Sunday, February 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today is My Mom's birthday. My Dad sent me this photo from the time they had with ds last week. The same gentle hands that held and comforted me are now doing the same for my babies. I am so blessed and thankful to have my Mom near me and my family. Happy Birthday Mom, here's to a wonderful 2009 and many more. I love you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The big O

I was just trying to get your attention. O for Organization. I think it's one of the keys to my happiness. Maybe not happiness, maybe inner peace (there is a difference right??). This week I implemented an idea I had brewing in my ever churning mind. My problem-"the pile". "The pile" sits on the corner of my kitchen counter, in plain view of anyone entering my house from ANY direction, entering the kitchen from any direction and even anyone who happens to pull up in my driveway. "The pile" drives me crazy, and back. "The pile" contents are ever changing but some of the most popular items include (please don't judge me on this!) shopping lists, coupons, ponytail holders, stickers, stray game pieces, magazines, jewelry, pens, anything the girls dug up, drug home or found and spare change. My plan- I had 3 matching baskets I placed on another counter and one 9x13 size to place in the original spot. The three baskets are one for each daughter. ANYTHING that is theirs goes in there. It is then their responsibility to find a home (ie:their room or the trash) for it. If their basket is too full, it gets thrown away (within reason, I'm not that Mom!). The 9x13 basket is mine, when it is full I have the same rules. File, put away or recycle what shows up. This system has been in effect for a week and seems to be working. What to tackle next??

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Orleans, Jambalaya and Memories....

In honor of fat Tuesday (February 24) here's a recipe. This recipe was created by combining many different recipes and my recollection of cooking school in the french quarter (1984 at age 11). My memories of New Orleans from my second trip, ten years later, are much different than the first, but still involve the beloved Bourbon Street. I consider this recipe a success as my Mississippi livin, spicy food lovin Father in Law eats it by the bowlful!

** this may look a bit involved, but it makes a lot and it can be customized to satisfy most everyone. a heavy bottomed pot works best (I use enameled cast iron). I make 2 batches, one for the timid and one for the daring. If freezing do not add the rice until ready to eat. Be sure to not overcook the rice, unless you like it mushy)

1 1/2 lbs raw boneless chicken, chopped
season with creole seasoning, salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 lb smoked sausage (use hot or mild depending on preference), chopped
brown meats together in 3 T oil and set aside

In same pot- saute until tender-
(all chopped)
4 c onion
2 c green pepper
2 c celery
2 cloves garlic

Drain excess oil and add
2 16-18 oz cans crushed or diced tomatoes with juice
5 c chicken stock
2 t old bay seasoning
1 t oregano
1 T paprika
1 t thyme crushed
add to taste-creole/Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, Tabasco sauce) Simmer 15 minutes.
Return meat to pot. The mixture should be spicy and salty at this point to flavor the rice as it cooks. Bring to a boil and add 4 c long grain rice. Cook uncovered, turning the rice, not stirring, from the bottom. Can add shrimp during the last 5 minutes of cooking. May need additional liquid. Cook until rice is almost done but still al dente.

February Meal Plan

This is a continuing work in progress, but I'll give it my best shot. If you see something you like and want a recipe, I'll be glad to share, but only if you share back! I tend to get stuck in a rut and love to hear of tried and true family approved recipes. Listed are meals that I have groceries on hand to make, with the exceptions of a few perishables. I do not decide WHEN we will eat each meal, only that it's available.

Boiled dinner (roast, potatoes, cabbage, onions and carrots)
Grilled t-bones (I am hoping for warm weather!)
Turkey ( roast a 12 lb turkey then have at least 3 meals- roast turkey, hot turkey sandwiches, turkey-rice soup)
Veal scallopini (please don't hate me for eating baby cows....but it was only $1.99 lb regularly $12!!)
Beef veggie stew
Jambalaya (I plan to post this recipe soon)
Deer brats and morel mushrooms
Homemade pizza (4) (cheese, mushroom and bbq chicken pizza)
BBQ pork sandwiches oven french fries
Hamburgers oven fries (2)
Talipia with mushrooms
Roast chicken
Lasagna (in freezer ready to cook)
Veggie Lasagna (in freezer ready to cook)
Homemade mac and cheese (in freezer...)
Chicken, rice and broccoli casserole
Shrimp scampi
Grilled sirloin, sauteed onions/mushrooms and brown rice pilaf
Tuna and Noodles

Most meals I cook with plans for leftovers, usually taken in Paperman's lunch. As far as sides for meals, I'm not very creative, usually veggies (fresh, canned or frozen) fruit salad and/or a green salad. A new favorite is spinach or romaine with dried cranberries, slivered almond and a sweet and sour dressing.

21 hours....

It sounds like a long time if your thinking of staying awake, riding a bike without stopping or being sick. It sounds like a very short time if your thinking vacation. That was the length of our midwinter getaway last week. It had been over 2 years since we'd been away for over 12 hours. It was enough time for us to remember what WE are all about when we aren't being double teamed at home. Time enough to eat 2 straight meals with conversation. Time enough to sleep until WE were ready to wake up. Time enough to shower without thinking about the septic system, the bathtub needing cleaned or having to wash the towels. Time enough to thoroughly relax and enjoy being together. Time enough to miss our kids and appreciate all they bring to our lives. Time enough to be totally grateful and indebted to all 3 families that had a part in caring for the kids and the dog. Little do they know, it was only a test....everything went so well we might just have to do this again!!