Sunday, December 21, 2014

Relax everyone...you are not as behind as you think......

I listen to people.  I read their frantic posts.  I go back and read my posts and I listen to the words I speak to those I meet.


We are all in a tizzy here.  We are all freaking out because Christmas is 4 days away!!!  And we are not ready.  The gifts are not bought.  The house is not decorated.  The cookies are not baked.  The menu isn't decided.  And Christmas is in 4 short days!




And then I listen again.  I listen to the words of our Lord, whose birthday we are celebrating and I hear.  "Peace, my child".



And then it dawns on me....maybe this worry, this turmoil, this franticocity (?) is not because my house isn't ready or my presents are not bought.  Maybe it has nothing to do with the food for our bodies upon which I have not yet prepared or decided.  Perhaps it is my heart and soul that is not ready.  Maybe I need to breathe and prepare the way for our Lord.  Maybe I need to feed my soul.


Christmas is not over and done with in 4 days from now.  In 4 days from now we celebrate the birth of our Lord and then we (should) continue the celebration until the Epiphany on January 6th.  We are not behind!!!  We still have more than 2 weeks before Christmas is over.


So, I am going to remember....in between my shopping and cleaning and baking and cooking....to breathe.  To take some time each day to spend a few moments with my Lord and Savior, in prayerful gratitude that I have so little to worry about in my life that I can get stressed to the max over these minor little details.


I have no illness in my family to worry about this year.  I have not suffered any deaths of immediate family members this year. I have food on the table.  I have a new life to celebrate this year.  I have enough resources that I can buy things for people that they don't need because they have enough resources.  I have a wonderful husband that I admire, great children of whom I can be very proud, siblings that are always there for me and the best friends any person could hope to have in their life.


So, why then, should I allow Satan to insinuate himselp into my happy life?  Through media that tries to tell us that love is shown, not by how you treat people throughout the entire year but by how much money you spend on them this one day of the year.  Through fear and hatred as people argue over whether this should be Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa or any other greeting that is simply supposed to spread love and cheer.  Through insecurities and fear as we live (or refuse to live) with others who are of a different race or color or religion.  Yes, Satan is alive and strong but we can be stronger with the help of our Lord and that is what I am going to concentrate on this season.


As I finish this post I would like to wish each and every one of you that stop by here a Happy, Peaceful, Joyful Life. Regardless of which holiday you enjoy or if you don't acknowledge any at all. Regardless of where you were born.  Regardless of the color of your skin or the style of your dress. Regardless of economical and social standing.  Regardless if you wish the same for me.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Whew!! Glad this week is finally over...Here's the Weekly Menu

This has been a very crazy week but I got everything accomplished.  Today we will distribute the Christmas Baskets at the Food Pantry.  I will get there at 10 and distribution is from 12-3 and then I am done with the food pantry until next year.

I had the ham bone left from Mom's Birthday Celebration, so tonight for Soup Saturday we are having Split Pea with Ham.

Tomorrow we are singing at Mass in the morning and then we have our  Choir Advent Concert in the afternoon.  There is a reception following and we are each to bring a dessert.  I am bringing my Chocolate Chip Bundt that I made for National Bundt Cake Day and stored in the freezer.  After the concert and reception we will be going out for dinner.

Monday, we are hosting the choir Christmas Party at our house.  It is a potluck dinner.  I am making Turkey and Stuffing.

Try it Tuesday I am making something with whatever is left over from the party so make sure you come back to see what I decide.

Christmas Eve we are spending with Frank's family at his brother's house and then we will sing at Midnight Mass.

Christmas Day we host a large open house at our home.  I will be posting the menu early this week.

On Friday, Chuck has invited people over to celebrate Christmas with him while he is home.  I think we are just ordering a giant sub.  Perhaps I will make some salads if I am not too exhausted from our Christmas celebrations.

I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday to those who celebrate something other than Christmas.  Please stop back during the week for photos and recipes and join up with us at MPM for many more Holiday Menus.


Saturday
Split Pea Soup with Ham

Sunday
Dinner out

Monday
Roast Turkey and Dressing

Try it Tuesday
I will be as surprised as you

Christmas Eve
Dinner at Dan and Rebecca's

Christmas Day
Menu to be posted

Friday
Ordering a Giant Sub for Christmas Gathering

Friday, December 19, 2014

Oh, Come Let Us Adore Him.

Today is 5 Minute Friday, hosted by Kate who asks us this week to take just 5 minutes out of our super busy schedules and breathe.....and write.  Write as if no one were reading it.  Write what is on your mind and heart.  Worry not about grammar or punctuation.  Just close your eyes, take a cleansing breath, think about the prompt and what it means to you.....and then....write.


Today's prompt is ADORE.

Start

Fall on your knees...oh hear the angel's voices...

These are the words that came to my mind upon the prompt adore.

It is Advent....in a few days it will be Christmas...

This is the time, given to us by the church, to prepare ourselves for the birth of our Lord.  To prepare ourselves to adore and glorify him.  This is the time given to us by the media and the businesses to prepare to stress out and spend lots of money.  I don't adore that and I don't know why we allow them to get in the way of our adoration of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who is born to us next week to redeem each and every one of us.  You know why??  Because He adores us!  He loves us more than we can ever imagine.  I a few short months we will celebrate just how much He loves us as we watch Him die for us upon that cross.

That, my friends, is the real reason we celebrate His birth.  A birth that would mean nothing if not for the death that is to follow.

Stop

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fudgy Peppermint Bundt for #BundtBakers

It is time once again for #BundtBakers.  This is a fun group of people who get together each month and share bundt cakes that we have made or created based on a theme chosen by our host.  Our host this month is Laura of  The Spiced Life.  Laura is a SAHM who, like me, loves to cook and bake and blog about it.  Also like me she lives in the middle of nowhere.  It takes us both about 45 minutes to get to what Laura calls "civilization" and what I call the "rat trap".  We are neighbors, Laura lives in Ohio but bleeds Maize and Blue for my State's Wolverines....so you know right there that she has excellent taste LOL.  To further prove her excellent taste Laura chose "Mint" as this month's Christmassy theme.  Thanks Laura, for hosting us this month.  We know it is a lot of hard work and we appreciate it.



This month's timing was perfect for me because over the weekend we celebrated Mom's 94th Birthday.  This Fudgy Peppermint Bundt was perfect as Mom's birthday cake.  I also made some Fudgy Pepperming Cupcakes to go along with it since all the great grandkids were there to celebrate with Great Grandma.  Guess who else showed up?   The old man himself....Santa Claus.....he comes each year to help Mom celebrate.



I found this recipe for Fudgy Peppermint Bundt Cake on Pillsbury. com.  I decided this would make a great cake for Mom's 94th Birthday Party.

Then, as we were getting ready for the party we ran into several road blocks that you can read about here.  So when I went to the grocery store to get everything I needed for the party, I came across this cake mix with the fudgy center included.  So in the interest of time and my sanity, I picked up 2 packages.  One that I made into a bundt and the other that I made into cupcakes for Mom's great grandchildren.  I added peppermint extract to the fudgy filling and I made a glaze to go over the bundt and frosting to go onto the  cupcakes.  Then I sprinkled them all with some crushed candy canes.



I am almost embarrassed to put the recipe on here but since that is the whole point of #BundtBakers, I guess I have no choice.

Fudgy Peppermint Bundt Cake 
adapted from Pillsbury

1 pkg. Fudge Truffle cake mix and ingredients called for on the package
1/2 t. peppermint extract
2 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. powdered sugar
2 T. milk
1 candy cane, finely crushed

Make the cake mix according to package directions.  Make the filling according to directions adding the peppermint extract along with the wet ingredients.  Bake as directed on package.

When cake is cool.  Mix together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and milk.  Drizzle over the top of the cake.  Sprinkle with the crushed candy cane.  Print Recipe

Make sure you stop by and see what everyone else found to share for this Minty Christmas Challenge!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Another gift of wine

We must be winos oenophiles.  We recieve lots of wine as gifts.  Nearly everyone that comes to our parties, arrives with a bottle to present as a hostess gift.  We often recieve very nice bottles of wine from family and friends for special occasions.  We have been given gift certificates to stay at wineries that have inns or B&B's.  We have been gifted corkscrews, wine stoppers, wine glasses, wine markers, ornaments depicting wine, tiles depicting wine, books about wine, magazines about wine. We are collectors of all things wine....except for wine itself.  It never lasts long enough to become a collection!!

oe·no·phile
ˈēnəˌfīl/
noun
  1. a connoisseur of wines.

Wino is a slang term for a person who drinks excessive amounts of wine.

Hmmmmmmm, I guess it's going to depend on who you ask LOL!!

We were very excited when we found out a couple of weeks ago that our daughter, Nicole, was moving back to Michigan from Florida.  We were even more excited when she ws sent home for a few days this week in order to find a place to live when she is transferred back.  We didn't think we were going to get to see her at all over the holidays and were going to try to fly to see her in January but now she will be home the first week of Feruary!

She and Pierre took time from their house hunting to meet us for lunch on Monday.  After lunch, we exchanged gifts and one of the gifts they presented to us was a wonderful selection of Bordeaux Wines from 6 different wineries, all of which are Gold Medal winners.  We usually drink California Cabs so having all these wonderful French Bordeaux is a real treat.  I cannot wait to do some Food and Wine pairing with them!!


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Try it Tuesday Turkey Meatloaf ala A Christmas Story for Food n Flix

Our Food n Flix feature to watch this month was the very apropos "A Christmas Story".  This is not one of my favorite Christmas movies but I had watched bits and pieces of it and had laughed out loud at it so I was not disappointed with the choice and actually looking forward to watching it in it's entirety.


Food‘nFlix


Our host for this month is Heather of Girlichef.  Heather attended Michigan State which is where our eldest daughter began her college career later switching to Walsh College of Business.  Heather is very passionate about food.  I agree with her that it encompasses all of your senses and fulfills you body, mind and soul.  Thanks, Heather, for hosting this month and picking such a fun movie to share.


This movie was about a family in the 40's  with a Dad who appearred gruff but wanted nothing more than his family's happiness.  A mom who worked hard to keep them all happy and worried continuously about their well being and two kids who as kid's are apt to do....mess up occasionally and want all their Christmas Dreams to come true.

The narrator of the story, 9 year old Ralphie, dreams of getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas and his Dad makes sure that dream comes true.  Ralphie runs out to try his new gun and breaks his glasses.  When he comes in with a marvelous story to tell his mother, the back door is left open and dogs come into the kitchen and eat the Turkey that was planned for Christmas dinner.  The family ends up at a Chinese restaurant where they are presented a roasted duck, Chinese style with the head still attached.  When the owner sees that this upsets them, he disposes of the head by cutting it off....right at the dinner table.

There were many family meals in this movie, breakfast featuring oatmeal. Dinner featuring meatloaf, mashed potatoes and red cabbage.  In fact, I think they had meatloaf and red cabbage nearly every night LOL.  Christmas Eve dinner was, of course, suposed to be Turkey but ended up being Chinese dinner in a restaurant.  Life was good though because, after all, Christmas is about love and being with family and that was exactly how it turned out.

I decided to go with the Meatloaf theme because it's December.  Life is busy.  Food is plentiful and fancy.  Not to mention rich and calorie laden.  So the thought of a homey, comfort dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes appealed to me.  And we like red cabbage around here so I made that too.  You can find my recipe for Sweet and Sour Cabbage here.



I chose to make a turkey meatloaf to try to make it a little healthier but, hey, it is meatloaf after all, not salad LOL.  But it made a wonderful, cozy meal to relax and enjoy during all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season.



The meatloaf recipe is adapted from one by Ina Garten as in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.  I cut down the ingredients quite a bit because Ina's served 10 people and called for 5 lbs of meat.  I usually allow 1/3 lb of meat per person and we were feeding 6 of us so I used 3 lbs of meat and will have leftovers.  I also did not read the recipe completely before starting it so I did not saute the onions first. I was out of chicken stock so I moistened it with water and instead of topping it with ketchup I used some Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup that was in my fridge.  It turned out wonderfully.



Turkey Meatloaf
Adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

3 lbs. Ground Turkey
1/2 of a med sweet onion, finely diced
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t. dried thyme, crushed
2 T. worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. water
1 t. tomato paste
1 c. dry bread crumbs
2 eggs
3/4 c. Cherry Chipotle Not Ketchup (or regular ketchup)

Combine all ingredients except ketchup, mixing thoroughly.  Press into an 8" x 4" cake pan. Spread Not Ketchup or Ketchup on top and bake at 325* for 1 1/2 hrs or until an internal temperature of 160* is reached.  Print Recipe









3rd Annual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap

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This year I joined with Julie of White Lights on Wednesday for her Annual Christmas Cookie Recipe Swap.  In this swap we are assigned a partner.  We send our partner one of our tried and true cookie recipes and they return the favor.  We make the recipe that we receive and blog about it.  All of the blogs, from all of the participants, are then linked together for one big Cookie Party.

I was assigned Nina of Crazy for Cookies and More.  Pretty lucky to be assigned a blogger who named a her blog about being crazy for cookies, wasn't I?  Well, my luck did not stop there!!  The recipe that Nina chose to share with me was one that she created for a contest at her County Fair scoring a runner up ribbon in 2011. Like I said....it was a lucky day when I was given Nina as a partner in this swap.  Make sure you stop by her site and check out all the wonderful recipes.  This was not the only recipe that has won for Nina, she has several!!

I shared with Nina my recipe for Pumpkin Spice Blossoms that I created for #PumpkinWeek this year.  I hope she enjoys them as much as we did.

Looking over the recipe, I could immediately see why Nina's cookie placed in the competition.  They are filled with coconut, white chocolate chips, toffee bits and pecans.  Doesn't your tummy growl just reading that??

I made these cookies with a few slight adaptations.  The original recipe called for a small package of Coconut Cream Instant Pudding.  I couldn't find any at my local grocer but I did find a "Mounds" Instant Pudding (Dark Chocolate with Coconut) that I substituted with great results.  I also omitted the nuts...I love them but Frank doesn't care for nuts in his cookies so in the interest of marital harmony I left them out.  Other than those minor changes I made the recipe as written and all I can say is that I am surprised that it only won runner up because these are definitely First Place, Blue Ribbon Worthy Cookies.  In fact, that is what I am naming them!!


Frank enjoyed some cookies and milk when he came in from putting up Christmas lights.
These cookies are like eating a little piece of heaven.


A dozen got packaged up for Tingting to take home with her.
The rest went into my Christmas Cookie Jar.


Little Miss Melody says "Hey, wait a minute, I don't want to wait until next year to eat cookies!"
Thank you so much Nina, for the wonderful recipe.
I think they are going to make frequent appearances in our kitchen!!


Blue Ribbon Worthy Cookies
adapted from White Chocolate, Coconut, Toffee Cookies by Crazy for Cookies and More

2 1/4 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 sm pkg Mounds Instant Pudding
2 eggs
2 t. vanilla
3/4 c. shredded coconut
1 (11 oz) bag white chocolate chips
1 (8 oz) bag toffee bits

Preheat oven to 350*.  Sift together flour, soda and baking powder in a small bowl. Set aside.  In large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars.  Beat in the instant pudding.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Gradually beat in the flour mixture until combined. Turn speed to low and stir in the coconut, white chips and toffee bits.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove to wire rack for cooling.