Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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RV Cooking Hack Plus Recipe: Garlic Rosemary Potatoes and Meatballs

What some of you might not know is that RV ovens have one rack.

At least our RV oven has one rack. And it’s not a large one either. A half-pan cookie sheet fits inside, with just barely enough room around it for air flow. A Dutch oven does not fit (it’s too heavy, and I fear it would bend/break the rack). A low casserole dish fits, but some lids might bump the top. And once you turn off the oven, you have to let it cool completely before restarting it. The gas pilot light is under the bottom tray at the back of the oven, right where you will burn your arm if you try lighting it while it’s hot. Personal experience speaking here.

And something to watch out for, a lesson I learned just this week with the future scars to match my experience, is the spring loaded oven door is very spring loaded. Very. Using a similar trick as shown in the above photo, a foil wrapped pan, I attempted to put the pan in the oven, the foil stuck, I somehow lost control of the door, and it swung shut on my arm. Did I mention the oven was preheated? I threw the pan in as I jerked my arm out, bouncing the hot stove door edge along my arm. Yikes! I am thankful for fast reflexes. Yes, yes I am.

Oh, but our RV DOES have an oven. We love using it in the winter to heat the RV. We avoid it in the summer, preferring to cook on the BBQ and keep the heat outside.

I’ve often been frustrated by meal plans that need two dishes to be in the tiny oven. And then I started experimenting. See the above photo.

As with all experiments, you figure out new things to try or ways to improve an idea. Now, with the above meatballs and garlic rosemary potatoes, I wouldn’t bother with the foil dam in the middle. Just let the juices mix. Yum! But some things I might not want to touch while baking, like juicy salmon and sweet potato fries. Or something like that.

Either way, combining a main dish and side or two is the perfect way to utilize a small RV oven. I always try to cook too much, because leftovers make perfect lunches for the next day or two.

Garlic Rosemary Potatoes

5-6 small red potatoes, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 6-8″ sprig of rosemary, washed, dried, and chopped (leaves only, not stem)

olive oil

sea salt

fresh ground pepper

Optional: fresh grated Parmesan cheese, Tabasco sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix potatoes, garlic, rosemary, and enough olive oil to coat it all. Spread on one half of a foil-covered cookie sheet (I like to spray my foil with vegetable spray to keep food from sticking). Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Fill the other half with meatballs. No recipe here for these. I love the Costco frozen meatballs.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through. We like crispy sides, so we cook them longer. If you want to cook yours until just done, aim for 25-30 minutes. Stir halfway through cooking and test potatoes along the way.

Serve potatoes and meatballs with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a few splashes of Tabasco. We always add broccoli, salad, or green beans. Gotta have those veg!


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Angie’s Spaghetti Salsa

Reblogged from my former blog, Quantrell Quips: https://angiequantrell.blogspot.com/2010/05/spaghetti-salsa.html

Note from the chef: I miss my big stove and giant pot! Alas, this pan is in storage as it’s too big for the RV stove top. LOL. The name for this spicy red sauce came from my mother-in-love, Carole. Craving spaghetti one day, she asked that I make my spaghetti salsa, giving a nod to the heat I pack into my cooking. It’s been called Spaghetti Salsa ever since. My daughter recently asked for the recipe, and the only place I could find it written down was on my blog.

Here’s the original post from 2010.

Last weekend, I made my “Spaghetti Salsa,” famous in Taylor’s mind. Maybe Chelsie’s (our children). Several were interested in the recipe. The trick is crushed peppers and lots of patience. Just remember, if there ain’t no heat, there ain’t no spaghetti salsa!

Angie’s Spaghetti Salsa

Ingredients:
finely chopped garlic (close to one head – lots!)
one large onion, finely diced (more if you like onions)
olive oil
Saute’ the garlic and onion in olive oil until onions are translucent and garlic is a little crispy.

Add:
6-15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
3-15 oz. cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
2-3 small cans of tomato paste
Add sauce first. Pour stewed tomatoes into your hand and crush them as you add them to the sauce. Add paste and use a whisk to break up lumps. Stir well.

Add:

3 T. Mrs. Dash (regular flavor)
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper (preferably fresh ground)
4-5 bay leaves, whole
3 T. crushed basil
2 T. dried parsley
2 T. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed pepper (I like to add 1 T. when my parents are not eating with us)

Optional: sliced black olives; You can also add browned and crumbled ground turkey
Sides: hot garlic bread, green salad with vinagrette dressing

Stir all ingredients together. Cover and simmer on low to medium for a minimum of two hours, stirring often. When it is time for dinner, make whole wheat pasta noodles following package directions. Do not dump noodles into the pan of sauce. Instead, place a serving of pasta on a plate, and top with sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Cool and store leftover sauce and noodles (separate containers) in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, heat some sauce in a frying pan, add some noodles, toss, and reheat.

Freeze leftover sauce. This sauce is nice to have on hand for chicken Parmesan, last minute spaghetti, lasagna, or whatever else needs an extra spicy sauce.

Bon appetit!


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Haiku Moment: colors

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hues, tones, leap and glow;

party, dazzle, eye candy

thanks to God-colors!

 

colors by Angie Quantrell

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To make these jewel tones, I used gel paste food colors, apple cider vinegar, and warm water.

1. Add several T. of apple cider vinegar to clear cups.

2. Use the handle end of a spoon to dip gel paste and put it in the vinegar. I didn’t mix my spoons or dyes, but used a separate spoon for each color. I was also very generous with the amount of dye I used. I think this led to some beautiful fingers.

3. Add enough warm water to fill cups 2/3 full. Stir each color until the paste is dissolved.

4. Dye eggs!

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Book Report: Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore #BookBirthday #BeeAReader

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Grandpa Grumps

Written by Katrina Moore

Illustrated by Xindi Yan

little bee books, April 7, 2020

 

Happy Book Birthday to Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore!

I enjoyed this book from the get-go. From front to back, Grandpa Grumps is full of adorable details, tells a perfect story, and bursts with fun colorful illustrations. My grands ask for this one over and over. They are drawn to the story! (I don’t think it’s because they have their own Grandpa Grumps. LOL) Thank you, little bee books, for sending a review copy. #BeeAReader

What I Love About This Book:

~ The adorableness. It’s a thing. Honest.

~ The story about a young girl meeting her grandfather from China for the first time

~ The learning and sharing that goes on between the generations

~ The way the relationships grows between Grandpa Grumps and Daisy

~ A recipe!

~ Perfect illustrations that complement and enhance the story (much adorableness)

~ The story is sweet, but Daisy does face a problem when Grumps doesn’t react the way she imagined. I love how she finally solves the problem.

~ A shining example of creativity and partnership between the author and illustrator

~ Anyone who has relatives from a different country could prepare the way for visits by reading Grandpa Grumps.

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Amazon Blurb:

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting from China, and try as she might, Daisy can’t get her grumpy grandpa to smile!

Daisy’s Yeh-Yeh is visiting for the first time from China, and Daisy is so excited to meet him! She has big plans for all the fun they’ll have together, like tea parties and snow angels, but when Yeh-Yeh arrives, Daisy finds him less jolly than she imagined. Throughout the week, she tries all sorts of things to get him past his grumpiness. Will she be able to make him smile before he goes home?

Kids will love this funny and heartwarming story about overcoming cultural differences and connecting across generations!

You can find Grandpa Grumps here.

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Book Report: How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

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How to Walk an Ant

Written and illustrated by Cindy Derby

Roaring Brook Press, 2019

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Cindy Derby, Roaring Brook Press, and KidLit411 gifted me with a copy of How to Walk an Ant. Thank you for such a delightful book!

Opening lines:

“My name is Amariyah, and I am an Expert Walker.

No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,

I mean I walk things.”

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Amazon Blurb:

There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done.

This irreverent and quirky picture book, How to Walk an Ant, follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

In the end, this unique book from author-illustrator Cindy Derby shows that as long as you’re doing what you’re best at, you may find a like-minded friend to tag along.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book.

 

Why I Like This Book:

Quirky and irreverent is correct! I loved reading about Amariyah and her efforts to educate me in the best ways to walk ants (always carry plenty of thread, …). The illustrations perfectly match the story and I had to laugh loud and giggle to myself several times as I read. Seriously, which picture book do you know where FUNERAL plans are a part of the appendix?

The writing is clear and entertaining. Amariyah has a unique voice and I love her personality and adventures. A limited palette for the illustrations allows images to pop into life. Add diagrams and insets, and anyone who reads How to Walk an Ant will quickly reach expert level. This book is a fun read.

Spring is here, the best time to practice walking newly emerged ants. Read How to Walk an Ant and then head outside to practice walking ants.

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KID KANDY:

Ants on a Log

Ingredients: celery, peanut butter (or other nut butter if you can’t eat peanuts), raisins

4 Steps to Eating Ants

1. With an adult, wash and cut celery sticks into 3-4 inch pieces

2. Spread peanut butter in the celery (log) trough.

3. Plop ants (raisins) on the peanut butter.

4. Eat ants on a log. Now you are an expert eater of ants.

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: ode to pesto (plus recipe)

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rip, shred, pulverize-

greens, cheese, garlic, oil becomes

feast! dine, friend, pesto.

 

ode to pesto by Angie Quantrell

 

Spring is here and with it comes potted basil plants from Trader Joe’s. Basil is the scent and flavor of all things yummy. I cheat, buying multiples of potted plants each trip to Seattle, instead of planting. Though this year I am tempted to throw some seeds in a planter box and see what happens. Last year I picked up a basil plug from the grocery section at a store, and it performed beyond expectations! Of course, I repot the potted plants and plugs in good potting soil and harvest leaves as I need them.

Every summer, we gorge on pesto-on pizza, salmon, chicken; in sauce and soup. So pungent, cheezy, and filled with garlic, we can taste the beauty and intense flavors the next morning. (Yes, we brush our teeth…but my pesto is the gift that keeps giving…lol).

I use my little RV-sized food processor, so one batch is perfect for one meal.

WALNUT BASIL PESTO

Ingredients:

basil (lots of leaves, fill the food processor)

walnuts (coarsely chopped)

shredded Parmesan cheese

3-5 chopped garlic cloves

olive oil

sea salt

Optional: I’ve added spinach to up the nutritional value and use up left over amounts

 

Directions:

Add basil, walnuts, Parmesan, and garlic. Pour on olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Blend, adding additional olive oil to get the consistency your prefer. I always have to stop the machine and stir down the pesto to get it all to mix.

I don’t measure anything with this recipe, other than how much garlic I add. It’s never been too thin, but rather I need more oil. Serve right away with chicken, pizza, salmon, steak, or on toasted bread. Store leftovers (if there are any) in tightly sealed container or freeze immediately.

Now, where’s my tiny food processor?

 


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Snow Cream Strikes Again!

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Yesterday, 2-hour late start.

Today, NO SCHOOL. At all. As a kid, I would love it. As a Nana, I can’t keep up! (But I still love it.)

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Sledding, shoveling, driving RCs (rock crawlers to you folks not in the RC club know), and clambering in very deep snow and cold temps leads us to the refreshment portion of the day.

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It’s time to make Snow Cream!

  1. Fill one large bowl with clean snow. CLEAN snow.
  2. Mix between 1/4-1/2 cup sugar into 1 cup of milk. Dissolve sugar. Add 1 tsp. vanilla to milk. Stir well.
  3. Pour small amounts of sweetened milk over ice cream and stir. If you don’t have enough liquid, add more milk. I like to reduce the sugar as much as possible, so start with the smallest amount.

Once the snow is creamy, scoop into bowls and enjoy! Snow cream is a hit in this house.

P.S. IF you are a mommy, daddy, auntie, or Nana, and a fan of Irish cream, uhm, the coffee creamer version could help you survive snow days. Maybe after the kiddies are tucked in bed at night. A little Irish cream snow treat.

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Book Report: Porcupine’s Pie by Laura Renauld

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Porcupine’s Pie

Written by Laura Renauld

Illustrated by Jennie Poh

Beaming Books, 2018

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I’ve never used Capri Sun in a recipe before reading this book. Yes, that has something to do with the adorable Porcupine’s Pie!

Porcupine is getting ready for Fall Feast Day. She checks her cupboard for ingredients for her famous Cranberry Pie and heads to the river to wash cranberries. Along the way she meets her friends who have famous recipes as well, but these friend are missing ingredients. By the time Porcupine gets to the river, circumstances have changed and she is no longer able to make Cranberry Pie.

Instead, once her friends arrive at her home, Porcupine makes a new treat, Friendship Pie (recipe included).

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Porcupine’s Pie is full of sharing, kindness, and friendship. I’ve wanted to read it since it was born, but had to wait for it to arrive at my library. (Let me tell you a trick: Most libraries have a way to request new titles. I LOVE this feature. I requested Porcupine’s Pie a few months ago. Now I have a brand new copy in my hands to enjoy.)

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I read Porcupine’s Pie with my grands the other day. My granddaughter immediately jumped up, ready to bake a Friendship Pie. But alas, their larder did not have all necessary ingredients. So Nana went shopping and last night we made Friendship Pie.

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Where does Capri Sun fit in? The recipe calls for cranberry juice (or a favorite juice). On the first night when we first looked in the fridge, there was a big container of apple juice. So Nana did not purchase more juice. ONE DAY later, when we prepped the recipe, the juice was all gone! That happens in families with three kids. The only similar ingredient to be found was Capri Sun. Well then. I can now say I’ve cooked with Capri Sun!

Porcupine’s Pie gets two thumbs up! Add this one to your fall/friendship/sharing themes.

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Toddler Tuesday: Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

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Fall and pumpkin season are my absolute favorites! So the other day when I had the urge to provide a fun activity for my two youngest grands (2 and 3 years-old), it was time to knead up a batch of orange, pumpkin spice play dough. This recipe is my old standby, perfect for adapting to any season.

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Pumpkin Spice Play Dough

In a large heat-proof bowl, mix:

3 cups flour

1 cup salt

2 T. oil (baby oil is nice, but vegetable oil is fine, too)

1 T. powdered alum

1 T. pumpkin spice powder

Boil 3 cups of water. Before measuring boiling water, add orange food coloring to measuring cup. Add water. Quickly pour 3 cups boiling water over ingredients in bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir until dough cools slightly.

Immediately dump dough onto table. It’s hot, but for best results, knead while hot. It will cool off fast enough. It may be sticky while hot, but will knead together nice and smooth. I sprinkled a little bit more of the pumpkin spice on the dough as I kneaded. It smelled so good!

As soon as the dough is well-mixed and cool enough to be safe for young hands, it’s time to play. I have a tub of different play dough tools and toys. I’m not exaggerating when I say my two toddlers were occupied for over 30 minutes. It would have been longer, but we had to leave to get big brother.

Store cooled play dough in a covered play dough container. I love the Costco cottage cheese containers best.

You’re welcome. 😉

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Eat Your Colors: Curry Zoodle Soup Recipe

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This collage of colorful fruits and vegetables just screamed, “TAKE my picture!”

So I did. And then I cooked them all. That’s what they get for drawing attention to their beauty. A healthy diet is a colorful diet. So to this food art, I added a few more things to make curry noodle soup. Yummy!

 

Curry Zoodle Soup

2 T. vegetable oil

2 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. ground turmeric

Saute’ over high heat, about 1 minute, stirring the whole time.

 

Gently add:

4 cups chicken broth

1-15 oz. can coconut milk

5-6 cups cubed butternut squash

1 sliced red pepper

1 sliced onion

Bring to boiling, reduce heat, and cook until squash is soft (about 15 minutes).

 

Add:

1 med. zucchini, zoodled

1 bag or half a plastic container of fresh spinach, stems removed

Juice of 1 lime

Heat 5 minutes. Stir well. Serve over cooked and shredded chicken breast.

 

This soup is so fragrant and tasty. You can also add any other favorite veggies (pea pods, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower). Good thing there’s plenty more for tomorrow!