Mission Organization: Week 26 - My Cookbooks and the Overflowing Bookshelves

This is the 26th week of the year, so we are halfway through 2012. That means that I should be halfway finished getting my house organized, but unfortunately, I seem to be finding more and more that needs to be done. My organizing reminds me of the Lewis Carroll quote, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get."

This week for my mission I worked on my books. I love all kinds of books, and I have to admit that I probably have more than I need. I wanted to get my cookbooks organized all in one place and to go through my other books and get rid of some that I no longer wanted.

After a lot of sorting and organizing I finally have a bookcase that is just for my cookbooks.

This is how I had my cookbooks stuffed into the bookcase before. They were not in any order, and they were sharing this bookcase with other books.

I did some major sorting and a lot of dusting, where does all that dust come from?

These stacks are the books that I moved out. I have them in a "holding cell" right now, but these are going to be donated just as soon as I can get them boxed up and moved out. Right now I have them sitting inside the armoire that I emptied when I organized the gift wrap a few weeks ago.

The bookcase that I organized for my cookbooks also has a lower section that holds more cookbooks, along with my recipe binders for my printed recipes. I actually have a little space left for new additions.

The matching bookcase got a good cleaning too. Both bookcases look so much better, and it will be so nice to have all my cookbooks in one place. This was a mission that was long overdue, I'm so glad that I finally got around to this one.


Baked "Fried" Squash

Yellow squash is usually plentiful at our house during the summer, and my husband has always loved it fried. I am continually looking for better and healthier ways to prepare our food, and I know deep frying is something we need to avoid. I wanted to try this recipe and see how he would like a baked version of fried squash. We taste tested this dish with our dinner, and the vote was split. His comment was, "I like fried better." But I gave it a "thumbs up" because I don't miss the grease at all. The breading was crispy, and it was easy and not messy to prepare. Give this Baked "Fried" Squash a try and judge it for yourself.

Recipe adapted from Living with ZenLizzie

Baked "Fried" Squash

Yellow squash, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Panko
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
Olive oil spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with olive oil. In a shallow bowl, mix bread crumbs, flour, salt, and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Dip several slices of squash in the beaten eggs, then place slices in the bread crumb mixture, turning to coat on both sides. Place squash in a single layer on prepared pan. Repeat until all squash slices have been dipped and coated. Spray coated slices lightly with olive oil. Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes, then flip slices to the other side and continue baking for 10 - 15 more minutes, or until squash is golden brown on both sides.

Prepare the squash with egg for dipping and a bread crumb mixture for the coating.

Spread the slices in a single layer on a sheet pan that has been sprayed with olive oil.

Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the slices over to brown on the other side for 10 - 15 minutes.


Something for the Bucket List - Touring P. Allen Smith's home

I have never actually made myself a "bucket list" but if I did, visiting Moss Mountain Farm would definitely be an item on my list, and I could now check it off as done. I had the most wonderful and educational day when I was invited with a group of bloggers to visit P. Allen Smith's Garden Home at Moss Mountain Farm for the inaugural Bean2Blog event. The purpose of the event was to learn about soybean farming, the impact it has on the state economy, and the multiple uses of soy, but the added perk of the event was a personal home and garden tour by P. Allen Smith himself. In this post I want to share some of my home tour pictures with you. I am an amateur photographer, so my pictures do not do justice to the loveliness that I saw.

The house is only about four years old, but it looks like it has belonged to this farm for a much longer time. The farm itself dates back to the 1840's and is more than 500 acres. The house was built in the Greek revival style with some contemporary touches in the decor.

A massive post oak tree that is more than 300 years old adorns the front yard, and the Arkansas River graces the view in the back.

This is one of the urns by the front door with geraniums
that perfectly matched the color of the furniture  on the porch. 
This welcoming entry invited us to come inside and make ourselves at home.

A sunny kitchen window and fresh eggs. We later saw the chickens!

I wouldn't mind doing the dishes with this lovely view over the kitchen sink.

The kitchen countertops and island were a pristine white with gray accents. The white cabinets completed the look. I believe I could have stepped into that kitchen, found everything I needed,
and felt right at home cooking there.

The large island made a beautiful centerpiece for the kitchen.
Some of the other bloggers, like me, were quite drawn to the kitchen.

I couldn't miss this beautiful area in the entryway near the staircase.

I like this monogrammed chair in the entryway.

This is a painting of an Osage Indian Chief named Black Dog who represented
his people in treaties with the U.S. government. History records that he was an intimidating size, at over 7 feet tall and weighing around 300 pounds. Allen shared that he had an artist reproduce this image from a treasured postcard he had kept since childhood.

The prints of Indian chiefs are hung in the stairwell. These chiefs were all
treaty representatives to Washington.
Allen conducted a house tour that included a captivating Arkansas history lesson.

The bedrooms were all beautifully and comfortably furnished.
This is a guest room. There was also an entire floor devoted to children's rooms,
with accommodations from a crib to furnishings for older children.
Allen has is prepared to welcome guests of any age.

The porches on the back were spacious and comfortable. 
This one had several comfortable areas for entertaining friends.

The uppermost porch was a "sleeping porch." It would be a wonderful place 
to read or nap or spend a dreamy summer night.

This comfortable sitting area is on the sleeping porch.

This is the view from one of the upper porches on the back of the house. 
The Arkansas River can be seen in the distance.
Not seen in this picture is the separate summer kitchen 
off to the right and the studio to the left. The large, lovely gardens surround the house.

Much of the filming for the PBS series P. Allen Smith Garden Home 
and Garden to Table is done here at Moss Mountain Farm.
There is information regarding group tours on the P. Allen Smith website.

Allen has taken the natural beauty of this farm and
added his own special touches
to create a unique place that seems to have everything
a person could want or need right here on one spot.

The garden tour was amazing, but I have not included the garden photos here.
A walk through the gardens gives the impression we live in a perfect world. The entire tour was fascinating, and I recommend it for old, young, or in-between.
I'd love to make a return trip because I know my eyes couldn't take it all in the first time.


Mission Organization: Week 25 - Are the Dishes Clean or Dirty?

"Are the dishes clean or dirty?" is a question that is asked at my house over and over, every day, about the dishes in the dishwasher. I typically run my dishwasher every night about bedtime, then the dishes are ready to unload the next morning, and I usually do unload them first thing in the morning, but not always. Sometimes I don't. So, there is where the question comes in. "Are the dishes clean or dirty?", my husband or who ever is in my kitchen will ask, once or twice, or maybe five times. I decided to make a ready answer to that question using Scrabble letter tiles like I had seen in so many craft projects on Pinterest.

Fortunately, I had an ancient Scrabble game that likely was missing pieces, so I didn't feel bad about using some of the tiles for my project. I wouldn't dare use our current Scrabble game.

For the project I used a piece of black craft felt, the scrabble tiles to spell CLEAN and DIRTY, some crafters glue, and a flat magnet.

I cut a piece of felt 1 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches for the backing for the letter tiles. I applied glue to each tile back and to the sides that touched the next tile, placing each one carefully in line on the felt backing.

Glue both rows of tiles in line, being sure to place the words so that they will read correctly when the magnet is flipped over.

Give the glue some drying time, then cut the magnet to size if needed and glue to the back. I gave mine time to dry overnight before using.

The next morning I was ready to place my new magnet on the dishwasher and have the "Clean or Dirty?" question forever after answered. Well, the best laid plans sometimes do not work out as planned, I suppose. I unloaded the clean dishes, and slapped my new magnet to the front to show that the dishwasher was ready for "Dirty" dishes, but the magnet just slid to the floor with a dull thud. One thing my brain had failed to process in my planning, my dishwasher is made of stainless steel - magnets won't stick.

I hope this mission will be more helpful to someone else than it was to me! My daughter Angela says her dishwasher is a metal that will hold a magnet, and that she would love to use my Scrabble magnet, so maybe it will be useful to her at least.

For now I am still trying to answer the question, "Are the dishes clean or dirty?"


Pina Colada Fruit Salad

You can take a tropical vacation right at home with this Pina Colada Fruit Salad. The colorful blend of fruit along with a frozen pina colada mixer and fruit juice make this a unique salad your guests or your taste buds won't soon forget. This recipe has a 5 star rating from Taste of Home.

Pina Colada Fruit Salad

1 1/2 cups green grapes
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (10 ounce) can frozen non-alcoholic pina colada mix, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pineapple-orange juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

In a large serving bowl, combine green grapes, red grapes, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pineapple. In a separate bowl, combine the pina colada mix, sugar, fruit juice, almond extract, and coconut extract; whisk until sugar is dissolved. Pour mixture over fruit, toss to coat. Chill until serving.

The wonderful dressing for this fruit salad is made from frozen pina colada mix, sugar, pineapple-orange juice, almond extract, and coconut extract.

Mix the ingredients for the dressing, pour over the fruit, and toss to coat. Chill until serving.

This is not your ordinary fruit salad, this is one you have to try.


The Sunshine Award

I am honored to be the recipient of The Sunshine Award, and this is an award that is fun to receive because it can be passed on. Thank you so much to these four dear bloggers who have given this award to me and who always bring sunshine into my life.

Chaya at Bizzy Bakes
Cindy at Mimi's Magic Apron
Kitty at Kitty's Kozy Kitchen
Sandra at Farm Girl Sam

The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers.
The recipients of the Sunshine Award are:
"Bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere."
The way the award works is this:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2. Answer 10 questions about yourself.
3. Select 10 of your favorite bloggers, link their blogs to your post and let them know they've been awarded the Sunshine Award!
4. Don't forget to copy and paste the award on your blog!

The 10 blogs that I am awarding the Sunshine Award to in no particular order are:
Marilyn at 4 You With Love
Pat at Gypsy Heart
Linda at Life and Linda
Aleda at Plum Perfect
Belinda at The Seam Rippers
Anne at Domesblissity
Here are the 10 questions:
Favorite Color – Red makes me happy.
Favorite Animal - I like rabbits, they symbolize hope.
Favorite Number - My favorite number is whatever makes my checkbook balance at the end of the month.

Favorite Drink – Coffee when I wake up, sweet tea later.
Facebook or Twitter – Facebook, and I just got a new page for Aunt Nubby's Kitchen, would love it if you would click the 'LIKE' button for it in the upper right hand corner.
Good Book or a Good Movie - I'm definitely a reader, and I have been disappointed before when a movie doesn't live up to the book it was based on.
My Passion - My family and having fun with cooking.
Giving or Getting Presents - BOTH! Presents are fun either way.
Favorite Day of the Year – Any day that all my children are home all at the same time.
Favorite Flowers – I love roses, though I seldom receive them. I love growing day lilies.


Cinnamon Muffins

This recipe for Cinnamon Muffins reminds me of those cake recipes that are called "death by chocolate" except this is a "death by cinnamon" muffin version. This muffin is not only filled with cinnamon chips, it also has a dollop of gooey cinnamon filling right in the center.

Recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour

Cinnamon Muffins

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup chopped pecans

3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cinnamon chips or butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease it lightly.

Prepare the topping by mixing brown sugar, oats, flour, and butter together until crumbly. Add pecans to mixture; set aside.

Prepare the filling by mixing butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon together; set aside.

To make the batter: In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, milk, and eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Add chips to the mixture, then combine the dry ingredients with the liquid mixture, stirring just until combined.

Divide half the batter evenly among the muffin cups. Dollop 2 teaspoons of the filling mixture onto each muffin, then top with the remaining batter. Sprinkle with the topping mixture, pressing in lightly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven, wait 5 minutes before transferring muffins from pan to wire rack to cool.

Start by preparing the topping, the filling, and the batter.

This recipe uses either Cinnamon or Butterscotch Chips. Cinnamon Chips are not readily available in my area, so I have to buy them when I am shopping out of town. This is the last bag that I have in my stash!

Put half the batter in the muffin cups, then drop in a dollop of the filling.

Cover the filling with the remaining batter.

Sprinkle the topping mixture over the batter. The recipe made a lot more topping than I needed, so I put the rest in the freezer in a ziplock bag to use another time.

Bake the muffins 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

These muffins made the kitchen smell wonderful while they were baking, and they are so yummy.


Perfect Pork Tenderloin

This could be the best pork tenderloin recipe you have ever tried. My sister gave me this recipe that she adapted slightly from the Food.com site, and it is so moist and tender. This delicious meat goes a long way when serving a crowd and leftovers are versatile as sandwiches or in a salad.

Perfect Pork Tenderloin

Boneless pork tenderloin
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Rub roast with olive oil, then sprinkle as desired with salt, pepper, and Rosemary. Place the seasoned roast in an uncovered roasting pan. Determine the EXACT weight of the pork from the meat wrapper. The weight will determine how long to cook the roast. Bake the roast for exactly 5 1/2 minutes per pound, then turn the oven OFF and DO NOT open oven door for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes to redistribute internal juices.

Each of these roasts is about 1 1/2 pounds. When cooking multiples, the cooking time is still measured by the weight of the individual roast, not as the combination weight.

This may be the most tender and moist pork you will ever taste.


Mission Organization: Week 24 - Road Trip Tote

Summertime usually brings more road trips for most everyone. Kids have time off from school, and whether your trip is to the beach or to grandma's house, it oftentimes involves some driving time. Since I have been retired, my road trips are not just limited to summer any more. Families seem to be scattered all over the country now, so just getting together to visit or for holiday time can mean a long drive too. My son lives five hours away from me, one daughter lives three hours away, and my favorite sister lives eight hours away. I spend a lot of time on the road, and that's what brought about my mission this week.

There are certain items that I have found I need when I travel. Number one, I always need hand wipes. I usually carry a container of wipes like this in my car.

This seems like it would be an adequate solution, but the problem for me was that I could never find them. They were always rolling around somewhere in the car, and I couldn't reach them when I needed one. I decided to make it my mission to organize a tote for keeping up with my hand wipes and other items that I need when I travel.

I chose a lidded tote with a handle for the car. The first items that I thought of for traveling were of course my hand wipes, along with paper towels and small garbage bags. These seem to be the items I really need the most on a road trip, but after thinking about previous trips, I came up with a couple more that I wanted to include.

One of those is extra drinking straws. Maybe I'm just unlucky or something, but it seems like every time after I stop in at a fast food drive through, then pull back into traffic there are no straws included in the bag of food that I just purchased. Having extra straws in my tote will come in handy, I'm sure. Another item that I added to my tote that others may or may not need is eye drops. Along with my prescription eye drops, I use over the counter eye drops all throughout the day because of a problem I have with limited tear production. I need eye drops with me where ever I go, and when I'm driving my eyes seem to be extra sensitive.

This is how I filled my road trip tote, and I think it will be very helpful to me on the front seat beside me, especially when I'm traveling alone.

And with the lid to the tote securely latched there will be no more hand wipes rolling around in the car floor! If you want to make a road trip tote you may have other items that are helpful to you when traveling. I'd love to hear any ideas you have for making travel easier.