Sunday, January 25, 2009


We're getting ready to leave EARLY in the morning to go skiing/snowboarding. I love to ski!! I only learned as an adult, so I'm definitely not an expert, but it is one of my favorite things to do.

Of course our preps start with...what are we going to eat. So...

I definitely needed to pack this lunch tonight, because I'm planning to wake up with just enough time to wash up, make my bed, get dressed, eat something warm, pour a cup of coffee and hit the road. I'm REALLY, REALLY not a morning person!

The forecast for the mountain tomorrow is a high of 26* and a low of 13*. So we've dug out all the warm clothing we have in the house

and we should be all set.

A note to any cyber stalker burglars who may use this as a chance to pay us a visit, Doug will be stopping by often during the day tomorrow to feed our killer attack dog some fresh meat!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


The weekly food plan that is.

Making a menu is a large part of how I'm able to stay organized in the kitchen and provide home cooked meals most days and nights of the week.

I try to not just plan dinners but also list some ideas for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks/desserts for the week. It seems easier to be inspired one time and get it all down on paper than trying to be inspired each time someone is hungry!!

So here it is. Our food plan for the week of 1/19 (I know it's already the 20th. I didn't get to posting this yesterday like I wanted to)

Mon - baked flounder, pasta salad, peas, green beans

Tues - spaghetti, homemade Italian bread, salad with ranch dressing

Wed - breaded chicken breasts, baked potatoes, steamed cauliflower (I realize this is a VERY white meal, but I like it, so that's what we're having!)

Thurs - roasted pork tenderloin, homemade applesauce, orzo with spinach and tomatoes, steamed carrots

Fri - farmer's eggs (a combo of eggs, potatoes, cheese, meat, veggies), biscuits, fruit salad

Sat - my niece Helena's birthday party (let me know what you want me to bring Jimmy and Susanne)

Sun - Billy and Tommy are having a pizza night at our church youth group. Doug, Andrew, and I will be enjoying my absolute favorite meal of all time, Tomato and fresh mozzarella risotto with Caesar salad

~homemade granola
~baked oatmeal
~bagels w/cream cheese
~yogurt w/fruit (Doug bought me a yogurt maker for Christmas and I made my first batch over the weekend. It's delicious!!)
~pancakes with bacon

~ham and cheese
~egg salad
~chicken salad (from the freezer)
~pork sandwiches
~English muffin pizzas
~leftover beef burritos

~peanut butter muffins (I just took them out of the oven now. They smell delicious. We're going to have them with my homemade grape jelly)
~granola bars
~sugar cookie cake
~chocolate chip cookies
~clementines (I got a delicious box from the store last week. We are loving them)
~veggies w/ ranch dressing

That sounds like a lot of snacks, but I pack big lunches every day. I don't buy any premade snack foods other than potato chips, so I need to be prepared with plenty homemade options.

So, there's the plan. Of course that's all best case scenario. There may be days when we(I) decide we want fast food for lunch and buy a pizza for dinner, but with a plan, that is much less likely to happen.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


WHOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ARIZONA, HERE WE COME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

14 YEARS OLD?!?!?!?!

Yep, that's right. My baby is 14! Happy birthday Tommy! I hope you had the best 14th birthday ever!

Tommy had some friends over last night for a birthday party. It was a beautiful, COLD night. The moon was just shy of full. Tommy's plan was to have a bonfire and play outside games like kick the can, manhunt, and ghost in the graveyard. I told him to be prepared for his friends to not be as enthusiastic as he was about playing outside all night in the 20 degree weather. He made some alternate plans for some inside games just to appease me I think.

The alternate plans were not needed. These kids had a blast outside. It was so cool to see them all playing out in the cold, running around, laughing, talking and generally having an awesome time together.

They all came inside to refuel with some pizza, chips, cheese curls, fruit, and punch. Then it was back outside for more fun.

After a couple hours outside, I called them back in for "make your own brownie sundaes"

Tommy's friend, Piper, celebrates her birthday this weekend too so we mentioned her name in the birthday song. I think in this picture Tommy was saying "Hey, it's my birthday!"

It was a great birthday party and a great group of kids!!

We're having another party tomorrow afternoon with the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. There won't be a bonfire at this party. We'll be in the family room watching the Eagles stomp on the Giants!!

Happy Birthday Tommy! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


First of all, my apologies to any readers who could care less about food, menus, or leftovers. Just bear with me for a couple of days. I will blog about something else eventually.

So...I found the chicken stuffed shells, was a MUCH smaller container than I remembered. That was glitch #1. Glitch #2 - I forgot we would be having Billy's girlfriend here for dinner (No, I'm not calling Allie a glitch, my forgetting is the glitch). Glitch #3 - the shells all stuck together when I froze them and fell apart when they thawed.

Let me share with you how I handled these glitches.

I figured since the shells were falling apart anyway, I could just chop the whole thing up and call it "chicken stuffed shell casserole" Problem solved.

Okay, now it's not really enough for all of us for dinner. I used most of our fresh vegetables for our stir-fry last night. Luckily in the pantry I always keep canned fruit. So I made a delicious fruit salad out of canned pineapple, peaches, pears, oranges, and one large fresh apple. There's plenty for Doug's lunch tomorrow and for the rest of us for breakfast or lunch.

I also found 7 rolls leftover from a dinner I took to my grandmother's house over the holiday. I cut them all in half, took 2/3 of a stick of butter, mixed it with granulated garlic, salt, and parmesan cheese. I spread this mixture on the rolls and broiled them. How can you really go wrong with bread/butter/garlic/and cheese!!!!

I even got a delicious drink to serve with dinner from these humble ingredients. I drained all the juice from the canned pineapple mixed it with seltzer and ice, and Allie and I enjoyed delicious pineapple spritzers with our meal. Yummy!

So, once again, with no trip to the store, another delicious, filling dinner.

Tomorrow? Hmmm. Not really sure yet.

Monday, January 5, 2009


I've challenged myself this week to make as many meals as I can without going to the store.

In the weeks preceding Christmas I felt like I was running to the store every day to get just a couple of things. My fridge, freezer, and pantry were overflowing, but it always seemed like I was missing one or two obscure ingredients.

Well, I need a break from the store (my wallet does too!).

I really want to see just what it is that's in my freezer making no room for more ice cream!!!!

We're not great leftover people. None of us LOVE leftovers. I'm not very creative about remaking them into something new and exciting either. For lunches we're a sandwich and chips kind of family.

What I have found helpful though is, if after a day or two, no one has eaten the leftovers, I freeze them. For some reason I am much more likely to use them at a later date if they are forgotten in the freezer for a while.

So...last night I took out a bag of frozen mashed potatoes, diced up some leftover Christmas ham, chopped the couple spears of broccoli that were leftover from a dinner a couple nights ago, grated up some cheese leftover from a cheese platter from New Year's eve mixed it all together in a 9x13 dish, and then baked it @375 for about a half hour. It was so good. We ate it while we watched the Eagles kick the Vikings butts!!!!! Yay Eagles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tonight it was just Doug, Tommy, and I home for dinner. Andrew is in Florida at Disney World and Billy is snowboarding.

In the freezer I found some cooked chicken breasts and a quart sized bag of cooked rice. Stir-Fry!!

I found plenty of veggies lurking in the fridge. There were baby carrots and, red and green peppers left from the veggie tray on New Year's. I found a small bag of baby spinach left from our spinach salad we had on Christmas, and I had a whole head of purple cabbage (I only used 1/4 of it) I also used onions and garlic that I always have on hand.

I was tempted to cook up some more rice because it really didn't look like enough. I'm glad I didn't though because once it was thawed and heated up, it was plenty.

So, in less than a half hour, using nothing except what we had on hand, we had an absolutely delicious, nutritious meal. I even have plenty leftover to share for lunch tomorrow at our co op.

Stay tuned to find out what I find for dinner tomorrow. I think I may have some chicken stuffed shells in one of the freezers. MMMMM. That sounds really good!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I've written before about how much I love candlelight. I really, really do!!

Another reason that I didn't talk about before is how great it is to entertain with. Light some candles and oil lamps, turn off the lights, and POOF, no dust, no dog hair, no smudges on the windows. Just gentle, quiet, soft beauty.

You can take the time that you would have spent scrubbing the house and go have a nice soak in the tub, cook up some delicious food, or just put your feet up and relax before your company comes.

We had some friends over to help us ring in the New Year. We had a lovely evening. We played my favorite card game, Wizard . We played Rock Band, and bingo. We ate awesome food, toasted with boilo, (a recipe passed down to me by my Poppop for a delicious hot toddy). At midnight we all counted down the last seconds of 2008, toasted with sparkling cider, blew on our noise makers (Boomer REALLY didn't like that part), and then went out onto the freezing cold porch and watched Andrew set off fire crackers (the horses in the barn REALLY didn't like that part).

In the foreground of the following picture, you can see a delicious appetizer that has recently become one of my all time favorites. Someone from my book group made it a couple months ago, and she was kind enough to share the recipe. Thanks Kathleen!

Baked Brie:
Take a round of brie - put it on an oven proof dish - remove the rind from the top and sides - spread raspberry jam on top (I used seedless, all-fruit spread) - sprinkle with chopped pecans - take crescent roll dough and press the seams together - flatten a little and then wrap pieces of it around the brie until it's completely covered. The past 2 times I've made it, I took the scraps of dough pressed them out flat and then cut out a shape with a cookie cutter to put on top. For Christmas, I put a cut out a Christmas tree, and for New Year's, I used a star.
Put it in the oven according to the directions on the crescent roll can. Bake until browned.

This is soooooo good!!

One last thought on candles. They actually do provide warmth. I'm not sure if you'd notice this in a large room, or in a house that has actual heat. In our house though, which can be really, really cold, I can totally feel it. We have a bathroom on our main floor which always has the door closed. Since we don't use any central heat, it is an unheated bathroom.

On New Year's eve I had 4 votive candles burning in there all night. It was truly toasty in there by the end of the night. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all use candles for heat, but it is a nice fringe benefit!

So, for your next get together, plan it for after dark, put away your mop and dust rag, get out your matches, and go take a bubble bath.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!!

We had a truly wonderful holiday. Sarah was home (big smile). We all went to church together on Christmas eve and celebrated, with LOTS AND LOTS of people, the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.

I am so blessed to have kids who, although they are not little kids anymore, still revel in the joy of Christmas. They are certainly not afraid to act a little goofy.

We got to visit with lots of family and friends.

This is Nana getting to hold, for the first time, her 18th great-grandchild, Josephine.

A perfect Christmas picture of all 10 of my parents grandchildren.

Sarah got her wish of holding her new cousin, baby Josie, for the WHOLE day.

We ate wonderful food.

We enjoyed giving and receiving thoughtful, fun presents.

This is the felted handbag I knitted Sarah.

This is Andrew trying out his new banjo. It was a big surprise!

Doug made Billy a horseshoeing tool box. Very cool!

Tommy opened a gift that was a box with an old hay hook in it. He did look perplexed for a few seconds until he realized that it was actually a clue to where he could find his gift. He ran out to the hayloft, followed by his brothers and Dad, and found his brand new bike. Doesn't he look happy!

This is my brother, Jimmy, holding the HANDMADE knife that Doug made him for Christmas. I think he liked it. A LOT!!

After 3 days of festivities, we relaxed and relaxed. Then we relaxed some more. Actually, that's what I am still doing. I plan on returning to my regularly scheduled programming come Monday, but for now I'm reading, knitting, watching movies, Lost, and football, and still eating plenty of sinful food.

I love the holidays, but I have to admit, I also REALLY love the quiet that follows!!