Friday, October 31, 2008

What To Do With A Bowl Of Cut Up Chicken?

I had a bowl of cooked and cut up chicken. It was from chicken that was cooked previously, to make soup. It seems like I am often looking for chicken recipes. This is an entree that my mother would serve her guests at dinner parties. I remember it being one of my favorite meals. She was an amazing cook, and hosted many dinners in our home.These frozen patty shells are baked according to the directions on the box. They take 20 minutes to bake, in a preheated oven. After removing them from the oven, I take off the tops and lay them aside.
This is my version of the recipe, which is only slightly different than hers. In a bowl, add 1 can of cream of chicken, 1/2 cup lt. sour cream, 2 tablespoons white cooking wine, and bag of microwaved Green Giant, Valley Fresh Steamers. Stir together, salt and pepper lightly. Put mixture in pan on the stove, adding the cut up chicken. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes, or until thoroughly hot. Put cooked patty shells on a plate, spoon the chicken mixture onto shells. I place the patty shell top on the chicken mixture. Sprinkle with minced parsley, add pickled beets, cole slaw or your preference of salad. If you have cut up chicken on hand, this recipe does not take long to prepare. It is one of my husband's favorite recipes.I use these puff pastry patty shells for creamed shrimp, for scrambled eggs and ham and sometimes for desserts, such as filling with blueberry pie filling, fresh blueberries, and topped with whipped cream.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some Small Ways to Lift Your Spirts

I needed a spirt lifter today. I needed to reach out , in a some small way to someone else in my life. There are times in each of our lives, when someone shared some small kindness with us, that was totally unexpected, but to this day, we remember what was done and who did it. My dear aunt created a beautiful counted cross-stitched framed quote, that I see each time that I walk into my family room. It says "kindness gives birth to kindness". What a good reminder. Here are a few simple ideas of ways to remind someone in your life, that "you care", whether it is a get well wish, a happy birthday, a thinking of you, or a hurting with you.

All of these gifts are from the "Dollar Tree" store. I found these 60 calorie extra dark chocolate sticks, by Hershey chocolate. There are 6 sticks in a package for 1.00. I put them in a clear glass votive holder and added a ribbon. A card with your sentiments on it...and it is ready to set on a co-workers desk, or by the bed of your teenage daughter, or on the front seat of your friend's car. Little gift...but warm wishes, especially for those in your life who are chocoholics.Here is another fun gift that I found today . Paperweights to customize. As you can see, I popped off the glass top, took out the round paper, traced it on a photo of one of my daughters as a little girl, then popped the glass back in. You can use any photo, or any saying. This also would be a way to cheer up someone, by just laying it somewhere that you know they will find it. Ways to make an ordinary moment, extraordinary. Think about sitting at your desk tomorrow, and finding a reminder from someone who cares about you. Wouldn't that lift your spirits?
Last, but not least, I found these yummy, fun straws today. They are to be used with a glass of milk. The one package of straws, is cookies and cream flavored straws. If the flavor of cookies and cream with ice cold milk sounds good to you, these will be worth trying. The other package is chocolately, crunchy tubes for milk-sippin' fun. They are cocoa krispies wafer straws, to drink with cold milk. I know my grandson would like these. It is not what you do for others, it is just that you take time to reach out to those in your life. Taking time, in little ways to say "I care". It truly is a spirit lifter for the one who reaches out, and the one who is reached out to, whether it is with a loving word, a thoughtful act, or a simple smile.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What Any Given Day Can Hold

Up until this morning, I have not been successful in getting a good picture of three precious little people posed together. But today, I got this one. What do you think? It reveals exactly what takes place on any given day in this home. I love how the shirt and the expression work so well together. A few minutes after this picture was taken, the one in the "sweet" shirt actually did turn into very sweet. Life is not perfect and neither are children.

After a few days of fall break, pastry chef school started again. This" pear and almond tarte " came home with her before fall break. It was so delicious!! We had to give it away to friends...or we would have eaten the whole thing. But, today...
...since pastry chef school isn't perfect either, this is what came home. I received a call to go to the emergency room at the hospital. When using a knife with a sharp, serrated blade, one just cannot be too careful. A kind doctor and some stitches later, we came home. Some moments in life bring sweet things and some moments bring tears. It is all part of the journey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A New Twist To Chocolate Chip Cookies

I discovered some new twists to the all-time favorite chocolate cookie recipe. This recipe and the new twists to it, were created by Rebecca Kracke Gordon in the test kitchen of "Southern Living Magazine". One of her ideas, was to add 2 cups of coarsely crushed chocolate covered prezels along with chocolate morsels, to the cookie dough. I never thought of adding chocolate covered pretzels to my cookie dough...what a great idea! Another one of her new twists, was to substitute 1-(12 oz.) package of white chocolate morsels, 1-(6 oz.) package of sweetened dried cranberries and 1 cup of pistachios for chocolate morsels. Another great idea!Here is her original recipe. If you have a favorite chocolate chip recipe that you already use, you can just add the additional ingredients to it. I know for a fact, that many of you have your own amazing recipes for this cookie, because I have tasted some of them. I like taking a favorite recipe and adding new twists to it. The addition is a delicious change.
I did not have time to bake all of the cookies in this recipe today. I took one of my ice cube trays and formed the dough into small balls . I filled this tray and covered it with plastic wrap, slipped it into a freezer bag. I freeze these until needed. Then I place them on a cookie sheet and bake, adding a few extra minutes since they are frozen. Actually, I have given trays of these for hostess gifts. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking is one of my favorite. This way I can share that privilege with others, instead of just giving them the already baked cookies(although who would turn them down)?

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Sunday Afternoon, Black and White Bridal Shower

Sunday afternoon I was privileged to be invited to a very special bridal shower for my dear neice. A "black and white" color scheme was the requested attire. Walking into the room, one was greeted with black and white...everything. The centerpieces, the place cards, the wrapping paper, the table linens and the all of the outfits...all were done perfectly in the black and white color theme. Pictured above is the beautiful bride and part of her bridal party, the ones who were able to attend. Truly, it seems like only yesterday that I was babysitting for this precious little girl, who will soon be the bride. How quickly time goes by. We all eagerly look forward to the wedding day.
I never saw an entire gift table done in so many different patterns of black and white. It was fun gazing at the display, and seeing how creatively done each package was.
My sister and her "soon-to-be mother of twins" daughter. A daughter getting married and a daughter having twins...what an interesting next few months she will be having.

My daughter and her daughter, who loved being part of a bridal shower.
Another one of my adorable neices. Black and white dominated the afternoon. What a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Surprise 25th Anniversary Party

I purchased this basket and this light from the "Dollar Tree". I purchased a can of silver(25 years is a silver anniversary), metallic spray paint from Walmart. The light takes 4 - AA batteries, which I also purchased from the "Dollar Tree".
I hand stamped this "Happy Anniversary " card to tie on the basket. Actually, I do cards ahead of time, for all different occasions, so I can put gifts together in a short amount of time.

Here is the basket after it was sprayed. This is how the light looks when it is "on". I purchased a bottle of sparkling grape juice and two crystal goblets . I also included a package of glittery, snowflake floating candles and a small glass bowl to float them in, and a cellophane bag of "peanut crunch". I hung a "do not disturb" sign over the neck of the sparkling grape juice bottle. In the painted basket I put the light, crumbled white tissue paper with sparkles, then all of the above mentioned items. Tied a bow on the top and added the small card.

Here is how the basket looked when it was completed. When the light is pushed to "on" at the bottom of the basket, the whole basket lights up. I sat this on a coffee table when I arrived at the party, pushed down on the light to light up the basket, and then went to visit with friends and family. Since I only lit the light upon arriving at the party, it will stay lit all evening. It is a fun way to give a gift basket, and with the dollar store and last year's after Christmas sales, this was an inexpensive, yet fun gift to give. After all, 25 years of marriage, truly is a milestone, and should be celebrated.

Friday, October 24, 2008

For Her Birthday...Her Very Favorite Meal

When given a choice as to what meal she wanted for her birthday, this was the immediate response. I have made these "Crescent Cristo Sandwich Loaves" many times over the years. I discovered the recipe in a little "Pillsbury Cookbook". It was a blue ribbon winner of Lori Ann Rizzo in 1994. It always receives compliments when served. It is one of those recipes that you can make and assemble ahead of time, refrigerate, and then bake right before serving.
Above, is two packages of crescent rolls, opened and divided into four rectangles. You brush each rectangle lightly with a mixture of melted butter and honey, before baking for 8 to 10 minutes. With my 0ven, I use 350 degrees instead of the 375 degrees called for. Also, I have found that it works best if the oven rack is in the middle of the oven, instead of lower. This will keep the dough from getting too well done. Since I was having my family, I used eight packs of crescent rolls, and repeated the recipe four times.

The recipe calls for 8 servings. I do 3 or 4 servings per loaf, because this was our meal and I had some hungry guys.

When layered with sliced turkey, sliced ham and cheese, raspberry preserves and topped with honey and sesame seeds, it is ready for the refrigerator or the oven, depending on your time schedule. This is good served as leftovers the next day. My husband took them to work for his lunch today and will warm it in the microwave. It was a delicious birthday meal that we had, and it was topped off with her favorite "Magic Bars" for dessert. A fun choice for a birthday cake, and she made baked them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Welcome Home

"It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was one of the happiest places in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent could bestow." Washington Irving - quoted in the book "Gifts from the Hearth", by Elizabeth R. Skoglund The light in the window revealed a warmth inside...a welcoming beacon in the darkness. Children, and adults alike, long for the safety, security, and comfort found in coming home.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Quick Fix For Saturday's Unexpected Brunch Guests

I have made this recipe many times over the last few years. I have changed the recipes to fit with what I have on hand at the time. It is one of my family favorites, whether I use broccoli, chopped onion, bacon, sausage or ham. It only takes a short amount of time to assemble. I use my large muffin pan, which produces a nice serving for each person. But, if you do not own a pan like this, a 9x13 pan, or two pie pans will also work.
I spray my muffin tin with Pam, then fill half full with broccoli and shredded cheese,(or chopped ham, cooked and chopped bacon, or browned sausage). At this point, I sometimes add a small amount of Feta cheese, too. Then I add the mixtures from the other bowl, of eggs, milk, biscuit, salt, and pepper. I use a small measuring cup and pour this mixture into each half filled muffin tin. I bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes, then add remaining shredded cheese, and bake another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. I let set for a few minutes after removing from pan.
This meal is so quick and easy to prepare, which works for me. The roll is "Pillsbury Crescent Rolls", the little white dish contains butter and jelly, The glass parfait is filled with a combination of fruit yogurt, cool whip and whatever canned or fresh fruit that I have on hand.

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Sunday Evening" Unexpected" Blessing

I have reminded all of you, that this is my very favorite time of the year. Because of that, I loved the beautiful drive that we took last evening. We stopped in to see some real good friends of my husband's family. As we drove up the wooded lane to their home, I could not take in ALL of the beauty. The sun created a tapestry in front of me that I could not begin to describe.The colored leaves, the sun's rays, the well-kept pond and the stillness of the woods...made me never want to leave. The dear couple were so gracious during our short, and unannounced visit. Their kindness and their hospitality made us realize again, how valuable friendships are, even if visits are few and far between.
Imagine my surprise when the lady of the house took me in and proudly showed me her husband's amazing artistic ability, to carve the Indians out of tree trunks. Such detail and skill, totally impressed me. I was unaware of the talent of this man, even though I have known of him for a long time. He was a childhood friend of my late, wonderful father-in-law.
Within a short amount of time, we said our good-byes and drove out of the peaceful wooded haven. I thought about our visit many times since then, and was reminded of our short life is, and how unexpected little blessings along the journey, can add joy to each day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When I Grow Up...I Want To Be Just Like My Big Brother

Someday, when I grow up, I want to play "Lacrosse", just like my brother does. I want my family to come and yell for me. Whenever, I go to my Paw Paw's house, we play this game. I love when we are outside together. Slowly, I am getting the knack of this game, that closely resembles "Lacrosse".
My Paw Paw makes me run during our playing time, because he can throw that yellow ball so far.
Also, I see my brother using his cell phone many times. I have learned how to hold it, how to push the buttons, and even how to look like I am seriously listening. I want to do it all, just like he does... fact, I am even doing some serious practicing so that I can learn how to text message my friends. I am not quite as fast as he is yet, but give me a few years and I will have it all mastered...just like my wonderful, amazing big brother.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thoughtful Gestures From the Heart

One of my dear friends came to my home for dinner this week, carrying this beautiful Fall arrangement, that she had created. I marvel at her artistic ability to create with flowers, and have been blessed by that talent many times in my life. It looked so perfect on my kitchen counter.
I also appreciate the many different talents of" Susan Branch". Her book "Autumn" is one of my favorites. If you would like to see her website, it is Each year I pull it off the shelf and read through it's gorgeous pages. As I was reading through it the other day, I came upon this jar of "cinnamon sugar". It mentions her memories of being served cinnamon toast in tea parties, during her childhood. Immediately, it took me back to my memories of cinnamon toast and hot chocolate, that my mother served us during the cold winter months. I could almost taste it, in my memories. I always have a glass jar with cinnamon sugar sitting by my stove. I use it frequently while baking and on my toast.

Whenever I am scouring flee markets, I look for "Hosier jars '. I like to fill them with cinnamon sugar and give them as gifts. I have even found old salt shakers that I have used. There are many of these unique, inexpensive jars at flee markets and antique malls. When giving this as a gift, I include a note, reminding others of how their friendship adds a sweet seasoning, to my life. So, whether it is floral creations or jars of cinnamon sugar, it is the small gestures from the heart that often make my day.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Saga of the "Butt Roast"

At the grocery store this week, I saw that there was a sale on pork. I chose a "butt roast, or as some stores refer to it as "end roast". I suppose that would be a preferrable name in my book. This morning I put the roast in my Pam sprayed crockpot. I rubbed some extra-virgin olive oil on it, added some salt, and then sprinkled pork dry-rub on it. I then added 1/4 bottle of "Stubb's Mild Bar-b-g Sauce" to the top of the pork. To the bottom of the crockpot, I added 3/4 cup of water. I started the crockpot out, on high for 1 hour, then for the next 5 hours on low. The time period would be dependent on the size of your roast(mine was 4 lbs.). I did not open my crockpot while the cooking process was taking place. The aroma was amazing!!!
At this point, I lifted the piece of meat out of the crockpot and onto a dinner plate. I cannot explain to you, how tender this meat was. I took a fork in each hand and shredded the roast. It only took a few minutes. This plate of food will make at least 3 or 4 meals for our family(since there are only 3 of us at home). Only two large bones and lots of savory meat, plus lots of delicious liquid on the bottom of the crockpot, to be used with rice pilaf and green peas, for meal #2.
For dinner, I lightly buttered the inside of each roll and browned slightly in my frying pan. I then filled the bottom half with the shredded pork, and finished it off by adding a layer of cole slaw. My husband prefers his pork sandwiches this way. I can tell you, that according to our taste buds...this is one good-tasting sandwich!! Because the roast was on sale, it was $7.00. Great price for 3 separate dinners. Even better, there was so little preparation time needed. I first discovered this type of roast, while watching the "Paula Deen" show one afternoon. All of this, just in case you are bored with making dinner in the evenings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Peanut Crunch" Recipe Requested Again

Another request for the recipe of "Peanut Crunch" came today from the mother of one of my daughter's friends. She had taken a package of it along with her, on a visit this past weekend. The mother called and said that she really would like the recipe. She said she tried to hide it from the rest of the family after she tasted it. Quite honestly, I have heard that said before, about this recipe. My first encounter with this special treat, happened a few years ago, when one of my dear friends came to visit. She handed me a beautiful cellophane package containing what she called "peanut crunch". The rest is history. I cannot tell you how many times I have whipped up this treat, or how many times I have given out the recipe. My daughters made it for friends, for birthday gifts, for hostess gifts. The comments are almost always the same...raving reviews. The best part of all is that it is simple to make, and easy to store in the refrigerator. Here is the recipe; in a large bowl, put l bag of Peanut Butter chips, a bag of white chocolate chips and 1 TB. of peanut butter. Put in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir the mixture until smooth. Add 1 cup of dry-roasted peanuts and 1 1/2 cups of slightly crushed pretzels. I usually use little pretzels, and I often add 2 cups instead.
After stirring the mixture together, pour onto a cookie sheet and smooth out to a thin layer. Refrigerate the pan for at least 1 hour.
Remove from the refrigerator and break the firm sheet of candy into many pieces. Put in a large plastic container with a tightly fitting lid, and store in the refrigerator until needed. This stores well in the refrig.Choose one of many different types of containers, when giving this mixture to friends. I often use a clear bag and a colorful ribbon. Last week when I was sending this package on the plane with her, I chose a plastic container, fall ribbon and faux berries to package the candy in. Today when her friend's mother called for the recipe, she also inquired as to where I found the beautiful ribbon. The "Dollar Tree" comes through again for me. Plastic container and ribbon, same store. I often thank my friend for introducing this recipe to me, so that I in turn could pass it on to so many others. This is just one of many good recipes that she continues to pass on to me.

Dressed Up Ghords

Here is how the ghords looked when they were sitting on my kitchen counter, after being purchased from a huge bin, at a roadside stand last week. They were 5 for a dollar. I chose those with the most unique qualities. In a bowl, I added 2 cups of water and 1/4 cup Elmer's glue, and stirred together to create a milky looking liquid. One at a time I dropped each ghord into the liquid, then removed and sat on an open empty egg container. Immediately, I lightly sprinkled glitter over each ghord. It does not matter which glitter you choose to use. I used some small plastic containers of "Martha Stewart" glitter from the craft department of Walmart. I let them dry for 1/2 hour. I found one of my bowls from my cupboard, and first added some greens, then the glittered ghords, and finally a few orange berries. If the bowl you choose is too deep, you can first crinkle some plastic wrap before adding the ghords.
It seemed to be an easy, inexpensive way to add a Fall touch to my entry way table.
Interestingly, my husband remarked twice about how nice the display looked. He usually does not comment on Fall decorations.


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