Friday, February 28, 2014

It is my choice....

Today I am, once again, teaming up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday.  This is a writing exercise in which you are given a one word topic and you write about whatever it is that word inspires in you for 5 minutes.  You don't over-think it or worry about editing.  You just write. Today the prompt is "Choose".


Each morning, when I awaken, I make a choice.  I choose whether today is going to be a good day or a bad day.  I have found that this, like so many other things is simply a matter of deciding to make it the kind of day you want.

I choose whether I will be happy or I will be sad.  This is a choice.  I can dwell on the positive or I can roll over and pull the blankets over my head and wait for the day to be done.  This is especially an important decision for those of us, like me, who suffer from depression and anxiety.  It would sometimes be very easy to just lay in bed all day and ignore the world.

I choose whether I will treat those in my life with love or disdain.  Love, I have found, is not an is a choice.  When you choose to love those that God put into your life, you choose to overlook any small irritations and concentrate on all the wonderful qualities with which they have been blessed.

I choose whether I will smile or frown. It is true, that it is hard to be in a bad mood if you are smiling. So even if you don't feel like it...turn that frown upside down.


A Love Story

I finished reading "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" by Helen Simonson.   I enjoyed it.  It is a touching love story in which the protagonists are middle aged and widowed when they find each other.  It is well written without all the silliness and romance of a love story involving young people. It is rare to find a love story featuring people my age.  It was a quiet, comfortable relationship without all the emotional drama normally found in love stories.  The book spoke not only on a more mature relationship but also on a relationship where you are melding two very different cultures and religions.  It spoke of the bias and ignorance with which they had to deal among their family and friends.  I was impressed with the quiet strength and determination they showed without giving in to anger and resentment.  If you are looking for a fast paced, exciting book...this is not it, but if you want a nice read with which to curl up by a fire...grab it.

   I have now started reading "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel.  I have only just read the introduction but I think I am going to find it intersesting.  Lee Strobel was an attorney turned investigative crime reporter for a large newspaper.  He was a self-proclaimed atheist who was on a mission to learn more about Christianity when his wife found the Lord.  He handled this much the same way he handled all his other studying the evidence. I am anxious to see what he discovered and how he analyzed the "case".  It feels very comfortable to me with my police background.

The verdict is in....

The doctor today confirmed it.  I am a perfect arsehole LOL.  Everything was fine and I don't have to go through this malarkey for another 10 years.  The original plan was that after the procedure I was going to meet my friend, Sue, for lunch...God was he often does when I make plans.  I had to be given more anesthesia than expected because I kept waking up during the procedure.  I don't remember this so I will have to take the nurse's word for it.  So I was extremely groggy afterwards.  We came home, I ate a bagel and I went to bed.  I am awake now but still lying in bed....I may go back to sleep. I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's gonna be a "pooder dooder" kind of day

When my siblings and I were young and raising our families we were, like most young couples, BROKE!
So our entertainment each weekend was to all meet at the Folk's house and play cards while the youngest sibling, Dawn, who was closer to the kids ages than ours, would entertain our children.

The Folks always seemed happy to entertain us.  Pops always made sure there was beer on hand and Mom always cooked up a big pot of Chili, Soup or Stew.  If it were summertime there were hotdogs and hamburgers for on the grill, or maybe they would just order a party tray pizza or two.

It was always a good time and all the cousins became very close because they spent so much time together.
When my nephew was being potty trained, he interrupted our card game to let his mom know that he had to go "pooder dooder".  So that is the common name now for having a bowel movement in this family.  None of us just go to the bathroom...we all are going "pooder dooder".

Tomorrow, I am scheduled for a colonoscopy.  Five years late but at least I am doing it now, right??

So starting at 3 pm.  These are things I have to take.

And all day long, these are the things I am allowed to eat and drink.
I can have coffee also...Thank God!!
It says I can have white grape juice and it does not say I can't have alcohol hmmmm....
Perhaps some white wine this evening???
I'll have to google that LOL.

Flight Canceled.

Today was supposed to be our gastronomical trip to the Caribbean.  Unfortunately I am not allowed to eat today...I am scheduled for a colonoscopy tomorrow.  A shout out to all of you over the age of 50....schedule a colonoscopy!!!

Part of the prep for this test is that you cannot eat any solid foods for the 24 hrs preceding the test and you have to drink lots of yucky stuff that makes you need to use the bathroom.

I would like to think that I am a good enough wife and mother that I would still prepare a wonderful meal for my family.  Fahgeddaboutit!!!!  Not only am I not cooking...they had BETTER NOT eat in front of me!!!  I get very cranky when I am hungry.  They can just go out and eat and leave me to use my bathroom in peace!!!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bitte besuchen Sie uns zum Abendessen (Please join us for dinner)

Tonight's stop is Germany.  I will be making a couple recipes that have become regulars for us.  Wiener Schnitzel served with Sweet and Sour Cabbage.  I got these recipes from Cuisine at Home, Issue 49.  This was published in 2005 so that gives you some idea how long I have been making it.  I have changed the recipe very little, if at all, over the years.  I am writing the recipe using boneless pork chops.  I am using loin chops with the bone and saving the bones and trimmings for a meal next week.  My pork, like my chicken, does not come boneless.

Wiener Schnitzel
adapted from Cuisine at Home

8  boneless pork loin chops, 1" thick
1/2 c. flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 c.bread crumbs (I am using fresh today from my leftover Italian Bread)
3 T. olive oil
3 T. butter
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. half and half
6 T. butter

Place each piece of pork in a plastic bag and pound with a meat mallet to 1/4" thickness.  Place seasoned flour, eggs and bread crumbs into 3 separate shallow bowls. Dredge each piece of meat in the flour, then the eggs, then the crumbs.  Set aside until all meat is prepared.  Heat 3T oil and 3T butter together in a large saute pan over med high heat.  Saute pork for 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Keep warm in an oven or under a heat lamp.

Deglaze the pan with wine, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan.  Add the lemon juice and simmer for a few minutes.  Add the cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 or 2 minutes.  Turn off heat and whisk in the 6 T. of butter, 1 T. at a time.  Place a dollop of Mashed Potatoes on each plate, overlap slightly with the meat and pour sauce over both.  Print Recipe

Sweet and Sour Cabbage
Adapted from Cuisine at Home

3 or 4 slices of bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 apple, cored, peeled and diced
1 T. flour
2/3 c. apple cider vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 small head red cabbage, shredded

Fry bacon in a large saute pan. Pour off most of the drippings (leave a couple of Tablespoons in the pan).  Add onion and apple to the pan with the bacon and drippings and cook over med heat until onions are translucent and softened, about 5 min.  Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple minutes longer. Stir in vinegar, sugar, broth salt and pepper then add the cabbage and toss until cabbage is wilted, about another 5 minutes or so.  Print Recipe

Wonderful Wednesday

Today is another Doctor day....Vet appointment for all 3 dogs and mammogram appointment for me.  Just a reminder to all the ladies out there over 40, SCHEDULE YOUR MAMMOGRAM.

The dogs are all set for another year except for Buddy who is scheduled to go in for some dental work and to have a tumor removed from his eyelid in a couple of weeks.  He will have to be left there all day and be put under with anesthesia so we had extra labs done on him today to make sure the old guy is up to having surgery.  The doc said  that other then his teeth (and barring any internal problems that the labs may show) he is in awesome shape for a dog his age.

My mammogram went well, as far as I know.  The doc will get the report next week.

This afternoon, when Frank was done with work we went for a ride along the water so we could enjoy the sunshine.  It is only 10* here but the sky was blue and the sun brightly shone off the water.  If you could ignore the snow and ice flows you could pretend you were back in Florida.  There is a tree that I always admire when we pass it.  It is dead but I think it is awesome.  Every time we drive past it I mention that I would like to paint it.  Today Frank stopped and took a picture so that I can try to recreate it on canvas.

Isn't she awesome!!!

We stopped for a drink while we were out at a new restaurant called Freighters,  It is a local restaurant and their motto is "Commit to the Mitt".  They buy local and in season as much as possible so you know that is right up my alley.  We timed it perfectly too.  Arrived just as Happy Hour began, $2 drinks and $3 appetizers.  We shared a smoked salmon spread, it was delicious and there was a LOT of it for only $3!!

Only $3!!  Can you believe it!!

As we were driving back home Frank stopped because he wanted a picture of this army tank that is parked in front of a Veteran's Hall in our community.  He thinks we should get one for our front yard.  I told him that is a swell idea....all he has to do is sell his plane to get the money for it LOL.

We are Thriving at Home.  Won't you join us?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tests, Teams and Try it Tuesday

I had to go in for a bone density test this morning.  No problems, just something my doc thought we should do since I have never had one.  There was really not much to it.  I hope I got an A!!

Then I headed over to the Food Pantry and met up with the Backpack team.  We have it down to a science now and it only takes about an hour or two to kick that out anymore.  Afterwards a few of us went and had lunch.

Then I came home and got to work on my Pizza for this month which is also a new recipe for Try it Tuesday.
I am adapting a Betty Crocker recipe that I found using Bisquick as the dough.  The original recipe calls for pepperoni and cheese.  I am using ham and adding some veggies to ours.

So here is what you will need for my version of Pizza Bake.

Pizza Bake
adapted from Betty Crocker 4 ingredient pizza bake

2 (7oz) pouches of Bisquick Complete buttermilk biscuit mix
1 c. water
Double batch recipe pizza sauce (see below) or 2 (14 oz) jar pizza sauce
16 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, diced
12 oz. diced ham
3 c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix and water until soft dough forms. Drop half of dough by spoonfuls evenly in bottom of baking dish (dough will not completely cover bottom of dish).  Saute mushrooms and onions in 1 T. butter until onions are translucent and the mushrooms are softened and releasing liquid.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

Drizzle about 2 cups pizza sauce over dough. Arrange 1/2 of the diced ham and 1/2 of the vegetables evenly over sauce. Top with 1 1/2 cup of the cheese. Repeat layers with remaining dough, pizza sauce, ham and cheese.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into squares to serve.  Print Recipe

It looked good and it tasted....okay.  I thought it needed twice as much sauce and Frank thought it needed more of everything except crust. I have gone back and tweaked the recipe to make these changes so the recipe printed above is with the extra ingredients.

It only takes a few ingredients and a moment to throw together pizza sauce.
But feel free to use a jar of sauce if you want to save the time it takes for the flavors to blend.

Pizza Sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
3/4 c. warm water
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T honey
3/4 t. onion powder
1/4 t. each oregano, thyme and basil
salt and pepper to taste 
dash cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let sit for 30-60 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  Print Recipe

Linking up with Thrifty Thursday

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mangia Monday...

I made it back to kickboxing class this morning.  Boy can I tell it has been awhile!!!  After class I took Kim out to lunch for her birthday.  Her birthday isn't until Friday but she will be flying then so today was the day.

After lunch I stopped by my friend, Jean's, to drop off some of the Angel Wings we made yesterday.  I only had 1 dozen eggs in my fridge so I had called her and asked her to bring a dozen with her to Mass  for me.  I will gladly trade you Angel Wings on Monday for some eggs today LOL.

Then I hit the grocery store for a couple of items I needed for tonight's trip to Italy.  Here is my recipe for Manicotti.  I got this recipe from the back of a box of lasagna noodles many, many years ago.  I don't remember which brand noodles they were and I don't have a written copy of the recipe because I have made it so many times in the past 40 years that it is just stuck in my head.  So I can't offer credit for the original recipe and I can't even tell you if my recipe is even close to the original but it is good and a great Meatless Monday Meal.

Mix together the ricotta, mozzarella, eggs and seasonings.

Coat the bottom of a 9x13 pan with 1 cup Marinara Sauce.

Cook noodles per package direction and then cut each in half crosswise.

Place a dollop of cheese mixture in the center of each noodle half.

Roll it up.

Place seam side down in the baking pan.

Continue until all ingredients are gone.

Top with the remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
I made mine early in the day and put it in the fridge.
Frank will pull it out and put it in the oven during my Yoga session.

Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes or until heated through and Parmesan is browned.


9 Lasagna noodles, cooked to package directions
1 (15 oz) container low fat ricotta cheese
1 c. part skim shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1/4 t. oregano
1/4 t. thyme
1/2 t. basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 (24 oz) jar Marinara Sauce
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

While noodles cook, combine ricotta, mozzarella, eggs and seasonings in a large bowl.  Pour one cup of the Marinara sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13" pan.  Cut each cooked lasagna noodle in half crosswise.  Place a dollop of the cheese mixture in the middle of each lasagna half and roll up.  Place seam side down on top of the sauce in the baking pan.  Pour the rest of the sauce on top of the manicotti rolls and top with the parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350* for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly with the cheese beginning to brown.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A day trip to Poland

Frank's Godmother and Aunt, Irene, is coming over today to teach me how to make Kruschiki.  That is one spelling. I have also seen it spelled Chrushiki, Cruschki, Chrust, and Chruscik but what you probably have seen them called is Angel Wings.  They are a fried pastry dusted with powdered sugar and traditionally made before Lent along with Paczki.  The idea was to clear the larder so that you were better able to fast during the Lenten season.

Aunt Irene was a strong vital woman.  Very opinionated and loved a debate.  Now she suffers from emphysema and is frail and getting forgetful but she still loves a debate and was hoping Mom Klik could be here so they could make both recipes and see which was the best.  Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for Mom, she and Roz have headed north to spend a few days at the casino.  I am looking forward to spending the day with Aunt Irene even if I won't get to listen to her and Mom Klik argue about different ingredients and techniques I should use when cooking.

The plans with Aunt Irene got Frank thinking about foods of his childhood and he started browsing through my cookbooks.  He found a recipe for Easy Pierogi in "Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans"  and thought that he would make them to go along with our chicken tonight.

Please join us as we take a trip to Poland......

We call Aunt Irene, Ciocia. Polish for Aunt.
Here Cioch is showing me how to mix the ingredients to get the right consistency.
It is all done by touch, not by measurement.

When the dough is the right consistency we roll it out to about 1/4" thickness.
Cut it into strips and slice a slit down the middle of each.

Then you insert the bottom half of the pastry through the slit.

And you fry them in lard, crisco or cooking oil until the are brown and crisp.

Cioch normally used a fork and a toothpick but I gave her some wooden skewers.
She thought they worked much better.

Then it was my turn.

Once they are golden brown remove them to newspapers covered with paper towel.
After they drain and cool, move them to a paper towel lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.


Angel Wings
2 lbs. Flour
1 t. salt
1 stick Butter, melted
1 1/2 T. vinegar
2 T. Whiskey
1 t. vanilla
6 egg yolks, beaten  (reserve whites for another purpose)
16 oz. Sour Cream (you may not use it all)

Mix flour and salt in a large bowl, make a well in the center.  Mix butter, vinegar, whiskey, vanilla and egg yolks together in a small bowl and pour into well of flour.  Combine with hands.  Add sour cream a little at a time and continue to combine with your hands until the dough loses it's tackiness and starts removing the dough clinging to your hands.  We used about 3/4 of the carton of sour cream.  

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll to about 1/4" thickness.  Cut the dough into long strips and then cut each strip into about 5-6" lengths.  Cut a lengthwise slit in the center of the strip of dough.  Open the slit and push the bottom half of the dough through the slit.  Place the strips in hot oil, in batches, 4-5 at a time, and fry until crispy and golden brown.

Remove from hot oil and drain on a newspaper covered with paper towel.  When cool, remove to a baking pan covered with paper towel and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar.  Print Recipe

When we were done with the Angel Wings, Frank started working on his Lazy Pierogi. 

He made a double batch.

I helped him to roll the dough into long, thin logs.

Cut the logs into 2" pieces.

Drop into boiling water that has been liberally salted, in batches.
When they rise to the top continue to cook for another minute.

Place in a bowl and top with melted butter.

Lazy Pierogi
adapted from Treasured Polish Recipes

2 cups Farmers Cheese, grated using the food processor
1 T. butter, softened
4 eggs, separated
1/2 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, melted

Place butter, egg yolks, salt, sugar and flour in the large bowl of a stand mixer and beat until light using paddle attachment.  Remove bowl and paddle attachment.  Using small mixing bowl and whisk attachment beat egg whites until frothy.  Return large bowl to mixer with paddle attachment and gradually add in the beaten egg whites.  Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour until it is no longer tacky and able to be formed into a long narrow roll.  Flatten and cut slantwise into 2" pieces.  Cook in salted boiling water until they rise to the top and then cook for one minute longer. Remove from water with a straining spoon and place in bowl.  Pour 1/4 c. melted butter over Pierogi and serve with sour cream.

I served the Pierogi as a side dish to my Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables.

When I was cleaning out my freezer the other day I found a package of 4 leg quarters left from a chicken that I had cut up before freezing.  I pulled these out and decided to roast the pieces instead of a whole chicken this time.

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

8 pieces of chicken
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Root Vegetables of your choice I used:
2 Rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2" pieces
1 red onion, cut into eighths.

Heat oil in large saute pan.  Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and brown on all sides in hot oil.  Remove chicken into a roasting pan.  Put prepared vegetables into the same saute pan used for the chicken and cook, tossing them in the oil for about 5 minutes. Add vegetables to roasting pan with chicken pieces.  Bake at 350* , uncovered for about an hour or until chicken juices run clear when pierced with a fork and vegetables are tender.  Print Recipe

Thrive at Home with us!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Around the World with the Weekly Menu

Tonight we are attending a Whitetails Unlimited banquet at our Knights of Columbus Hall. It should be a good time and it is for a good cause so I am looking forward to it.

Sunday our Aunt Irene is coming over and we are going to be making kruschicki and we are also making Lazy Pierogi as a side dish to our chicken, so we will visit Poland.

Our friends, the Wronas, were going to come for dinner but Frank is still feeling yucky and our schedules did not coincide.  Perhaps next month for a visit to Ireland and a St. Pat's dinner.

Monday night is yoga so I will have the Manicotti ready for Frank to put in the oven and I froze a loaf of the Italian Bread I made last week.  Perhaps we will open a bottle of Chianti while we visit Italy.

Try it Tuesday, I am back to making the pizza I had on the schedule a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday we are taking a trip to Germany.

Thursday we are going to the Caribbean.

And Friday we are stopping in Thailand.

Join us, won't you....there will be photos and recipes each day.

White Tail Dinner

Roasted Chicken with Root Vegetables
Lazy Pierogi

Meatless Monday
Italian Bread

Try it Tuesday
Pizza Bake
Spinach Salad

Wiener Schnitzel
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Caribbean Spiced Ribs
French Fries
Cole Slaw

Fish Friday
Shrimp Pad Thai

Join us at MPM for more great menu ideas!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Something Fishy Friday

I am getting ready to make a confession here...I sometimes still use processed foods when I cook. I know I preach about raising my own food, buying organic and local and avoiding processed foods but the truth is....I like some processed foods.

I can't imagine cooking every single night without Campbell's Soups, Jiffy Baking Mix or Bisquick, All Purpose Flour, White granulated sugar, Nestles Chocolate Chips, well you get the idea....

Tonight for dinner we are having Lemon Pepper Cod and this is one of the dishes that I prepare using a premade sauce.  It is quick, easy and there you go.  For those who are stronger than I in their resolve not to use processed foods, I am sure that you could get some lemon and butter and make your own sauce.  I have many fish recipes that I make using my own sauce but not tonight....Tonight is a McCormick's night.

Lemon Butter Cod
courtesy of McCormick Lemon Butter Dill Sau

1 lb. Cod Fillets
1 (8 oz) bottle McCormick Lemon Butter Dill Sauce

Place Cod fillets into a 9x13 baking dish.  Pour sauce over fish.  Bake at 425* for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Print Recipe

I am making a Rice Pilaf to go along with the Fish.  I got my idea for this Wild Rice Pilaf with vegetables from a Campbell's recipe that I have made quite often.  Today I am changing it up a bit to work with what I have in my fridge and pantry.

Rice Pilaf
adapted from Campbell's

2 c. Royal Blend Rice, prepared to package directions using chicken broth instead of water.
1/2 c. Butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled, halved and sliced
1 stalk celery, halved and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 small stalk broccoli, blanched and chopped

 While Rice is cooking.  Melt butter into a saute pan over medium heat.  Add vegetables and saute until carrots are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.  Season vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine rice and vegetables and place into a greased casserole.  Bake at 375* for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.  Print Recipe

And since I am on a packaged food kick today I decided to make a banana cream pie using a premade graham cracker crust and jello instant pudding.  I did make the whipped cream from scratch though LOL.

Banana Cream Pie

1 graham cracker crust
1 pkg.(5 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
2 1/2 c. milk
2 large ripe bananas
1/2 pint heavy cream (whipping cream)
2 t. powdered sugar

Make pudding according to package directions using only 2 1/2 c. milk.  Slice bananas onto bottom of graham cracker crust, it is okay if they are piled on top of each other.  Pour pudding over bananas and refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hrs.  When ready to serve, place whipping cream and powdered sugar into small bowl of a stand mixer and beat using the whisk attachment until light and fluffy.  Serve each slice of pie with a dollop of whipped cream.  Print Recipe

It's the small things....

“One word can end a fight; One hug can start a friendship; One smile can bring Unity; One person can change your entire life!” 
― Israelmore Ayivor

When I read the prompt for Five Minute Friday today, this quote immediately popped into my mind.  Five Minute Friday is a writing exercise where a group of us come together and are given a word prompt.  Then we set a timer and we write on that one word for 5 minutes.  When the time is up we stop.  We don't overthink or overanalyze our writing.  We just write and we would love if you would join us.


My Pops. brother and nephew have been on my mind a lot lately.  I guess it is because this is my nephew's birthday month and also his death month.

They were all wonderful men with many great qualities....but it is not these great qualities that I miss.  It is all the small things that I miss.  I miss the small caresses, the shared laughter, the hugs and the tears.  I miss being able to talk to them about anything and everything.  I miss their support when I have troubles and I miss their encouragement when things are going swimmingly for me.

They say that you should take care of the small things in life and the big things will then take care of themselves.  I have found this to be true.  The small things like making sure you drink enough water or eat a healthy breakfast often set the tone for the entire day.


My Pops and my brother, Dan, in the foreground.
My brother, Larry and grandnephew Gavin being held by my brother, Gary, in the background.

My Pops and my nephew, Danny.