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Mardi Gras

It’s day 55 of 2009.  It seemed like so many days had passed when I typed that.  Then I realized that I have 310 more to go.

I’ve enjoyed posting a photo taken each day this year.  I see things differently when I’m looking to preserve special moments or my view of something beautiful.

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Today, I took the fake King Cake and Mardi Gras beads to work for my department.  I was too tired last night to make real King Cake (my recipe takes 2 1/2 hours to prep and another hour to bake) and didn’t feel like tracking down a bakery that makes it… so I made a bundt cake, stuck a little plastic baby in it, frosted it with purple, gold and green icing and called it Mardi Gras!  One of the guys on my team got the baby and was king for the day.  He let me take a picture of him wearing beads and the crown, but since I don’t have his permission to post the photo, I won’t be sharing it with you.

When I got home, I made Shrimp Creole for dinner.  It was excellent.  I will definitely make it again.  During this time of year, I miss the traditions we came to love when living in Louisiana.  The parades, celebrations and traditional foods were so much fun to experience.

Here’s a photo of my Mardi Gras beads:

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And a self-portrait, sort of:
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See how long my hair has gotten and how fat my fingers are (good grief!)? When it’s curly (aka when I don’t take time to straighten it), it doesn’t look nearly as long and hangs in lose ringlets. I’ll post a photo sometime.  Last year at this time, my hair didn’t even reach the top of my shoulders. Actually, it was above shirt collars, when I wore shirts that had collars. 🙂

The wonders of Biotin, eh? My hairdresser told me last year in May to take Biotin (vitamin) to help my hair grow.  She was right.

The girls think that I should dye my hair darker, a rich chocolate brown with a few highlights mixed in.  I’ve never had hair that dark and feel unsure about it.  Right now, it’s my natural color (darker after having kids) with a few blonde highlights left on the ends.

I didn’t realize that the full length mirrored closet doors in my bedroom were so incredibly dusty/dirty until I looked at these photos. Ick! I guess I’ll have to clean them now that I know they’re dirty.

Ignorance really is bliss. Sometimes.

Yes, that’s a bird house hanging from the ceiling behind me.  It has 2 ostrich beanie babies in it, a big one and a small one.  A friend made that birdhouse for me during Pathways, and I got the ostriches  afterward.  They are symbolic for me and remind me of how I want to live my life and what I need to do to stay true to myself.   That looks a little strange when written out, but it makes sense to me.  In my head.  And I guess that’s really what counts since it’s hanging in my room.

Ok.  Enough rambling.  Good night.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roule!

dinner

Over the past year or so, I’ve made quite a few recipes from Kraft Foods and have really liked them. The kids liked them, too. This week, I’m feeling completely uninspired when it comes to menu planning, grocery shopping and food preparation, so I’m turning to Kraft to help me out. When I looked at the dinner recipes section, I saw the 1 bag, 5 dinners page. I’ve wanted to try some of these recipes for a while, so this week I’m taking the plunge.

Our dinners will be these: Bag 1 of the chicken and beef menu. The kids and I chose this menu because it has things that are kid-friendly. I also liked this one because meatballs are easy to make if I don’t want to use store-bought ones – or I can use frozen meatballs if I don’t feel like messing with making them.

With the menu and recipes printed out and posted on the fridge, the kids can start dinner and have it almost ready by the time I get home, which any parent loves. I feel relieved with the decision made and only the shopping left to do.

Added bonus: Kraft Foods has the nutritional values listed per serving for each recipe, so no extra work is required for J. to know how much insulin she’ll need to cover her carbs for dinner.

chicken, spinach and tomatoes with pasta

Over the weekend, I tried this recipe that Chris, author of Notes from the Trenches posted at Work It, Mom!

I was surprised that all the spinach could scrunch down into the crockpot and that the lid would actually close. This is one bag of spinach. I used almost all of two nine-ounce bags of baby spinach.

After it cooked all afternoon, I shredded the chicken and added it to diced tomatoes, garlic and a tiny spash of balsamic vinegar.

We had it with egg noodles because I was out of every other type of pasta. We all really liked it. I will definitely make it again.

Great recipe, Chris! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

What’s in my crockpot

Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Rice

We’re not having coconut rice because I could not find coconut milk in my grocery store yesterday.  Do you know which section it would be in at a typical grocery store?  I wandered up and down and did not ever locate anyone who could help me.  Finally I decided we’d just have plain rice and call it good.

My house smells divine.  I cannot wait until it’s time for dinner!

September menu (a work in progres)

I’m attempting to get several weeks of meals into my freezer so going back to work will be a bit easier. Evenings tend to be hectic and having dinner pretty much done saves my sanity.

As I assemble the meals, I’m figuring out carbohydrates per serving and labeling the freezer bags. This way, we won’t have to pull out the recipes and mess with it at meal time when DD needs to give herself insulin.

So far, this is what I’ve made and put in my freezer:

Crockpot meatballs (two meals)
Porcupine meatballs (one meal – had it for dinner tonight and doubled it)
Chicken enchiladas (one meal)
Bagel Pizzas (12 pizzas made, 6 left – 48 more to make tomorrow)- this is mainly for after school snacking

To be made:

Taquitos
Calzones
Spaghetti sauce (two meals)
Taco sauce (two meals)

Need to bake ham – to be used for sliced ham dinner, bbq ham sandwiches, etc..

Need to bake turkey – to be used for any recipe that I could use chicken in – turkey pot pie, turkey noodle soup, turkey tacos, turkey enchiladas, turkey salad, bbq turkey sandwiches, etc..

I’m not sure if I’ll mix up the actual meals with the turkey and ham or just put it in bags either sliced or chopped. I don’t have much room left in my freezer at the moment.

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Menu for the week

I made and shopped for my menu this weekend.

Monday: Smothered Porkchops (with orange and green bell peppers and mushrooms in the sauce) with cauliflower, broccoli and mashed potatoes
Tuesday: Grilled Chicken Parma with angel hair pasta and stir fried yellow and zucchini squash
Wednesday: Bacon Potato Frittata with spinach salad
Thursday: Greek Crock Chicken with whole wheat couscous and green beans
Friday: Crock Pot Meatballs with brown rice, steamed broccoli and green salad
Saturday: Pizza with spinach salad

Tonight I made blackberry cobbler for dessert. I had a recipe for Black and Blue Cobbler for the crockpot, but didn’t get it going early enough in the day to use the crock pot. I used only blackberries and baked it in the oven. It was so yummy with a little vanilla ice cream!

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treasures found

I’ve been listing stuff to sell on eBay the past couple of days. Yesterday afternoon, I came across a cookbook that was Meema’s. It was in a box of books that Mom gave to me to sell. When I flipped through the pages to check for handwriting or damage, I noticed some handwritten papers. Two or three were recipes written by my aunts.

I came across a handwritten list of books that Meema wanted to read. Seeing her handwriting again after such a long time had a profound effect on me. I couldn’t breathe for a moment.

I found lots of newspaper clippings in the cookbook.. recipes, articles about people she knew, an article about Aunt M. running for re-election, and a clipping with a photo of me after winning a state vocal competition in high school. (I’m the one with blonde hair)

I always knew that Meema kept clippings of us and that she knew what was going on in our daily lives. I knew that she prayed for us when she knew we had a test in school that day. Seeing that clipping was a potent reminder.

I miss Meema. A lot. I’m so thankful to have had her in my life.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I cannot find my recipe card for these cookies.. so I thought I’d put it here for safe-keeping.

The real, the original, the authentic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened (I use 3/4 cup shortening & the cookies are not as flat after baking)
3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (I only put pecans in half the dough because everyone doesn’t like cookies with nuts)

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: PREPARE dough as above. Spread into greased 15″x10″ jelly-roll pan. Bake in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (>5,200 feet): INCREASE flour to 2 1/2 cups; add 2 teaspoonfuls water with flour; reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookies for 17 to 19 minutes.

Tried a new dessert tonight

Chocolate-Hazelnut Ravioli
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

wonton wrappers
1 egg, beaten to blend
chocolate-hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)
Vegetable oil, for frying
fresh mint leaves
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Granulated sugar, for dredging
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Place wonton wrappers on the work surface. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with egg.

Put a spoonful of chocolate-hazelnut spread into the center of the wrapper.

Fold the wrapper diagonally in half over the filling and press the edges of the wrapper to seal.

Working in batches, carefully add the ravioli to hot oil and cook until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds per side.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ravioli to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

Spray the top side of the mint leaves very lightly with nonstick spray.

Dredge the coated side of the leaves in sugar to coat lightly.

Dust the ravioli with powdered sugar. Garnish with the sugared mint leaves and serve.

The kids didn’t care for the mint leaves, but LOVED the ravioli. They want to have them again tomorrow night. It was a perfect small dessert, we each had 2 ravioli.

Food Network

I’ve recently discovered that I really like some of the shows on the Food Network. On Saturday mornings I like to watch Everyday Italian. When I watch the show, I want to travel through Italy, trying all the foods, taking in all the culture, smells, foods, sights.

On today’s show, she made Chocolate-Hazelnut Ravioli. When I looked in the cookbook that I’d picked up at the library, Giada’s Family Dinners, it had the recipe.

I got the ingredients at the store today & am going to make it tomorrow. I’ll post pics.

Tilapia and Mango Salsa


I found this recipe last weekend & didn’t try it until today. It was really easy.. the longest part was chopping the mango. It is YUMMY!

I altered the recipe a bit from the one on the above site.. here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

3 tilapia filets (I used frozen)
1 mangos
15 grape tomatoes
1 can of pineapple
1/2 bottle of banana pepper slices

8 oz of sliced mushrooms
8 oz of spinach
olive oil
minced garlic

First I chopped all the salsa ingredients by hand & mixing them together in a bowl. I added a bit of pineapple and banana pepper juice.

Next, I put the tilapia in a pan, drizzled it with olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. I put the tilapia in the oven at 450 for 10 minutes (it was still a bit frozen).

While the tilapia was cooking, coat a pan with olive oil and add a big spoonful of minced garlic. Saute the garlic until browned a bit, then stir in the mushrooms to coat with olive oil and garlic. Saute for a few minutes to soften mushrooms.

After 10 minutes, I opened the oven door and spooned large amounts of the salsa on top of each of the filets. I then set it to broil for another 7 minutes.

Add the spinach to the mushrooms, and saute for another two or three minutes, until the spinach and the mushrooms were soft.

Fat Tuesday

is February 28 this year.

When the ex and I lived in Louisiana, I experienced the wonders of Mardi Gras for the first time. Never before had I seen parades for a month, celebrations with bright colors, beads, masks, feathers, candy, and music. The kids even had parades in the grade schools. It was a blast. Each year, it was such fun to have that to look forward to in the midst of the dull, cold winter.

I miss the parades & festivities.

Now, we have King Cake and I give the kids beads of gold, green and purple each year on Fat Tuesday… but it’s not quite the same.

Here’s an easier recipe for King Cake that has a photo.

Grammie’s Rolls

Here’s the recipe for Grammie’s Rolls. The real name is Refrigerator Roll Dough. The recipe is from a lady from the church I grew up in.. her name was Maudie.

For as long as I can remember, we’ve shaped rolls on holiday mornings & had the rolls rising by the wood stove.

I grew up calling them Maudie’s Rolls.. my kids call them Grammie’s.. one of my sister’s kids call them Mom’s rolls.. my other sister’s kids call them Meema’s rolls.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup unseasoned lukewarm mashed potatoes
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
6-7 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in water.
Stir in potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt & 3 cups of the flour.

Beat until smooth. Mix in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.
Turn onto floured surface. Knead until smooth & elastic.. about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl. Turn greased side up so both sides are coated.
Cover tightly. Refrigerate 8 hours to 5 days.

Punch down. Shape into one inch balls.
Place in greased muffin cups.. 3 balls in each cup.

Brush tops with margarine, if desired.
Cover with a damp, clean dishtowel. Let rise one hour in a warm, draft free place.

Bake in 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Grammie’s Rolls

Here’s the recipe for Grammie’s Rolls. The real name is Refrigerator Roll Dough. The recipe is from a lady from the church I grew up in.. her name was Maudie.

For as long as I can remember, we’ve shaped rolls on holiday mornings & had the rolls rising by the wood stove.

I grew up calling them Maudie’s Rolls.. my kids call them Grammie’s.. one of my sister’s kids call them Mom’s rolls.. my other sister’s kids call them Meema’s rolls.

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 cup unseasoned lukewarm mashed potatoes
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
6-7 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in water.
Stir in potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt & 3 cups of the flour.

Beat until smooth. Mix in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.
Turn onto floured surface. Knead until smooth & elastic.. about 5 minutes.

Place in greased bowl. Turn greased side up so both sides are coated.
Cover tightly. Refrigerate 8 hours to 5 days.

Punch down. Shape into one inch balls.
Place in greased muffin cups.. 3 balls in each cup.

Brush tops with margarine, if desired.
Cover with a damp, clean dishtowel. Let rise one hour in a warm, draft free place.

Bake in 400 degree oven 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday Rolls

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 tsp salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

** In a large bowl, mix ingredients thoroughly. Cover and let stand 8 hours or overnight on the countertop.

** The next morning, turn out on floured board and knead lightly.

** Roll 1/2 inch thick and cut into rolls. Place on greased cookie sheet. Let rise 4-6 hours.

** Bake in 400 degree oven 10-12 minutes.