Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Seventh Day of Christmas, A New Years Eve Celebration

We started the morning with a French Toast Casserole at Spencer's request.  It is one of his favorites and mine too because I can throw it together the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning.  It looks impressive and it tastes great.

I've made this for years and don't remember where I first got the recipe but I think it was from one of those small cooking magazines that you pick up at the checkout aisle in the grocery store.

I only had 4 eggs.  My hens have been generous, but between  the Eggs in Hashbrown Nests and the Scrambled Eggs and Bacon that Frank made to go with our Cinnamon Rolls yesterday, our egg supply was depleted.  I sent the kids out to the coop to look for more but no luck.  Then I remembered I still had some eggnog in the fridge so I added some of that.  It still turned out wonderful.
French Toast Casserole

1 loaf Cinnamon Raisin Bread
6 eggs
1 c. half and half
1 t. vanilla

Cut bread into 1" squares and place into a greased 13x9x2 baking dish.  Beat together eggs, cream and vanilla.  Pour over bread.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning remove from refrigerator and preheat oven to 375*.  Bake casserole for 30-45 minutes or until it is puffy and golden brown.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.  Serve with Maple Syrup.
**Note- This is also very good if you mix berries in with the bread when you are assembling it.  You can also add a streusel topping if you like.  Spence likes his plain so plain it was today.

I had to run into town to take and answer messages at the food pantry.  Afterwards, Jen and I hit some gift and antique stores and had some bonding time over lunch at the River Crab.

When we got home, Mom Klik, had been dropped off for the evening and Amy called to say she was on the way over.  We expect Linda and Greg to join us for dinner and games tonight.  Until then we are curled up watching "Polar Express".

I wish you and yours a very safe and Happy New Years Eve.

Last Day of the Year=Last Holidailies

December is almost over, 2013 is almost over and Holidailies 2013 Badge is almost over.

Today's prompt is "What are you looking forward to in 2014?"

First and Foremost I am looking forward to my CA trip so I can spend some time with my brother, sil, their kids and grandkids. I will see my cousin while I am there and hopefully my aunt too.

I am also looking forward to coming home sans Mom and the 2 months that Frank and I will have to spend with each other.

I am looking forward to going to see Chuck in January and Nicole in February.

I am sure by March, I will be looking forward to Mom coming home???

I am looking forward to our dive trip to Grand Cayman in April.

And our Anniversary in May.

June we are going to Montana.

July will bring my California family to me as well as Chuck and Kyle for our annual canoe trip.

August I will look forward to my birthday and our trip up north for Frank's work conference.

September brings cooler weather and the onset of Harvest Season.

October, I look forward to Halloween and Fall is in full swing.

November I look forward to Thanksgiving.

And here we are back to December...wow that was a fast year!!!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Frozen and Fried Fish

Frozen was a wonderful movie.  We all enjoyed it very much.  My favorite line came from Olaf the Snowman...."Love is when you put the other persons feelings ahead of your own".  Amen.

Jen and Lili went to meet some friends for dinner tonight, Mom went to spend the night at Dawn's so it is just me and the guys for the fish fry tonight.

This is a mess of fish!!!
Fish Fry
1 can beer of your choice
1 c. flour
1 box Corn Muffin Mix
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 lbs. Fish Fillets
Mix beer, flour, muffin mix and salt and pepper in large bowl.  Add Fish Fillets and completely cover with beer mixture.  Set aside. 
Fill a deep large pot half full with vegetable or canola oil.  Heat to 200*.  Drop coated fish fillets in hot oil by batches and cook until golden brown and crispy.  Remove drippings between batches.

It's Freezing and Frozen

We had a heat wave here for a couple of days.  It was in the high 30's and low 40's for about 4 days but last night it dropped back down to 10* and today the high is 17*.  Brrrrrrr.

Last night I made up some cinnamon rolls and then put them in the refrigerator before the second rising so I could finish them up this morning.  They were a wonderful addition to our breakfast on this cold morning. 

Cinnamon Rolls
adapted from Make Ahead Cooking BHG

3 1/2-4 c. bread flour
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 c. milk
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
pinch salt
1 egg

Combine 1 1/2 c. of the flour and the yeast into a large mixing bowl.  Place the milk, sugar, butter and salt into a saucepan and warm to 120-130*.  Add to flour mixture along with the egg and beat on low speed with a paddle attachment until combined.  Turn mixer to high speed and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 c. at a time until no more will be incorporated.  Remove paddle attachment and use bread hook to knead dough until smooth and elastic.  Remove from bowl.  Oil bowl or spray with olive oil.  Return ball of dough to bowl, turning to cover surface of bowl with oil.  Cover with a tea towel that has been dampened with warm water and place in a warm area to rise for approx. 2 hour or until doubled in size.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, cover with dampened towel and rest for 10 minutes.  Roll dough into an 18x10 rectangle.

2 T. butter, softened
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
2 t. cinnamon

Spread 2 T. of butter on the rectangle of dough and then sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon.  Starting from the long side, tightly roll into a spiral.  Pinch seam to seal.

Cut the dough crosswise into 12 even slices.  Place slices in a greased 11x8x2 pan.  Place pan in refrigerator overnight covered with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

In the morning remove the rolls from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature (approx. 20 minutes).  Brush rolls with a few teaspoons of milk or half and half and bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. 

While Cinnamon Rolls are baking make the icing.

2 oz. Neufchatel Cheese, room temp
7 T. butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
2 T. milk
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
pinch salt

Beat together the cheese and butter until fluffy.  Add vanilla and milk, gradually add powdered sugar and pinch of salt, beating until smooth.

Remove rolls from oven and top with icing.

Print Recipe

This afternoon we are going to see "Frozen".  I will let you know what we think.


Happy New Year

Holidailies 2013 Badge asks for my favorite way to spend New Years Eve. 

Although it hasn't happened in many years, my favorite way to spend NYE is home alone with Frank.  Since we have had Mom this has not been possible but perhaps one day.

We are so busy throughout the holiday season that come NYE I just want to climb into the hot tub with a nice glass of wine and catch up with each other.  We can go days during this time without talking about anything except what we need to do to get ready for the next round of guests.  This is wonderful and we love entertaining but we still need to carve out time for each other.  I will be taking Mom to my brother in CA on Friday for a two month stay so we will get our alone time soon.

I am not big on hall parties where you are celebrating with hundreds of people you don't know.  Our friends, John and Kirsten, have a party each year for all the families with children who don't want to exclude them from the festivities.  I think this is a great idea.  We are going to stop by in the afternoon to spend some time with them.

Then we are coming home, ordering in Chinese, playing some games, watching the ball drop and enjoying our last day with our TC family.  It will probably be several weeks before we get to see them again.

Our "son" from Denmark celebrating NYE
 while staying as an Exchange Student in the USA.

Frank has a tradition of going onto the deck and firing off guns at Midnight so that is where we will be after the ball drops.  I hope that you all have a wonderful and safe New Years Eve.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Fifth Day of Christmas Family Fun

Lazy, relaxing day today.  I slept in until 8 and then got up and threw cereal and fruit on the counter for everyone to grab their own breakfast.  Lil got ready for her first scuba class and Frank, Mom and I got ready for Mass.  Today is the Feast of the Holy Family.

Father's homily today, of course, was about "family". What makes a family and what a family should be.  I agree with his take on this....a family is not necessarily what you see depicted in a Norman Rockwell photo but rather a conglomeration of people, all with their own faults and weaknesses, who love one another, forgive one another and welcome one another.  God gave us the Holy Family to help us understand that all families have good times and bad, joy and sadness, laughter and anger.

When we got home I threw leftovers and lunchmeat onto the counter so everyone could grab their own lunch. After lunch we all sat around, watching tv, reading books, snoozing and visiting.  A perfect Sunday.

This evening we went to Amy's for a casual, relaxing dinner....I think that is the theme for this post....relaxing and breathing with family.  We had chili and corn bread. Lots of laughs, lots of fun until at 7 pm. Mom announced it was time to go.  So now the kids are all together and we old folks are home with our feet up again. 
Jen and Spence
Me, Tony, Ting and Mom

Doug, Randy and Lili.

Frank hiding in the corner.

The "Grandkids"

Amy, working her fingers to the bones.

Sunday Stealing

I am sitting here doing a whole lot of nothing but relaxing so I thought I would hop over to kwizgiver and steal her Sunday Stealing.

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year?  I think the best thing that happened for me this past year was acquiring Princess Fiona of Fair Haven.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Learning to accept my brother's decision to take his life last Christmas.
3. What was an unexpected joy this past year?  Having my family step in and give me help and support with Mom.
4. What was an unexpected obstacle? Unexpected financial obligations
5. Pick three words to describe 2013.  Faith, Family, Fun 
6. What were the best books you read this year? The Double Bind, The Fifty Shades of Gray Trilogy, The Odd Thomas Series. 
7. With whom were your most valuable relationships? God and Frank 
8. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? Losing my dedication to exercise and gaining all my weight back. 
9. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I learned that as much as you love someone and/or want to control things you really have no power over them or the decisions they make. 
10. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? It was a rough year for me spiritually.  I lost a priest who I loved, respected and admired when he was going through some personal problems of his own.  It is hard when someone who you think has it all together and who you try to emulate falls off that pedestal you put them on.  I learned that everyone is human and that we are all sinners. 
11. In what way(s) did you grow physically? I gained 15 lbs. LOL.  
12. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? As stated above, I learned that we are all sinners and that we need to accept others with all their faults and weaknesses if we want them to accept us. 
13. What was the most enjoyable part of your work? The days I could laugh with Mom and appreciate that she still has a good attitude and good sense of humor.  
14. What was the most challenging part of your work? Answering the same question for the 78th time in one day.
15. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? This dang computer!! 
16. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Getting the food pantry up and running. 
17. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? That there are many things beyond my control.
18. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2013 for you. Let Go and Let God.

If I had only known.....

Today's Holidailies 2013 Badge asks "What do you wish you'd known, 10 years ago?".

Since I am so old I need to go back 30+ years and here is what I wish I had known.

I wish I had known that all kids are the same.  They all go through the same frustrating stages, they all become snotty and self absorbed teenagers and they all (for the most part) become wonderful, well functioning adults.

This would not have changed how I raised them or disciplined them.  This is our job as parents to guide them through all these yicky times.  But, what I would have changed, is I would have worried less and enjoyed the unyicky times much more.  I would not have lost sleep thinking that my kids were worse than my friend's kids, or that I was too strict or not strict enough, too impatient or too quick to give in.  I would realize that God provides parents with the instincts to raise their children and then to let them go.

True, some of my children floundered more than others.  Some had to fight with the genetics they were given and learn that they had an addictive personality and that they can't just wish that away or pretend it is not a fact of life for them.  Sometimes, this is a lesson that is never learned but that is not necessarily a reflection on the parenting they received but on the hand they were dealt and played incorrectly.   

The time passes so quickly and before you know it they are grown and gone, living their own lives and making their own decisions.  This is why I believe grandparents are so much more effective than parents.  We have been there.  We know that this too shall pass and we can relax and enjoy our time with them.

My Amy (on the right) and my niece, Steph with their Grandpa.

My Chuck with his Grandpa.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

One of Many Losses

"What will you miss about 2013 (or alternatively, what will you *not* miss)?"  This is the prompt today from Holidailies 2013 Badge.

This is a hard topic for me.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and if you were to change just one little thing everything else would change along with it like a domino effect.  That being said I guess the question does not ask what would I change but rather what will I miss.

I will miss my Bessie Girl who had to be put down last January.   
Here she is checking out our new piglets a couple of years ago.
She was a good girl and I will continue to miss her for a long while.


4th Day of Christmas Brunch

We stayed up past our bedtime last night visiting with Randy and Jen but it was way worth it!!!  We got up this morning and started getting ready for our brunch with Kirsten, John and the entire extended Lents' family.

There were 20 of us so we did brunch buffet style

And set up the bar for Mimosas and Coffee

I tried a new recipe from the Pioneer Woman Cookbook that I got for Christmas. 

These are Eggs in Hash Brown Nests.
They were a hit.

It was a nice relaxing morning filled with laughter and love.

Lots of Conversation.

And Hugs

And all the problems of the world resolved.

It was a very Merry 4th day of Christmas.

Joining up with Inspiration Monday.  Stop on by!!!

Weekly Menu

It is time, once again, to post the weekly menu.  I really enjoy the weekly menu posts because it gives me an opportunity to review what activities lay ahead and how to manage the meals to fit in with those activities.  Not to mention it gives me an excuse to sit around with my cookbooks and recipe cards and no one knows that I am just loafing LOL.

So here is what our week holds:

Saturday we are hosting a brunch for our TC Family and the Lents' (John and Kirsten) and their extended family.  There will be about 20 of us.  I got the new Pioneer Woman cookbook for Christmas so I will be trying a recipe from there. We also got a lovely fruit basket for Christmas that included a Pineapple and some Mango so I think a fruit salad sounds good.  Dinner will be at Frank's sisters house.

Sunday, Amy has invited us and our TC Family to her house for dinner.

Monday we are having some walleye, which is a fish native to Michigan, that was given to us by a gentleman who hunted on our land this fall.  There is a huge batch of it so I was waiting until I had enough fish lovers to make it.

Tuesday is New Years Eve.  I'm thinking perhaps Carry Out Chinese Food and Game night sounds good.

Wednesday is New Years Day.  All our company will be leaving us and I will be doing distributions at the Food Pantry so I think a Crock Pot meal fits the bill.

Thursday we are celebrating Christmas with our middle son who was sick on Christmas and couldn't join us until his next day off.

Friday I am leaving to take Mom to CA to spend a couple of months with Larry and Mary.  I will be home the following Wednesday, well actually early Thursday morning.

And here is the Weekly Menu:

Saturday Brunch
Eggs in Hash Brown Nests
Ham Steaks
Cinnamon Apple Pie Bread
Banana Bread
Tropical Fruit Salad

Dinner at Amy and Doug's house

Walleye (Pickeral)
Macaroni and Cheese
Steamed Broccoli
Glazed Carrots

Tuesday-New Years Eve
Chinese Carry Out

Split Pea Soup

French Onion Soup
Chopped Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Beef Tenderloin Bourguignon
Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
Vegetable Medley
Hot Fudge Sundaes

California Bound-Leftovers for Frank

Please join me each day as I post recipes and pictures.  Also check out MPM for lots of menu ideas.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review and New Book Began

I finished "Takedown Twenty" this afternoon.  I would have finished it last night but I couldn't keep my eyes open.  "Takedown Twenty" was true to form for a Stephanie Plum novel.  Things caught on fire, bones got broken, curses were given and Stephanie is still waffling between Joe and Ranger.  You would think it would start getting old but this book still made me laugh out loud several times and every once in a while I like a book that you can pick up and finish in a couple of hours.  It gives my brain a chance to relax.  If you are a Stephanie Plum fan you will enjoy this novel.  If you haven't met her yet you might want to start at the beginning of the series with "One for the Money".

I started another novel, "A Charmed Place" by Antoinette Stockenberg.  Stockenberg is a new author for me.  I have not read any of her works before and I am hoping that this lives up to the customer reviews that I read from Barnes and Noble.

On the Third Day of Christmas

We had a very lazy day yesterday.  We were just exhausted and ended up in bed at 9 pm.  That was nice except that since Frank went to bed 2 hrs. earlier than usual that meant the puppy also went to bed 2 hrs earlier than usual.  You know what that means, yep...at 3 am she was up needing to go potty.  It seems 6 hrs is her limit.  She did go back to sleep for a couple of hours when she was done but at 5 am she was up and was having none of this sleeping human stuff!!!  I got up with her and took her out of the room so Frank could get some more shut eye and then he returned the favor this afternoon by caring for Mom so I could get a nap in.  Life is good!!

We ran to the store and picked up stuff for our brunch tomorrow morning and also some noodles.  I originally had stew on the menu for tonight but I had the leftover rack from the prime rib and a few slices of the meat left so I decided to use it for Beef and Noodles instead.

The store had some overripe bananas that they were practically giving away so I made some banana bread for our brunch for tomorrow.  Then, as I was walking through the store I saw a package of Nilla Wafers and decided to make Jen, Randy and the kids some Banana Pudding for dessert tonight. That's not as impressive as it sounds....I used instant pudding....but it is still good and my recipe is included below.
Banana Pudding
1 package vanilla wafers
1 lg. package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 1/2 c. milk
3 large bananas
1 c. heavy cream
Place vanilla wafers in bottom of serving dish making a single layer. Cut bananas into slices.  Layer half the sliced bananas over the cookies. Whisk together pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes.  Pour half of the unset pudding over the wafers and bananas.   Repeat the layers. Using a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat the cream to semi stiff peaks.  Top pudding with cream. (you can sweeten the cream if you wish but I think the pudding is plenty sweet enough).  Refrigerate for at least one hour. Garnish with additional cookies right before serving. Print Recipe
Banana Bread
3 large very ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. melted butter or cooking oil
2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
Using stand mixer, with paddle attachment, beat together bananas, sugar, eggs and butter until fluffy.  Add remaining ingredients and beat on low until just moistened.  You want the mixture to be lumpy.
Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350* for 50-60 minutes.  Print Recipe