Friday, February 26, 2016

Food for Thought

It's a pretty full weekend for us here - along the lines of what it used to be like when the kids played sports.  We're looking over the precipice of that life again, as the 7 y.o. contemplates a hockey career.  I'm not sure I'm ready.

The weekend begins early, with a day off for the 7 y.o.  Hubby is heading to Cheyenne to get new carriage lights for the house.  Girlie is coming home this afternoon.  The 17 y.o. will be going to a company bowling party (the company he interns for has team building events - this time it's bowling.)  There's a birthday party for our 4 y.o. niece at a local My Little Gym, where, while I love my niece and it's fun to watch her at such places, I'm sure I'll be needing the cone of silence when it's over.  THEN, drum roll please, the ultimate of ultimates - the NHL Stadium Series. 

If you aren't tapped in, in any way, to the NHL, chances are you are out of the loop and you'd get the "pity look" from Girlie.  The NHL hosts a few, highly coveted, games on outdoor rinks.  The U.L.T.I.M.A.T.E. experience whether you are a player or a fan.  And we all know Girlie is a FAN!  We scored these tickets via the 7 y.o.'s Mile Hi Mites Hockey camp.  Quite a few perks came with the program, among which were two tickets to this dream game.  Actually, two games - an alumni game featuring players from the Av's the Stanley Cup years; hubby's into that one in particular.  The other is a regular season game.  Both are against the Red Wings (boo!)

Two nights of major league hockey.  Our Girlie can hardly contain herself. 

Saturday we're hosting a breakfast for hubby's side of the family.  Then it's game time for the 7 y.o., Mass and the second Stadium Series game.  Sunday hubby is heading out for a shooting competition, there's another game for the 7 y.o.  Life Teen for the boys.  Girlie heads back up to school.  And I cloister myself away for the remainder of the weekend. 

It's the kind of weekend where quick, fast and filling is the name of the game for meals.  I menu planned from Pinterest for this week.  If you have a weekend stacking up like ours, check out the following for a meal or two.

I love oven fries.  Fresh cut doesn't take any longer than a frozen bagged variety, save the fact that you need a couple minutes to slice them up - about as long as it takes to preheat the oven.  These Thick Cut Parmesan Oven Fries, were even faster because I didn't need to peel them.  The recipe is for one, so I used four potatoes (I was feeding six) and then doubled the spices.  The only change I would make is to flip the fries.  They came out crispy without flipping, but we like thick cut fries even more so.  Flipping them half way through will get them how we like them.

I'm not sure why this Butter Coffee caught my eye, but it did.  It is a different creamer, with butter as its base.  The recipe recommended KerryGold butter; $5.99 for a half pound of Irish butter.  The cream comes in the form of Cashew Milk.  It was different.  Not bad, just different.  Maybe a tad healthier, with the addition of coconut oil and cashew milk.  The recipe makes one cup at a time, so between that and the cost of the ingredients, I'm not sure it's a practical everyday kind of thing, but it could be fun for a small gathering or just a special morning.  I'm sure you could sub in a high quality domestic butter, for the Irish import, or actually whip up some fresh butter at home.

The Thick Cut Fries above where a side to these Green Chile Chicken Sliders.  I made my 40-minute Hamburger Buns.  These were really good.  I griddle fried them, too cold to grill.  They were moist and flavorful without being hot.  I used provolone, as I'm not a fan of Pepper Jack.  I made my own guacamole, which is just ripe avocados, a dash of salt, half a lime's worth of juice and some chopped cilantro.  You could do slices, but they are gonna slide around a bit.  They reheat wonderfully, too.

I love cobblers, crisps and crumbs.  They're easy, especially for groups.  So, on In-Law Monday I made this Butterscotch Apple Pecan Cobbler.  I loved the addition of butterscotch chips which sort of became a butterscotch caramel as the dish baked.

These Creamy Chicken and Corn Turnovers were really good and easy to whip up.  My only change, when I make them again, would be to double the spices in the cream base.  You could totally make these up in pie crusts to save some money.  I actually had some filling left over, so I would roll out the dough just a bit to make the squares a little larger to be able to use the filling and still be able to close the pastries.

I needed some Mexican on my menu, and this Burrito Bake worked just fine.  It came together quickly on the night of hockey practice, in less than 30 minutes.  I used the Crescent Sheet, instead of pinching the rolls together - I hate doing that.  I used my homemade taco seasoning, instead of store-bought.

I had originally intended this to be the main dish, but I ended up using this Loaded Baked Gnocchi as a side to smoked sausage.  Oh my.  Creamy, warm, cheesy.  The only thing that would have made it better would be to have it snowing outside.  The garlic was a little strong for me, and I love garlic.  The strong bite could just be the bulb I currently have, the size of the clove I used or it could be just too much for the sauce.  I may try using garlic powder, added once the cream sauce has thickened, just to see if I like that more subtle flavor better.  If I made it as a main dish, I'd use two pounds of gnocchi.  Regardless, it's a do-again.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

Geez, I hope that top line is straighter than it looks in this picture.  

This is one of the four layouts I did a while back when I attended a crop with friends.  Now that some big things on my to-do list are behind me, I need to play with paper.  Truly.  It's a need.

The kit is from December '14, so not so old.  The Pink Paislee Merry & Bright line to be exact.  The pictures, however, are from a Cookie Bake a lifetime ago - 2005.  Back when they were more interested in getting a jar-full of sprinkles on a single cookie, licking the frosting off the cookie they had in front of them, or eating the colored sugars that had fallen off of various cookies.

I liked the line's black, mixed in with the usual red and green.  It was a color combo that worked with these pictures.  I used two of the three patterns.  The one I didn't use had ornaments on it, which didn't fit with this story.  I kept the layout grid-simple and symmetrical.

I used almost all of the embellishments.  The "Joy" came from a word sticker sheet, which still has four or five words on it.  The paper is more intact, but because I don't have the embellishments I will have to decide whether to make a couple cards (or maybe tags for next Christmas), or just toss the paper in the giveaway box for the Kindergartners at school.  Decisions, decisions.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

We Are

The load has lightened considerably, with the completion of our tax work, and the submission of college loan paperwork.  Well, the first of several college-related submissions, but this is the one that kicks off the rest of them.  My mind is mush and I'm realizing I need some time out, or behind closed doors.  

  • We are excited when siblings can join in the class parties they once were a part of.
  • We are She was surprised when the boyfriend's (who is currently stationed at Camp Pendleton) mom drove up to deliver her son's Valentine's goodies to the Girlie.
  • We are She is receiving special Valentine's from home.
  • We are not happy nesters.  These two were very vocal in their displeasure that the planters where they nested last year, were no longer there.  According to the clerks, the pair had been there a couple days voicing their discontent.
  • We are headed to the Stadium Series.  At least one of us (ahem) is beside herself.
  • We are attending the last day of camp and it has set us on fire for playing hockey.  He will be finishing the club's season on a team.  A generous offer for those playing in the #MileHiMites program
  • We are the flag bearer this time around, with the yellow kerchief.
  • He was drawn to the display like a moth to a flame.  His sister was so proud.
Happy Wednesday,

Friday, February 19, 2016

Food for Thought

Yesterday was all about high winds.  Gusts of 45 mph were recorded in our area.  One of the mountain passes recorded a 148 mph "gust" before the gauge stopped transmitting data.  Presumably because said gauge had been ripped from the mountain top.  We also had record high temps of 73 degrees, which would have been enjoyable had it not been for the winds.  To cap off the day, we had rain.  It was lovely.  I opened the door to let the dog out and that whiff of fresh rain blew in.  I couldn't get enough in my lungs.  I should have gone and sat on the porch, but it would have been like sitting on the deck of a fishing boat in the Bering Sea during a Gale.  The moment would have been lost.

It was a pleasant, semi-productive week, which I hope will continue into the weekend.  I have some honey-do things, if he's available, I'd like to get scratched off my list.  I need to check in with Girlie to make sure she's completed her paperwork for next year.  I've downloaded a gardening app, and it's telling me I need to get peppers planted, but first I need to get the seed - so that's on the list.  I'd like to go through another crate from the storage room and get back into the swing of clearing it out.  And I'm hosting a meatless dinner tonight so the family can visit with an Aunt who's in town.

So yeah, a few things I'd like to do.  It's the kind of weekend that needs easy meals in both prep and clean-up.  If you're looking for the same, because you'd like your weekend (or upcoming week) to be deliciously productive, check out the following tried recipes.

During my self-professed need for pasta and cheese I had this Four-Cheese Chicken Pasta Bake on the menu.  It was super simple.  The friend I passed the recipe on to only complained about the amount of cheese that needed shredding.  It was really creamy, and decent flavor.  You definitely need a flavored chicken - grilled or well seasoned; I used rotisserie.  It could also use something else.  The friend and I discussed some salt and pepper, broccoli, roasted peppers or grape tomatoes. 

I needed something sweet one Saturday morning and the run to Duncan Donuts was too far, so I whipped up these Cinnamon Scones.  They were good.  Scones are typically dry - not as in bad dry, but they are just a drier treat.  Here, at altitude, with no-humidity to speak of they tend to be even more so and I have to add a bit more liquid to the recipes.  This time I added a little more than usual and my 17 y.o. liked that.  I did too, but the baking time will increase.

I found I didn't move this Pumpkin Spice Whiskey Cocktail recipe when mixed up the simple sugar.  I found it during the fall, and made it over the holidays.  I didn't end up making the drink, instead I used it in my coffee, but I'm sure it would be great in whiskey.  Like most simple sugars, stored in the 'fridge, it has a long shelf life.

Meatless is the name of the game during Lent, but I'm trying to do a meatless meal the rest of the year, too.  This Cheesy Gnocchi Skillet fit the bill for both.  We had never had Gnocchi (though I have several recipes pinned) so I wasn't sure what to expect.  It was awesome and got raves from hubby and the boys.  I opted to use the mini gnocchi.  They were soft, really soft, and smooth - I think I was expecting sort of grainy and thick.  This was light, but filling.  I used my Quick Marinara sauce and used a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes instead of my usual two cans of sauce.  I'll be bringing up the other gnocchi recipes in the weeks to come.

I made these Millionaire's Shortbread bars for Girlie's birthday.  She had a different recipe in mind when she asked for them - hers had cookie dough in them - but these worked just fine.  And bonus, I had everything in the pantry.  They were soft and buttery on the bottom, with rich chocolate and caramel on top.  A good choice for a birthday "cake."

Because I had blueberries coming out my ears, thanks to Costco, I used them to make these Blueberry Crumb Bars.  They were good, if a little thin on the fruit filling - a bit more blueberries would be good.  I didn't save the Pin because I have other Cobblers, Crumbs and Crisps to try.

Without the Bacon this Potato and Bacon Frittata would work for a meatless meal.  We had it for dinner (which French Bread and a salad), but it would be good for a breakfast/brunch as well.

I couldn't find a link to this Spinach-Artichoke Rigatoni when I searched for it on the Taste of Home website, but found it going through Pinterest.  Go figure.  I'm not a huge fan of artichokes, and the dip everyone loves I can take or leave.  The recipe seemed to be based a bit on that dip, but the dish was too dry.  It needed a sauce, instead of just melting cheese over the top.  Maybe mixing in some cream cheese would have been enough.  If you enjoy the dip, and have a sauce to build on, go for it.

I'm hoping this Chicken Club Casserole will finally end my need for cheesy pasta dishes.  If not, the warmer temps should cut it down.  It was simple and pretty fast.  The only thing I'm not sure of is the cheddar cheese soup - I don't use condensed soups anymore, so it was a flavor that stood out to me.  It didn't make it bad, just something I could pick out.  If I make it again, I might have a good cheese sauce base I could use instead.

Then there were a couple meals we've had before and liked.  Skillet CassouletCalzone with this Quick Bread Dough instead of the can version.  

I'm off to hit Costco this morning.  I need fish for tonight's dinner.

Happy Friday,

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Throw Back Thursday

What seems like an eternity today, was probably only a few weeks ago in reality, but I was fortunate enough to break out of my house and head with friends for a little paper play.

As I was leaving, I had not a clue what was in my tote; it was still packed from my last outing, which really was an eternity ago.  I did flip through my bag to be sure I actually had paired kits and photos, and I did, but that was as much prep as I did.  When I arrived at my table, it was a surprise what I'd be working on.

Turns out, I would be playing with Christmas goodies.  The kit was from December '14, both the Small and the Big.  The pictures, however, were from 2005.  When they were all little.  When they were all home.  *Sniff*

This was Basic Grey's Evergreen - I loved their papers.  As much as I loved them, they can sometimes be busy, especially when paired with busy Christmas photos.  So cutting them into blocks or strips works great.  I went for a nice grid to fit all the photos.  I filled empty spaces with journaling cards and blocks.  I added a few stickers from the kit, a tag, some bling and a button.  Boom.  Simple.  Effective.  Done.

I have enough product left from this kit, which I believe was part of the Bigger, to do more pages, so it'll all just stay together until that day arrives.

Happy Thursday,

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

We Are

January and February are hard for me.  Besides the after-holiday recovery and regular life stuff, I have tax season, which is now compounded by the need to file the we-have-a-college-student paperwork - which seems endless and way too early considering the next year is some eight months away.  As a result, the blog and Facebook suffer in staying updated.  My goal for having things completed, has unfortunately, come and gone, and I still continue to plug along.  Boo.

However, I'll take a moment to post here about what we've been up to - well, the kids more than me.  And probably more what Girlie has been up to, than the rest of us.

  • We are always wondering about these sorts of posts on Girlies' feed.
  • We are celebrating a new driver and higher insurance rates.
  • We are contemplating our first confession.
  • We are She is beginning training for the next Half.
  • We are competing in our first Pinewood Derby.  Scored the Turtle Award.
  • We are losing teeth.  The night of a snow storm.  Tooth Fairy was late.
  • We are 14" and counting
  • We are getting a Snow Day, which to him, means be out in the snow.  He could be out there for hours.
  • We are staying warm and enjoying the Snow Day by unpacking a recent purchase that adds a little Spring - to the house at least.
  • We are She is binge-ing during their Snow Day.
  • We are wondering when the studying happens.
  • We are thankful for that Wee One.
  • We are She is celebrating with roommates
  • We aren't sure.
  • We are rigging the "9" in 19, thanks to the wannabe Engineer
  • We are She is 19
  • We are taking care to not blow out the "customized" 9
  • We are waiting to see how long it takes to go out on its own.  For the record, it lasted a good five minutes, burning even when the wax collapsed.
  • We are enablers
  • We are always ready for Cookie Season
  • We are in Broncos Territory, so I think all channels lead to the SuperBowl
  • We are, again, wondering what it all means.
  • We are They are Champions
  • We are pretty sure that is our 19 y.o.  We are sure it is Monday.  And we are positive that is not Greeley!
Happy Wednesday,