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Posts Tagged With: recipes

Random 5 – Good-bye 2016

I don’t know about you but I’m OK with saying good-bye to this year.  It’s not been all bad, but it’s been far too rushed-stressed-scheduled-manic-busy for me.   I don’t foresee that the work pace will slow but do I feel a shift in how I’m managing it:  I’m speaking up more and saying “no thanks” where I can. I no longer feel responsible for everyone and everything.  (No one asked me to do that, by the way, but that’s just how I rolled).  The surprising part? No push back.  Huh – should have done this long ago!

Having (most of) this week off has allowed time for reflection.  To think about what I’ve done, what I’ve learned, what I want and where I’m going  – here are my Random 5 thoughts on the cusp of a new year:

1 Traditions can change and you can, too.  Everything about this Christmas was different – everything.  What day we all got together.  What we ate, how we managed gifts, who was here and how we spent our time. I loved it!  Fewer decorations went up and came down sooner.  We stayed in more. We rested – we cocooned.  It was wonderful, magical, soul-restoring.

between-christmas-and-new-years

2 Family – this was our first Christmas without Mom and we all felt the pinch.  My sister called late one night, her voice cracking, and as we connected our tears fell. She was just “having a moment” she said.  “I get it,” I said.  We told our stories and cried and laughed and gave thanks for a Mother so joyfully recalled.

motherhood

3 Gifts – the best gifts are those that cost little but take time and effort and come straight from the heart: this year I made our boys a family recipe book.  It’s not perfect and it wasn’t professional but the joy I felt as they sincerely reveled in it was my gift.  I teased that I chose a red binder for a reason – likening it to the President getting the Nuclear codes – and that they’d best guard it closely.  They assured me they would.  😀

food ina garten

4 Epiphanies abound, case in point:  When we go out socially, I yearn for interesting and fun conversations.  When those don’t happen I withdraw or get frustrated.  Crap – I’m a conversation snob!!  Hubbs and I can have hours-long meandering conversations and I shouldn’t assume they’re available everywhere.

get-your-happy-on-quote-1

Great conversations make me happy!

5 Here comes the New Year.  We’re heading out tonight for Japanese Hibachi dinner with a host of friends.  I’ll find something sparkly to wear and hope for good conversations.  I’ll take a breath and look around and give thanks for the chance to do it all over again next year.  ~ Happy New Year all!

photo from flickr

photo from flickr

“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Years Day.” ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

 

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Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Faith, Family, fear, Fun, Growth, Holidays, Joy, Life, Mom, News, Personal, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Who’s the Turkey?

*originally posted  10/18/10 by  Emjayandthem

Mom was visiting us for the Thanksgiving holiday and we had no less than 17 guests in attendance. I’d been cooking for three days already so the fridge was stocked to the rafters, the garage fridge was jammed, and every spare counter-top seemed to hold a pie or appetizer.

Afterwards, while packing up the leftovers, Mom started to cover what was left of the 26 lb turkey.  I began to explain that I wasn’t keeping it when I saw a look of abject horror cross her face.  She tried to suppress it but there it was. Guiltily, I scraped the last of the turkey bones into the garbage. Later I tried to dodge the issue by explaining that we just didn’t have room to which she softly replied, “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

Of course I knew that. I grew up knowing that.  On the farm, mom made soup all the time; hearty hamburger soups during harvest, ham soup after Easter dinner, creamy potato soup, chicken noodle soup, you name it soup.  Soup was a staple in our home. Soup was a bowlful of loving care and not saved just for head colds or cold wintry days.

~Sigh~

A few days later, after many hugs and tears, I put her on the plane back to her prairie home and reflected on what I’d nearly missed.  That week I bought a rotisserie chicken, cooked it down and made homemade soup, for the first time in years. Hubby thought he’d hit Nirvana! Next came beef & rice soup, beef vegetable soup,  chicken tortilla soup, ham & bean soup, you name it soup. More soup than you can ever eat! Guilt begets soup? In my case, yes, yes it did.

Flash forward to the next Thanksgiving: we were all gathered at a relative’s home and, for once, I wasn’t in charge of the meal.  Later, as we cleaned up, there it was:  what remained of the turkey.   As I started to cover it with foil, our hostess commented, “Oh we’re not keeping that.”  A look of abject horror crossed my face that I tried, but failed, to suppress.  “No turkey soup? That makes the most wonderful turkey soup you know.”

It was at that moment that I knew. I knew that all Mom wanted me to do was to look and really see what I was doing.  Slow down.  Re-examine. See the value in what’s before you.

I get it. Thanks Mom.

Me & Mom. an emjayandthem photo

MJ’s Turkey Soup:

Place all leftover bones and meat into a large stockpot, fill with water about 1/2 full. Add chopped onion & celery, seasonings (I use Mrs. Dash and a bit of garlic, salt & pepper).  Bring to a boil and then cover and let simmer for about 2  hours, or until all meat has fallen from the bone.  Remove from heat and carefully spoon out bones and discard.  When the broth and remaining meat has cooled, shred turkey into bite sized pieces and place back into the stock.

Add 1 chicken bouillon cube and whatever chopped vegetables or noodles you like. I add:  peas & carrots, shredded cabbage, more celery and onions, canned (chopped) tomatoes, corn, diced potatoes, rice or egg noodles (not usually all 3).  Bring to a boil until vegetables are cooked.  Season to taste.

Wonderful, economical and tastes like home.

Yum! google.images.com

Categories: Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Holidays, Home | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Fall Suppers

It’s here and I feel it.  Fall has arrived.  The days are a bit shorter now, and there’s a nip in the air at dusk.  Oh we can still get sunburnt by September’s bright beams but we’re also just as likely to need a hoodie and socks as we are sunblock.

Without a doubt, Fall is my favorite season. I love the sights, the smells and nature’s bounty: fresh Honeycrisp apples from the Orchard up the road, pumpkins on porches and bright yellow Mums brightening up front steps.  I love being able to open the windows again and feel a brisk breeze float in.

Fall reminds me of my farming childhood, too. Of Harvest time, when there was more work to do than there were daylight hours to do it. Of meals packed in newspaper and beach towels, driven to the field and accompanied by a wash rag, a jug of lemonade and home-made pie.  Fall-in-the-air makes me want to cook like the farm girl I am and today, well today I did.

You see Hubbs was off harvesting some golf shots of his own, youngest was visiting a friend and Frankie was right by my side nodding enthusiastically when I made the decision: the decision to simmer up a classic Fall Supper: Swedish Meatballs.

Savory and tender, hearty and delicious, Swedish Meatballs are the perfect ending to a bright September day.  Taking little time to assemble, they’re best if set up and then neglected. Simmering only makes them better.

So with that, I give you, MJ’s No-Fail Swedish Meatballs.  You can supply your own moans & groans!

Ready? here we go:

  • 4 lbs lean ground beef
  • Italian bread crumbs, about 1/2 a cup
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasonings of your choice – I like Mrs. Dash regular and some minced onion

Mix above ingredients and form into 1 ½” meatballs.  Reserve about 1 cup of meat mixture and set aside.

google.images.comPlace meatballs in a single layer on top of a broiling pan coated with non-stick vegetable oil (Pam). Place rack over a reservoir pan lined with foil to catch the drippings.  (this is the pan that came with my stove and it’s great for cooking meatballs and meat loaf as the grease just drips off).

Bake meatballs for 20 min, turn and bake 20 min more.

Next, brown reserved hamburger in 1 tsp. of vegetable oil making sure to break the meat into small crumbles.   Bring to a boil and then pour in 2 cups of low sodium beef broth, stir well.  Turn heat down to medium and in a separate container mix the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. each of:  onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley.
  • 2 tbsp. flour (last).

Mix all seasonings into cream and then stir in 2 tbsp of flour. You will now have a thick, seasoned cream … pour this into the bubbling meat/broth mixture and whisk at  medium-low heat.  The mixture will thicken and bubble.

Optional add-ons:

  • A cup of sour cream will thicken the sauce
  • Fresh or canned mushrooms (without the juice) add even more flavor
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine mellows out your sauce and makes your mouth stand up and smile!

*I add the sour cream & the wine and skip the mushrooms ‘cause Hubbs is not a fan.

Allow sauce to simmer on low while the meatballs are cooking. Enjoy the aroma filling your kitchen!  As soon as the cooking time is up, gently ladle the meatballs into the sauce and simmer on low for another 40-60 minutes.

MJ’s Swedish Meatballs: mm mmm good

My guys like these with mashed potatoes but they’re just as good over egg noodles or with Pierogies.  Me?  I like a roasted sweet potato and some stir fry with this.  It’s my way of enjoying comfort food without totally going off the rails (and yes, I did run today, whoop whoop!)  Whatever your choice, you can’t go wrong with my No-Fail Swedish Meatballs.

easy peasy veggie stir fry; an emjayandthem photo

These travel great and, like Chili, taste even better the next day.  At Mom’s last month, I made a double batch for a family gathering and froze the rest for her in individual servings.  She has commented, more than once, how much she’s enjoyed warming them up for an easy supper.

Are you feeling fall in the air in your neck-of-the-woods? 

What’s your “go-to” fall supper?

Categories: Food, Home, Life, Mom, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Having fun with it

Cobbler’s made and the cake’s are done. Salad’s chilling and coolers are stocked.

Oldest boy smoked up two pork loins last night and I’ve got chicken soaking in buttermilk*, ready to be slow-fried shortly.

My tune’s are playing and the house is shining.

We can hear songbirds singing and I’m sure I saw Frankie smile.

Yep, today’s the day:  Aunts and Uncles, cousins and friends.  And birthday doings for grand-daughter MJ who just turned 3.

Summer gatherings are what summer’s all about!

* * *

“The most important thing for having a party is that the hostess is having fun.” ~Ina Garten

* * *

MJ’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken:

delicious!

Soak chicken pieces in buttermilk overnight.  Don’t keep buttermilk around? Make some, it’s easy! Measure 1 tbsp of vinegar into a 1 cup container and fill the cup with milk. Stir, let stand for 5 min, then pour over chicken pieces. Double if necessary.

In a separate zip-lock bag or bowl, pour in a generous amount of “Kentucky Kernel Seasoned Flour” and dredge one piece of chicken at a time, coating all sides.  Remove and place the pieces on a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper.  When all are coated, place chicken pieces one by one into hot oil.  (I prefer Canola oil and use a large electric roaster set at 400.).

Generally speaking, I use enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan but not enough to drown the chicken.  Next, add sliced onions, fresh garlic and seasonings.  Cover the pan with the lid, crank up the Bee Gees and return about 30 minutes later to turn the chicken. Once both sides are browned, lower the heat and let the delicious goodness simmer for up to 3 hours. The chicken will be tender, crispy and fall-off-the-bone good.  And if that doesn’t make you get up and dance, I don’t know what will!

How about you … do you have “fun with it” when you entertain?

Categories: Attitude, Food, Fun, Home, music, Share, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Corn Casserole

Turns out a post I wrote last year has had visitors recently. Namely me!

That’s right, peeps, with the holiday season approaching, I do believe it is time to revisit the relationship filing system.

What’s that you ask?

It’s an effective way of “coping” with the idiosyncrasies of interpersonal relationships. You know .. ones that cause you to stop and say … hmm.

File # 1:    The “Now you know” (NYK) file. If someone disappoints you, hurts you, slights you, double-crosses you, steals from you, cheats on you, or lies to you… file them in the NYK file.  It’s up to you to decide if and when to let them out.

NOTE: The NYK can be filled with positives, too.   My NYK is also filled up with friends who’ve been there when we’ve suffered a loss, lent a hand, or simply stayed close by when we were struggling.

When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. – Maya Angelou

File 2:  The “Jimmy Cracked Corn” (JCC) file. (from the childhood song, “Jimmy Cracked Corn and I don’t care…”) This is the “I don’t care, I’m done worrying about it/feeling responsible for it/can’t fix it anyways” file.  The JCC file is perfect for situations involving a lot of drama, detrimental for you to be in (lose: lose situation) and are often operated by “energy vampires.” What’s powerful about using this system is that it always ABSOLVES you of someone else’s bad behavior.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. – Maya Angelou

Example 1:   Someone you work with steals your cost-savings idea, becomes the company hero and gets all the credit. Your credit.  File: NYK.  Resolve to never give them the same opportunity again; unless it’s not a big deal to you and, if that’s the case, move them to the JCC file.

Example 2:  The snarpy relative who only calls when she wants something and then, in the process, makes derogatory comments .. about you .. to you.  File?  JCC.

I have had my share of Jimmy Cracked Corn contenders – enough make me a corn casserole. On that note … here’s a simple but yummy recipe for a (cold) Corn Casserole containing several unexpected ingredients:

  • 2 cans of kernel corn, drained

    image from google.images.com

  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar
  • 3 green onions, chopped including greens
  • about 1/4 cup of chopped red onion
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups of of mayonnaise (enough to hold the above  ingredients together).

Fold ingredients together, top with crushed BBQ flavored Corn Chips (Hey! I didn’t say this was healthy, I said it was yum-my) and serve.

You’ll have yourself a crunchy, creamy side-dish to enjoy and when you serve it, be sure to smile covertly and repeat after me, “Now you know!”

Categories: Food, Holidays, Life, Quotes, Relationships | Tags: , , | 24 Comments

“Magic” Pumpkin Spice Cake

Where’s the magic you ask?  2 – count ’em – 2 ingredients!

image courtesy of McCormick.com

Ready?  Here we go …

  • 1 – Spice Cake Mix*
  • 1 – 14oz can of pumpkin (not pie filling, just pumpkin)

Mix ingredients together using an electric mixer; the dough will be thick – do not add anything!  (Nope, no eggs, oil or water – nada).

Pour into a well greased 9 x 13 pan and bake for 29-32 minutes at 350.  ( It may be hard to spread out .. that’s OK, do the best you can .. it levels out at is bakes.) Since I used a glass pan, I turned the heat down to 325 and baked for ~31 minutes.  Test cake for done-ness with toothpick at 28 minutes, since ovens vary.

Let cool, frost as desired. Top with vanilla, cream cheese, caramel or German Chocolate icing- or powdered sugar – your call.   You can also add chopped walnuts to the icing if you like.

These make fabulous muffins, too!! (This makes about 14 large muffins).

*You can substitute chocolate cake mix for the spice cake mix.  You will have a moist & decadent chocolate cake and no one will taste the pumpkin – I swear!

I used Duncan Hines but store brand works, too

Categories: Food, Home, Personal, Share | Tags: , , , , | 27 Comments

What getting sick taught me

I picked up a juicy little flu bug the day after Christmas and it’s systematically kicked my tail for 2 weeks – 2-whole-weeks.  Geez.

I’m on the mend (thank you GOD for antibiotics) and there now exist blocks of time where I’m no longer coughing up frogs.  Yay for that.

10 things I learned from being sick: Continue reading

Categories: Food, Home, Life Lessons, Opinion, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

*Pumpkin Pie Cake* (an ooey gooey plate of pumpkinny goodness)

Tonight I baked.  I don’t bake often because I live with men (hubbs and teenage son). They like: meat, potatoes, salad and cookies.  Not cake. Not pastries. Meat. Potatoes. Cookies. Ok throw in corn or the odd green bean, but that’s pretty much it.

I love to bake because it offers me a creative outlet. I put on some Elvis, get my pots & measuring spoons out and “zone” out in my kitchen. It takes me back to times spent with my Mom, my Grandmother, and my Aunt Irene: the three greatest cooks I know.  So, tonight, I baked.

Here’s the thing: My office buddies benefit because while my guys would never touch this delicious little scamp of a cake, my co-workers will be right in there tomorrow morning. Sleeves up. Spoons in hand. There may even be fights. Just saying.

This recipe has been in my vault for 20+ years; the paper’s yellow and has 2 grease spots on it. That’s the sign of a good recipe. Ready? Here we go:

Pumpkin Pie Cake

Ingredients/directions:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (set 1 cup of mix aside for topping)
  • 1 stick margarine or butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Mix the above 3 ingredients and, with fork, press into a well greased 9 x 13 pan.

Next, mix up the filling:

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin (not pie filling, pumpkin)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon OR pumpkin pie spices

Mix the above and spread over the cake crust batter.

Lastly, assemble the coup de gras .. the topping:

Mix:

  • 1 cup reserved cake mix
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick margarine or butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix these last 4 ingredients together to form a crumbly gooey topping. Drop glumps of topping onto the top of the pumpkin mixture.  The topping won’t be consistent OR pretty but pay it no mind, it will be so good you won’t care… trust me on this!

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 60-65 min or until toothpick comes out clean.

(because of the eggs, refrigerate after.. not that there will be many leftovers)

This little beauty bakes up to be the most carmelly, pumpkinny, autumny plate of goodness this side of a Missisippi mud pie. Hey it’s my blog I can make up words if I want to!

Dietary information? Ha! That’s funny. Serve with coffee and stand back.

Categories: Confidence at any age, Food, Humor, Mom, Relationships, Useful Information | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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Connecting with People in My Path

Atypical 60

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Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

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just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

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A view in pictures, from me to you

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Just another WordPress.com weblog

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