Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Not more soup!

It's STILL cold here and I'm about tired of soup... I found this yummmy looking casserole.... thought we might want to try it!!

Chicken Florentine Artichoke Bake

8 oz. dried bow tie pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1-1/4 cups milk
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (8 oz.)
1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 10-oz. pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1/2 cup oil-packed dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

In medium skillet cook onion in 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat about 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; set aside.

Whisk together eggs, milk, seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir in chicken, Monterey Jack cheese, artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, garlic, half of the Parmesan, cooked pasta, and onion. Transfer to 3-quart rectangular baking dish.

Bake, covered, 20 minutes. In small bowl combine remaining Parmesan, bread crumbs, paprika, and melted butter. Sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake, uncovered, 10 minutes more or until golden. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

BBBBRRRRRRR!!! Soup's on.....

Our low yesterday morning was 4! Thankfully, Bill took Murphy (our Schnauzer) out first thing in the am! I was more than happy to stay inside nursing a hot latte (1/2 hot milk and 1/2 coffee) -one of my "guilty pleasures" learned on our trip to Germany last spring. In Germany they called it "Milch Cafe" or white coffee.... yummy!

Tonite we are predicted to get snow and freezing rain.....sounds like a good day for making a pot of soup or chili! How about trying a new soup recipe?

Hearty Lasagna Soup
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 25 minutes
Serves: 4
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. dried parsley flakes
3 1/2 cups Swanson® Beef Broth
1 can (about 14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes
1/4 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
1 1/2 cups uncooked corkscrew-shaped pasta
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the beef, onion, garlic and parsley in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until the beef is well browned, stirring often. Pour off any fat.
Stir the broth, tomatoes and Italian seasoning in the saucepan and heat to a boil.
Stir the pasta in the saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir in the cheese. Serve with additional cheese, if desired.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comfort Food

Sometimes you just NEED comfort food.... try these delicious, soft, chewy cookies. If you can't resist them, keep the dough in the refrig and bake 2 at a time... they're even better, warm and squishy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups regular oatmeal (NOT instant)
1 (11.5-oz) pkg chocolate mega morsels
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat butter and sugar a medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl, stirring well. Add oatmeal and stir well. Add to butter mixture; stir until well combined. Gently stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
Drop by rounded tablespoons 2-inches apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Cool on pan 2 to 3 minutes. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Store in airtight container. Yield: 2 1/2 doz.

Note: I added dried cranberries and raisins, reduced the chocolate morsels to 1/2 bag and omitted the nuts. Add or subtract as you like!!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Real life

It seems that all of our children are going through "real life crisis" of one kind or another. Sometimes, life just plain sucks. There's no way around it and no kinder way to say it. However, just when you're at the end of your rope, things get better. All that said (and yes, it is terribly cliche), it doesn't make the "going through it" until you get to the better part any easier.

As hard as it is, give it over to God. He has a plan for each of us. Sometimes we are all about OUR plan, not His. Step back, take a deep breath, pray that He will show you His plan and then be prepared to wait it out. His plan is always better for us than ours.

I have every confidence and faith that there IS a house out there for Kelley and Zach, a job for Brian and one for Jen. In the meantime, I will pray feverently for each of them.

God bless my children. I love them each and every one.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snack time

Here's a great snack for a Super Bowl party or movie- at- home -night. Make your own pita chips to save money and calories. If you like guacamole, you'll love this! Substitute fat free sour cream for yogurt, if desired.

Avocado-Yogurt Dip with Cumin
from Cooking Light
Scoop this creamy dip with pita chips and carrot, celery, red bell pepper sticks. Prepare up to eight hours in advance, and refrigerate in an airtight container.
3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeƱo pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 ripe peeled avocados, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Not just another Saturday...

Thanks, Jen for the idea for this one!

Its not just another Saturday, it's my birthday! I've heard from my children and grandson in one form or another, my dear sweet husband surprised me with a panini maker (think there was an ulterior motive there??) and we're going to Karen's for supper. Life is good. And, as Mama said, having another birthdy sure beats the alternative!!!

I love my new wallet that Kel sent me.. it goes so well with my new Italian leather purse purchased in Venice!

Here's my dear cousin Carol and me at my first birthday party! We're like sisters and I'm sooo thankful for her!!

Aren't we so cute???

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sunny Days and Happy Thoughts

Did you miss me yesterday? Bill and I spent the day in ATL at a retirement party for one of his old buds. Walking 2 blocks from the parking lot to the old Rich's bldg, passing by the 5 Points Marta station, and numerous (questionably) homeless people made me very thankful to look out at the beautiful mountains this morning!

This blog REALLY should be about food - right? So, enough about the well and lets talk good food. Like everyone else, I realize that the past couple of months have been filled with high calorie, rich, too much sugar, and generally just too much food. After all, we did eat our way through 5 countries in 2 weeks then came home to 2 Thanksgiving dinners, a cookie swap, and Christmas dinner! Now is the time to DO something about it.

Yesterday I started out on the right track. I grocery shopped at Publix before returning to the world of rotten veggies at our local Wal Mart. The fresh green beans were tender and bright green, red peppers on sale, and fresh baby spinach literally called out to me as I strolled past. Yes, as I used to tell my high school home ec students, healthy eating is COLORFUL and CRUNCHY.

Fresh salmon was on sale and one big fillet will be 2 generous servings when paired with the fresh veggies and couscous.
Get on the program - Five a Day - fruits and veggies.


Broccoli with Soy, Rice Vinegar and Sesame Seeds

Roasting brings out the best in broccoli. The tips of the flowers char lightly while the stems stay nicely crisp. And best of all, roasting turns this strong-flavored vegetable into a mild, sweetly flavored flower stalk. The secret is high heat. For a particularly attractive presentation, serve the broccoli atop strips of roasted red bell pepper .

1 lb. broccoli spears, tough ends trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 Tbs. peanut oil
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. rice vinegar

Preheat an oven to 475°F. Arrange the broccoli spears in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Season lightly with salt and pepper. In a small dish, stir together the peanut and sesame oils and the garlic. Brush the broccoli spears on all sides with the oil mixture. Roast the broccoli, turning once, until the stems are nearly crisp-tender and the florets are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the broccoli evenly with the sesame seeds. Continue to roast until the seeds are toasted, the stems are crisp tender and florets are browned, about 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the broccoli on a platter. Drizzle with the soy sauce and vinegar and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Variation: To prepare broccoli with garlic oil, omit the peanut and sesame oils, sesame seeds, soy sauce and rice vinegar. In a small bowl, stir together 3 Tbs. olive oil and the garlic. Arrange the broccoli on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and brush with the garlic oil. Roast for about 15 minutes. Drizzle 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice over the broccoli and serve.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Favorite Italian Things....

This is my favorite platter purchased in a little shop in Sorrento. We saw lemons the size of grapefruit there - and it was off season! Imagine what they are like in summer...

Our driver in Rome played Andrea Bocelli as he drove through the crazy traffic... it was one of those moments I'll always remember. I came home and immediately ordered this CD. His voice is amazing. I could listen to it forever. Wouldn't it be a dream to go to one of his outdoor concerts in Tuscany?

Monday, January 5, 2009

On the road to new things

Today was great! I snagged the last space in the Greek cooking class (watch for recipes), signed up for Women's Bible study on Ester, and checked into water aerobics. Most of the laundry in the house is done(at the laundromat-UGH) and we still have water!!! Yeahhh!!!

For you "older" friends, I also got my yearly mammogram today. I always schedule it near my birthday so I won't forget. If you don't have one scheduled for '09, get to it! And while you're scheduling, don't forget your yearly dermatologist visit.

At the request of several friends who missed previous recipes, I've moved them to posts. This way they will be here for you whenever you need them (like me!!) Enjoy!

Lemon Zucchini
3 medium size zucchini, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Cavendar's Greek Seasoning
juice of 1/2 lemon

Saute zucchini and garlic in olive oil in a large skillet. Sprinkle with Greek seasoning. Cook until zucchini is lightly browned. Toss with lemon juice. YUUMMMMMMM!

It's raining, it's pouring.....

Hurrrrahhhhhhh!!! It's raining AND the well is back to "normal"!
I'm not taking any chances and will go to the laundromat (UGH!) this afternoon to tackle the mountains of laundry piled everywhere!

This is good reading weather... a cozy corner with a good book....
anyone have suggestions?????

Have you tried Paperback Swap online? Great program for swapping those paperbacks you've read and are ready to discard. You list the books you have, others request them, you pay for shipping, print postage paid wrappers from your PC, then mail them out. You get book credit and order books you want to read. The sender pays your postage... everyone wins! Check it out!!! www.paperbackswap.com

Happy rainy day reading!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

You Don't Miss Your Water 'til Your Well....

The well is not completely dry, but the water table is down and for the past 2 weeks we have had very little water. There have been more times in these 2 weeks than I care to think about when we had to turn off the pump to keep from draining the well completely. We share the well with our neighbor, Karen. Both of us had company for the holidays. There were 5 people in her house and as many as 8 in ours. Not everyone was able to shower every day and flushing was on an "as needed" basis. I still have dishes in the dishwasher from a week ago. I'm optimistic that tonite I can set the dishwasher for late nite and finally get them washed and put away.

When we made our "dream house" list before moving to the mountains, on it was a specific wish to have "city water", a paved drive,and cable tv. (We have a shared well, gravel road up to our paved drive and DISH TV) Needless to say, none of that happens when you live on a mountain in the middle of nowhere! There's not much we can do about the well, except drill deeper. We may be headed there sooner rather than later.

This entire "adventure" reminds me that we take much in our life for granted. There are many things that we do without even thinking about them... just as we flip the faucet handle with the expectation that water will flow freely. Perhaps our New Year's resolution should be to take a serious look around us and realize all that we have to be thankful for. Even the little things like a long hot shower, enough water to rinse the soap out of your hair and shave your legs are more than some people have in a lifetime.

As for me,I shall take this as a learning experience. I will try to be more patient,appreciate all that we have and pray for LOTS of rain!

Quick Key Lime Pie
Light and delicious!
1 (3-ounce) package sugar- free lime flavor gelatin
¼ cup boiling water
2 (4-ounce) containers key lime pie flavor whipped or light yogurt
1 (8-ounce) container reduced-fat frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (6-ounce) reduced-fat graham cracker pie crust

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water; stirring well. In a large mixing bowl, combine gelatin and yogurt. Gently fold in whipped topping. Spoon into graham cracker crust and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Friday, January 2, 2009

"To do" list

OK, Everyone can stop worrying. I have a VERY long "to do" list.

Being bored has absolutely nothing to do with having nothing to do!!

Kelley went back to ATL today and left me with several little "projects" that I can do for her in "my spare time". Of course, I have plenty of spare time! My problem is, I just don't WANT to do my "to do" list!! Is that lazy or what???

Kel and I thought we would go to a movie this week. We had our eye on "Marley and Me." After all, Zach left her with us for a whole week! WOW, that week flew by! No movie, but we did get a cute project done for her. See her blog for pics.

The decorations are put away and the tree stands naked in the living room until the rain stops and we can get it across the driveway to the shop and into its HUGE box. My "to do" list will once more fill a note pad on my kitchen counter. I'll add to it each day and hopefully check off some things..... or maybe NOT!!

Fear not. I HAVE things to do.

Butterscotch Brownies
2 cups Bisquick baking mix
1 box brown sugar
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool in pan and cut into squares.

Is it REALLY 2009???

Happy New Year! I can hardy believe it's 2009 ! '08 passed by in a blurr of travel, family events (both good and bad) and just staying busy.

Did you make a New Year's resolution? I did. I'm going to learn something new this year. Maybe several things. First I'm going to enroll in a Greek cooking class. Then I'll look for some other interesting and mind stretching classes - maybe even online.

And, of course, at the insistance of my darling daughter, I've started this blog. She worries that I will become bored with mountain life. Some days she is exactly right!

Right now, I'm busy taking down Christmas decorations and cleaning the aftermath of several celebrations in one week.

I'll be bored when it's all done and the house is too quiet again!

Spicy Chicken Soup
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onion
½ cup sliced celery
1 bay leaf
5 cups water
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
½ cup chopped green or red pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
2 (15-ounce) cans chicken broth
2 cups hot cooked rice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Combine chicken, carrot, onion. celery, bay leaf and water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from broth and cut into bite-size pieces.

Add chicken, tomatoes, green pepper, spices and broth. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in hot cooked rice. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with chopped parsley. Yield: 3 quarts.