Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas and other things

I get a little lax with my blogging during the holidays.  As soon as this week is over, I'll be back to cooking and blogging again.  I hope you will bear with me as I take a short break, but the holidays are always a little downer for me.  I believe Christmas is about family.  When you have no family to share it with, it can be the saddest time of the year.  Fortunately for me, I have good friends that try to fill that void for me as my children are traveling this year to visit other relatives. 

Also, while I believe the reason for the season is to celebrate Jesus' birth, I wish we could all celebrate His birth every day of the year, not just on the 25th of December. 

I hope all of you out there in blogland had a wonderful day yesterday filled with many blessings.  And I hope the New Year brings you good health, happiness, and fortune!  Thank you all for your continued support of my tiny blog.  Hugs to you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CEiMB - Beef Taco Salad with Chunky Tomato Dressing

Hostess for the week - Peggy of Pantryrevisited.blogspot.com!  That would be me of course.

It is always a treat to get to host one of the food groups.  It is not an easy task.   Not for me at least.  I analyze it to death.  How easy will it be to make on a work night?  How accessible are the ingredients to the majority?  How good will it taste?  I figured we would all be turkeed out (is turkeed a word) after Thanksgiving and might like a welcome change of just a good, taco salad. 

I got some vine ripened tomatoes at the store.  However, they were not as firm as I would have liked. 

They did not dice easily.

The only change I made to the recipe was I used bottled lime juice instead of fresh.
The finished product:
My rating.  We thought this was good, but nothing spectacular.  Easy to make, easy on the budget, and tasty.  Definitely worth trying.  Thank you all for cooking with me this week!!  Thank you Ellie for great, healthy recipes!

Now all of you get out there and get that shopping done!  I mean it.  Finish up.  Christmas is NEXT week!!!!!  Hope you are all having a fun holiday so far.

The recipe:
For the Meat:


3/4 pound lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
1/3 cup water

For the dressing:
4 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the salad:
2 hearts romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup grated Cheddar
2 ounces baked corn tortilla chips (about 32 chips)


Directions
To prepare the meat, heat a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook until no longer pink, stirring occasionally and breaking the meat up with the spoon. Add the garlic and beans and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chili powder, cayenne and water and stir until well combined and some but not all of the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly. Meat mixture may be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
To make the tomato dressing, in a medium bowl, combine tomatoes (with their juices), oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Dressing may be prepared up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Place 2 cups of lettuce on each plate or in a lunch container. Top each serving with 1 cup of the beef mixture then sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese. If making to-go, pack 3/4 cup of the tomato mixture in a separate sealable container and put about 8 chips in a separate bag. Right before eating, pour a portion of the tomato mixture with the liquid on top of each salad, and crush tortilla chips on top.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

CEiMB - Spinach Tortellini Soup

Hostess for this week:  Bri of Yoshimi vs. motherhood at http://yoshimivsmotherhood.blogspot.com/

Well Thanksgiving is over and what a fabulous week it was!  As most of you already know, I got to multi-task and celebrate my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas all in one week.  It was almost too much fun for one body to handle.  Wanted to share this photo with my beautiful flowers that a friend of mine sent me for my birthday.  My son also sent me some lovely autumn flowers.  I cooked a lot during those three days.  I had both my handsome sons home for a day and a half.  We made the most of our time together.  We had a great bowl of chili while we watched the Iron Bowl, then later we had our Thanksgiving feast of turkey, dressing, green beans, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes and corn casserole, with pecan pie and pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.  The next morning we had Ellie's Blueberry Almond French Toast and it was a big hit with everyone.  My beautiful new granddaughter was here too and just a bundle of love.  Also, we enjoyed meeting my younger son's new girlfriend Serena.  They live in Orlando and my other son lives in Dallas.  It is always great to see them when they can visit.

Now it is December and that means decorating the house for Christmas.  I have the tree up so that is a big start, right?

On to the soup.  That is why you are here.  This was a spinach tortellini soup that contained some celery, carrots, and onions.  It really was just a good vegetable soup with a tomato base.  I think I went a bit overboard with the red pepper flakes though because we found it to be quite spicey.  I also think it would have been good to add some chicken to it, but I made it like Ellie's recipe this time.  Love tortellini.  I just used regular ones, however, instead of the spinach ones.  It was a quick and easy soup to make on a weeknight and tonight was about as cold a night as we have had here in Alabama so it was the perfect night to enjoy a good, hot soup!  We served it with a hunk of french bread.

For the recipe, you can find it at Bri's blogsite or you can get Ellie Krieger's So Easy cookbook.  Come join us at Craving Ellie.  It is a great group of cooks.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CEiMB - Cioppino, or Fish Stew without the Fish!

Hostess this week is one of my favorite bloggers, Margaret of Tea and Scones

As you all know by now, I'm not a fish/shellfish person, but I really wanted to cook along with Margaret this week so I substituted chicken for the fish.  I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but we were pleasantly surprised. It was delicious!  So good in fact, I cannot wait to have the leftovers for tomorrow night's dinner.

Well next week is Thanksgiving and I wonder if you all are already getting overwhelmed about how you will manage getting it all together.  For me, I have my family coming in from out of town and we plan to have our Christmas together at the same time.  So it is a double whammy for me.  I have half a tree put up in my living room, and a couple of gifts bought, but this weekend will be interesting to say the least!  I'm a list maker, so I will probably have more lists made than I know what to do with.  A grocery list for sure.

Thanks Margaret for a wonderful pick.  I never would have tried that recipe and now I have found a new wonderful soup to make this winter.   Check out Margaret's blog for the recipe for this and other great foods!  And come join us over at Craving Ellie. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

CEiMB - Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Walnuts and Feta Cheese


Kayte is one of my favorite blogging friends and we are in several cooking groups together.  I love going to her blog because there is always something good to whet my appetite on there!  Check it out and see what her version of this week's salad is.

I do not, however, love whole wheat pasta, so the only substitution I made in this recipe was that I used tri-colored regular pasta. Plus, the different colors in it excite me.  I don't know why!  I paired this with a rotiserrie chicken and Chan loved the pasta!  He wanted to eat the entire bowl of pasta but I made him pace himself.  I had to keep reminding him that we had dessert which was coming later.

I know there are all different types of cooks out there and we all have our own way of doing things.  For me, I like to get all my ingredients out on the countertop before I even begin to read how to put the recipe together.  Sort of like Rachel Ray.  I also love that she has a garbage bowl right beside her.  I use the small side of my sink to dump my garbage in.  Same principle I guess.  I would love to hear what your routine is!

This is just another example of why I love being in these cooking clubs.  I probably would never have even noticed this recipe had Kayte not chosen it, but now that I have actually made it, I will definitely have this on my rewind list to make again and again.  Thanks Kayte!

I saw this on the internet and since it is just a little past Halloween, and since Chan wanted to eat the entire bowl of pasta, I thought I would share this story with you all.  I loved it.  Let me know if you have read it before.

The Legend of Strega Nona

Strega Nona is a traditional Italian fairy tale about a witch who has a magic pasta pot. The magic quality of Strega Nona's pot is that it produces pasta at her command. The young boy who serves her can't get enough and he secretly longs for Strega Nona's power over the pot. In secret, he watches Strega Nona as she casts her spell over the pot.
When Strega Nona is called away on an errand the boy gets his chance. He is finally alone with the magic pot! Before the witch leaves she warns her servant to stay away fom the pot. Of course the minute she is gone, the boy trys the spell and sure enough the pot begins producing delicious pasta.
The pot keeps producing pasta as fast as the boy eats it. Even though he has a strong appetite, eventually the boy gets full. He suddenly realizes that he doesn't know how to stop the pot. The pasta soon fills up the house and floods out the windows and doors and begins travelling toward town. The boy keeps trying to stop the spell, but the pot just keeps producing pasta. Hope is lost until at the last second, Strega Nona returns and "uncasts" the spell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TWD - Not Just for Thanksgiving Cranberry Shortbread

Host this week:  Jessica of Singleton in the Kitchen
Jessica is one of my favorite bloggers.  I was excited she chose this cranberry shortbread so I could try it out before the holiday arrives.  And it was worth the trying out!  We absolutely loved it.  And it was so easy to make.  The dough came together really well.  Next time I might add a tad bit more sugar to the cranberry mixture however. 
Mine did not rise a whole lot.  I'm not sure how tall it is supposed to be.  It is about the size of a one layer cake.  I cannot wait to see how others turned out.  I plan to make this again this weekend to take to a friend's house for dinner. They are serving chicken pot pie so I think this will be perfect with it.

Going into the oven:
Coming out of the oven:

I can't wait to eat another piece tonight!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

TWD - Peanuttiest Brownies

Hostess this week:  Nicole of Bakeologie

Well Halloween has come and gone.  That means Thanksgiving and my birthday are right around the corner!!!  And the best part of Thanksgiving this year is that I get to see my new grandbaby again.  I am counting the days.  Halloween brought lots of goodies at work including a pumpkin decorating contest (I lost), lots of candy, a free breakfast and dessert party, and the Saturday night a fun-filled night of dancing and wearing costumes at our dance club.  Chandler and I went again as pirates wearing our costumes from last year and we were fortunate to be one of the costume winners this year!  I made some brownies to take that had swirls of pumpkin in them, and I was not a fan.  I'll take my brownies plain thank you.  Chandler and I watched a scary movie (as is our custom).  I prefer some type of ghost story like a haunting, but we chose Frozen.  Kids stranded on a ski slope.  It got really gruesome though and there were parts I simply could not watch.  Then we watched a Lifetime Movie called Secrets in the Walls and I actually liked it better.  I'll have nightmares tonight from that Frozen one!!!! 

I'm just curious, have any of you ever had any "ghostly" experiences or lived in an actual house that you thought was haunted?  I would LOVE to hear your stories about that!

My mom used to tell a story about when she was little and they were all sitting on the front porch and a big ball of fire fell from the sky, hit the ground, and rolled down the hill towards her grandmother's house.  She said they all saw it but did not know what it was.  The next morning her grandmother passed away.  Weird.

I love peanut butter so I was excited about these brownies.  And I love blond brownies. The only change I made to Dorie's recipe was I left out the additional chopped peanuts and I used self-rising flour.   I give these a big thumbs up!  As a matter of fact, I could eat the entire pan in one sitting.  Wait. . I did eat them all. . .no, there are a few still left!

Go to Nicole's blog to get the recipe.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Kitchen, My World - Traveling this month to Japan!

This month with my group My Kitchen My World we traveled together to Japan.  We each get to choose what recipe we will prepare from a certain country each month.  Check out the blogsite to see what other "travelers" came up with.  mykitchenmyworld.blogspot.com  Next month we will be touring Afghanistan.  That should be a challenge!



I tried to find something truly authentic.  My DH and I love all sorts of asian food (except for the shellfish which I have to avoid) so I was excited to see what I could find.   So I do what I always do and Google.  Google is just truly amazing to me.  You can find anything you want on there.   I found Glo's
Sausage Fried Rice.  Glo says it is an easy to prepare recipe passed down from her Japanese mother and that you won't find anything like it in the restaurants. 



It was pretty easy to prepare.  I have to say, however, I would have really liked it had the main ingredient been chicken instead of the sausage.  I was not a fan of the sausage.  The DH, however, loved it.  He is so easy to please!  Here is the recipe.  It makes a ton of fried rice, so I suggest you halve the recipe.  I halved it and it still made a big bowl.  Try it!! 

Glo's Sausage Fried Rice

1 pound ground pork sausage

5 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 head cabbage, cored and shredded
3 carrots, chopped
6 cups cooked white rice, cold
1/4 cup soy sauce, or to taste
1 (14.5 ounce) can bean sprouts, drained
1 (6 ounce) package frozen green peas, thawed
ground black pepper to taste
3 green onions, chopped

Directions
1.In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage until evenly browned. Drain, and remove sausage from the pan. In the same pan, using the remaining coating of grease from the sausage, scramble the eggs, stirring frequently until cooked through. Set aside.
2.Heat the oil in a very large skillet or electric skillet over medium-high heat. Stir fry the cabbage and carrots just until the cabbage has wilted. Add the cold rice, and fry, stirring so that there are no clumps. Mix in the sausage and pour in some soy sauce. Stir in bean sprouts, peas, and eggs, mixing well so there are no big chunks of egg. Season with pepper, and stir in green onions just before removing from the heat. Adjust soy sauce to taste, and serve.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Pumpkin Decorating

We had a pumpkin decorating contest at work.  A team of four.  Judged on creativity, etc.  This was our entry.  We thought we were very original, "current," and good presentation.  We LOST.
I am disappointed for my team.  It did, however, look much better in a dark room.  What do you think?


Monday, October 18, 2010

TWD - Caramel Pumpkin Pie

Hostess this week:  Janell of http://lkmortensenfamily.blogspot.com/

I really wanted to do a great job on this pie. Well all things considered, you have to give me a break this week and not expect greatness!

I had a little surgery last Thursday.  It was not "supposed" to be a big thing.  This procedure was to determine 100% that I did not have cancer.  It did that. YEA!!  God is good.  Nothing in my life comes without drama.  Apparently my blood pressure did not cooperate and dropped dangerously low in the recovery room so they had to work with me for a couple of hours.  Thank God I was high on morphine and demerol, and they just kept giving me more so while I was aware that things were happening around me, I really didn't care that much!  Oh yes, I can laugh now. 

Today I tried to work but I almost fainted shortly after getting there so I spent five and a half hours in the emergency room where they finally determined that my blood pressure was low again.  After running tests, they decided I must still be reacting from the anesthesia.  Seriously, how long does this stuff stay in one's body?

Now, on to the PIE.  I really wanted to make this pie.

I'm not sure my caramel turned out right.  Was it supposed to thicken?  Mine did not.  But it was a nice dark color as Dorie suggested.  And it smelled really good.

Okay, I cheated and used a bought pie crust because I was not sure I could stand on my feet long enough to make it from scratch.  Forgive me?  Now I wish I had made small tarts instead.  My pie plate was too big and there was not enough filling to fill up the crust.

After cooking 50 minutes, it was still not ready.  And it never got ready.  It tasted like canned pureed pumpkin that never cooked.  What the hay happened?  I've made pumpkin pie many times before and always perfect.  This was one not.  Here is my ugly picture.

Basically, nothing went my way with this pie.  I think I'll stick to my regular pie recipe next time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CEiMB - Apple Brown Betty



I've never had apple brown betty.  Never.  I've heard of it, lusted after it, but never tasted it.  Until today.   While baking, it filled my home with the delicious aroma of apples and cinnamon.  I figured even if it tasted bad, the smell was worth the effort of making it, right? 

I've always wondered about the name.  Don't you think Apple Brown Betty is strange?  Why not Apple Brown Lulu for example.  So I googled.  This is what I found.  A bit of history for you.

Betty or Brown Betty - A Betty consist of a fruit, most commonly apples, baked between layers of buttered crumbs. Betties are an English pudding dessert closely related to the French apple charlotte. Betty was a popular baked pudding made during colonial times in America.


According to The Oxford Companion To Food, by Alan Davison:
The name seems to have first appeared in print in 1864, when an article in the Yale Literary Magazine listed it (in quotation marks, implying that it was not then a fully established term) with tea, coffee, and pies as things to be given up during 'training'. That author gave brown in lower case and Betty in upper case: and, in default of evidence to the contrary, it seems best to go along with the view that Betty is here a proper name.

Simple to make.  Easy to eat.  Healthy and delicious thanks to Ellie Krieger's recipe.  I substituted white bread for the whole wheat because that was what I had on hand and I used apple butter instead of apple cider. 
You can check out Jessica's link above and find the recipe there or go to Craving Ellie's website and see what our other bakers did with their bettys.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TWD - Double Apple Bundt Cake

Hostess this week: Lynne of  HoneyMuffin


With my trip to Myrtle Beach coming up, I thought this would be the perfect cake to make to take with.  I love anything with apples and double apple sounds doubly good to me!  And it is fall now and to me, apples just go with fall weather!  The double in this recipe is shredded apples, along with apple butter!  The hardest part of making this cake was shredding the apples.  I do not like to shred for some reason!

However, because I do not wish to mess up the cake by cutting into it before I get to share it with my friends on the trip, I will not get to taste it until Saturday!  So I am freezing it until then.  And you get the photo of the entire cake, instead of a beautifully cut slice.

I left the raisens out only because it seems I have made several apple things lately with raisens and I wanted to try something a little different.  So I used butterscotch chips and walnuts.

I cannot wait to enjoy a piece of it!
Thank you Lynne for a great pick this week!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CEiMB - Almond French Toast Bake

Hostess this week was Heide of http://chezzero.blogspot.com/

I have to let you all in on a secret this week.  I had to cheat a bit on this one.  Just a bit.  I did not let it sit overnight in the refrigerator as Ellie says to.  Wasn't sure if it would work to just beat it up and toss it in the oven, but that's what I did.  Drat those time constraints!  But please keep this to yourself.   Don't you just love a good secret?

My grocery store did not have fresh blueberries this week.  Not sure what was up with that because we eat them every morning with our cereal.  So I grabbed a bag of frozen blueberries.  Believe me when I say they may be fine for cooking with them, but even thawed they did nothing for our cereal.  Too mushy for me!  But the size of the blueberries was amazing.  Made me wonder where are these giant blueberries when you buy fresh ones?  The ones I buy are tiny like little peas.  These were mammoth.

I sort of halved this recipe so I was not sure how long to cook it.  Ellie said 50-60 minutes and that seemed like a long time to me.  I think mine cooked for 40 minutes and I called it done.  Chandler loved it and said it reminded him of bread pudding.

Here's a little funny.  At least it was funny to me.  I was home today because.  . well anyway. . .I was watching one of the "famous" chefs on television and when she took her dish out of the oven I noticed her stovetop was, shall we say less than clean?  I'm talking some major grease baked on there.  Surely these tv people have someone to clean up after them?  Just evidence I guess that she is truly a dedicated cook and is actually using that stove!!  I loved it and I think I love her all the more for it.

If you click on Heide's link above, I'm sure you will find the recipe for this luscious breakfast treat.  Or you can find it in Ellie's So Easy cookbook.  Or,  you can google it and get it that way.  Great pick Heide!

MKMW - Morocco Bound! Moroccan Kefta Meatballs in Butter Sauce

This month in My Kitchen My World, we traveled to Morocco!!  Chandler and I love middle eastern food so this was a hit with us.  I went through many moroccan recipes before finally deciding on one.  I chose Moroccan Kefta Meatballs in Butter Sauce and I was so glad I did.

For those of you, like me, that do not know the true meaning of "kefta," it generally refers to ground meat.  You could make these from ground beef, ground turkey, ground lamb, or do a combination of meats.  For convenience, I had ground beef already so that is what I used.   The meat is well seasoned with plenty of fresh herbs and spices, and then shaped into balls and sauteed in butter.  I was a bit surprised the recipe did not call for an egg to hold the shape, but these did fine without.

The recipe said to take Moroccan bread and dip into the sauce, but unfortunately, I had no sauce.  Not sure what went wrong there, but the meatballs were delicious.  It was suggested on the recipe that you serve with homemade mashed potatoes, green beans and garlic toast, so that is what I did, sans the garlic toast.

Go over to My Kitchen My World and see what the other travelers created this month!  I can't wait to go there and see what creative ideas the other group members shared.

And do try these meatballs.  They were fabulous.

Serves Four.

1 lb. ground beef, lamb or turkey
2 T. very finely chopped onion
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. black pepper or cayenne pepper (I used black)
For the sauce,
4 T. butter
1 T. chopped parsley and/or cilantro (I used both)
1 tsp. lemon juice, or more to taste
2 or 3 saffron threads, crumbled (optional)

Mix the meat with the onion, parsley, cilantro and spices.  Knead well and shape the kefta into small meatballs.  These can be tiny or 3/4 inch in diameter.  Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the meatballs.  Cook until brown on all sides stirring frequently.
Add the lemon juice, parsley and saffron to the pan and continue cooking for a few minutes longer.  Serve immediately.

Monday, September 27, 2010

TWD - Tarte Fine

Hostess this week:  Leslie of Lethally Delicious

One of my favorite blogging friends, Leslie of Lethally Delicious, chose this Tarte Fine for this week's Tuesday with Dorie challenge.

I decided to make mine round by cutting my pastry around a bowl as a pattern because I saw Gordon Ramsey do it on a video.  Of course he also torched his end result and it all looked so easy.  All I can say is something happened to mine.  It was abducted by aliens and this is how it came out.  My puff pastry did not rise up around it.  It is lacking an apple because I messed up the first apple I sliced into.  And it needed that apple.  It pains me to look at it.  And the saddest part of this was that this is not a difficult recipe.  It was easy or. . .. . was it?

This was not my favorite recipe.  But go over to Leslie's blog and see how hers turned out and you can get the recipe there! 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CEiMB - Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberry Syrup

Hostess this Week:  Melissa of http://itsmelissaskitchen.blogspot.com/

I have been under the weather this week with a touch of strep throat.  I'll be fine soon.. . I hope?  Got a cortisone shot yesterday which kept me wide awake all night last night, but it did give me a tiny bit of relief.  So this will be a quick post! 

For those of you who are movie buffs like me, I saw a cute movie last weekend that I got from Netflix.  Killers starring Kutcher and Heigl.   If you liked Brad and Angie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, you will like this one as well.

I am not a huge fan of whole wheat pancakes, so I mixed half and half flour, regular and whole wheat.  The strawberry syrup was very easy to mix up.  I wish the strawberries had a richer color in these photos. Click here to go see what the other members of CEiMB came up with.  http://cravingellieinmybelly.blogspot.com/
I love this syrup.  Target brand.
While these were good pancakes, and the strawberry syrup was delicious, I think I like just plain syrup on mine the best! 

Monday, September 13, 2010

TWD - Cranberry Upside Downer, but there is nothing down about it!

Hostess for this week:  Sabrina of http://www.superfluouslysabro.blogspot.com/

I was so excited when Sabrina (one of my favorite bloggers) chose this Cranberry Upside-Downer.  I have been eyeing this recipe for two years now and I do not know why I have not made it before now.  I now have it in my head for a Thanksgiving treat when my children are here from out of town. 

It was very easy to mix up.  I had all the ingredients on hand which is always a plus!  Actually had cranberries and pecans in the freezer.  Going to the grocery store is not my favorite thing.  You can go to Sabrina's blog by clicking on the link above and get the recipe for this if you do not have a copy of Dorie's book.

While this was baking, I accomplished another chore that I have been putting off.  Cleaning out my linen closet!  All the sheets, towels, etc. were crumpled up and thrown in there one on top of the other.  Now they are all nice and neatly stacked.  I am a positively crazy when it comes to sheet folding.  Love them flat and neat.  What a difference it makes now to open the door to that closet!!   Okay, I get excited by the small things in life.  My friend at work says the easiest way to fold sheets is to take them off the bed, wash them, and then put them right back on.  I have to agree that is an intelligent solution!

Definitely will be serving this at Thanksgiving!  I have to say I think it is best eaten the same day however!  Have a great week!

Monday, September 6, 2010

TWD - Peanut Butter Criss Crosses to the Rescue!


Host for the week:  Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine

It was just one of those weekends.  The kind where nothing really goes the way you expect.  We left Friday night to go to the lake for the long holiday weekend hoping for some much needed rest after our return from Dallas.  We arrived, turned on the air conditioning and in about 30 minutes realized, there was no air conditioning.  It was about 95 degrees that day, but weatherman assured on the television it was going to get cooler through the night, so we decided to tough it out and call a repairman the next morning.

With a fan in the window, a ceiling fan, and a small bedside fan all running at full speed, we went to bed.  Gosh the noise those fans made.

Midnight - still hot.  Two in the morning - still hot.  Stay on your side of the bed I whispered!  Don't touch me he said!  Finally about five in the morning we both found sleep.  Got up early and called an air conditioner repair guy and he came about noon and fixed it.  Nice and cool again.  Went for a long boat ride.  Sweet.

About four o'clock that same afternoon I decided to help Chan mow the grass.  I walked across the grass in the front yard to start the mower and all of a sudden I heard a hissing sound under my feet!  I jumped, then looked all around thinking there was a snake somewhere close.  As I quickly backed up, the ground beneath me began to move.  Literally.  My first thought was there was some dirt monster under the grass, then I thought quicksand??  I called to my DH and told him to hurry or he might never see me again after the earth swallowed me up.  The ground was so soggy in the area that it really did move under our feet.  Thinking it was a septic tank problem at first, we later found out it was a leaky pipe.  We turned off the water and within minutes the ground went back to normal.  It was so weird.  

Then the digging began.  I know now why they invented backhoes.  To save your back.  Chandler said the pipe would be about a foot underground.  So he dug. And dug.  Poor guy.  Not knowing exactly where the leak was, it was quite a lot of digging until finally we saw white pipe located about three or four feet underground.  It was an "elbow."  By now it is dark.  Chan found a piece of pipe in the basement that we could use, but needed the couplings. Luckily, as we were about to go to Home Depot to buy the fixtures needed, a neighbor stopped us and said he had a basket full of fittings that we could use.

So Saturday night we had cool air, but no water.  The next morning I felt like a pioneer woman carrying buckets of water from next door to service our needs.  We used bottled water to wash our hands and make coffee.   Early in the day, Chandler fixed the pipe and covered the hole back up.  I told him not to cover the hole yet, but. . . you know men.  He assured me the leak was fixed but the glue would have to set for two hours before we could have water again.  We were expecting guests in three hours so I was happy that I would at least get a shower before they came. 

After two hours, we turned on the water and heard another gushing noise.  Assuming the leak was not fixed, because surely the odds of having two leaks were next to none, right - we proceeded to dig the hole out - AGAIN.  Turned on the water and gushing noise again.  Seeing nothing amiss with the new elbow, we discovered this time it was beneath the cabin.  It looked like the pipe had just been broken off the top and was missing. This time I insisted we call a plumber, but Chan wanted to fix it himself.  So he crawled on his stomach in the dirt while I held the flashlight for him and fixed the second pipe.  Then he confessed that he was the reason for the second broken pipe!  Remember above I told you he had found a piece of pipe under the basement to use? Well apparently it was a pipe that was already "in use" and he thought it was an extra!!!!  After another two hours, we had water again.  Sunday night, we had water AND cool air.  That was nice.  My husband is a rock star in my book.  And he was bone tired and never complained.  As for me, I can tell you honestly I probably would survive being a pioneer woman, but I would be one cranky pioneer woman!

Today, I made peanut butter cookies thanks to Jasmine's excellent choice.  Chandler's favorite cookie in the world are peanut butter cookies.  So this was my treat for all his hard work this weekend.

I love using eggs that have tattoos on them.  It makes them seem clean and safe to me.  It's all in my head I know.  Just like the voices that whisper to me on occasion.

The cookies were easy to make.  Mine turned out a little large I think.  Even though I halved Dorie's recipe, it still made quite a few. 

I apologize for the long post, but the story was too good not to share.  Hope you all had a nice and safe Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Kitchen My World - Visiting Canada!

I love being in this group!  We get to visit a different country each month.  For August, we traveled to Canada.  I researched Canadian traditional foods and the one that I kept finding over and over was poutine - basically french fries topped cheese curds and then smothered with gravy.  It may be the most delicious side dish there is, but for some reason it did not appeal to me on this day.  Maybe tomorrow...

I chose Pork Chops with Apples.  Having only had a half bag of popcorn for lunch today, I was ready for something really substantial.  These were very easy to cook and I have to say, they were delicious!  I served a creamy corn soup, Potage de ble, as an appetizer.  I left off the celery and the leek, however, and added a touch of cilantro for flavor.  I also cheated a bit and used frozen corn.  It was pretty good, but I'm not a huge corn fan, that is unless it is fresh corn on the cob grilled to perfection in which case I will be the first in line!  Chandler said the pork chops were sooo good that once he tasted those, he quickly forgot the soup.  I heartily recommend these chops - especially on a busy weeknight.

As most of you know, we just returned from Dallas where we were blessed with our first grandbaby.  We were able to spend a few days holding her, and we hated to leave her, but. . .work and other obligations were calling me back home unfortunately!   They will be here for Thanksgiving so I guess it doesn't need to be said that it will be a long three months waiting to see her again.  I fell in love instantly when I saw that pretty little face!!

Here are the recipes for my virtual trip to Canada!  I can't wait to see what everyone else in the group chose this month.  Check out the website for more recipes!  http://mykitchenmyworld.blogspot.com/

Apple Pork Chops

6 Pork chops
Pork chop fat or oil
2 ts Butter
-salt and pepper to taste
3 Apples-unpeeled with cores
1 ts Sugar
Cinnamon
Cook the chops using melted fat trimmed from the meat and 1 tsp butter.
(Note those concerned about their fat intake may chose to use corn oil or
some other vegetable oil rather than the pork fat). Season to taste and set
on hot platter. Keep warm. Slice the apples 1/2" thick and add to the pan
with 1 tsp butter, the sugar and a few pinches of cinnamon or cloves. Cook
over medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning once or twice until some of
apples are browned. Arrange them around the chops and serve. Serves: 4-6
To quote Mme. Benoit, "The apples keep the chops moist and tender. I
sometimes use 6 to 7 apples, then I use 1 Tablespoon sugar. Serve very
hot."

Source" _The Canadiana Cookbook_ by Mme. Jehane Benoit
Potage de ble ( Corn Soup)

2 c -Water
2 c Milk
4 c Corn kernels; fresh
-frozen may be used if out
-of season
1 ts -Salt
2 tb Butter
1/3 c Celery; chopped
1/4 c Onion; chopped
1/4 c Leek; chopped, white part only
2 tb Flour
1/2 c Whipping cream
-Salt & ground black pepper
This fresh corn soup from Renard Jacques, chef at Auberge Benedict Arnold
in St. Georges is rich and creamy. It may be made with frozen or canned
corn kernels, but it won't have the same delicate sweetness.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add milk, corn and salt; cook
just until corn is tender. Strain cooking liquid into a bowl and set corn
aside. Heat butter in same saucepan and sauté celery, onion and leek until
softened. Blend in flour; cook until bubbly. Stir in reserved corn
cooking liquid. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and let simmer for
15 to 20 minutes.
Place corn and liquid in food processor or blender and puree in batches
until smooth. Return to saucepan and add cream. Adjust seasonings with
salt and pepper to taste. Reheat until piping hot.
SERVES: 4-6


Thursday, August 19, 2010

ON VACATION THIS WEEK - NEW BABY ARRIVING!!

As most of you know, my first grandbaby, a baby girl, is arriving shortly so I will not be cooking this week for the blog.  If the baby has not arrived by Sunday, my daughter-in-law will be induced on Monday morning -- so at least we have an end date to look forward to!!  YEA.  

I will be back to cooking and blogging after next week!   Look forward to reading yours and seeing what good things to eat you all are preparing.

I'm sure there will be photos next blog!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

CEiMB - Sloppy Joe's!

Hostess this week is . . .

My blogging friend and a wonderful cook, Chaya, chose this week's Ellie Krieger recipe for our CEiMB group.  Sloppy Joes.  Now we are big "Manwich" people.  Especially in the winter months.  I love to make them for dinner and have a couple left over for work lunches the next day.   I have never heard of sloppy joes, however, with beans in them.  Until today.

These were very simple to make.  You just cook some ground beef with onions, garlic, add some tomato sauce and a little paste, a can of beans, a few other items, dash of this and a dash of that, and in just a jiffy you have some fabulous sloppy joes! 

I did make a few substitutions.  First, I left off the bell pepper because we aren't fans of the big ole red or the big ole green, or the big ole yellow for that matter. Although I do love a good stuffed pepper occasionally. I used red pepper flakes instead of the jalapeno because I didn't have a jalapeno.  And I was fresh out of molasses so I used some brown sugar.
Ellie you did it again.  They were fabulous and I will never buy Manwich again!

Oh a sour note.  I was very ill over the weekend.  I passed a kidney stone.  Please take my tip and drink lots of fluids -- always.  You never want a kidney stone, especially one that decides to come out!

Now, here is the recipe for Ellie's fabulous sloppy joes!  Now go try them for yourself and let me know if you agree.

1 pound extra-lean ground beef

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can small red beans or pinto beans, preferably low sodium drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon mustard powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
8 whole-wheat burger buns

Directions

Brown the meat and the onion in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, breaking up the meat into crumbles as it cooks. Pour the drippings out of the pan and discard. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and red pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rest of the ingredients, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes more. Place a half-cup scoop of the mixture onto each bun and serve.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CEiMB - Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Spinach or. . . if you are allergic to shrimp, try salmon!!

Host for the week:  Jennifer of The Rookie Baker

As most of you know, I don't walk away, I run from shellfish since I am uber allergic.  I wanted to make this dish and cook along with Jennifer, so I adapted and used grilled salmon.  Jennifer, this was an excellent choice - we give it ten stars!

First, I had to find some wine that I liked while Chandler grilled our salmon.  I usually do not drink dry wines, so this was all I had.  It was pretty tasty.


This recipe was so easy.  You saute some onions and garlic.  Then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer.  I did substitute cayenne pepper for the red pepper flakes, and sort of put in a pinch too much so ours had a kick to it.  "Fra Diavolo" means "Brother Devil", which means it is spicey, so it is not for the hot spice sissies. But man, is it good. I used whole wheat angel hair pasta and by the time it was ready, the sauce was too!  After the sauce cooks a bit, you add some fresh spinach to it and the shrimp salmon, then the pasta.


Added some breadsticks filled with mozzarella on the side, and we had a beautiful and healthy dinner on the patio!  Check out Jennifer's blog by clicking on her link above and see what she did with this recipe!  Ellie Krieger this is one great dish!

Ingredients:

12 oz Whole Wheat Spaghetti

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Onion
4 clove Garlic
3 1/2 cups Canned Tomatoes, Diced
1 cup Dry White Wine
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
1 tsp Oregano, Ground
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cracked Black Pepper
1 lb Raw Shrimp
3 cups Baby Spinach