Sunday, February 27, 2011

Start The Week With A Breakfast Casserole

The weekend was busy and went by much too fast. I have a breakfast casserole that I usually make for Christmas morning. But this evening I thought "Why have it just once a year?" It's very easy and makes for a quick and easy, "All in one" hot breakfast on a cold morning.

First fry a half pound of bulk breakfast sausage.

Then cube enough day old bread to layer the bottom of a 9x9 pan.

Sprinkle about a cup or so of shredded cheddar cheese over top of the cubed bread.

Next, you mix together this cast of savory characters. I usually use my blender for this: Mix together: 1 can of evaporated milk, pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard, 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder, and 6 eggs.

Pour mixture evenly over bread and shredded cheese.

Sprinkle with cooked sausage. Then cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake, covered, for 45 minutes, or until knife inserted in center, comes out clean.

This is a delicious way to have a hot breakfast on a busy morning! Well, off to work I go...have a great day!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

This Past Week At My House...

This past week, I've tried to concentrate somewhat on organization. That has never been a strong point of mine. Now I hate clutter, which can only get "so" bad before I go nuts and start tossing everything I see. However, my pantries have doors on them. For some reason, if I can close the door and not see the mess, then eventually I forget about it.

This became the big problem with the pantries. It was brought to light one day when I was on the phone with my daughter Julie. Here was the conversation:

Julie: Hi Mom, what are you doing?

Mom: I'm putting away groceries.

Julie: Oh, I love to put away my groceries!

Mom: I hate doing it!!!

Julie: That's because you have no where to put anything!

Okay, big eye-opener there. This was coming from the daughter who lived with me for nine months last year, so she would know. So I decided to open my eyes and really look at my pantries. Here was the sight that greeted me (Warning: Not for the faint of heart):

Pantry #1...

Pantry #2

Now I believe a well-stocked pantry is a blessing to the family. But it doesn't count if you don't even know what you have, or if many things are outdated, or stale. That is wasteful, and not being a good steward of what God has provided. So I got busy, cleaned, organized, and inventoried what I have.

Pantry #1...

Pantry #2...

Now I know exactly what I have, and how much of each item. I vow to quit being so wasteful and to stay organized in this area. Next is my spice cabinet. Disaster!!

This week I cooked a 13lb turkey. I'd bought it November, and figured we were coming to the end of really cold days. Since Tuesday was going to be in the 30's, I decided to cook it that day, so the oven could help heat the house. Since there are only three of us at home, we've had turkey in one form or another, all week. But, when I made the turkey, I made my Dad's famous gravy with it.

You start with the pan drippings from the turkey. Make sure you have well seasoned the turkey (or chicken). I used onions, celery, butter, salt, and pepper.

Pour the drippings into a heavy skillet. On medium flame, add flour, constantly stirring...Do this till mixture is smooth and bubbling.

Now add milk, half-n-half, or cream, constantly stirring until rich and creamy. At this point correct seasoning to taste.

You should have a nice, smooth, creamy gravy. However, at this point I usually put the gravy in my vitamix (or blender). It has made all the difference in the smooth quality of my gravy. After a quick blending (usually a little more liquid is added)...

I have a silky smooth, creamy gravy. Yum!!

With the left over mashed potatoes this week, I decided to revisit the Loveless Cafe Cookbook for their Potato Pancake recipe. I have never made "successful" potato pancakes before.

Oh Loveless, please don't let me down again!!!

First saute 3 tablespoons of chopped onions, in 2 tablespoons of butter.

Mix together: 2 cups of mashed potatoes, 2 eggs, beaten, and a 1/2 cup of flour together with the onion/butter mixture.

Drop by tablespoonful, slightly mashed down, onto a greased griddle. Cook on both sides until golden.

These were delicious! I've put some in the freezer for future use. This time I can give kudos to The Loveless Cafe Cookbook! It's the first time I've ever made edible potato pancakes!!

My son was thrilled with this hot, hardy breakfast, served on a rainy, chilly morning.

Have a great weekend!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

He Is Enough!

I sit at my kitchen table writing this blog with a saddened heart. So much has happened this past week. I've had to witness a very dear friend lose her most precious son. She is a woman who truly lives her Faith in Christ. She trusts God to hold her in His arms during this time. After experiencing the worst thing that could happen to a parent, she wrote: "It is well with my soul." It made me think of how often we live our lives in fear of losing that which is most precious to us. But HE is enough.

I've lived through this before with another close friend of mine. When she lost her daughter at the age of 26, she always trusted God, and leaned not to her own understanding. In all His ways she acknowledged Him, and she let Him direct her path. Does that mean both mothers do not grieve? Absolutely not. But they grieve with the Hope of an eternity, with Christ. They trust that a Loving and Sovereign God is in control, and He is enough!

I'm reminded of versus in Lamentations, Chapter 3:21-24:

This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!"

May we remember every day that it is only through the Lord's mercies, that we are not completely overwhelmed with life's trials. May we always know that He is enough! That is easy to remember when times are good, but truly, when your soul is rocked to it's core, that is when you really need to know; HE IS ENOUGH!

This past week my son-in-law Tommy, husband of my daughter Melissa, was involved in a head-on collision on his way home from work. Both parties were injured, and we have yet to learn the status of the other driver. Tommy will recover from his injuries. They are now without a car, and the repercussions of the accident, I fear, will be felt for quite some time. Still, I remember the time between hearing of the accident, and getting to the hospital and finding out how he was doing. It brought back many memories of my own dear sister, who had a devastating car accident many years ago when she was a young mother of two small children.

I am reminded of the 2nd part of Psalm, Chapter 30:5:

Weeping my endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.

The joy is knowing, and resting in the knowledge, that God is sovereign over all that happens in this life. Trust in Him, for He is all you need. He is enough!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Queen Cat Welcomes A Visitor Into Her Territory

I had a visitor enter my territory on Saturday. It was an Intruder Cat (NOT THE INTRUDER CAT). I knew this cat was not staying, but merely passing through; a feline friend of another Noncat. I like to think of myself as a gracious, Head of State, so I spent a little time with the cat.

It didn't hurt that the cat was a Mackerel Tabby, like myself...

She was a much younger cat, a budding Queen Cat perhaps, so I thought I would share a little wisdom with her. She arrived in an odd, red cube, that she was reluctant to exit from. While I appreciate her reluctance to run free in my territory, I was inviting her to visit me.

I tried a nice..."Here kitty, kitty" see if she would emerge from her cube.

Still she cowered in her cube...I was beginning to think this cat was not worthy of my time or attention.

If I have to MAKE you leave that will regret it!

It's about time you came out of your cube, you little I granted you audience many minutes ago...

Come on over here, I have something to tell you...


Mommy, I don't like this place!!!!

I will be less gracious with the next visitor. I gave this inferior feline too many chances...after all, I AM THE QUEEN CAT OF THE NONCAT COLONY!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day and Last Week At My House...

I woke up very early today. I have to go to work, but I also wanted to do something special for my husband and son. I made them a breakfast "Buffet" for Valentine's Day.

The sun was just rising outside my kitchen window as I began cooking.

I made eggs benedict, fresh milled wheat pancakes, and bacon. There was also fresh fruit, and orange juice and coffee. A breakfast fit for a king, for the kings in my life!

In our local newspaper, a couple, married for 70 years, had this to say about the success of being married so long: When you make a promise, honor it. Accept the challenges of life and work to overcome them without complaint. Always be honest with each other.

I've thought about these words recently. I have great difficulty in accepting the challenges of life, and working to overcome them WITHOUT COMPLAINT! This is something I'm really going to work on, with the help of my Heavenly Father!

I had a week that was so busy!! I'm working two days a week at the college right now, plus all of my son's extra curricular activities. Add to that the activities of church, and I've been running non-stop. But I did have a rather "Momentous" event take place. My granddaughter Cassidy started preschool!

Miss Cassidy on her very first day of school! She is loving school, and learning so much!!

My daughter Julie and her husband have taken over the ownership/management of his family's seafood restaurant. It is alot of work, added to her full-time schooling for her nursing degree, and I don't know where she finds the energy!

Cassidy would be happy to steam you a bushel of Maryland Blue Crabs!!

The restaurant has two, one-bedroom apartments above it, and Melissa and her husband have rented one of them. The newlyweds are so happy to be in their own apartment! They have lived in the upstairs of his grandparents house since being married last June. It was two rooms, but they shared a kitchen and bath. Now they have their very first, fully-equipped home, and they are super happy!

Melissa's very first kitchen!

The other side of their kitchen. The archway leads into the living room. On the opposite side of the apartment is their bathroom, and bedroom. I still remember how special my very first place was as a newlywed!!

This eyesore was added to a corner of my dining room last year. My daughter and granddaughter had moved in for nine months, and all my bedrooms were full. I placed this in the corner to hold the computer. What a mistake! It was relegated to another room last week.

Now that I have my dining room back, I want to do something different with this space. Stay tuned for some new changes in this room.

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day with those you love!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What's For Dinner? Not Creamy White Chili....

Have you ever had the kind of morning when you wake up, and know exactly what you want for dinner? I woke up this morning and knew that today, I was going to make Creamy White Chili for dinner. I'm speaking of a craving here...I had to have this Chili. I had it at my sister's house in Tennessee, and couldn't wait to try it out. It is sooo delicious. So I took out some chicken breasts to defrost. When I went to start the chili, instead of chicken, I'd defrosted a pork roast.

The problem with wrapping meat in foil, without any identifying info, is it becomes a mystery meat...I thought it was chicken...

But it was the "other" white meat.

So, no Creamy White Chili for me today. But I did make Julia Child's "Puree De Pommes De Terre A L'ail (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, page 520). Before it seems like I really created something spectacular, it is simply, Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

If you don't like garlic, don't make these potatoes. But, if garlic potatoes are your favorite thing, these are really good.

First, peel and cook 2 1/2 pounds of Idaho potatoes.

While those are cooking you need to make the puree. You begin with two heads of garlic (about 20 cloves or so). Separate the cloves and peel off the skins. Slowly cook the whole cloves in 4 tablespoons of butter. Cook until the garlic is tender, but do not brown!

Add 2tbsp. of flour, to the butter/garlic mixture and cook until bubbly. Then add 1 cup of boiling milk, 1/4tsp. of salt, and a pinch of pepper to the mixture.

Boil mixture for 1 minute then put the mixture into a blender and puree it till smooth.

Heat the puree again, adding 1tbsp. of butter at a time, up to 4tbsp. Whip the cooked potatoes and add the garlic puree, 4tbsp. of minced parsley, and 3 to 4 tbsp. of heavy cream (I need a little more cream than this). Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I was surprised that so much garlic is actually mild when not crushed. I liked the mashed potatoes, but have to admit I'm used to them having more of a buttery flavor. The mashed potatoes at The Loveless Cafe, in Tennessee, are still the best I've ever eaten. Sorry, Julia...:)