Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday to you!

The boys and I are enjoying our day so far....slept in, worked on the back patio to clean it up, ate a great Lunch at Brooklyn Pie Co.  And  I did some prep for Easter Sunday, here and there.  I boiled a dozen eggs and colored them for some pretty pastel deviled eggs, iced down canned drinks, thawed the pork roasts, made the Crack Potatoes and the Cheesecake Pie.
Set the table with pretty napkins and spring green chargers. Found 6 clean wine glasses, plates, and silverware, too!
Fished around for some extra silk flowers to pretty up a pillar candle on a plate.  Now  it's time to stretch out in The lounge with a book...and look forward to Sunday.  Can it really be that Christmas was four months ago?  And four months from now will I wonder how Easter ended so quickly?

The Easter feeling does not end,
it signals a new beginning.
Of nature, spring, and brand new life,
And friendship, and peace, and giving.
The spirit of Easter is all about
Hope, love, and joyful living.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pecan Cookies

These were super delish and I had everything on hand to make them, so I did! Scout and I gobbled them up - they are best warm from the oven.  I thought they were some of the best chocolate chip cookies I've ever made.  Bubbie and Hubby took a little more convincing, but as my mother used to say:  MORE FOR ME.  

Chocolate Chip Bacon Pecan Cookies
5 strips good quality smoked bacon (not thick slice or peppered!), cooked crisp and crumbled
1 c. plus 3 T flour
1/2 t. each salt and baking soda
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 c. each white and brown sugar
1 egg
1 t. maple extract (or vanilla)
2/3 c. chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli semi-sweet)
1/2 chopped pecans

Cream butter and sugars.  Add egg and extract and mix well.  Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then mix into creamed butter and sugar, blending well.  Add bacon, chocolate chips, and pecans.  Mix well, then chill the dough a couple of hours.  Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheet and bake 10-12 minutes at 350 - longer if you like jumbo cookies like we do!

I think the bacon lent a nice smokey sweetness to the cookie - 
try them and see what you think!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mealplan Monday #106 and the Easter Menu

Because I am off on Easter Sunday I have more time to prepare a feast this coming week!  It's hard to believe how fast this year is moving.  Before you know it, it will be Firstborns's move to a new apartment, Scout's high school graduation, Bubbie and Hubby's summer camp, The Girl's last time home for the summer, band camp, college for boggles my mind.  Best just take it one event at a time...
 Rustown Art
Monday - Meatloaf, mashed, peas and carrots
Tuesday - (freezer) Apricot Chicken, couscous, kale
Wednesday - Creamy Lemon Chicken with bacon and green beans, garlic toast
Thursday - Tacos al Pastor, charro beans
Friday - Turkey Pesto Meatballs, butter garlic linguini, broccoli
Saturday - Dad grill - Caribbean Steak
Sunday - Simple Roasted Pork Shoulder, Pan Fried Asparagus, Crack Potatoes, 7-Up rolls, Rock Island Tea, Easy Cheesecake Pie (with lemon and raspberry topping)
Rustown Art

Gone are the days of Easter egg hunts for The Cannary's, but not gone are the memories of family time together at Easter...

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 thing Friday - Sugar, siblings, treats, shoesies, wrinkles

I thought I had it all figured out that Sugar had a food allergy to the canned food.  Once I started feeding her old lady dry food, she did so much better.  Then I ran out and subbed in some other dry food that was for hairballs.  Vomit City.  Again.  
 It's a good thing we like her.
 These two came for dinner on Sunday and had not seen each other since New Year's Day.  So they had to catch up on pestering, finger poking,
 and shunning the photographer.  It will be sad for them when The Girl moves to the big city after graduation.  I envision Firstborn staying put in Austin.  But I could be wrong.
 I took the easy way out this year and purchased these big plastic eggs to put a few treats in.  My kids aren't really kids any more (sniff) so simple is pretty much the order of the day.
 Speaking of Easter, I am OFF that Sunday!  I get to go to church in my new pretty pink Easter sandals and have a great meal with all my peeps.  Maybe I will talk Scout into taking another family photo.
Time marches on and Hubby and I still haven't made progress on ripping the carpet up in the hallway to replace it with laminate.  Those wrinkles travel all the way down the hall and into the master bedroom and closet.  I so want this carpet gone.  The plan is to get the bedroom carpet cleaned and re-stretched, tile the bathrooms, and install laminate in the hall.  As you can see, we have made zero progress.   Goal for next week:  get motivated to go pick out tile, and find the laminate.  Wish me luck. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cheesey Olive French Bread

I was making a big pot of beans and leftover pork ribs last week and felt pretty blah over making cornbread.  Then I remembered that I had everything to make this delish cheesey French Bread!
A pot of beans is the easiest dinner to make at my house.  Everyone eats them up without complaint, and if there's leftover meat from grill night, it goes right on into the pot.  I wash and pick through the beans, but I don't soak them.  Cover them with water and added the frozen meat.  Wah. La.  I know.  My life is hard.
I first saw this French Bread thingy in the Pioneer Woman's cookbook, but since then I've seen it just about everywhere on the interwebs, and true to form, I had to tinker with the ingredients a little to fit what I had on hand.
I used: a half cup of mayo, 6 T of real butter, 1/3 jar of mixed black and green olives, some roasted red and yellow bell peppers, the last three green onions from the week, a nub of cheddar, and some monterrey jack.  I estimate I used a little over a cup of shredded cheese.
 I softened the butter in the bowl, then started chopping and measuring all the veggies and dumped them in.
 In went the mayo and the cheese, followed by some fresh-ground black pepper.
 Oooh...this would be a good dip, too!  Preheat the oven to 400 or so.
 I cut the bread in half and slathered the cheese topping on.
 I baked it about 10 minutes or so.  I was going for some golden edges on the bread.
Yep.  That was good!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Mealplan Monday #105 and touches of Easter

I spend a fair amount of time at my house doing drudge and chores.  So, when I get a chance to pretty something up, it's like getting a vacay!  Something happens when I'm in that creative zone.  I whistle or sing, I talk out loud to the cat, I feel happy.  And I feel a little house-proud when I am done making something beautiful.
I just added a few sprigs of spring to the china cabinet, along with several bunnies.  I spy 5 bunnies, can you? I didn't buy anything new here, just used stuff I already had.
 I plopped a grapevine and silk forsythia wreath down on the table with a runner I bought on clearance at Target, then added the candle with burlap from Fall.  So lazy.  Yet, so pretty.
 I added a forsythia branch to the Home Goods vase with some green excelsior and another couple of doodads.  Boom. Mantel done.
Monday - (Freezer) Chicken and Rice Casserole, salad
Tuesday - Ham and Cheese Party Rolls, canned soup
Wednesday - Pasta with Sausage and Chard, carrots
Thursday - Salsa Verde Chicken and Dumplings, corn
Friday - Crock Pot BBQwiches, chips, Big as Yo Face Cookies*
Saturday - Kitchen Closed!
Sunday - Chicken Pot Pie, salad
Dessert this week (besides the cookies) will be Vanilla Wafer Cake
*These are just homemade chocolate chip cookies that are a little on the large side...when my kids were little they thought the bigger the cookie, the better!
 My thrift store bunny from a couple years ago...
I tossed the pinecones  in my thrift store wire basket and added some new blooms I had a coupon for, with some old blooms from my stash.  This bit of creativity was a reward for blowing out 4 1/2 bags of leaves from the red rocks in the back yard.  Whew!
One of the sweet gift shop bunnies from last year - there are four in all, cause four is my lucky number!  Next week I will plan the Easter menu - I will be off and I cannot wait to get to go to church and spend the day with my family!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Freezer meals #7

Another collection of meals for my freezer - it sure is nice not to have to worry about what to cook Sunday through Tuesday.  Yes, there is the occasional ordering out on a Tuesday here and there...sometimes I'm even too tired from work to fix a side dish, you know?  Here's the collection:
Baked Stuffed Bell Peppers, adapted from a crock pot recipe from here.  I think I will do these in the oven and include some marinara on top.  
The filling has a combo of Italian Sausage and ground beef - a little different from the original recipe. And they have a secret ingredient that I think will work out great! 
Honey Pork Chops - Mix 1/2 c. honey, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1/4 t. ground ginger, 1 mashed glove garlic, and 2 T soy sauce as a marinade for 5 thick cut pork chops to grill.

Crock Pot Apricot Chicken - I poured this sauce over boneless, skinless chicken thighs: 1 c. apricot preserves, 1 envelope onion soup mix, 1 c. Catalina dressing.  I will cook on low 6-8 hours from frozen.

Honey Garlic Chicken - I poured this sauce over boneless, skinless chicken thighs: 5 cloves chopped garlic, 1 t. oregano, 3/4 c. soy sauce, 1/4 c. ketchup, 1/2 c. spicy honey BBQ sauce, 1/3 c. honey, S & P.  I will cook from frozen for 6-8 hours.

Spinach and Salsa Chicken - In a gallon zip loc, mix 1 package boneless skinless chicken thighs with 2 c. salsa (I made fresh), 1 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained, 2 T California Style lemon pepper. I will cook on low, from frozen 6-8 hours.

Mediterranean Pork Chops - These are soooo good!

Crock Pot Pear, Apple, and Pork - 2 sliced apples, 2 sliced pears, 3# cubed pork, 1 sliced onion, 3/4 c. brown sugar, 1 c. apple juice, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 3 T mustard, S & P. (This is a recipe I adjusted; find the original here.  I didn't peel the apples or pears and I used thick cut rib eye pork chops cause I got a deal on 'em.  I also probably won't add the extra water.)  I will cook on low 6-8 hours from frozen.
And by the by, this is the handy dandy trick I use to fill up the bags as I go - put it in a large bowl so you can just keep adding ingredients without spillage.  Another good thing to do is to empty out the dishwasher so you can load it as you go, and wipe the counters down with a 10% bleach water solution when you are done preparing all that raw meat.
OK, last thing I made was:
Disney's Baked Ravioli from Plain Chicken.  The sauce was a little labor intensive, so I'm glad I made it in advance to freeze.  I will thaw it to proceed with the recipe.  it smelled great, and it's about the closest I'll get to going to Disney.
Eight meals didn't take up all of the real estate in our skinny freezer, so that was good.  I also put a couple of cheater meals in here - frozen Stouffer's dinners I had a coupon for.  Now to put my feet up and rest before another busy weekend!


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