10 days later that I'm happy to say that they are still looking good and remain on my nightstand!






This larger arrangement found a home on my coffee table. The flowers brightened up the whole living room.  Just what I needed after packing up all of my Christmas stuff!
 






Big thanks to The Bouqs for helping me get through the winter! 

 

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