Thursday, November 29, 2007

Frugal Children's Entertainment...

The other day I mentioned that I had let Elizabeth be "entertained" by the TV while I prepared many things in the kitchen for a church event. I really needed to focus on what I was doing, so I let my little sweetheart watch Dora. Okay... so I let her watch it a few times. Ahem.

Anyway, Cyndi over at Modern Christian Homestead offers a GREAT way to keep your children occupied while you are in the kitchen!! I LOVE your idea, Cyndi! And it's frugal to boot!! Thank you SO much for sharing your creative and VERY FUN idea!!!!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Help with a picky eater...

Thankfully, I am VERY blessed so far that Elizabeth is NOT a picky eater. However, I know LOTS of mothers daily battle with their children and food. Recently, quilt2day left a comment on this blog post and said ...
Now, any tips on getting a 4 year old boy with a picky-eating streak to eat such dinner, ahhhh! We keep praying the Lord will deliver him from his dislike of all foods that are mixed together (ie, casseroles, soups, stews, etc).

For those of y'all that have dealt with and WON the battle with a picky eater, what kind of advice can you offer her? Any great tips that you can share to encourage her AND to get her son to venture out with food?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!!! Enjoy the day with your family!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing...

You know, yesterday when I mentioned that I had taken Pumpkin Bars to church, I linked to some recipes I found on All Recipes (LOVE that site, by the way). However, I only used those recipes as a guide. Teehee! You know I just HAD to alter the recipe, right? Here's the actual ingredients and amounts that I used to make the Pumpkin Bars with Cream Cheese Icing (which were a HIT, by the way!!!).

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice*
4 eggs
1 (14.5 ounce) can Pure Pumpkin (I use Libby's Brand)
2 teaspoons baking soda

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 12 x 16 cookie sheet (with sides) OR 2 9 x 13 pans.
-Mix all ingredients until well blended.
-Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and frost bars with Cream Cheese Icing.

Cream Cheese Icing
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream together butter with the cream cheese. Then stir in vanilla.
Next, add the powdered sugar, slowly, keep beating until mixture is smooth.

*To make your own pumpkin pie spice, click here.
Oh, and there's no photograph of these because they were ALL gone!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Busy, busy, busy!!

Today has been one of "those" days. BUSY!!!!!

Our church is having a Thanksgiving service tonight. Afterwards, we'll have refreshments. I am taking sausage balls and Pumpkin Bars (which are more like cake) with Cream Cheese Icing. YUM!

It seems like it took me FOREVER to get these prepared this morning. I was doing laundry in the middle of it all, too, so that's probably what made it feel like it was taking so long.

And poor Elizabeth, I was so busy this morning that all I could do was turn on the TV and hope she would play by herself. I HATE turning the TV on and letting it "babysit" her, but I, in fact, did that very thing this morning. We rarely turn TV on for her, wanting her to read, color, RUN, PLAY, IMAGINE!!! Perhaps she viewed this morning as a special treat???

Tomorrow brings more baking as my mother-in-law has requested sugar cookies (with icing) and pound cake to go with her Thanksgiving meal on Thursday. I love any excuse to bake, so thank you dear mother-in-law!!

Any suggestions for a better way to occupy Elizabeth while I am busy in the kitchen? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!

Also, I would LOVE to know any special treats that you are making for family and friends for Thanksgiving!!

Friday, November 16, 2007

A good meal...

On the menu for today is Pasta e Fagioli and Savory Cheese Rolls. Both are simple to make and both please my family.

Pasta e fagioli
1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots, about 2 large
2 cups dried shell pasta
2 14.5-ounce cans beef broth
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, undrained
28 ounces spaghetti sauce
1 16-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained well
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, optional
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Saute beef in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until browned.
Drain and set aside. Heat olive oil in same pot and add celery, onion and carrots. Saute 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, boil pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
Return beef to pot. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in pasta and serve.

Makes 12 servings.

Savory Cheese Rolls
1 cup plus 2 T luke warm water
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 T dry milk
2 T sugar
2 t Italian seasoning
1 1/4 t salt
2 t yeast

For bread machine- Measure all ingredients out and place in your bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Set on "dough" cycle. When finished, divide dough into even pieces, roll into desired shape and let rise for 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the rolls are golden brown.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blogger trouble...

Is anyone else having trouble posting on Blogger today? I cannot get any photos to post.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I love to cook...

I LOVE to cook!! I remember being in the kitchen with my mom when I was little and "helping" as much as any 5 year old can. Then the teenage years set it and, boy, was I selfish!! I remember my mother asking me "How in the world are you ever going to cook for your family if you never help me cook now?" My answer? "Mom, I'll just read the directions."

Okay, so I was Miss Smarty Pants and not very honoring to my mother. I've repented, believe me. When Mr. U and I married, I had to call my mom SEVERAL times a week to ask her (what are now) simple cooking questions- "How long do you boil chicken?", "How long do you boil eggs?", "How in the WORLD do you cook fresh green beans???" and on and on and on. Things I would have learned had I been less selfish and continued under the tutelage of my mother.

Mr. U and I married in 1998 and around that time Food Network was just starting to become popular in my area. I remember watching The Iron Chef and thinking "NO WAY am I cooking that for my family!!!" Then I discovered Rachael Ray and I was in heaven!! Between what I remembered from my mom when I was young, calling her on the phone almost daily for cooking help, and watching Rachael Ray, I have learned to cook- and I LOVE it!!

But, sadly, all the cooking shows these days seem to cook pretty much the same things. I'm not saying I'm an expert cook, but I LOVE to learn new methods instead of the "same old same old". I used to tape my favorite cooking shows and watch them in any spare (and rare) moments. But nothing really excites me anymore about the cooking shows.

Thankfully, Food Network has a new show on called The Gourmet Next Door with Amy Finley and I LOVE this show!!!!! Amy seems to really want her viewers to learn more about cooking. I can't wait to see more of her shows.

Also, I just discovered that PBS has Julia Child videos ONLINE!!! You can view her cooking with guest chefs for free!!! I remember my mom watching her show a few times and I remember her voice, but I've never watched an episode of her cooking shows. I love that I can watch her online. Wow! Modern technology!!!!

What about you? Do you enjoy cooking or is it something you do because you have to feed your family? How did you learn to cook? I would love to hear from y'all!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chicken Enchiladas in Cream...

I found this recipe years ago in a magazine. It's been so long that I don't remember what magazine it came from!! But I DO know that this is easy, delicious and something my whole family just loves!!!

Chicken Enchiladas in Cream
3 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 (7 ounces) can salsa verde
1 (4 ounces) can chopped green chilies
10 flour tortillas (8 inch diameter)
2 1/2 cups of cream *
2 cups shredded cheese **

Mix chicken, salsa verde and green chilies in a bowl and spoon mixture evenly into the 10 tortillas. Roll up and place them in a prepared 9x13 pan. Pour cream on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees until golden and most of cream is absorbed.

* I have used half and half instead of cream and had equally delicious results.
** In this photo, I used 1 cup of cheddar and 1 cup of mozzarella. Yum!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Miss Laurie's Smart Guide to House Cleaning ...

I stumbled across a WONDERFUL website recently. The website is called Miss Laurie's Smart Guide and Miss Laurie has a DVD on, get this, a common sense approach to cleaning your home!! How great is that??? How many ladies do you know that could benefit from a DVD actually teaching them HOW to clean and WHY things should be done certain ways?

Here's what the website says about the DVD...
Whether you're clueless about cleaning or just want to learn more, here's a common sense approach to cleaning for your own home or a home you care for.

-Organize your cleaning time and tasks.
-Learn the specifics needed to attack the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and laundry.
-Don't fire your help (the kids, your mate or your maid) them the video!

Remember, it's a great gift for high school grads, new brides and grooms or a messy mensch.

Okay, so I am not just telling y'all this because it sounds like a neat DVD or anything. I'm telling y'all this because I HAVE the DVD and LOVE it!! Miss Laurie offers soo many practical tips and cleaning tidbits. The only thing I didn't like about the DVD was that it was too short! LOL!! I love learning about taking care of my home and Miss Laurie had such wonderful ideas and helps, I could have sat and watched about a lot longer!!!

I've already started using some of Miss Laurie's tips. Y'all just head on over and visit with Miss Laurie. A DVD on how to clean your home- I LOVE IT!!!!

Thank you, Miss Laurie, for sharing this with us!!!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Dressing for the Winter Months...

The weather here in my area has gotten rather chilly lately. While I am quite happy to be leaving the hot, humid days of summer behind us (finally!!!), I often find myself unprepared in my wardrobe for the winter months.

Two posts I've come across lately have greatly encouraged me and given me goals in my wintertime shopping. Tammy has shared about Wearing Dresses in Winter and Mrs. Wilt has shared Fall and Winter Wardrobe Basics.

I wear dresses and skirts only and I really appreciate these two ladies taking time to share with us about their wardrobes- keeping warm and the "basics" of a warm wardrobe. So, no more aimless shopping for me! I am using them as my shopping guides this year!! Thank you ladies!!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini

Oh y'all!!! I made a delicious recipe!!! I found it at the Kraft Foods website. It's called Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini and it is yummmmmy!!! So yummy, in fact, that I forgot to take a picture of it!! It's all gone now and there's not a noodle in sight.

Made Over Chicken Tetrazzini

1/2 lb. (8 oz.) spaghetti, uncooked
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium red pepper, chopped
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, 1/3 Less Fat than Cream Cheese, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1 can (14 oz.) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp. KRAFT 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese, divided
1/2 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Mozzarella Cheese

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, spray large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add chicken, peppers and mushrooms; cook and stir 5 min. or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; set aside.

PLACE Neufchatel cheese, flour and broth in skillet. Cook and stir with wire whisk until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 min., stirring frequently.

DRAIN pasta; return to saucepan. Add Neufchatel cheese mixture, chicken mixture and 2 Tbsp. of the Parmesan cheese; mix well. Spoon into 2-qt. round casserole dish; cover with foil. Bake 25 min. Top with mozzarella and remaining 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese; continue baking, uncovered, 2 min. or until mozzarella cheese is melted.

I do plan on making this dish again for my family but I will make just a few changes. Why oh why I must change every recipe is beyond me. Sigh. But, change it up, I will.

Here's my future changes...
-I will season the chicken with salt and pepper when I put it in the skillet with the peppers and mushrooms. The chicken had no taste and needed seasoning.
-I will put 2 cloves of garlic in the skillet when I am cooking the chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Again, it needed "something" and, for my family, garlic is it.
-I will use 16 ounces of chicken broth instead of 14 ounces. It needed, in my opinion, just a little more liquid in it. It came out a tad too dry for us.

If any of y'all happen to make or already have made it, please let me know if y'all made any substitutions.

And frequent commenter, Bob's Wife, let me know if you try it, too!! :)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Please pray for my mom...

Please pray for my mom. She has had severe rheumatoid arthritis for several years and had several surgeries for joint replacements. She is pretty much always in pain. Through it all, she is the godliest lady I know.

Last week, her hip started hurting very badly. My mom NEVER says she is in pain. Well, she said her pain was 10 on a scale of 1 to 10!! So that meant she was in BIG pain!! Turns out, she has shingles.

Last night (Wednesday night), she was getting up at 1:30 to go to the bathroom and fell. She has broken her hip and hit her head pretty badly and has stitches. She broke her hip in 3 places and they need to do surgery. They can’t do the surgery right away because she is on coumadin to thin her blood (she has blood pressure issues, too). She is in MUCH pain.

My dad has very bad health, too, and is at the hospital, worried and exhausted. Please pray for him, too.

My sweet parents are only 65 (dad) and 62 (mom).

Finally settling back in...

Ahhhhh.... home... I LOVE being home! The older I get, the more of a "homebody" I am. Anyone else that way?

We went to Callaway Gardens in Georgia last Thursday and got home Sunday. It was beautiful there!! I hadn't been there since I was in middle school so it was sort of a trip down memory lane for me (goodness, that makes me sound old!! HA!!!).

My parents decided a few months ago to take our family, my sister, and my brother and his family to Callway Gardens. They rented one of their villas. It was fun with all of us staying together and even more fun out sight-seeing all over the beautiful gardens. Oh, and my brother's daughter is only 1 1/2 months older than Elizabeth so the two of them had a big time playing together.

This week so far has been catching up on laundry (WHY do you wear more clothes when you are on vacation?????? I'll never figure that mystery out!!!) and doing regular housework. While I very much enjoyed being away, I missed the little daily things I do around our home to tidy it and keep it homey.

Ah, it is SO good to be home!!!


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