Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Exciting News about My Latest Venture!

Good morning friends!

It probably doesn't come as a surprise to you when I say that I love taking pictures.  You could say that I'm a bit obsessed with photography (everyone at home seems to think so!).  The capturing and preserving of a particular moment or occasion, never to be seen exactly the same way again, is part of the allure for me.  Rarely does a day go by that I don't pull out my camera for one reason or another; be it to capture the birds visiting my feeder, flowers blooming in the garden, wildlife, full moons, sunrises, sunsets, road trip adventures, even the food on my plate! 

I thought it would be a wonderful idea to combine my passion for nature and photography and pair it with my love of old-fashioned letter writing.  Although snail mail has become somewhat neglected in today's fast-paced world; with speedy emails and e-cards chosen as an alternative, it is still my preferred method to keep in touch with friends and loved ones.  Nothing says personal like a hand written letter or greeting card.  I mean, who doesn't enjoy receiving a greeting in their mail box?  There really is nothing like it.  

So, with that being said, I am delighted to inform you of my latest little venture.  My beloved photographs-turned-greeting cards are now available for purchase, if you so desire.  I have introduced four images to start and will be adding more collections in the months ahead.

All photos are original and taken by me.  Each greeting card has been professionally printed on heavy, glossy card stock with my personalized digital signature on the front.  For more information and to see the cards available, click on the tab "Photo Greeting Cards" at the top of the page.

I have also opened up a my own little Etsy Shop, LaVieEnRosinda , where you can find my photo greeting cards for sale, as well. 

Thank you for stopping by!  Comments are always welcome and appreciated.  Have a lovely day!



Friday, August 15, 2014

Remembering My Father-in-Law

Hello friends,

Thank you for stopping by to catch up with me. So much has happened in the weeks following my last post. The most poignant of all, was the passing of my dear father-in-law.  His influence was so significant in my life, I wanted to share more about this wonderful man, for those of you who didn't know him.

Exactly one month ago today, my father-in-law lost his battle with Glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer, which he had been fighting for nearly two years.  He was and continues to be an inspiration to me, and to so many others. 
Miguel was a passionate man; overflowing with love and pride for his family.  He loved the outdoors.  Fishing and hunting were his favorite pastimes. Sadly, he was diagnosed with cancer in December, 2012, at the age of 56.  He embraced life and lived each day to the fullest.  Never did he dwell in sorrow or feel pity for his circumstance.  He battled on like a soldier, brave and hopeful, even on the darkest of days.  One could always find a smile on his face, and a kind word on his lips.  He was a loving husband, a wonderful father to his three children, a best friend to my husband, an affectionate grandfather, a kind and caring father-in-law to me. Miguel touched the lives of so many people.  He was friendly, funny, hard-working, and always wanting to help anyone in need.  He loved to talk and make new friends.  He laughed and joked with his nurses and caregivers.  He had a genuine spirit and a heart of gold.

I feel his absence daily; in the most mundane situations.  Everything reminds me of him...Foods and desserts he liked to eat, (he certainly wasn't picky), the empty chair beside my mother-in-law when she comes to visit, the absence of that quiet knock on the door when he stopped by for an unexpected visit, not seeing his car pull up in front of the house, our akin passion for gardening, the Rose of Sharon bush he gave me, now almost ready to blossom.  I could go on and on.

Although my father-in-law is no longer with us, his spirit lives on in my heart and in the hearts of all those who loved him.  Till we meet again...




God Looked Around His Garden
God looked around His garden
And found an empty place.
He then looked down upon the earth
And saw your tired face.
He put His arms around you
And lifted you to rest.
God's garden must be beautiful
He always takes the best.
He saw the road was getting rough
And the hills were hard to climb,
So He closed your weary eyelids
And whispered "Peace be thine."
It broke our hearts to lose you
But you didn't go alone,
For part of us went with you
The day God called you home.






Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipe for Homemade Potato Cheddar Perogies

Hello friends!

Last week, I made my very own perogies (Polish potato dumplings) from scratch!  I felt quite proud of myself because they turned out so well, considering it was my first attempt.  Our family loves perogies. In the past, we've bought frozen perogies from the grocery store, purchased homemade ones (frozen and cooked) from Polish farmer's market vendors, and even ordered them at restaurants.  I had been wanting to make them myself for quite some time and I finally got around to it...and I'm so glad I did! It took quite some time to prepare the perogies from start to finish, but the end result was worth the extra time and effort.

The recipe I used was one I had clipped out from last year's April edition of Chatelaine magazine.  Several people asked me for the recipe when I posted a picture of the perogies on my Instagram account, so I am going to share the recipe here exactly as found in the magazine.

* The red text are my additions/revisions *

Loaded Polish Potato Perogies 

Makes 65 perogies ( I made the entire batch, boiled half and froze the uncooked half for another time)

Preparation time - 1 hour 30 minutes  (It probably took me double that time to prepare the entire batch)


Ingredients


Dough
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (only 4 cups for the dough)
1 tsp salt 
2 eggs 
1 1/2 cups sour cream (only 1 cup for the dough)
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, cubed


Filling
3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and quartered (750 g) (I used the potatoes I had on hand)
3 strips of bacon, chopped 
4 green onions, chopped ( I omitted the bacon and onions in the filling and topped the perogies with those ingredients instead) 
1 1/2 cups grated old cheddar (I used 2 cups for a stronger cheddar taste)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper 

Directions

Stir 4 cups flour with salt in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs with 1 cup of sour cream in a medium bowl, then stir into flour mixture along with butter until dough comes together.  Knead dough on a lightly floured counter, dusting with more flour, until it is smooth and not sticky.

Divide dough into 2 portions, pat into 2 discs and wrap each with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Dough can be refrigerated up to 2 days)

Boil potatoes in a large pot of water until soft, about 20 min.

Omit this next step if you are not including bacon in the filling
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until crisp, 3 to 5 min.  Drain on paper-towel-lined plate.  Do not clean pan.  Reserve 1/4 cup green onions for garnish.  Add remaining green onions to bacon fat.  Cook until soft.  1 to 2 min.  Transfer to plate with bacon.  

Drain cooked potatoes, then return to the pot.  Mash potatoes with bacon, cooked onions, cheese, salt and pepper.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  

Dust counter with remaining cup flour.  Roll out 1 disc of dough until 1/8 in. thick.  Cut out 2 1/2 inch wide circles with a cookie cutter (or drinking glass).  Keep dough covered with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out.  Scoop a heaping teaspoon of filling onto each round and fold the dough over, forming a half moon.  Pinch edges tightly to seal.  If dough won't seal, dab edges with water. (I dabbed the edges of all the perogies with water just to be safe). Gather scraps of dough, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Repeat with remaining disc of dough.  Gather up scraps, combine with dough from refrigerator, re-roll and cut out more circles.  





Fill same large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Slip about 12 perogies into boiling water and cook 5 to 6 minutes. Once perogies float to the top, remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a platter. Repeat with remaining perogies.  




Pat dry and serve topped with remaining 1/2 cup sour cream and reserved green onions.  Or melt butter in a frying pan and fry perogies in batches, adding more butter if needed, until crispy, 2 min per side.  Top with sour cream and green onions. 

Make ahead tip: Freeze uncooked perogies in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Store in freezer bags up to 2 weeks.  Cook from frozen as per directions above, adding 2 minutes to cooking time.  



To garnish the perogies, I sauteed sliced onions and bacon; added a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled them with chopped green onion.  Mmm!  They were so delicious!  




Friday, May 23, 2014

Remembering the happy things this May...

Oh my goodness!  It feels like forever since I have written a blog post, well maybe that's because it has been forever!!  Life has been very busy with so much going on (ups and downs).  I hope you haven't given up on me and my blog!  This morning, I needed to take a moment to stop and smell the roses and count my blessings.  I want to share with you some of the happy things that have happened during this beautiful month of May.

Lots to Celebrate...


My oldest daughter Anita, turned thirteen on the 4th of May.  I am officially the mother of a teenage daughter!  Scary?  Scary! 



On the same day, my youngest daughter, Annabel, celebrated her first Holy Communion.



I am so thankful for this moment right here. Annabel hugging her grandpa on her communion day.  She was so looking forward to visiting with him before attending mass that day (probably as much as he was looking forward to it, too)!



Mother's Day



On the week leading up to Mother's day, my mom came to stay with us...



We visited English and Miller tea house and enjoyed a pot of tea with warm scones, strawberry jam and Devon cream!  It was soooo yummy and such a treat for both of us.



My mom and I went thrift shopping together and found a couple of vintage teacups and saucers which we turned into bird feeders!  Here is one of them hanging on my crabapple tree. Isn't it adorable?



Here is a robin fresh out of the bath.  I never tire of watching the robins splash around in the water.  They always bring a smile to my face.



 Mother's day morning at High Park with my darling girls.  I love them with all my heart and I am so proud of them.  They truly are my greatest blessings.    



This is a picture of a lunch I made last week.  I like how pretty and colorful it looks served on my heart-shaped plate.  


This past weekend, we visited High Park in Toronto and spotted the cherry blossoms on the Sakura trees in full bloom.  It was unintentional, but how lucky for us! 



In and around our garden...



We celebrated the Victoria day holiday (Queen Victoria's birthday) on Monday with a BBQ lunch alfresco!  I do so enjoy setting a pretty table outdoors.  It's always fun to eat outside when the weather is pleasant.


We also planted our herbs this weekend.  We have thyme, oregano, rosemary, basil, cilantro, chives, and more!  Cherry tomatoes and kale were planted too.  I am looking forward to watching it all grow! 


The red and yellow tulips in our side garden blossomed several days ago and are looking lovely!


The teacup magnolia tree Nuno planted on our front lawn several years ago is boasting its first spring blooms this week, too! Magnolias are one of my favorites! 

This is how my crabapple tree looks today...overflowing with pink buds ready to burst into fragrant white blooms at any given moment!  


"The world's favorite season is the spring. 
All things seem possible in May."
Edwin Way Teale



These are some of the things that have made my heart most happy this month.  I hope you are all enjoying this hopeful season of spring.  Don't forget to stop and count your blessings.  Sometimes we need reminding!  I know I do!  





  

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Recipe for No-Bake Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

In my previous post, I told you that I would be making a Nutella cheesecake for our Valentine's day dessert.  I received several requests for the recipe since then, and because the cheesecake turned out so lovely, I thought I'd share the recipe with you today.  

I was compelled to make this recipe while flipping through the pages of Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook,  Nigellissima.  I borrowed the cookbook from our local library a few weeks ago, and have since ordered a copy for myself.  The recipe is very easy to make, requires few ingredients and doesn't need to be baked.  Preparing the raw hazelnuts (boiling, peeling and toasting) was actually the most time-consuming element.  If you can find ready-peeled and toasted hazelnuts, that will really save you some time.



Below is the recipe, exactly as found on page 175 of Nigellissima...

Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake

Ingredients 

10 oz graham crackers (about 16 sheets or 2 1/2 cups crumbs)
5 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
1 13 oz jar Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread, at room temperature 
3/4 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature 
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted 

* one 9-inch springform cake pan


Directions

Break the crackers into the bowl of a food processor, then add the butter and 1 tablespoon of Nutella and blitz until the mixture starts to clump.  Add 3 tablespoons of the toasted hazelnuts, and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture.

Tip this into your springform pan and press it into the base, using either your hands or the back of a spoon.  Place in the refrigerator to chill while you get on with the filling.

Beat together the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth and soft, then patiently scrape the rest of the Nutella out of its jar and into the cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.  

Take the springform pan out of the refrigerator.  Carefully scrape and smooth the Nutella mixture over the cracker crumb base and scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top to cover.  Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  I recommend refrigerating the cheesecake overnight before serving. 

Serve straight from the refrigerator for best results, unspringing the cake from the pan, still on its base, just before you eat.  To cut it, dip a sharp knife in cold water, wiping it and dipping again between each cut. I didn't find this step necessary.  And don't worry; it may look disappointingly flat when whole, but when sliced, its dark depths are revealed.  I certainly wasn't disappointed! 


The cheesecake turned out absolutely perfect.  The crust was delicious, the filling rich (but not too sweet), and the roasted hazelnut topping complemented it so well!  It even sliced like a dream!  The flavor reminds me of  Ferrero Rocher chocolates.  


I want to share a little tip with you in case you aren't able to find ready-peeled hazelnuts or maybe you would rather peel and roast the hazelnuts yourself.  After doing some online research, I found that boiling the hazelnuts in a water/baking soda solution is the best and easiest method to remove the stubborn peel from raw hazelnuts.  Here is the link to the website I used for step-by-step directions...  How to Peel Hazelnuts


My boiled, peeled, and roasted hazelnuts shaped into a heart



That is all for today, my friends.  I hope that your Valentine's day was special and that you are enjoying the last of winter's days.  It is presently snowing here.  I see snowflakes lightly falling outside my kitchen window.  The too-tall snowbanks keep getting higher and higher. It seems there is no end in sight to this long, cold winter.  I yearn for warmer weather, the return of the robins, tulips and daffodils, as I count down only 30 more days till spring!  xoxo