Monday, March 31, 2014

It must be Monday

I know today must be Monday because there are Muffins in the oven.  Today I adapted a recipe from "Food to Live By".  It is by Earthbound Organic Farms and it is one of my go to cookbooks.

Another way I know it is Monday is because Nancy called in sick today and it worked out okay because my schedule is normally clear on Mondays.  The rest of the week can be a problem for me if Nancy can't make it but Mondays are okay.

Yesterday I got a phone call from my son, Chuck's, friend Camie.  Camie is in the Navy with Chuck and shared an apartment with him while they were both stationed in VA.  Camie has been transferred to MD now but she called to let me know that she is in Michigan.  YAY!!!  She, her sister, brother in law and new little nephew will be joining us for dinner on Tuesday so I had to add another entree so that I will have enough food.  You can see the adjusted Weekly Menu here.

So today will be spent catching up on some laundry, starting packing for our trip and hanging with Mom.  I am happy to share our Monday Morning Muffins with you.

Carrot Muffins
adapted from Food to Live By

2 c. unbleached, all purpose flour
2 c. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. canola oil
2 t. vanilla
1 lb carrots
1 cup raisins

Place all dry ingredients in the large bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Turn the mixer on the lowest setting and combine dry ingredients.  Add remaining ingredients and mix at low speed just until combined.  Using a half cup scoop fill 18 muffin tins that have been treated with baking spray.  Bake at 375* for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Print Recipe

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Something about the Spring

Here in our neck of the woods it still isn't feeling much like Spring outside.  There is still ice on the ponds and snow on the ground.  I am hoping that when we get back from our vacation Spring has sprung with full force.
Until then I have decided to bring some Spring into my house.

Yes, it might be a little too early to start decorating for Easter but I am ready for some Springtime feelings!!

Welcome Dinner with Changes

This is the original Menu.

The first change I made was to the Roasted Beets.  I could not find any Yellow Beets at the store so now we are having Roasted Beets and Carrots.

The second change I made was to the White Chocolate Mousse.  I forgot to buy the white chocolate so now we are having Parfaits made with Tapioca Cream and Strawberries.

The third change I made was to the soup.  It is too early in the season for Fava Beans but I did find some frozen Soy Beans so I am using those in place of the Fava Beans.

For the first course I served Scallops over a Pea Puree.  I had this at a restaurant once and think I replicated it pretty well.  

Seared Sea Scallops over Pea Puree
1 (14 oz) bag frozen sweet peas
1.5 c. chicken broth
1 clove garlic
1 t. olive oil
3 mint leaves
1 t. lemon
salt and pepper to taste
3 Sea Scallops per person.
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves

Place the peas, broth, garlic, olive oil, mint and lemon in a food processor and puree. Place in a small saucepan and cook until softened and smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

While pea puree is cooking.  Dry the scallops on both sides with paper towel and season liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large fry pan.  Sear the scallops on both sides until they are golden brown and just firm to the touch, about 3 minutes per side.

Place the pea puree on plates and top with 3 sea scallops.  Sprinkle with chopped Parsley and serve. 

Next is the soup course.  I adapted this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook.

Soy Bean and Farfalle Soup
adapted from Williams Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook

1 lb. Frozen Soy Beans (Edamame)
6 oz. Farfalle (Bow tie) Noodles
1 T. lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
Parmesan Cheese for Serving

In a large pot, bring the Chicken Stock to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook for 9-12 minutes or until al dente.
Add the soy beans and lemon.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Print Recipe

The salad course is just mixed baby greens with dried fruits and crumbled goat cheese that I am tossing with Vidalia Onion Dressing from Tastefully Simple.

The Entree included Filet Mignon with Cabernet Jus.  You can find the recipe here.  I am including the recipe for my make ahead Garlic Mashed Potatoes and the Roasted beets and Carrots that I adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. Red Skin Potatoes
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/4 stick butter
3 oz. Neufchatel cream cheese
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. half and half
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. parmesan cheese

Place whole, unpeeled potatoes and the smashed garlic in a large pot and cover with cold water.  Add several pinches of kosher salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, 20-30 minutes.

While potatoes are cooking.  Place the butter, cream cheese, cream and half and half into a saucepan and heat gently until cheese and butter are melted.

When potatoes and garlic are tender place in the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Mix at low speed just until potatoes start to break up.  Add warmed cream and cheese mixture and mix just until combined.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Place potatoes in a casserole and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. When ready to serve place in a 350* oven for 30 minutes or until warmed through and browned on top.   Print Recipe

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Balsamic Glaze
adapted from Williams Sonoma Complete Seasonal Cookbook

1.5 lbs. beets
1 lb. carrots
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. vinegar
3 T. packed brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Scrub beets removing stems but leaving skin and root end intact.  Peel carrots.  Place the beets and whole carrots in a baking dish.  Pour the water and olive oil over all and toss to coat.  Cover with foil and roast at 400* for 45 min to an hour, or until the vegetables are easily pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven, uncover and let cool for about 10 minutes.  Peel the beets and cut into thin slices.  Cut the carrots on the diagonal into 3 or for pieces.  

Place the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar into a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue boiling for about 10 seconds, reduce heat.  Add the beets and carrots, tossing to coat with the glaze and cook for a few minutes until warmed through.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

And the finale is a Tapioca Cream and Strawberry Parfait.

Tapioca Cream and Strawberry Parfaits

2.5 c. strawberries
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. cherry kirsch

Puree 2 cups strawberries, sugar an kirsch in a food processor.  Transfer to a bowl.  Slice remaining strawberries and add to puree, set aside.

1 egg, separated
6 T. sugar, divided
3 T. Minute Tapioca
1 cup heavy cream
1 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Beat egg white in medium bowl with electric mixer until foamy.  Add 3 T. sugar, one at a time and beating until soft peaks form.  Set aside.

Mix tapioca, remaining 3 T. sugar, cream, milk and egg yolk in a medium saucepan.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil.  

Remove from heat and quickly stir in the egg white mixture and the vanilla until well blended. Cool for 20 minutes.

Spoon some puree into the bottom of a parfait glass, add a layer of tapioca cream, a layer of strawberries and finish with the tapioca cream.  You will have enough for 6 parfaits.  Chill until ready to serve. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Family Weekend and the Weekly Menu

Today we are having a dinner for Tingting's future in-laws.  I have a special menu that I am making.  We are looking forward to welcoming them into our family.

Tomorrow night we are going to Frank's sister's house.  Mom Klik wants to make us all dinner, so the whole family will be there.

Monday I will be making Vegetable Ndiwo from Malawi.  It is a CRS Rice Bowl Recipe and part of our Lenten Journey.

Tuesday I am trying a new recipe that I found on pinterest by The Recipe Critic.

Wednesday I will be using the rest of my whole chicken to make Chicken Noodle Soup.  We will have this for dinner and then Ting will have leftovers for while we are gone.

Thursday we are Grand Cayman Bound...........YAY.

So here is the weekly menu.  Please stop by each day for recipes and photos.  Looking forward to sharing them with you.

Welcome Dinner-See Full Menu or See Adjusted Menu and Recipes

Dinner by Mom Klik

Vegetable Ndiwo
Steamed Rice

Baked Honey Sesame Chicken
Celery Steak
Steamed Rice
Garlic Green Beans

Chicken Noodle Soup
Beer Bread

That's it for this week and next folks.  I will be in Grand Cayman scuba diving.  I will be in touch with lots of dive pics and info about my trip and maybe even the food I am eating but I won't be posting any recipes until
April 12th!!!!  Of course there will still be many menus available at Menu Plan Monday so make sure to stop in and visit them.

Woooohooooooooo, Sunshine and 80* here we come!!!!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Easy Easter Cookies

Yesterday was a busy day.  I took Mom Klik to the doctor and then we went out to lunch, Dick and Jackie joined us for dinner and I had choir practice.

I also planned a dinner for tomorrow night.  We are having Tingting's future father in law and his wife over to meet them. Today was spent getting the supplies for dinner and prepping what I could ahead of time.  Tamie was here to clean so I only need to set the table and decorate a bit.

After that running around I made cookies for the church fish fry tonight.  I have chosen to make some cookies from a recipe posted by my friend, Amy, who blogs over at Amy's Cooking Adventures.  She calls these cookies "The Best Cookies Ever" and she adapted it from a recipe found at Two Peas in Their Pod.  I will be adapting it slightly to make it more of an Easter cookie.

We are actually going to attend the fish fry tonight, I think this is going to be the only one we will be able to attend this year so I decided to go there in lieu of making the fish dinner from the Philippines that was featured this week on the CRS Rice Bowl.

I think I will call these cookies that I adapted from Amy's Cooking Adventures, that she adapted from Two Peas in their Pod, "Easy Easter Cookies". (Got all that??)  I hope you enjoy them.

I decided to put Spring Sprinkles inside the cookies instead of the candies
And they were cute but not quite as festive as I hoped.

So I added some frosting and some more sprinkles.
You can never have too many sprinkles!

Easy Easter Cookies
adapted from Amy's Cooking Adventures

1 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 (3.4 oz) pkg. instant vanilla pudding 
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
2 1/4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
3/4 c. Spring Sprinkles plus additional sprinkles for on top
Cookie Icing (store bought or homemade, I cheated today and used store bought)

Beat the butter and sugars in the large bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, until smooth and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add vanilla.  

Gradually add the dry ingredients using low setting on mixer until combined.  Stir in the sprinkles.

Using a small scoop, approx. 2 t., place dough on parchment lined cookie sheets and bake in a preheated oven at 350* for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from baking sheet onto cooling racks.  When cookies are cooled, ice and sprinkle with additional sprinkles.  Print Recipe

Here I Come to Save the Day

Wow, it seems like I just finished my last Five Minute Friday and here I am again.  Time certainly does fly around here.

The prompt for today's 5 minute writing is Mighty.


The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the word Mighty was Mighty Mouse.

I am really dating myself here.  Mighty Mouse was a cartoon that I watched fifty some years ago.  His motto was "Here I come to save the day".  He sang it and every time I think or say it, it is with the tune rattling around in my brain.

Mighty Mouse was one of many tv heroes when I was a kid.  It was all tv then, all make believe.  Except for maybe Milky the Clown who had a live audience.  Now when I look at what is on tv for our kids/grandkids I feel sad for them that it is all so real.  Their heroes are not super.  They are not saving the woman tied to the train tracks by the villain.  Now they are dealing with real life problems like rape, domestic violence, murder and incest.  How sad for our children!!


Won't you please join us at FMF and let us know what Mighty means to you?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Meeting the In Laws

On Saturday, Tony's Dad, John and his wife, Cheryl, are joining us for dinner.  We figured it would be nice if we met them prior to the kids getting married.

So today I sat down and decided on a tentative menu that I will prepare once it meets Tingting and Tony's approval.

Please stop by for photos and recipes.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Finish This.....

It is Wednesday.  On this day, in the middle of the week, when sometimes you are suffering from the doldrums and have no idea what you should write about...Nicole comes around and offers a solution.  Nicole's solution to this problem is a little game called Finish This.  Nicole gives us the beginning of a thought and we finish it.  Read on to see how I finished mine and then head on over and finish yours.  I am looking forward to seeing what you have to say.

1. I know it’s a little weird but...

  • I often cry when listening to music.  Many songs touch me deep in my soul.  Sometimes even the songs used in commercials can make me cry.
2. When stopped at a stoplight, I...

  • take a drink of my water.  It is like a habit and if I am out of water I still pick up the water bottle even though I know it is empty LOL.
3. My guilty pleasure is...

  • laying in bed all day with a good book.  It is one of my favorite things to do when I have no Mom and no other obligations.
4. My favorite way to unwind...

  • Is a glass of wine, some quiet music and computer games.

How I became a Caregiver....

My friend, Lisa, who I met here in blogland, is also a caregiver and has started a new blog for all caregivers to share.  You can find her here.  It is a blog to help support those of us who are caregivers and it is also a blog for others so that they can understand what caregiving is all about and cut us a break when they find us a little impatient or short with them.

Lisa has started a new exercise for us called  Each Wednesday, for a year, she will post a word to prompt us to talk about our caregiving journey.  She has aptly named this One Word Wednesday.  Today the word she has given us as a prompt is Nurture.

I never thought that I would end up caring for my mother in her golden years.  Mom and I were nothing at all alike.  I was a "daddy's girl".  I thought my Pops walked on water.  As a child I was in awe of him, as an adult I respected and admired him.

My parents first child was a girl who passed away shortly after birth. They then had 4 sons before I was finally born.  Mom was very excited that she finally had a little girl but, as she liked to tell me when she could still remember it, I was never cuddly or girly.  I wanted to hang out with my Pops and my brothers.  I didn't like to shop, wear makeup, have my hair curled and I bit my nails to the quick.  I remember Mom putting me into etiquette classes at Montgomery Wards, called Wendy Wards. The only thing I remember from those classes was that they told us we should always carry an extra pair of white ankle socks in our purse.  I remember thinking, I'm not carrying some stupid purse around and if I did I wasn't sticking socks in it.  When my sister was born Mom said she felt as if her first daughter had come back to her.  Dawn was everything my mother wanted in a daughter.  They were and are two peas in a pod.  And so, I just naturally assumed that when the time came Mom would live with Dawn.

But God had other plans for me.  Shortly before my Pops got sick I had a serious mental breakdown and had to leave my job.  I was sick for quite a while but I started healing just as my Pops got ill and could no longer care for Mom as she needed.  We moved them both into our house and I became a caregiver.  When Pops passed, I was retired and Dawn was still working and had two young kids to boot.  So naturally, Mom stayed with me.  

After several years of caregiving and nurturing it became apparent that I needed some nurturing myself.  I could feel myself getting sick again and Frank saw me spiraling downhill at a very fast speed.  A family meeting was called and Dawn and Tom agreed to take Mom on Tuesdays and one weekend a month and Dick and Jackie agreed to take Mom on Thursdays and one weekend a month. 
This was in addition to Nancy, who we hired to care for Mom each weekday from 8:30-2:30 and Larry and Mary who keep Mom for 2-3 months each winter.

Mom and Dawn
Two Peas in a Pod

That, my friends, is how stressful nurturing a dementia/alzheimer patient is!!  It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to care for our elderly.  My heart and my admiration goes out to all of those who are nurturing their parents without any support from others.  I pray for them daily....I don't know how they do it....I certainly was not as strong as they seem to be.  

Thanks Lisa, for giving me this opportunity to vent.  Talking about our adventure really does help to relieve the stress.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Case for Christ and Cutting for Stone

I finished The Case for Christ last night.  I found it to be very interesting, of course, I never had any doubts about Christ to begin with but the book, if read by a non believer, could certainly prove that not only did Jesus live but that he was truly the Son of God and One with God.  Lee Strobel went through Christ's entire life, death and resurrection and showed each step of the way how there is no other conclusion to be found.  I think this could help Christians everywhere defend their faith and our God.

I have now started Cutting for Stone.  I have only read the prologue but I am anxious to continue it.

Five ways I have found to nurture my relationship with God

I have posted several times about how I have pulled myself away from God.  Today I wou.ld like to post how some of the things I do that bring me closer to God.  These are my own personal ways in this journey. Some may work for others and some may not.  But they work for me.  They allow me to cement my relationship with my Lord and to ground me in His goodness.

1. Spending time with God's word.  Each morning I open up an app that I downloaded called Laudate.  This app has a lot of great features but one that I use each day is the Saint of the Day and the Daily Readings.  It is how I try to start each morning in God's presence.

2.  Attending Mass.  Going to Mass, for me, is like going home.  I walk in the familiar doors with the familiar smells and I immediately feel more peaceful.  I like the Traditions and the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church.  I enjoy visiting other churches and I admire certain things about many other religions but no place feels more like home to me than the Roman Catholic Church.

3. Helping Others.  I believe we all have a calling from our Lord, that he has supplied each of us with gifts to share with others.  I guess my calling must be care giving.  I feel closer to God when I am helping others. I feel being a mother to my children, a wife to my husband, a caregiver to my parents, a police officer and a volunteer are very important tasks that God has called me to and of which I needed and still need to give in the Glory of his name.

4.  Scuba Diving. I know I have told you this before but I feel closer to God underwater than any where else in the world.  His magnificence is amazing!!

5. Hiking.  I also feel very close to God when I am out in nature hiking.  I don't know how anyone can look at the majesty that surrounds us and not feel God's presence.

I am linking up with List it Tuesday and Thrive at Home Thursday.  See you there!!