Friday, April 30, 2010

Chair Recover with Vintage Pillowcases

I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to write yesterday. I missed you all. The garden and yard were calling my name. There were plants to find homes for and vegetables to water, pruning, weeding, putting out pinestraw. The list could go on.

Today is a new day and I've got lots to share. I guess I got braver after my first attempt at creativity (homely though it was--maybe we'll just call it homespun, that has a little more flair). I had a project in my mind and decided to go for it. After a furious vacuuming and dusting session this morning, I settled down to recover my desk chair. I tried to document it for you. I only used a couple of vintage pillowcases that I had in the closet and some buttons from my pail. I sewed them on, slipped them over, and that was that. Now I'm contemplating what my next project could be. Oh yeah, I've still got to get material for that dress.

Here's my desk chair that I started with and a couple of vintage pillowcases that my mom picked up for me at a yardsale.

I took apart the seat. It was just a matter of flipping in over and unscrewing it from the frame. I simply stuffed the cushion into the case like it was a pillow, reached underneath and adjusted the fabric to suit me, and then screwed it back to the base. I left the decorative edge of the pillowcase hanging down like a little skirt in front. I thought I'd taken a picture of it, but I must have forgotten.

Next, I picked a few buttons from my jar of extras to embellish the top and help to hold it steady.

I wanted to show y'all this sweet little button. It's an extra from some buttons my grandmother used to make me a dress when I was a little girl. I guess I must have been thinking of my Granny when I made this project, because I also used a button that went to a dress she wore. Now I'll think of her each time I sit at my desk to work or create.

Here again is the finished product. A cute addition to my room.

I also need to give you tonight's recipe. Before I do, let me mention that the Cheesy Chili Soup was a big hit with my family, especially the kids. They loved the dallop of sour cream. They thought it was the greatest thing to get to swirl it and stir it in. Who knew? I'm going to have to remember that trick for other recipes too. Tonight is Pineapple Burgers. They are wonderful. I tried this recipe right after we got married and we've eaten it for many years. It came from a very old Betty Crocker cookbook for cooking for two. I've tweaked it over the years to make it easier. Here's my version of "Betty's" recipe.

Pineapple Burgers with Spicy Sauce
Hint--when you pat out hamburgers for the grill, make them big and thin. Better to have a raw patty that looks like a pancake because it'll draw up as it cooks into the size you want. Otherwise, you end up with those tiny, really fat burgers that look more like meatballs.

1 small jar pineapple rings 1/2 c. ketchup
1 lb ground beef 2 Tbsp. prepared mustard
1/2 c. brown sugar

Drain pineapple. Divide meat and pat out into 4 thin patties. Place burgers on grill or broiler and cook to desired doneness, around 5 minutes on each side. Grill pineapple slices for two minutes. In a small saucepan, blend brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. Simmer 2-3 minutes. Top burgers with grilled pineapple and serve with sauce.

By the way, does anyone know what I can do with lemon balm? I've got a big beautiful bush full and would like to use it in some way. It smells so great. I'd like to do something more than just keep breaking it off to smell it.

On the diet front, I've been a very naughty girl. We went out for a Dairy Queen Blizzard the other night. How was I supposed to resist that? Then I made a nice chocolate dessert to go in the kids' lunchboxes. I had to try it to see if it was any good. I wouldn't want to send them to school with something yucky (wink, wink). Someone needs to mail me a little package of motivation.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tried and True

Has anyone been trying the recipes? What did you think of them? We had the Chicken Pecan last night and the Fruit Medley. We were the guinea pig family last night. They were both great. For the chicken recipe, I left out the celery and peppers so it was a little more kid friendly. It was total comfort food, a definite to add to my keeper box. The fruit recipe too. I thought at first I wasn't going to like it because the sour cream/honey mixture smelled pretty strong, but it was great. The only thing I did differently was to mix everything together instead of spooning the sauce over it. The sauce was fairly runny and it just seemed simpler to combine it all. It gave the fruit the chance to absorb some of the flavor of the sauce and I really liked the outcome.

Tonight we're moving on to try another new recipe, Chili Soup, that I gave you the recipe for yesterday. Here's the recipe for tomorrow. It requires marinating time. It says 4-6 hours and that should be fine if you are substituting beef, but I've always found when cooking venison it is always better to marinate it for an entire day. So, mine is going to start marinating today.

Elk Tenderloin
I cut this recipe out of my Paula Deen magazine. I am going to substitute venison for the elk and cut the recipe in half because my tenderloin is smaller.

1 c. soy sauce 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 c. olive oil 1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme 1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. rubbed sage 6 lb. elk tenderloin

In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oil, and spices until well combined. In a large zip-top plastic bag, place tenderloin. Add soy sauce mixture; seal bag and place in a large bowl. Marinate for 4 to 6 hours in the refrigerator. Grill or bake in oven at 400 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Twice-Baked Potatoes
Not sure about this recipe, I think it came from my mother-in-law. I just know it's yummy. I substitute onion powder for the chopped onions.

6 baking potatoes 1 Tbsp. snipped chives
1/2 c. butter, softened 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk (or 1/2 & 1/2) dash of pepper
3 Tbsp. crumbled, cooked bacon 1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, divided
3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion paprika

Bake potatoes at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until soft. Allow to cool. Cut a thin slice off the top. Scoop out pulp into a bowl; add butter and mash. Add milk, bacon, onion, chives, salt, pepper, and 1 c. of cheese. Spoon into potato shells. Top with remaining cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Yields 6 servings.

Here is the little creative project I made myself do. To be honest, I was really hating it. I was in there ironing it and asking myself why I'd promised to show y'all, and what in the world I was going to do with it, when inspiration struck. The verses in Philippians popped into my mind as I ironed, and a bookmark was born. I ran and got some spare cardboard (I keep those thin pieces that come in packages, they're great for projects) and inserted it for backing. I'm going to go back and stamp in the verse location near the bottom, Philippians 2:14-15.

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life..." Philippians 2:14-15

This experience just proves to me that I need to be more willing to throw things out there and it will work out, I don't have to be pre-perfect. And, how good it is to be accountable to others in order to force me to follow through. Thank you all for pushing me forward.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Baby Tomatoes and Chili Soup

I thought I'd share a picture of my first tomato. I've got quite a few coming along, but he was the first to show up so I thought he deserved the honor. I did have a tiny squash to show you too. However, my arch nemesis Fat Rabbit has found my new squash spot. For years I've tried to grow squash and he always comes along and eats it. I thought I'd outsmarted him this year--new spot and a trellis for it to grow up. I'm not as clever as I thought. Maybe he won't be able reach them once they start heading up the trellis. I'm feeling Mr. McGregor-ish today.

The recipe for the Cheesy Chili Soup came from that Kraft magazine they send out. I'm going to serve it with Fritos to add in because that's the way we like our chili (and they were on sale at Winn Dixie this week).

Cheesy Chili Soup
P.S. I'm leaving out the celery and adding in some cooked ground beef.

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained 2 stalks celery, chopped
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained & rinsed 2 carrots, chopped
1 (14 1/2 oz) can chicken broth 2 tsp. chili powder
1 onion, chopped 1 c. Mexican style cheese, divided

Bring all ingredients except cheese to a boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low; simmer 25 min. or until vegetables are tender. Stir in 1/3 c. cheese. Ladle in to bowls. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Makes 4 servings. You can also top each bowl with 1 Tbsp. sour cream.

I promise I haven't forgotten about my crafty stuff. I've been s l o w l y working on something. Now that it's (almost) done, I don't like it at all. I'll show it to you tomorrow anyway.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I've Been Making Up Some Menus...

Meredith likes for me to sing 'I've Been Working on the Railroad', but this morning I'm singing it a different way. I've been in the kitchen (no, Dinah wasn't there with me) and looking through my recipes for our menus for the week. I guess I was feeling adventurous because I pulled out a bunch from my book of recipes I want to try to go with some of my old favorites. I always like to try at least one new recipe a week. This week I'm going to try five. It isn't that much of a leap. I know the sorts of things my family likes, and I can look at a recipe and pretty much know how it will taste. I once saw this show on the Science Channel where people say they taste words. Maybe that's me only just with food. Don't worry, I'm not serious, although I've spilled enough stuff on some of my recipe cards that you could give them a lick and know how they'll taste. I'm a good cook, not a neat one.

So what's for supper this week? Something easy. Spring is here and there are lots of things to be done outside. I don't want to spend time cooped up inside in the evening. I want things that are simple or that I can make ahead of time or stick in the crockpot. This will be our week of simple suppers. Enjoy, and go play outside.

I'll post Monday and Tuesday's recipes and then come back tomorrow and post a few more. Oh, I'd better tattle about my diet. Someone asked how it was going. Not that great. I'd really hoped the weight would come right off (after all, it hopped right on), but that would've been too nice. It's staying the same, or going up a pound and then back down. Not what I had in mind. I haven't been the best about sticking to the no flour/no sugar rule. I've been mostly a good girl but I have let it creep in here and there. I'm going to be more diligent about it now and (gulp) try to take the plunge and cut out other carbs as well and see if that makes more of a difference. I say that as I'm fixing Rice Consumme for supper. Do you know how much I love Rice Consumme? Absolutely no family get-together is complete without my Aunt Betty's Rice Consumme. I think I can, I think I can...

Monday--Grilled Sausage, Steamfresh Corn, Rice Consumme, Cheddar Biscuits

Tuesday--Chicken Pecan, Fruit Cup Medley

Wednesday--Cheesy Chili Soup, leftover biscuits, Applesauce

Thursday--Venison Tenderloin, Twice Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Rolls

Friday--Hawaiin Burgers, Frozen French Fries, Salad

Saturday--Homemade Pizza

Sunday--Chicken Salad, Chips, Oranges

Rice Consumme
Did I give y'all this recipe before? I can't remember, but I don't think so. Even if I did, it's so nice I'll print it twice. It's my version of my Aunt Betty's recipe.

1 onion, finely chopped 1/4 c. butter
1 c. rice 2 cans beef consumme

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Saute onion and rice in butter. Combine all ingredients in a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil (this is important). Bake 1 hour.

Cheese Garlic Biscuits
This recipe I got from my Aunt Betty's friend Audrey (guess I've got Betty on the brain today). It tastes a lot like those biscuits at Red Lobster.

2 c. Bisquick 1/4 c. butter, melted
2/3 c. buttermilk 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese parsley flakes

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix Bisquick, buttermilk, and cheddar until a soft dough forms. Beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Mix butter and garlic; brush over warm biscuits. Sprinkle with parsley flakes to garnish. Makes 10-12.

Chicken Pecan
This is one of those new recipes I'm trying. I've got some pecans in the freezer that need using. I got this recipe off a bag of pecans and thought it sounded good.

3 c. cooked chicken, cut in strips 2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. butter 1/2 c. finely chopped celery
2 tsp. chicken bouillon 1/4 c. finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 c. flour 1/2 c. chopped pecans
1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning 4 halves english muffins, toasted
2 c. milk

In a 2 st. saucepan, melt butter. Add bouillon. Blend in flour and poultry seasoning. Gradually add milk and lemon juice; cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in celery, red bell pepper, chicken and pecans. Cook until heated through. Spoon over toasted english muffins. Garnish with pecan halves. Yields 4 servings.

Fruit Cup Medley
Here's another new one for us to try. Fruit, sour cream, can't be bad.

1/2 c. sour cream 1 large banana, sliced
1/2 c. orange juice 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. honey 1 can pineapple chunks, drained
2 c. chopped apples 1/2 c. chopped peanuts

Combine sour cream, orange juice, and honey; chill for 1 hour. Coat apples and bananas with lemon juice, tossing gently. Add pineapple. Spoon fruit into serving dishes and top with sour cream mixture. Yields 6 servings.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flea Market Treasures

Here's the pictures of my big purchase at the flea market. It came out to $2.05. The plates were a dollar a piece. They are to go up on my border of old plates that I have in my entryway.

The other purchase was a pattern from Simplicity that is so sweet. It's called a brunch coat and house dress. I'll be very set for vintage attire if I can just get it to come out right. I am only a fledgling seamstress. But when it was only a nickel and in a size that will fit me, I couldn't pass it up.

The boys also came away with some prizes--bug necklaces from Peru. They're little scorpions and stink bugs encase in resin. I figured you could do without pictures of those.

Ready to sew! I just need a trip to Hobby Lobby for material.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What's for Supper

Hello there! It's another beautiful day here in the South. I'm going to revel in days like these because I know the heat is coming. I have a little squash on the vine in my garden. It's only big enough for Barbie to eat at this point but I'm excited. I love it when the vegetables start coming out. I have a couple of baby tomatoes too. The tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers are all full of blooms. (I'm making myself hungry.)

Speaking of hungry, here's the recipe for supper tonight. Sometimes you need a little something spicy to get you through your week. It's not one I make often, but crave it ever so often. I'm not really a chicken wing kinda girl, but this gives me the same sort of flavor.

Buffalo Shrimp
The recipe calls for fresh shrimp but I'm going to use the frozen, deveined kind to make life easier and save myself a step.

Vegetable oil for frying 1/8 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. butter 12 large uncooked, large shrimp
1/4 c. hot sauce 1 egg, beaten
Dash of black pepper 1/2 c. milk
Dash of garlic powder 1 c. all-purpose flour

Combine butter, hot sauce, and spices in a small pan over low heat. Cut shell off shrimp except for the tails; remove the vein and fan out. Combine egg with milk in a small bowl. Put flour in another bowl. Dredge shrimp, one at a time, in the egg mixture and then in the flour. Put in fridge 10 minutes. Heat the oil to 375 degrees, deep enough to cover the shrimp completely. Fry shrimp for 7 to 10 minutes, until the tails turn brown. Drain on paper towels. Place in a large bowl; add sauce and gently turn to toss.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Few Recipes Might Help

Hi there! We've been outside playing on the swingset. It occurred to me that I hadn't given you the recipes we've talked about for the week. Y'all are gonna fire me. Here's some to get you started.

Anytime Meatballs
I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but I wrote on the card 1998, so you know it's been around awhile. If I'm in a hurry (which I usually am), I skip the first step and just add onion powder or minced onion.

1 Tbsp. olive oil 1 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
3/4 c. chopped onion 1 tsp. seasoning salt
2 lb. ground beef 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. bread crumbs 1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 eggs 1/3 c. ketchup
1/2 c. milk 1/3 c. bbq sauce
1 1/2 tsp. oregano 1/4 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. basil 1 1/2 tsp. vinegar

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Heat olive oil over medium-hi heat. Add onion; saute 10 minutes. Combine next 10 ingredients in a large bowl, add onions. Shape into balls. Bake uncovered 20 minutes. Combine remaining ingredients in a sauce pan on medium heat. Drain grease from meatballs, cover with sauce. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes more.

Crockpot Mac & Cheese
This recipe comes from the pastor's wife at our church. It's always a hit when she takes it to dinners at church and it's very convenient because she can keep it warm in the crockpot. Thanks Sheila.

2 c. macaroni, cooked & drained 3 c. cheddar cheese, grated
3 eggs, beaten 1 c. evaporated milk
1 stick butter

Mix all ingredients, except 1 cup of cheese, together. Pour into crockpot. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook on low 3 hours. See, isn't simple better?

Ham & Cheese Gratin
I'm pretty sure this one came from an old Taste of Home magazine. That is a great source for recipes, and I definitely recommend it to someone just learning how to cook.

1 lb. pasta shells 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (10 oz.) pkg frozen peas 1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 c. heavy cream 1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 c. cooked, cubed, ham 2 Tbsp. bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease casserole dish. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook 8 minutes. Stir in frozen peas; cook 1 minute. Drain. Add remaining ingredients except 2 Tbsp. Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Spoon into dish. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining Parmesan in a small bowl; sprinkle over pasta. Bake 30 minutes.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Making the Wall Hairy and Other Tales from Monday

Leave it to me. I don't think there's anyone else in this world who could try to sweep down a cobweb and end up with a hairy wall! When it comes to quirky, I'm a genius. Let me explain.

Being the Susie Homemaker that I am (well, I must not truly be or else why would I have a cobweb in the first place?), I saw a cobweb over the side door and promptly went to get the broom to sweep it away. I swept and swept and the mess got worse and worse. The more I did the more peculiar it became, because it no longer looked like a cobweb, it looked like hairs on the wall. I turned on another light and, sure enough, it was hair. I was spreading it all over the wall. Thick and furry. If I'd have swept a few more times, I'd have been able to braid it! I stood there VERY puzzled for a minute until I remember that the night before my husband had cut our son's hair and swept up the mess. I guess there was a lot of hair still hiding in those bristles. And my cobweb cleaning frenzy had landed them on the nice green wall. I then went outside and had a broom cleaning frenzy. If it's not one thing, it's a hairy 'nother.

On a saner note, Meredith and I went to the strawberry field down the road and did some picking yesterday. She had a wonderful time getting just the right ones. She's now eaten enough to turn her red. Hopefully she didn't inherit her mother's quirky gene. Although, come to think of it, she is the same girl who sings loudly and dances in the mirrors of the beauty shop when we go get our hair cut. Poor little thing, she's got it after all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Gardening, Good Food, Great Time with Family...the Recipe for a Simply Extraordinary Life

Sweet weekends. This one was filled with all the things I loved. Jack's strep meant cancelling a youth group outing (sorry guys), but it did allow me to have some quiet at-home time with everyone there, which is my very favorite thing. There were lots of little things I wanted to tell you or show you. But, I figured we'd just have one long talk instead a thousand little chats.

I've been busy in the yard with planting and transplanting. My iris FINALLY bloomed. I planted some a couple of years ago, one from a friend and one from my aunt, and they have refused to bloom for me despite my constant pleading. I think they gave in and bloomed because they got tired of me making a fool of myself in the neighborhood by whining to plants. All that anticipation made it even more special when the first one finally did bloom. There's another that is just about ready to open up. I transplanted lots more that I got from my mom's house.

I also rearranged furniture in my workroom (the kids call it the parlor). It houses my desk and papers, crafting supplies, and a little spot I just fixed for visiting and sipping coffee. I'll take a picture of that for another day. Anyway, I moved my desk to a spot under the window and decided to go out and cut some roses to put in the little pitcher that sits on top. I can't remember exactly where I came upon the sweet little vase--Goodwill, yard sale--but, as I was filling it with water, I noticed a label on the bottom that read 'Made Exclusively for You by Judy Purdhom Fitzgerald, Georgia'. I'd just like to say thank you, Ms. Judy Purdhom. I love the things you made and they brighten my day when I look at them.

And, you'll never guess what my husband did for me...he washed all the windows, inside and out. Wasn't that the sweetest? Don't know what got into him, but I wasn't about to stand in his way.

I guess I'd better give you the menus for the week. I do have other things to tell you and show you, like some flea market finds I got (one for a nickel that I'm so excited about) and of a project I want to make. I'd better save those for another post. Here in the south we say, "She talked my ear off," meaning she went on and on. Is it possible to blog your ear off? I could probably come close. Back to recipes.

Monday--Sweet and Sour Chicken (in Betty Crocker cookbook), rice, salad with Mandarin Poppy Seed Dressing (Winn Dixie brand, it's so very yummy)

Tuesday--Anytime Meatballs, Crockpot Mac & Cheese, Carrot Sticks

Wednesday--Ham and Cheese Gratin, Roasted Asparagus, Rolls

Thursday--Buffalo Shrimp, leftover mac & cheese, Salad

Friday--BBQ Sandwiches, Chips, Coleslaw

Saturday--(you guessed it) Homemade Pizza

Sunday--Leftover Buffet (Lay out everything in the fridge and let them go through, fix there plates, and zap it in the microwave)

I'd better go for now. Meredith and I are finally gonna get to go to the strawberry patch. Hope you have a wonderful Monday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Few More from Louise's

A Visit to Mrs. Louise's

I thought today instead of prattling on and on I would simply show you some pictures from my friend Louise's beautiful yard. These are just the tip of the iceberg on the wonderful landscape she has created. And the best thing is, she has a sweet spirit about her that is just as beautiful as all she creates.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paging Dr. Mom

I'm here with a sick boy today. Poor Jack is home with strep. I'm saying a prayer that he doesn't share with the family. Some things are best kept to yourself. So, my last couple of days have been filled doctor visits, antibiotics, and the making of soup and pudding.

I thought I would pass along the recipe for the London Broil I suggested for supper. My sweet sister-in-law Sharon gave this to me a long time ago. It is actually the only way I've found that I like to eat London Broil. It's easily available ingredients that come together to make an extra special marinade. That reminds me, sometime I'll give y'all the recipe for Hawaiin Burgers, but that's for another day.

London Broil Marinade

1/4 c. ketchup 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. mustard 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. white vinegar 1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. cooking oil 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Combine ingredients; pour into a 1 gallon Ziploc bag. Add meat and marinate all day. Grill or broil to desired doneness. Be sure to slice the meat on the diagonal.

Here's another picture from the yard. It's one of my new little Firecracker dahlias.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I Lost My Mind...and Found a Pound

"Pride cometh before a fall", it tells us in the Bible. If only I'd listened. After bragging on losing a pound yesterday, you'll never guess what I did. And after going for two whole weeks with no sugar snacks. I...ate...two pieces of Easter candy. Why!?! What was I thinking?

I was hungry and it just kept calling to me from where I'd stuffed it in my drawer. I succombed to the calling and ate two pieces of pure ping-off-the-wall sugar. I sure did pay for it this morning. Guess who came running back home? Yep, that pound I'd lost.

Oh well, lets move on to happier, and less fattening, thoughts. I thought I'd show y'all a few pictures from the yard. The weather here is absolutely beautiful, and I've been planting vegetables and flowers. Hope your day was full of sunshine and sweetness too.

My happy little bird by the door.

A box full of onions.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Today is a better day! I think I worked the kinks out of my comment problem. Thanks for trying it Rebecca. And when I hopped on the scale this morning, those two and a half pounds (which had no business being there) were gone and they'd taken another one with them. I guess that was their way of making up for causing me distress yesterday. Now my total loss is seven pounds. Hopefully the losses will continue. I think that, after having made a chocolate cake yesterday and not even being tempted to lick the icing spoon, I earned another pound off just for will power.

The menu idea for today is grilled hamburgers and I wanted to pass along my favorite hamburger recipe. It comes out of one of my favorite cookbooks, that's full of great recipes and pictures. It's the Reader's Digest Down Home Cooking the New, Healthier Way. Normally I wouldn't pay too much attention to a healthy cookbook but this one really does have yummy food and it shows you how to make substitutions so that some classic Southern recipes are a little less artery-clogging.

Blue Ribbon Burgers
This recipe calls for refrigerating the meat overnight. I have also used the same recipe and grilled them right away. It'll still taste great, but the longer they can sit, the better they will be.

2 lb. ground beef 1 tsp. lemon pepper
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce 6 hamburgers
1 tsp. hot red pepper sauce hamburger fixings

In a medium-size bowl, mix the beef, Worcestershire, red pepper sauce, and lemon pepper until well blended. Form into six 6-inch patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Preheat the grill or broiler. Grill the patties over medium-hot coals or broil 4 inches from the heat for 4 minutes on each side for medium or until the burgers are the way you like them. Serve on buns with your favorite fixings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

One More Thing

You can tell it's Monday, I forgot to tell you something. There were just too many thoughts from the weekend rumbling in my brain, I didn't get them all out. I have been wanting to do something creative for a while. I have been feeling such an itch to be artsy. The problem is that I always put it off for other more "practical" things. So here's my plan. I'll force myself to do one creative project a week, however simple (remember I'm new at this and go easy on me), and show it on here for you all to see. You can all keep me accountable. And if anyone is interested, they can take this creativity challenge with me and let me know their results. That's it. I think the rumblings have stopped. I won't pester y'all anymore today. Have a great Monday. PC7M5MA9DX7J

Another Week & This Diet Doth Reek

I am so technically challenged! If there were a sign I could post on this blog that said "Techno Idiot", I'd have to do it. Many of you have told me you wanted to post but couldn't get it to work. I think I fixed the problem, but I can't guarantee it. Some brave soul is going to have to try and post a comment again and then let me know how it works.

Apparently this is going to be a week full of challenges. When I hopped on the scale this morning it said I'd GAINED two pounds. Needless to say, the scale and I are no longer on speaking terms. I promise I didn't eat any leftover Easter candy or dive into a box of doughnuts. Oh no, I refrained from all those things. And this is my reward!?! The only thing I know I did differently was to eat out more. It was a crazy week where we ended up eating out a lot more than usual. I tried to make good choices but there was a little flour involved in the pizza I ate from Pizza Hut, although it was a thin crust veggie pizza. Somebody needs to give me a break. Do you hear that scale? No more flour, no more flour, no more flour.

On to happier topics. I did manage to get some new flowers and get them planted (bye, bye procrastination). I'll have to get some pictures of them to show you. I need to get some more pinestraw down in the bed first. That sounds like a job for later today. Home Depot had some really nice looking plants in yesterday. I got a couple of Fireworks dahlias that are so beautiful. I've never planted them before, hopefully they will survive our hot weather.

It is Monday, so that means a new list of menus. I personally am behind on last week's and still need to cook that beef tenderloin. Here is what's cooking at my house:

Monday--Fiesta Chicken, Yellow Rice, Salad

Tuesday--Grilled Hamburgers, Oven Fries, Fruit Salad

Wednesday--BLT Sandwiches (sorry it's a quickie, I've got PTO), chips

Thursday--London Broil, Western Potatoes, Carrot Coin Casserole (you know I've got lots of carrots to use)

Friday--Grilled Sausage, Pasta Side, Green Beans

Saturday--Homemade Pizza

Sunday--Pork Chop Casserole, Brown Rice, Leftover Vegetables

Here is the recipe for today's chicken dish. I don't remember where I got this one, but I've had it for years. I need to start keeping track of that better.

Fiesta Chicken
You'll probably want to use the mild Rotel if you have little kids or someone with stomach issues, otherwise it's a little spicy. If you don't like spicy at all, you could use diced tomatoes instead. The chicken breasts are boneless and skinless.

1/4 c. flour 2 cans Rotel (undrained)
1/4 tsp. salt 4 green onions. sliced
1/4 tsp. pepper 1 (2 1/4 oz.) can sliced olives, drained
6 chicken breasts sour cream
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil cheddar cheese, grated

Combine flour, salt and pepper in a bowl. Roll chicken in flour. Brown chicken in heated oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add Rotel, onions, and olives; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Serve over yellow rice and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Serve sour cream on the side.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Junkin' in the Country

This morning I braved the pollen and went out to an estate sale in the country. I'm paying for it now with my allergies, but the drive was worth it. I love being in the middle of nowhere, especially when it ends with some treasures. They had some nice things, but the only things I just couldn't live without were five pairs of shoes (that fit me perfectly and were only $2 a pair)and an old minnow bucket. I don't know why I just had to have the bucket. There's something so attractive to me about old metal. I never said I was normal!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

this, that, and some puddin'

This week has not been kind to me on the scale. I haven't gained anymore, but I haven't lost a pound. After losing six pounds last week, it has been discouraging. I've got one of those Weight Watcher scales that measures down to tenths of pounds and I have lost eight-tenths of a pound, but that isn't a lot of comfort. I have been being such a good girl too. Even when they had spaghetti, I didn't have any. I didn't touch one crumb of the cake from Easter. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

There is one bright spot in these diet doldrums to report. I made a new best friend at the grocery store yesterday. Well, not literally, but to this sweets-deprived girl, it's pretty close. I discovered a new kind of pudding. Jello makes this sugar free, fat free kind called Cheesecake pudding. Now it doesn't taste much like cheesecake to me, but it's very yummy. It does taste a lot like the cake batter icecream I like at Bruster's.

Since I'm already talking about food, I might as well give you some recipes. I've been so busy talking about everything else this week I forgot to do it earlier. The one for the Country-Fried Steak is one of our favorites, a good Southern comfort food. The recipe for the chicken is one I am trying for the first time. I cut it out of a Family Circle magazine. I've got some buttermilk I need to use. I'll let you know how it turns out. Hope you enjoy.

Country-Fried Steak

1 1/2 tsp. salt, divided 1/8 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. pepper, divided 1 c. water
1 1/2 lb. cubed steak vegetable oil
1 3/4 c. flour, divided 1 (14.5 oz) can chicken stock

Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. of salt and pepper over steaks. In one bowl stir together remaining salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and 1 1/2 c. flour. In another bowl stir baking soda into water. Dip each steak into water, then dredge in flour. Pour 1/2" of oil in a heavy skillet; heat to 360 degrees. Fry steaks 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain steaks on a paper towel. Drain oil, reserving 2 Tbsp. drippings and bits. Into drippings, whisk 1/2 tsp. pepper and 1/4 c. flour. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat for one minute. Whisk in broth, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Serve with steaks. Serves 4-6

Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken
from Family Circle, The recipe calls for 2 chickens cut into 8 serving pieces each, I'd rather just use chicken breasts, so that's what I put on the recipe.

1 c. buttermilk 1 tsp. black pepper
8 chicken breasts (or pieces) 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt 3 c. solid vegetable shortening

Combine buttermilk and chicken, coating each piece. Stir together flour, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika on waxed paper. One piece at a time, drain from buttermilk and roll in seasonings. Using two skillets, place 1 1/2 c. shortening in each. Heat over med-hi until it reaches 360 degrees. (If it starts to smoke, turn the heat down.) Carefully place chicken in skillets and cover. Cook, covered, about 22 minutes or until brown and crispy, turning chicken several times. Transfer to paper towels. Gently blot off excess fat.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Riley and the One-Eyed Cat

Late yesterday afternoon when the kids were playing outside, a cat wandered into the yard. It was a pretty grey striped cat with white feet. The thing that was different about it was that it only had one eye. We couldn't tell if it had lost it in a fight or if it had been born that way, but it was definitely a one-eyed cat.

Riley, Meredith and their friend Matthew watched the cat and called to it from its spot under the truck. They came in, fixed a bowl of water, and put it on the front porch. The cat then took to meowing loudly at my front door. We dug around and found some cat food and Riley presented it to his new friend who he'd started calling Patch. Patch proceeded to gobble up the food and trot off on his way.

I don't know if there's some animal soup kitchen hotline, but let me just mention this is the second animal that's done this to us. Last week it was the biggest bassett hound I'd ever seen. So when this fella did the same eat-and-run routine, I wasn't too surprised. My sweet son, however, was utterly heartbroken.

He came in the house just sobbing, with tears streaming down. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened. (I was still blanching carrots.) I didn't understand why it had upset him so much because he's more of a dog person. My other son Jack is the one who loves cats. But Riley was heartbroken because he had wanted to love and keep the one-eyed cat, because of the fact that he had one eye. He said, "Mama, I just wanted to love him and take care of him because nobody else is gonna want him with that one eye. They'll run away from him and not feed him. I don't want him to be alone."

We talked about how maybe he'd be back since we'd showed him kindness, about how maybe we were only supposed to help him on his way. But I was very touched by his tenderness. It was a reminder to me to take time to show kindness, to love what is unlovely, to look for opportunities to share comfort. You too. There may be no one-eyed cats in your future, but I guarantee there will be some rather unattractive personalities that cross your path. Take time to share a little love with them too, because nobody else is gonna want to.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

50 Pounds of Carrots and a Deer Named LeeRoy

Yesterday was full of surprises, one of which was my mom and my younger son Riley going to a local farm and getting a fifty pound bag of carrots. Those are just a few of them in the picture. I have a feeling we'll be eating carrots for a loooooong time! If anyone has any great recipes using carrots they'd like to share, just send them my way. After I finish posting this message, I'm off to the kitchen to begin putting away some carrots. I absolutely love that sort of thing--picking fruits and vegetables, making jelly, freezing or canning. I had a message that the strawberry field opened today, so that's where I'll be off to later in the week.

The other surprise from yesterday was a new addition to my decor. My husband's deer head arrived. He decided this past year to take up hunting and got a deer on his first try. My freezer is full of deer sausage, deer steaks, deer tenderloin. Now his trophy has finally arrived and made his way into my living room (at least until the new wears off). I have been officially bubbafied. We've taken to calling him LeeRoy and he keeps an eye on the front door to see who's coming. Oh, the things you do for the people you love.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Menus and a Little Bit More

It's a new day, a new week of menus for those who are interested, and a newfound strength in the diet war. And hopefully, it'll also be a day for planting some new flowers if the pollen will leave me alone!

After a very nice Easter, I am pleased to report that I managed to lose another pound. That's six pounds since I started this blog last week. I've got to admit it was incredibly hard not to eat any of the cakes or candies. That little voice in my head kept saying, "Just one little slice" and "You can have just one piece of candy, it's your favorite and you didn't get any last year." That little voice and I went round and round yesterday but I finally managed to kick it out the door. So today I feel like I've climbed a mountain. I made it through my first holiday without caving and I feel better for it.

Now lets look at what I will eat this week. It's actually what my family will eat, because not all of the things on the menus are on my diet. I'll just smile and think skinny thoughts while they eat the macaroni and cheese.

Monday--Spaghetti, Salad, Crusty French Bread
Tuesday--Country-Fried Steaks with Gravy, Rice, Buttered Peas
Wednesday--Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Crockpot Mac & Cheese, Carrots
Thursday--Sausage Pie, Corn, Jello Salad
Friday--Beef with Red Wine Sauce, Rice Consumme, Mixed Vegetables
Saturday--Homemade Pizza
Sunday--Ham & Scalloped Potato Casserole, Leftover Veggies, Rolls

For the spaghetti, tonight's just going to be a quickie. That means boiling some angel hair pasta and a jar of spahetti sauce with parmesan and mozarella sprinkled on top. I'll add a little oregano and basil from the garden. I will, however, make my own bread. I'm not sure where I found this recipe but I've had it for years. When you make this, the house smells like a bakery. Yummy. Plus, you don't have to knead, I like that.

Crusty French Bread

1 Tbsp. yeast 2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. warm water 1 Tbsp. shortening, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar 4 c. all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in 1/2 c. warm water. Add sugar, salt, shortening, and remaining water; stir until dissolved. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Do not knead. Cover and let rise one hour until doubled. Turn onto a floured surface. Divide in half; let rest 10 minutes. Roll each half into a 10"x8" rectangle. Roll up from the long side; pinch to seal. Place seam side down on a greased baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle tops with cornmeal. Cover and let rest until doubled, about 45 minutes. Make 5 diagonal slits in loaves. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Bumble Bee

After we got home from church this morning, the kids went digging in the costume drawer and pulled out the bumble bee outfit and proceeded to wear it for most of the day. Meredith buzzed all around the house and out in the yard despite the warm weather. It was rather puzzling to me. What in the world made her want to be a bee on Easter? I don't really know the answer to that, but it did get me thinking. Every time she "flew" past me it reminded me of something I'd read.

I Corinthians 15:55-57 says, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." On this Easter Sunday as we pause to think on all Christ has done for us, it is a good thing to remember that death has lost its sting. Maybe an Easter bumble bee is not such a bad idea. We might even have to pull that costume out again next year!

Friday, April 2, 2010


All right, I have to make an admission. We went out to eat supper last night at Atlanta Bread Co. I know, how can a girl on a No Flour/No Sugar diet go to a place with bread in the name? The answer is, kids eat free on Thursday nights. I was feeling very proud of myself because I ordered the french onion soup in a regular bowl instead of the bread bowl and I even gave Jack my piece of bread that came on the side. I was smugly eating away, feeling thinner by the moment, when I realized it had pieces of bread in it. Why didn't I remember that part? Oh well. At least I am admitting my mistake. It just didn't seem right not to confess it. I've not lost any weight today but I won't complain about losing four pounds in a week.

We now have a ham for Easter. The one our family likes best is the Sam's Choice Double Glazed Brown Sugar that you can get at Walmart. I'm pretty picky about ham and have tried more expensive ones, but that one from Walmart is hard to beat. My asthma has forced me into hibernation so I don't know how much Easter celebrating I'm going to get to do this year. But I will pass along a yummy dessert recipe to make your celebration extra special.

Five Layer Strawberry Pie

This recipe makes a large pan full, so it's great to take along for a big family dinner or to a church function. It's also one that you make early in the day or the day before. Here, strawberries are starting to come into season, so it's the right time to give this recipe a try.

1/2 c. butter, melted 1 lg box instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 1 qt. chopped strawberries
1 c. finely chopped pecans 3/4 c. sugar
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 c. powdered sugar 1 1/2 c. water
2 c. Cool Whip 1 small box strawberry Jello

Mix flour, butter and pecans. Spread in a 13x9 glass dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; cool completely. Mix cream cheese and sugar; fold in Cool Whip. Spread the Cool Whip mixture over the pecan crust. Mix pudding according to package directions; spread over Cool Whip layer. Layer on strawberries. Combine remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil for one minute; cool. Pour over strawberries. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.