Friday, January 19, 2018

Food for Thought

It's been an odd week.  Just felt off.  I've got my lists burning in my brain (and energy and motivation to tackle it), but on the top is taxes - blech!  Taxes are a mood killer.  It didn't help I didn't have a menu plan. this week.  I did manage to clear out leftovers by remaking them, but all I can say is we were fed.  

If you're looking for more than getting by and cleaning out the 'fridge, I've got a few recipes here.  Since I was cooking without a net this week, they aren't from this week, but a few weeks ago (you'll see how long ago), as I work through my backlog of unposted posts.

I don't do regular oatmeal - heaven knows I've tried.  I can't get past the texture of it.  But when I tried my first baked oatmeal recipe, I was hooked.  I've made a variety of baked oatmeal, and this Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal is just one in a long line.  This is hearty and filling without being sweet.  I bake it and eat it all week long.  A quick pop in the microwave and a splash of milk.  You could top it with a few chopped nuts.

Now you find out how deep my backlog of food posts is - this Chocolate Raspberry Bundt Cake I made for Christmas Eve dinner.  And it was awesome, the second time I made it.  The first time I didn't add any extra flour, for altitude adjustment, to the boxed mix this cake starts with, and the weight of the cake flattened my first attempt - though it still tasted good.  The second shot was perfect - rich chocolate and with flavor of raspberries, all topped with a velvety chocolate ganache.  

Another Christmas Eve recipe, served as a side to the Ham was Cranberry Almond Rice Pilaf.  I wanted something light, but with a touch of the season.  It was a good choice.  Light and fluffy, with a pop of dried cranberries and crunch of almonds.  It would remake well as a fried rice with any leftover ham tossed in.

We enjoyed Deep Fried Prime Rib for New Year's Eve.  It was good, well seasoned and because of the deep frying, that great crispiness on the outside.  And if we had relied on a thermometer instead of the timer, it would have been perfectly cooked.  I'm pretty sure we deep fried it long enough, but it was the resting where we messed up.  Just a good reminder to always, always rely on temp, not time.

This lovely Honey Glazed Ham was the centerpiece at Christmas Eve dinner.  I love a spiral cut ham, but they always get dried out when you reheat them.  This was so not the case with this recipe.  Cooked in a bag, and slathered with a sweet/savory sauce, it was amazing.  Definitely a do-again!

I love watching The Kitchen and Pioneer Woman on the FoodNetwork.  One of the pre-Christmas shows of the kitchen served up some holiday recipes.  That's where I saw this Cheesy Yorkshire Pudding and knew immediately that I was making that for Christmas Eve.  It was so easy, and it was sooo good!  Instead of blue cheese, I dropped in cranberry goat cheese.  YUM!  They are soft, chewy and light and then the cheese . . . oh my.

After the Christmas food fest, I was looking for something lighter and Slow Cooker Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps seemed like the perfect fit.  And it was.  They were filling without being heavy and they reheated well.  It would also be good on a rice bowl with additional chunky cut veggies.

Off to deal with the taxes.

Happy Friday,


Thursday, January 18, 2018

On The Road

Whenever we do a road trip I take stuff to do in the car - reading (both books and magazines) and at least two crafts.  I know I will never read all I bring, but I like options.  The same is true of the crafts I bring.  I bring two or three, usually some kind of sewing or knitting.

I think I've mentioned on that my giant 2018 to-do list, I've listed out some projects I'd like to complete as part of my creating on a regular basis this year.  Part of that list includes household items.  I've decided that being creative includes the décor in my house and after almost 30 years of marriage, not to mention over 50 years on this planet, I've finally figured out what I like.  What my style is.  What makes my house feel like a refuge. 

Years ago I used to do up the Christmas tree with garlands and lights and tinsel and ornaments.  Then we had kids who grabbed the tinsel off the tree, and come May I was still finding the glittering threads all over the house.  I dropped the tinsel.  I went through many different garlands - traditional tinsel, shiny plastic beads and finally blown glass balls. (my favorite, but a pain in the butt because it was super fragile.)  All of which attracted my children like Santa to a cookie plate.  Out went the garlands.  Now it's just ornaments and lights.  The tree is pre-lit, so really it's just ornaments.  A lot of ornaments.  A. LOT.  Even with the amount of ornaments, it needs linear to break them up.  Something like a garland.

One of my projects is to make a garland.  I had originally thought to make a felt ball garland.  I toyed with buying the balls from Etsy and stringing it, but the expense was high; we have a nine foot tree.  Then looked at how to make them - pretty easy - but that would be a lot of wool and balls.  Then I saw a cute garland using yarn pom-poms for a mantel and thought I could do that for the tree.  I picked up these pom pom makers by Clover at Hobby Lobby.  There are tutorials galore on YouTube.

When we took our 19 y.o. down to school, I took this project with me.  Super easy, except that it looked like a cat exploded in my lap.  The fuzz-fest came from trimming the poms, not from wrapping and cutting them off the device.

I highly recommend fine-tipped scissors.  When hubby saw the discomfort using my regular scissors caused, he stopped at a Hobby Lobby (enroute) for me to get a pair of fine-tipped sharp scissors - these Tonic Spring Cut Fine Tip Scissors.  Heaven.  Miracle.  A must.

I made over twenty of the little puff balls.  I decided to use the two smallest sizes and mix it up a bit.  I plan to string it on jute.  I also know that I won't be stringing them close together.  So I'm trying to decide if I just do the poms, or intersperse them with wooden beads or maybe small jingle bells.  It'll take playing around once I have enough poms to string.

Stay tuned.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

We Are

It was a week of getting back into regular routines.  Seems like MLK marks the official end of the holiday season, which starts at Halloween.  The rush is over.  The constant flow of decorating is over - though mine isn't quite put away, it is down.  School is back in session.  The winter cold (though we haven't had that or snow) keeps things slow as we recover.

This past week marked us taking our 19 y.o. down to school and the goings one while we did that.

And like last week, I loaded these photos in reverse order.  Maybe next week will be the week I'll catch that.  I wouldn't count on it, but there's always the hope.

  • We've got the cold.  Now if we could just get the snow, we might be persueded to think it was winter.
  • Obstacle course adventures.  When he wonders if he can do it, remind him he did rock climbing and then he remembers he's a monkey and can do anything.
  • Bouncing off some energy
  • I'm pretty sure it's nuts to go here on a day off from school when it's snowing.  Sort of snowing.  But it wasn't too bad.
  • North-western New Mexico.  In case you ever wondered where Cars got its backdrop.
  • Arizona.  Coco's.  Total throw back.  We had one of these here in town.  It closed in the 80's, but I'm pretty sure this is the exact decor from then.
  • This is an actual college-level course.  If they need taste testers the Girlie and I are in.
  • Letting go.
  • Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. . . 
  • . . . on Route 66.  I don't have a bucket list, but if I did, following some of the remaining Route would be on it
  • Meanwhile, back at home
  • Northern New Mexico has a desolate beauty
  • Things seem normal at home
  • Concentration for High School students seems to be on point
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Food for Thought

A few days later than planned with this week's recipes, but we were taking our 19 y.o. down to school.  He has chosen, and obviously admitted to, Northern Arizona University.  We left on Thursday at o-freaking-before-the-crack-of-dawn and came back home Saturday, well after sunset.  He's settled into his dorm, has wandered around campus and is now just waiting for classes to start today.  At breakfast before we left, we asked him what he wanted in a care package, to which he answered dinner rolls and chocolate chip cookies.  No big surprise there.  My boy loves his carbs.  I asked if he was at all interested in doing some of his own dorm-room cooking, because I'd send him some easy mug-meals if he was.

Mug-meals were not part of this week's menu.  If you're menu planning give the below a try.

This Enchilada Meatball Bake was really good and really easy - two things that score in my book.  The meatballs were flavorful - I left out the jalapenos and used this enchilada sauce.  Now, this is recipe was one I cooked a while ago, but feel in the black-hole of non-posting.  I don't remember what I served these with, I seem to recall, just tortilla chips and toppings, but it would be great as part of a rice bowl, with the toppings.

I've made a different Snickerdoodle Cookie Bars recipe, but I think I'll use this one from now on.  Moist and lightly flavored with vanilla and cinnamon and a quick dessert to pull together.

During one of the few cold snaps we've had - it was 50 today - this One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese made an appearance.  It was flavorful, with just enough heat, and filling with lots of protein.  And who doesn't love a one-pot meal?

Outside of the zucchini-hating son, who did try the zucchini, everyone liked this Crispy Parmesan Garlic Chicken with Zucchini.  It was a warm comforting meal - love crunchy chicken, but light as well.

This Creamy Mexican Corn Chowder is just packed with flavor and creamy goodness.  Diced avocado is a definite must on top!  It reheats marvelously the next day.

At the time I made this One Pan Creamy Tortellini with Butternut Squash Kale and Bacon (which was a while ago) I didn't know there was a lactose free half-and-half, so I made a light roux to thicken up this dish.  It was good, but the roux made it goopey as it sat.  Now I have lactose free half-and-half and will make this dish again - goop-free.  If you haven't tried Kale, this is the dish to do so; lots of good stuff going on in there.

Healthy eating kick aside, sometimes you just need some gooey-fried-thing on your plate.  Here comes Chicken Parm Sliders.  And they were so worth every extra step I had to take to eat them!  Gooey and saucy and crunchy chicken.  I can, and will, lighten up some of the excess calories by grilling the chicken, or using rotisserie, reducing some of the sauce (it really is a lot) and putting on less cheese (mozzarella gets plenty stringy) and it would still be a yummy dish!

After you have Chicken Parm Sliders, breakfast should probably get you back on the wagon, so I made these Pumpkin Oat Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies.  I didn't expect any crunch, and didn't get any, but I got a nice chewy thing with the oatmeal.  Plus it had chocolate chips - so winner!  they weren't as delicate as I expected, either.  One cookie kept me feeling full longer than I expected.

Happy Monday,


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

We Are

I like having a look back at our week - and my kids' when I snag photos from their social media.  And because I loaded these photos in reverse order, you are looking back.  Yes, I'm too lazy to drag the photos around the page to rearrange them, or to start over re-upload them.

  • 'Tis the season for Cherry Hearts!  They have been hard to find in past years, but these were fresh on display, so naturally I had to grab them.
  • I mentioned in my New Year's post that I've started walking - I'm as surprised as anyone that not only am walking, but that it's a regular habit now.  And yesterday was a gorgeous day for a walk.
  • When you had a tooth pulled and haven't had your weekly treat in weeks, you'll even lay on the new bed you refuse to use to get said treat.
  • Our Golden Rocket recipient
  • The 17 y.o. finally got his license, just before Christmas break.  I knew he liked being to school early, but. . .
  • We gave girlie Capture Your 365 for Christmas, and this is one of her assignment pics.  She's a good photographer, but wanted to get to know her camera more.  Nothing acquaints you with your equipment like practice.  365 days of practice.
  • Cherries.  Cherry anything is my favorite.  About the time Halloween rolls around I start craving Cherry Cordials - which don't come out until around December.  This year, I only found two boxes around Christmas-time.  I snagged them, but someone (ahem, 9 y.o.) ate them.  All.  I knew they were usually produced from Christmas to Valentines, but finding them is difficult.  So, when I came upon this stash, well. . .I'm sure you can imagine.  The 9 y.o. is banned.
  • The 19 y.o. is making good use of his time, now that he's left his job, in preparation to head to college in just a couple days.
  • Like I need towels (see previous post) but I couldn't help myself when these went on sale at The Vintage Home Studio.  Uh, she has Valentine's one being posted really soon.  I think I may need to go through my current towels and make some room.  I'm sure there are some that need to see the rag-bag.
  • If the blueberry juice smiley face is an indication, his pancakes will be awesome
  • A fun assignment each of the kids did during their Freshman year, and received heading into their Senior year - A letter to their future self.
  • When it's too nice an afternoon not to take the 'Stang out for a drive.
  • Super Moon - the morning after
  • When you've been wanting a vintage-style refrigerator, but the ones you've seen are too small, by a lot.  So, you go buy some modern monstrosity.  Then . . then, naturally, you find this!  Just like, exactly like, the modern monstrosity but with all the vintageness you were craving.
  • Because having the car you just drove across the parking lot, to the gas station in the same parking lot, not start when you're done filling it up is a super fun way to end the day.  Dead battery.
Happy Wednesday,


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Intentional Creativity

When I posted a week or so ago about my intentions, or goals, for 2018, I mentioned intentional creativity.  Meaning, I want to be creative and do so as part of my days and weeks, as opposed to something I reward myself with. 

I think we humans, probably a lot of women in particular - moms especially - tend to reward ourselves with things we enjoy:  reading, manis and pedis, crafting, going to a store for no particular reason other than wandering - alone.  Like unless we do x-y-and-z we don't deserve to take the time to do the things we enjoy.  And yet, those are the things that feed us - I know they do me - as much as a clean house and cooking for my family does.  Probably more.

To help me be more successful in this particular endeavor, I have cleaned up my studio - no mean feat.  I have, on my to-do list, several items that pertain to continuing the organization down there.  However, those items are not as necessary as the whole "where's my desk and table" issue, but things that could make it easier to be down there.  I've also joined two monthly clubs.  I joined Ali Edwards' Stories by the Month and Sweetwater's Sweet T Towel club.

My thought process was that if there were things coming in that needed doing, I'd be more likely to do them.  So far so good.  I have received two month's of towels - which are a really nice heavy linen with a graphic that pertains to the season.  You can use them as is, but what drew me was the chance to embellish.  


The "Baby It's Cold Outside" towel I simply embroidered a straight stitch around the edge and an over-sized straight stitch on each of the arms of the snowflakes, topped with a triple French knot.  At first, I thought the snowflakes would be enough, but it needed something else - the trim!  I did this in one evening - just a couple hours actually.

The Home Sweet Home towel came before Christmas, hence its more "used" look.  This towel enabled me to break out my brand-new-never-out-of-the-box sewing machine.  I bought it two years ago.  I know how to operate a sewing machine - my new machine intimidates me, which is why it took this long to get it out of the box.  I know how to sew, though I'm no seamstress.  I've made several costumes for the kids over the years.  I even tackled a "quilt".  I put that in quotes because I had no idea what I was doing, and it was so not a quilt.  But it covered our bed in the early years of our marriage and it was warm.  It was also something totally out of my comfort zone, much like my new machine.  To take that first step, I simply embellished this towel by stitching on two lengths of ribbon.  Who knows what  I'll be trying by the time the last towel of the year gets here!

I have a few Project Sweetwater Kits that I've purchased from Sweetwater and hope to tackle those projects over the year, well.  I like that they send the fabric and notions to complete your choice of projects (from several options) with each kit.  I think there's like four or five options and you can get, maybe, three from the supplies they make.  I haven't looked at the kits in a while and they are not part of the subscriptions I'm receiving this year, though I wouldn't mind one.  Once my sewing machine and I have gotten to know each other that is.

That concludes the sewing portion of what I want to accomplish for this year.

Happy Tuesday,