Sunday, December 30, 2012


My friend, Jennifer, directed me to Aesthetic Nest a while ago, and although I don't knit, sew, or crochet, I can appreciate the talent of this lovely blogger.  Yesterday morning, I popped over to see what Aesthetic Nest was doing and found this soup recipe.  It has been cold here in the low desert, and I had most of the ingredients including spinach fresh from the garden.  With a slight tweak, I've adapted the recipe to suit what I had in my pantry.  I am so glad that I doubled the recipe--it is delicious!

Minestrone with Spinach - adapted from Aesthetic Nest

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 5 cups (40 oz) chicken stock
  • 1 lb diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 large carrot sliced about ¼” thick
  • 4-5 large handfuls of spinach leaves 
  • 1 14.5 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 T Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 c. macaroni or shells (I used wheat shells)
  • 2T balsamic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • Grated parmesan

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, carrot, zucchini, herbs, sugar and bay leaf.
Cover partially and simmer until the carrots are tender, at least 20 minutes. Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, until al dente, 8-10 minutes more. Add the spinach and stir it until it is wilted.
Add the beans and simmer until they are warmed through. Add the balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with freshly ground salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh parsley and parmesan.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Seven Layer Bars - Again (Improved, if possible)

I've posted about similar bars before but I made them again this time tweaking a different recipe--the classic recipe from Eagle Brand (makers of the delicious sweetened condensed milk).

I made slight changes including doubling the portion of the crust--oh, my.


2 sticks of butter, melted (this is twice the amount in the original recipe)
3 cups of graham cracker crumbs (also twice the amount in the original recipe)
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (6 oz) butterscotch chips
1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips (I used the 60% cacao chips)
1 1/3 cups shredded coconut (I used unsweetened, flaked coconut)
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish by lining it with foil (leave a bit hanging over the ends) and spraying the foil lightly with non-stick spray (I use Baker's Joy).

Combine the melted butter with the graham cracker crumbs, mixing well.  Press the crumb mixture firmly into bottom of prepared pan.  Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture.  Layer evenly the remaining ingredients; press down firmly with a fork.

Bake 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack.  After bars are cooled, lift the foil edges and remove bars from pan. Cut into individual bars.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Sezincote House and Garden was another Oxford class field trip.  Have you ever heard of Sezincote?  I hadn't.  I didn't particularly love the house (it's the inspiration for Brighton Pavilion), but there were a few interesting water features that I would love to replicate.

This is the pretty side of the house.  It is done in an Indian-style which looks a little odd in the Cotswolds (in my opinion).

 The Orangery is gorgeous and curves around this beautiful grassy area.  It is now serving as a    lunch/tea room.

                            The best part of the garden is away from the house and down a slope.

          I immediately thought better of the owners for having two swings in such a perfect spot.

                      After a bit of swinging you can walk down the lawn and over the bridge to

this delightful running spring that will bring a smile to your face--it did mine and it still does as I type this.

                Honestly, I don't know if that is a gravel pathway or a stream of water--any guesses?

 This was my favorite water feature.  After our group traipsed through, I came back to take a few photos and to sit a bit and just think.

You can hop along these limestone steps and either go straight on through to the wooded area or

turn left and hop on over to this bench for a quiet spot to think.  It was hard to get a really good photo but I did my best.