Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 2: Menu Planning

We updated last week’s menu with the recipes. The only recipe we did not get to cook was the Ham and Cheese casserole. The kids were getting tired of pasta and we were too. Instead of another casserole, we decided to have grilled Reuben's. It surprises me that the kids like Reuben's but it always seems to go over well!
Here is this weeks plan: 
Pork Tenderloin
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Anniversary Dinner:
Filet Mignon
Shrimp Scampi
Mix Vegetables
Chicken Pot Pie
(with homemade noodles)
Week in Review
(aka leftovers)
Hungarian Goulash
in the slow cooker
(recipe from our friend Karen)
Can’t believe it is already Sunday evening!
We are busy doing the Sunday evening shuffle,
packing back packs, checking homework,
picking out outfits, packing lunches,
and mentally preparing for another week!
Hoping it is a good one!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Little Booth

Today we were at the booth,
moving some furniture around.
We are having a sale this month…
20% off
Woo Hoo!!
We also brought up some new pieces today.
I must get the garage cleaned out.
Furniture was taking over…

Of course after we fluffed the booth
we strolled all three floors to
look at all the goodies….
Liking these jars!

These are so dear…
they are actually pencil sharpeners!

Sarah and I both
loved these suitcases…
The pictures doesn’t do the color justice..
they are pink with the white strip.
(First Floor booth by elevator…
aka my favorite booth to visit)

And finally…
our trip would not be complete
until we visit the
Candy Shack!

Addition needed…..

To Sarah:
You are planning to plant a fairy garden in the flower garden this summer. As part of the fairy garden you would like the fairies to have a house to find shelter in; to protect themselves from the weather and the furry critters who live in the woods. One afternoon while at the craft store you discovered a kit for furniture and for a wooden house. Perfect size for fairies…..
jan 2013 (10)
Your fairies are going to be very happy in their new cottage…
jan 2013 (2)
The fun part….
jan 2013 (7)
Choosing the paint colors for the furniture
and their new cottage….
jan 2013 (3) 
 jan 2013 (6) 
A four room cottage…
   Kitchen, Family Room, 1 Bedroom and 1 Bath….jan 2013 (11)
  Exterior Colors:
Burgundy with white trim….jan 2013 (13)   You elicited Maddie’s help…
Painting a whole house and furniture is a big undertaking,
plus it is more fun to have a friend to paint with! jan 2013 (16)  
jan 2013 (20)

Furniture painted and ready for the big moving day…
jan 2013 (9)
Until we have warmer weather the fairy cottage is needs to stay in doors. You have been rearranging the furniture and informed us yesterday that your fairies have already out grown their cottage and need an addition. Apparently the fairies are going to have 2-3 children and at least 2 more bedrooms are needed….I guess we will be traveling to the craft store.
Can’t wait for moving in day this summer!

Friday, January 11, 2013


This is Gram's meatball recipe and a few things you (Maddie, Tony and Sarah) need to know about meatball recipes:

1. This is the recipe I wrote down with Gram in 1991, when she was cooking at the restaurant (The Deck) and I would hover over her shoulder aksing her questions.
2. We may love this recipe but other's may claim their recipe is the best and it may be. This why family recipes are very important and should be handed down generation to generation.
3. Gram never measured and I drove her crazy at the restaurant when I would ask her questions about how much she thought she added. She would say, "I don't should look like this..."
4. Your dad's recipe is different!

I love that you have learned to make it with out measuring....

And you don't need the recipe any more....

2 lbs ground meat
2 cups bread crumbs
3 eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
garlic powder

Step 1:
Mix all ingredients using your hands.

Step 2:
Roll into balls

Step 3:
Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes on a sheet try lined with parchment paper.

We usually make meatballs for Sunday dinner. A dozen go directly from oven to sauce and a dozen go into the freezer for another day!

Chicken Curry....

Our friends delivered this meal for us after Sarah was born. It has been a family favorite ever since. You (the kids) would eat this every night if allowed. We have reached the point where I think we should double the recipe, because there is very little left over or none.

(Pre-baked were too quick to start eating dinner and I didn't get a baked photo)

1 or 2 (10 oz) pkgs broccoli spears cooked
2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1 can cream chicken soup
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp curry powder (or more)
lemon juice to taste
Cheddar Cheese

Step 1:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom of casserole dish (9x13) with cooking spray.

Step 2:
Place cooked broccoli on bottom of casserole. Top with cooked chicken.

Step 3:
Mix soup, mayo, curry powder, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Top sauce mixture over chicken. Sprinkle with water. Top with Cheddar Cheese.

Step 4:
Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Thank you Deb for a wonderful recipe! Maddie words after we voted it a 5 spoon recipe, "Why are we voting on this? This is a staple in our house...a keeper!"

Recipe fail...

You (the kids) pulled this recipe out of the recipe box when we were meal planning.We thought we ate it before and liked it. I guess we were wrong or I made a mistake. (More likely I made a mistake) The recipe called for 1 pkg of ranch dressing and we were in luck, because we had one packet....a large pkg.

Bigger the better right?
Lesson learned:
Bigger is not always better...

Lil Tony took the first bite and politely said, "tastes like salt."

The spoon vote scored a mere 2 1/2 spoons. (I am thinking there was a sympathy vote in there)

Dad quickly jumped into the conversation to explain how a food critique scores a dish or a recipe. They won't score on only one dish or after visiting your restaurant only once. They understand there are off nights. Dad also shared, when a chef is experimenting with a new recipe he or she may adjust it a few times until it achieves the taste they are looking for.

Trial and error.
Lesson learned:
We learn from our try and it's ok to make a mistake...that is how we grow!

Together we re-wrote the recipe based on what we felt it needed more of and what it needed less of.

We'll be adding it back to the menu in a few weeks but here is the new recipe....rewritten to try again.

Bacon Ranch Chicken (Slow Cooker)

5-6 raw chicken breast
1 tsp garlic
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (original recipe called for 1 pkg of ranch dressing mix)
2 cans of cream of chicken soup (original recipe called for 1 can)
Bacon bits
2 cups of sour cream (original recipe called for 1 cup)
16 oz cooked pasta (original recipe called for 8oz)

Place raw chicken in slow cooker. Combine next 5 ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Pour sauce over top of chicken and cook on high for 3 1/2 hours. Cook pasta separate and serve chicken sauce over top of pasta.

If you try it before we do and you adjust the recipe....let us know!!

A rebel....

Not really, but maybe kind of.
When I first started to blog a few years ago
I read lots of articles on....
how to start a blog,
blogging etiquette,
finding your blogging niche,
write to your audience,
how to write to your audience,
don't over blog on one day,
don't under blog,
how to take photo's,
blogging rules,
watch your stats,
be on facebook,
be on twitter,
be on pinterest......
And in the end I was left feeling confused
about blogging. Silly, I know...
for gosh sakes it is only a blog!
Three years later,
mystery solved....
This blog is a journal written for my

Day by day,
month to month,
chapter to chapter,
our little story is created...
It may bore you and that is okay...
you may enjoy some of our stories,
recipes, home improvements...hurray!
We love hearing about your story, too!
We are probably not too exciting or different
from anyone else but to the kids when they
read the blog...
it is exciting and fun....
and they are my niche, my audience, my stats.
You may see some changes on the blog this year
and you will notice I am writing to them....
Most excited about turning this journal into a hard copy
at the end of the year.
Two of my amazing blogging friends did this last year
and love it!!
Today my plan is to post more then one post...
Living on the edge here....

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Menu Planning...

Menu planning....sometimes the thought of trying to plan what is for dinner depresses me. This all changed four years ago when I went back to work full time and Tony took over the grocery shopping and menu plannings. Woo made sense for him to tackle this wonderful chore! Well, fast forward to 2013....I have decreased my hours at work and it only makes sense for me to take back some of this wonderful chore.....sigh.

I have memories of my mom sitting at the kitchen table every week, planning the meals and writing her grocery list. We follow the same weekly process, it works really well and helps to keep the grocery bill within budget.

Every Friday morning or Thursday evening we plan out the weeks meals. Before deciding on the weekly meals we check the freezer to see if there are any frozen casseroles, what meat we have, and check the cabinets for available items. I love when we have almost all the making for meals with little planning.

Menu: Week 1

Pork and Sauerkraut casserole
(made from left overs)
Meatballs and Ravioli
Ham and Swiss Casserole
Week in Review
(aka left overs)
Most of the time we menu plan from favorite recipe books, pinterest, ideas from friends and the recipe box.

The recipe box is compiled of favorite recipes from family and friends. The other night when the kids were going through the box one of them commented that they want the box when they have their own place. This started a minor sibling feud, but led us to an idea.....why not record our favorite (4 or 5 spoon) recipes on the blog. It will be available for them anytime...any where. Even the end of the year we can turn it into a book...a copy for each of them!

I think this kid pressure was just what I need to get back into the blogging grove again! Week 1 here we go.....
P.S.(If you have any great dinner ideas please feel free to share...we are always looking for new ideas!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Skillet Pasta

This recipe reminds me of Mary (Tony's mom) and the smells take me back to when Mary would cook Sunday dinner. Sometimes Tony will modified the recipe by changing the carrots to peppers or by changing the ham to sausage. He has used ravioli instead of ziti when making this recipe, too.That is the fun with sauce recipes....don't be afraid to experiment....change it up! Provolone cheese was Mary's secret ingredient in her baked pasta recipes and lots of it!! Yum...

My family is tired of Friday night pizza and to be honest so am I! This Friday, Tony decided to cook this pasta recipe and changed it up by cooking the pasta in a skillet instead of a casserole dish. I am sure there is a reason why it tastes so much better from the skillet. Do you know why?

 You will need:

2-3 Tbls Olive Oil
2 cups Ham or Sausage (cooked and cubed)
1 small carrot diced (or 1 green pepper)
1 small onion diced
1 cup dry red wine
12 oz Tomato Sauce
1 lb ziti
1 lb ricotta
1/2 - 1 lb diced provolone cheese (we use closer to 1 lb)
1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano
salt and pepper to taste

Step 1:
In a medium skillet heat oil over medium heat and add ham cubes. Cook until browned. Add carrots and onion. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until veggies are browned.

Step 2:
Add wine and tomato sauce and let simmer for approximately 45 minutes.

Step 3:
While the meat sauce is simmering, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cook pasta according to package.

Step 4:
In a small bowl mix ricotta cheese with 1/4 cup of pasta water.

Step 5:
Drain pasta and mix with ricotta, provolone, and tomato/ meat sauce. Stir until combined.

Step 6:
Grease casserole dish or skillet and ladle pasta into dish. Sprinkle parmigiano-reggiano on top.

Step 7:
Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes.

If rushed for time this can be made ahead of time and placed in the refrigerator until ready to bake or freeze for another day. Sometimes we will make a double batch and freeze one. If you are freezing or refrigerating before baking, you will need to add extra baking time.

Voting Scale:

We have started a voting system on meals. It seems there was a little revolt with our menu planning and certain members of our family feel we don't cook good meals. Since Tony and I are tired of the sighing when dinner is announced, we stared voting on each meal.  Every person gets a vote. There are 5 of us, which means the highest score is 5....that recipe would be a keeper. A score of 3 or less is out.  We hold up our spoons to vote a yes.....

This scored: 5 Spoons (a keeper)


Friday, January 4, 2013


It is a New Year....
There were two major tragic events this past year that involved friends that made me take a step back and re-evaluate life. Ask myself.....What really matters?
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Thought really hard about this question? Prayed about this question? Did you find your answer....did you take the time to listen for the answer?  
My answer was....{simplify}....
Last Saturday morning Tony and I woke to beautiful falling snow. There is simplicity and peace in watching snow. It falls delicately high from the sky and lands softly to the ground. Looking out my window all I see is clean white snow. It makes even the black asphalt appear pretty.
On this snowy Saturday morning Tony and I will drive to re-unite with old friends....

A quiet drive through the country to a small snow covered church.
Few words are spoken during this drive.
It is a time to reflect.....

A time to feel the peace around us....

A part of us feels excited to see some old faces,
but wishing it was under different circumstances.
Tony and I grew up in a small town...
known each other since kindergarten.
Our friends are the same,
have been since we were little....

We lost one of these friends over the holiday's...
a wife
only 40 years old
a smile that would brighten any room...

a loss to all who knew her...
Kelly was a reader of the blog
and after every post she would send me
a sweet message.
Her message always brightened my day....

Not long ago she sent me a message and asked why I don't
take pictures and post any more?
My answer....
{too busy}

Her answer....too bad.
Occasionally Kelly would use a photo
as her profile picture on facebook.
A favorite was the orange poppy.
It made my heart smile...

This picture is for you Kelly....
and I am listening...
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