Monday, December 29, 2008

In case anyone was wondering...

Ok, I stole that title from Bethany's blog, but I really loved it and thought it was appropriate for this post.

In case anyone was wondering, it takes just over 4 hours to bake 400 cookies. 4 hours straight, that is.

Also, in case you were wondering, I will probably not ever do that again.

And, furthermore, I don't even want to think about baking another cookie for a LONG time.

But, I will still share the recipe with you tomorrow.

It was worth all of the effort in the end. The volunteers seemed to really appreciate the goodies and after working on houses all day in the pouring rain, I hope it was a little bright spot for them.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Habitat for Humanity

About a month ago, my husband read in our local paper that there were volunteers coming to build houses with Habitat for Humanity. They were coming over the holidays, during their vacations, on their own money. He thought this would be a great community service project for my Girl Scout troop to work on. Did I mention I am a Girl Scout Leader?

Anyway, I agreed and promptly called the local organizer. I told her that my troop would love to help out any way we could. She said that their dinners were pretty much covered, but they did need some baked goods for desserts/snacks and would we mind making some cookies. Cookies? Of course, that's right up our alley. Then, she told me there were going to be 200 volunteers coming. I did a big gulp because I knew that there was a strong possibility that I would be baking all of the cookies myself. I mean, I can't force the parents to help out or donate, so I had committed myself and my kitchen to the entire lot, if need be.

When I announced this project at our meeting, the parents didn't seem quite as enthusiastic about it as I was. But, I soldiered on. These wonderful volunteers are coming to build homes for our community. It is nice to know that even though the rest of the world thinks Katrina happened ages ago, some people realize that we are not back to 'normal,' whatever that may be. We have not been forgotten. At the next meeting, I did have 2 parents bring in some cookies. They were store bought ones and while I appreciate the thought, I really feel bad bringing some prepackaged cookies to these wonderful people.

So, for the rest of the evening tonight and probably the majority of the day tomorrow, I will be baking 400 cookies, or more. I will be sharing the recipe with you either tomorrow or Monday along with some tips and pics. Wish me luck!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stuffed Pepper Pasta

Stuffed Pepper Pasta

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 and 1/2 lbs ground beef
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 large onion - chopped
3 bell peppers - chopped
1 bay leaf
1 and 1/2 cans of chicken stock (or half of a box)
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 cups any small pasta
grated cheese

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over med-high heat. When oil is hot, add ground beef, salt & pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, or until meat is browned. Drain. Add garlic, onions, bell peppers, & bay leaf. Cook 7-8 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Stir in chicken stock & crushed tomatoes and bring to a bubble. Add pasta & cook 7-8 minutes. Top with grated cheese (cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella, whatever you like) and serve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Nathan's School Christmas Program

On Friday, Nathan's school had their annual Christmas program. It was adorable. The kids sang 3 songs on their outdoor stage and you could tell they had practiced very hard.
The following captions are what I imagine was going on inside my son's head during the whole experience.
We begin with his walk to the stage...

'I can't believe I have to wear this thing on my head. Maybe if I pull it down over one eye, people won't recognize me.'

'Oh great, Mom brought the camera.'

'I'll just hide behind this kid.'

'Oh no! She's zooming in on my misery.'

'and she's probably going to show people these pictures.'

'More kids came. I'll try to blend in.'

'Hey, those kids look like they are having fun.'

'and so do those kids. Well, if you can't beat em, join em.'

'Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, jingle all the way.

Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh.'


Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

This recipe is one of our favorites. Please do not let this alter your opinion of me being a gourmet chef and all. Did you think that? Gosh, I hope not.

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

You will need: red potatoes, salt, garlic, black pepper, non stick cooking spray and olive oil.

Wash the red potatoes.

Cut them into wedges and place them on a baking sheet that you have sprayed with the cooking spray. I like to cover mine with tin foil to help cut down on clean up. Did I mention that I hate clean up?

Next, mince up a couple of cloves of garlic and toss them with your wedges. If you don't have any on hand, you can sprinkle the potatoes with garlic powder.

Sprinkle the wedges with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Place in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, turning 1/2 way through cooking.

They will look something like this.

We like to have them with fried fish, as you can clearly see here. They never last long in our house.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another absence...

Its been almost officially a week since my last post. I apologize for the absence. Things have been more than a little hectic with Christmas fast approaching and we are still adjusting to my mother in law living with us. There is still no definite time line on that which makes things tough at times. I also have been dealing with some bad news from my 'home' in New Hampshire. As of today, actually 2 pieces of bad news. Its always hard to hear about family issues when you are so far away and feel like there is nothing you can do. So, I needed to take a little break.

I have been trying to be as productive as possible during my down time, however. My husband has tried to keep me occupied so we spent 3 consecutive nights making jelly.

Here are our little jars all lined up and ready to go.

We will be buying a pressure canner soon, but this one does just fine for our jellies.

This night, we made Mayhaw Jelly, which is actually a state food of Louisiana. (I just learned that today on Jeopardy) The great thing was that a friend of my husband's gave us the mayhaw juice, so that eliminated my least favorite step. But, we had 2 nights of making blueberry jelly. And, we still have a ton of frozen blueberries in the freezer. We ran out of jars, or we might still be canning.

Jelly making was our first attempt at canning and we have done really well. We are even planting extra tomatoes in our garden to try putting them up. We think we are up for the additional challenge.

Do you do any preserving? If so, what? Any tips you'd like to share?

I will be posting in the morning. I am trying to work on new recipes so hopefully I will be having more to share soon.

Happy Holidays!!!!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Snow Day!!!

Never in 100 million years did I think that my children would have a snow day in South East Louisiana, but today it happened. Good thing too because I woke up late and the kids would've been tardy if I had to get them there.

(Please ignore the date stamp on the photos below, they are the result of having to change batteries mid-shoot.)

This was the sight we woke up to this morning

It was very shocking!

This is our garden...oops!

Madison jumped right in

It wasn't long before she was in a snowball fight with one of her friends.

Lauren was a little more reserved

But, she got the idea

and soon threw her first snowball

Nate was excited, but I think it had more to do with him getting to stay home from school

But, he too, got in on the action

He even helped the neighbor and other kids make a snowman

He turned out pretty cute

Lauren got wet and a little disgusted

Madison learned first hand what happens when a stray snowball lands in the eye region

and here's what she thinks about that

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Soup Weather

I get excited for fall every year for 2 reasons. One, I can finally stop sweating. And two, its soup weather. We LOVE making homemade vegetable beef soup. (I will share that recipe soon) We also like chowders and cream based soups. Sunday night, I made a new favorite of ours that was shared with us by one of my husband's co-workers.

Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup

1/2 stick butter/margarine
1/2 cup chopped green onions
8 oz. Velveeta
2 cans Cream of Broccoli soup
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can Cream of Onion soup
1 package frozen chopped broccoli - thawed
4 - 1/2 full soup cans of milk

Melt butter/margarine in dutch oven over medium low heat. Add green onions and saute for 2 minutes. Begin adding your soups. Pour milk into the empty cans to fill 1/2 way. Add the milk to the pot and stir well.

Cut the Velveeta into cubes and add to the pot. You will want to stir often because the cheese will sink to the bottom and burn if you are not careful. After the cheese is melted, add the chopped broccoli to the pot and stir well. (This is where we also add 2 packages of thawed crawfish tails, but you can leave them out) Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until the broccoli is warmed and the soup has thickened.

Stuffed Pistolettes

1 bag Pistolette rolls
8 oz Velveeta
1 pound ground beef
1 package frozen chopped broccoli - thawed

Brown ground meat in large sauce pan. Drain. Cut Velveeta into cubes and add to the pan and cook over medium low heat. Stir often to avoid burning while the cheese is melting. When the cheese is completely melted, add the thawed broccoli and mix well.

Cut the top 1/3 off of the pistolette rolls and throw away. Scoop out MOST of the inside of the roll leaving just a bread shell with a LITTLE bit of the inside left. Scoop the stuffing mixture into the pistoletts and place on a baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the rolls are browned and a little crispy.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update on the homelife

Good Afternoon!!

I'm sorry for my temporary absence. My Mother in Law was released from the hospital to our house last Friday at 4 pm and I am still recovering. We had to move bedrooms around to make room for her and I am just now catching up with everything.

Also, it is taking me awhile to figure out what she likes to eat because everything I have made so far, she doesn't enjoy. Not even a little bit. Not even at all. Well, she did like the bagged salad I bought and topped with rotisserie chicken from the store, but I can't really claim that I made that.

I will be back tomorrow as regularly scheduled with a new recipe or two and hopefully a kitchen tip.

In the meantime, click on the recipe link on the right hand side of the page and enjoy some of our favorites.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Blueberry Muffins - 2 ways

This year was a bumper crop for our blueberry bushes. I didn't like going out in the hottest days of summer for hours picking them, only to turn around and have to do it again 2 days later. But, I am loving having a ton of frozen blueberries in my freezer.

Blueberry Yogurt Muffins

3 cups AP flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter/margarine - softened
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 and 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 and 1/2 cup blueberries - thaw, if frozen
1 tablespoon flour - to toss with the blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Sift together dry ingredients - set aside.

In large mixing bowl, cream butter/margarine and sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Beat in grated lemon peel.

Beat in 1/2 of the dry ingredients. Beat in 1/3 of the yogurt. Add 1/2 of the remaining dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Beat in second 1/3 of yogurt. Finish by beating in the remaining dry ingredients, then the remaining yogurt. Do NOT over beat - just until the ingredients are incorporated.

Toss blueberries with the 1 tablespoon of flour.
TIP: Tossing the berries with the flour keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking.

Grease muffin pan and fill. Bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Diabetic Blueberry Muffins

2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick light margarine - softened
1 cup Splenda
1/4 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries - thaw, if frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tray with cooking spray.

Sift together dry ingredients - set aside.

Beat together margarine, Splenda and honey until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Add 1/2 of flour mixture and beat well. Beat in the milk. Add remaining flour and beat until all is well blended. *Add more milk, if needed to incorporate all the dry ingredients.

In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with 2 tablespoons of flour. This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the muffins while baking. Fold into the muffins.

Spoon batter into muffin tray and bake 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Do you like blueberries? Let me know. Post a comment by clicking on the comment link. I've got a ton more blueberry recipes to share, if you want 'em.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo

I'm still working on the muffins, so in the meantime, who wants pasta???

Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo

8 oz. linguine
1 cup fresh broccoli florets
2 tablespoons butter/margarine
1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts - cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Prepare linguine according to box directions. Add broccoli during the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Drain.

Heat butter in skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken and cook until well browned, stirring often.

Reduce heat to medium. Stir soup, milk, cheese and pepper into skillet. Mix well. Add linguine and broccoli and toss well to coat. Heat until hot and bubbling, stirring occasionally. Serve with additional cheese.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Today's recipe is brought to you by....Madison!!!

I spent a small fortune on Icees this summer. It was unbearable heat and we were already having trouble with the AC at home, so every time we got in the car, the kids were begging for Icee refreshment.

But, then I found this wonderfully easy recipe. Madison loves them and makes them almost completely by herself. She has been wanting me to post this ever since I started this blog, so here goes...


2 cups cold water
1 packet fruit flavored drink mix - like Koolaid, or your favorite store brand
2/3 cup sugar
1 full tray of ice cubes

Place all ingredients into blender and process on high for 1 minute. Stop, stir and process again, if needed. Serve immediately.

I am working on some muffin recipes and if all goes well, I will share a few of them with you tomorrow.

Happy Cooking,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Italian Shells

This one is a personal fave. Its quick and simple to put together and we always have a ton of leftovers.

Italian Shells

1 package jumbo shells
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
15 oz ricotta cheese
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, or Italian blend
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 jar spaghetti sauce
grated Parmesan cheese

Cook shells and drain. Cover with cold water and set aside.

Brown both ground beef and sausage together. Drain. Add seasonings and cheeses.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish. Remove shells from water. Fill with meat and cheese mixture. Place in baking dish. If there is any filling left, spoon it over top as evenly as possible. Cover with sauce. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake for 45 minutes. YUMMY!!!

Happy Cooking!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Beef Enchilada Casserole

Good Monday Morning!!! I am soooooooo happy Thanksgiving is over for another year. I love the gathering of friends and family but I detest all the cleaning. Luckily, we were left with a ton of leftovers and I haven't really had to cook much since. But, I thought I would share one of our favorite casseroles today. It is quick and easy and the kiddos gobble it up every time.

Beef Enchilada Casserole

1 lb. ground beef
1 - 6 oz can tomato paste
2 cups hot water
2 cups shredded cheese - cheddar, Mexican blend, whatever you like
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
dash of black pepper
1 package soft corn tortillas

Brown ground meat. While browning, mix together warm water and tomato paste. This will take a few minutes to mix. Set aside. Drain ground beef.

Add all of the seasonings into the tomato mixture and pour 1/2 of it into the ground beef. Also, add 1/2 of the cheese. Mix well.

Spray a 9x13 inch casserole with cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce mixture in the bottom of the pan and spread around. Using 6 corn tortillas, cover the bottom of the pan. Cover the tortillas with a few scoops of the ground meat mixture. Continue to alternate layers of tortillas and meat, ending with tortillas. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over top of the tortillas and scatter the remaining cheese on top.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Happy Cooking,