Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Menu

We are having our after dive party this Saturday.  This is a get together where all who went on the last dive trip come over with cd's of their photos and we all ooooh and aaaaah over the great shots that we got.  And it gives us an opportunity to see each other and share some laughs.

This year, since it is so close to Cinco de Mayo, I am going with a Mexican menu.  I thought I would share it with you all now and then follow up with the recipes and photos in another post, and since we are celebrating on Saturday it will give you time to plan your own fiesta for May 5th.

Cinco Tres de Mayo Menu

Guacamole and Chips
Chips and Salsa  (Provided by Sharon)
Pico de Gallo and Chips (Provided by Gayle)
Ceviche (Provided by Linda)

Salad (Provided by Linda)

Chicken Enchiladas
Sweet Corn Tamales

Refried Beans
Green Rice
Fruit Platter

Frank's Famous Rum Punch

WWW Wednesday

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

  What are you currently reading? I just started Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Malory
 • What did you recently finish reading? I just finished Little Girl Lost by Brian McGilloway
Little Girl Lost (DS Lucy Black #1)
 • What do you think you’ll read next?  Perhaps C.S. Lewis; A Life Inspired.

Sleep Eludes Me

Another sleepless night....well, not sleepless exactly....I fall to sleep easily enough and I sleep soundly until I awaken between 2 and 4 am.  Then I lie here, wide awake...I read, I play games on my phone, I check emails, I go on facebook, I look at pinterest and before you know is 6 am and the day has begun.  The dogs want out and to be fed, the baby chicks need care, Ting is getting up for work and life has started.

This occurs more often than not in my life.  I don't normally feel tired during the just confounds me because I ALWAYS needed at least 8 hrs of sleep and now my body seems to function fine on less.  I still am ready for bed each night by 10 pm but my body rhythm seems to have changed.

Oh well, Mom is at Dawn's so I can lounge around with my book and if I fall back to sleep it will be a bonus.  Last night I started reading Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy.  So far I am enjoying it.  As I mentioned in my last book review, the last two books I read had characters who I did not like at all so I am pleased that, so far, I like each character that has been introduced in this novel.

It should be a quiet day today, my schedule is clear...I need to call and make Mom a dentist appt but other than that there is nothing pressing that must be done.

Dick is picking Mom up this evening and taking her out to dinner.  Afterwards he will drop her off with Ting here at home.  We are going to the Fisher Theatre to see Sister Act.  I am looking forward to it.  We are picking John up and then Kirsten is meeting us at J Baldwins Restaurant which is very close to her work.  After dinner we will head to the theatre where we will meet up with several of our friends from choir as well as the students who are in choir at our parish High School. It's going to be a fun night.  I will let you know how the play was tomorrow.  See you then.

Just some Random Observations is a fun little project started by my friend, fellow blogger and fellow caregiver, Lisa at My Sweet Peanut.  Each Wednesday, Lisa has one of her children draw a word from a jar in which she placed 51 Random words.  Then we all meet together and write whatever comes to mind on that one word.  It is a place where caregivers or people who care about caregivers join together and share their joys, burdens, triumphs and failures.  A place where you can get a pat on the back, a chuckle, a cry or a hug.  Please join us.

Today's Random word is.......RANDOM.

Just some Random no particular order, just whatever floats into my mind....Randomly.

It is no wonder that everyone is surprised by what comes out of Mom's mouth sometimes.  She looks nowhere near 93 years of age, takes no medications, and walks unaided as well as anyone.  People don't expect her to not have complete control of her mind when she looks so good.

  • The other day, Mom said she had a tooth bothering her.  I made a mental note to call the dentist.  That evening I asked Mom how her tooth was....she looked at me like I was nuts and asked "What tooth?"  Last night she spent the night at my sister, Dawn's, house as she does each Tuesday.  Dawn called to let me know that Mom's tooth was barely holding on by a thread.  So, of course, now I have a case of the guilts because I didn't react when I should have.
  • Mom is usually in a pretty good mood.  She laughs a lot, she loves being around people, she still has a sense of humor.  It makes me wonder if she does have Alzheimer's or if it is just Dementia.  Either way I seldom see my "mother" there in my Mom's body.
  • I can't believe I said "just" Dementia....I must be demented!!
  • When Mom first started showing signs of whatever disease this is that she has, she became very OCD.  She would do things like count her money over and over, put her earrings into pairs for hours at a time, go through her clothes...folding and refolding.  I likened it almost to a form of autism.  Now she does things repeatedly but it is no longer OCD, it is just that she has forgotten that she just did whatever it was she was doing.  I watched her brush her teeth 3 times, one after the other before her shower last week.  I finally had to physically take the toothbrush from her hand and lead her into the shower. 
  • Mom can stare into space for the longest time and when asked what she is thinking, she will respond with a blank stare and wonder what you are talking about.
  • Mom is tired, all the time, she awakens tired.  At least, I think she awakens, perhaps she doesn't sleep while the rest of us are.  She goes to bed earlier each night, sleeps later each morning and nods off during the day.
  • I love when I introduce Mom to people as my mother and she looks at them, shakes her head and whispers that she is my if I am the one who has lost my mind!!  The looks on their faces is priceless.
That is all the Randomness I can come up with this morning.  I hope you stop by One Word Wednesday for more Random thoughts on the word Random. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Reviewing......Books, Chicks and Try it Tuesday Dinner

I finished Little Girl Lost this morning.  I must be on a roll.  This is the second book in a row in which I could not find any characters that I liked.  The first being Gone Girl which you will see reviewed at the link attached to Little Girl Lost.  But at least Gone Girl kept me on the edge of my seat and made me want to keep reading to find out what was going to happen next.  Not so with Little Girl Lost.  I was so disappointed for so many reasons.

Little Girl Lost (DS Lucy Black #1)

  • The protagonist is a female officer working in crimes involving children which was my life career.
  • The protagonist is caring for a parent suffering with Alzheimers, which is what I am doing currently.
  • It was a mystery, which is one of my favorite genres for reading material.
  • It had a strong female lead character.  I hate nothing more than whiny, petulant woman placed into starring roles of books.
  • It is first in a new series and I like reading continuing sagas of books.
So why didn't I enjoy it?
  • I did not find any of the characters in the least bit likeable.
  • The book was full of victims, there was not one victory in the entire book
  • There was not one moment of happiness in the entire book
  • There was no happy ending and no ending that would make you ever want to come back to see what happens next in the life of the protagonist.
That is not to say that it was a bad book.  It was well written, it flowed nicely and while it did not call me to come back to it or to not put it down it still held my attention while I was reading it.  Maybe I was just expecting too much....Kind of like when you see all the hype for a new movie and can't wait to see it only to be disappointed that it didn't live up to your expectations.

I will be linking up with List it Tuesday.  Join us there for more Listing fun.

In other news...It has been 1 week since my chicks arrived.  I thought I would update you on how much they have grown.

Chicks at 1 week of age.

I have moved them into a much larger pool.  They now have two feeders that are filled twice a day and a 3 gallon waterer that is filled each morning.  The first week, I had to clean the shavings twice. I will probably need to move that up to every other day this week and every day the following week when (hopefully) they will be ready to be moved into their coop....unless we are still having below freezing temperatures in May!!!!  We lost one meat chicken the first night.  I found it trampled to death in the morning.  We lost one laying hen who came to us sick but who did not seem to affect the other chicks.  That should be the end of those that we lose, normally if they make it through the first week they will be fine.  The next time we need to worry about losing any meat chickens is as they start growing.  You have to limit the amount of food they have access to as they will eat themselves right into a heart attack.

And finally, I want to share my Try it Tuesday Dinner with you.  I adapted my recipe from this one found on The Clever Carrot.

I wanted to use legs and thighs from chicken tonight as I am serving Chicken Marsala on Friday for Frank's birthday celebration and had to defrost 4 of my chickens to have enough breast meat.  I had printed out this recipe a while back so this was a perfect opportunity for me to try it.

Dinner is served.

I LOVED this dish.
It is a Rustic Chicken Stew.
I had visions of sitting at a sidewalk cafe, sopping up the delicious juice with crusty bread.

Frank did not care for it as much as I.  He thought it was just okay...but then he doesn't like artichokes or olives...both of which this dish demands for it's juicy, tangy goodness.

Mediterranean Baked Chicken
adapted from Dinner Tonight:The Clever Carrot

Marinade: 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
               3 T marinade from Artichoke Hearts
               2 T. Olive Oil
               Leaves from 3 sprigs of fresh Oregano
               4 chicken legs, skin removed
               4 chicken thighs, skin removed

Place all ingredients into a large sealable bag. Marinade in the refrigerator for 1-3 hrs.

1 lg. Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 (14 oz) Jar Marinated Artichoke Hearts
1 (14 oz) can white northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 c. Kalamata olives, pitted
1 small tub marinated Bocconcini (small Mozzarella Balls)
2 T. olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. white wine or chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400*.  Toss onions and tomatoes with olive oil in a roasting pan.  Place in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and tomatoes start to pop.
While veggies are roasting, brown chicken pieces in remaining olive oil over med high heat in a large fry pan. 

Remove roasting pan from oven.  Add browned chicken, artichoke hearts, beans and olives. Drain excess grease from frying pan, return to heat and add wine or chicken broth.  Deglaze pan, scraping up all the tasty brown bits stuck to the pan, pour over chicken and vegetables in roaster. Toss ingredients and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 

Remove chicken from oven and toss with the Bocconcini, allowing it to melt slightly.  Move to serving dish and drizzle with remaining artichoke juice and additional olive oil if desired.

Sharing this post with Wednesday Whatsits, Thrive at Home, and Thrifty Thursday.  Stop by for tons of great recipes, ideas and inspiration.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Humdrum Monday

I can tell that I had a very busy last couple of weeks because today I have no

  •  gumption,
  •  energy,
  •  get up and go, 
  • oomph
  • ....I got nothing.
It is after Noon and I am still lounging around on my bed.  Just so you don't think I am too slothful...I have been up and down a few times...

  • I emptied and loaded the dishwasher,
  •  got Mom and Nancy breakfast,
  •  threw in some laundry,
  •  folded some laundry, 
  • took care of the chicks...
but I have not made my bed...and in between each of my simple little chores, I have returned to my bed and

  • played on my computer,
  •  read my book,
  •  talked on the phone and 
  • basically did nothing.  
It's been great!!!

But it is almost over, my day of relaxing, because Nancy leaves in 45 minutes and then my day begins whether I am ready or not.

Kim is in town so we will be having yoga here tonight and we are scheduled for the next 4 weeks in a row. So eventually I will be going down to make sure the basement is presentable.  We had our Meatless Monday Dinner before yoga tonight since Ting wasn't feeling well and stayed home from work today. Normally, we would yoga first because you don't want to eat within an hour before class and Ting wouldn't be home in time from work but tonight we had dinner at 5pm.

We were originally having Pasta with Tomatoes and Spinach tonight but I ended up using the spinach for last night's sauteed greens.  But I have other goodies in my fridge so now we are having Pasta Primavera instead.
Pasta Primavera is simply any pasta you have in the cupboard tossed with any vegetables you have in the refrigerator.  That's it.....easy peasy.

I pulled out a variety of vegetables that were in my refrigerator.

Heat 1 T. butter with 1 T. olive oil

Then you start sauteeing the vegetables in batches.
Season each batch with salt and pepper as you go.
Always start with the aromatics.

Next add in any hard vegetables that are going to take the longest to cook.
Cut the veggies into uniform pieces.

After a minute or two, add the softer vegetables.

Add the tomatoes, if using, at the very end.

Add the Italian Seasonings when you add the tomatoes.

Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any browned bits.
Then add the chicken broth and boil until reduced and thickened.

Toss with cooked pasta and enjoy.

Pasta Primavera

1 med. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups of  a variety of vegetables, the more colorful the better, cut into uniform pieces
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. oregano
1/2 t. basil
1/2 c. white wine
1 c. chicken broth
8 oz. pasta, cooked according to package directions

Melt butter into oil over med high heat in a large saucepan.  Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened and fragrant.  Add any hard vegetables, (carrots, brocolli, green beans, etc) season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the soft vegetables, (summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms, etc) except tomatoes, if using, and cook for another minute.  Add any tomatoes and the thyme, oregano and basil.  Add the wine and deglaze the pan scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom and sides.  Add the chicken broth and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until the liquid is reduced and thickened.  Toss with pasta of your choice, cooked according to package directions.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday Night Steaks

We were originally going to go out for dinner tonight but our plans got changed.  I hadn't planned dinner for tonight, so I went into the freezer and the first thing I saw were some Rib Steaks so I pulled those out.  I had some Russet Potatoes that I could bake and I had gotten some lovely red and yellow beets from Door to Door Organics this week, so I threw them into the oven to roast and saved the greens to mix with a half bag of spinach that was in the fridge for Sauteed Greens.

So I went back to my post from Saturday and edited in dinner for tonight on my Weekly Menu. Voila...dinner is planned.

It doesn't get much easier than grilled steaks...especially for me, since Frank does the grilling LOL.  The beets are simply wrapped in foil and roasted until fork tender and then tossed in a balsamic glaze.  You can find the recipe here.  Simply eliminate the carrots and substitute yellow beets.  The Potatoes get wrapped in foil and baked along with the beets.  And the greens need only be washed, chopped and sauteed with bacon, onions and garlic for a delicious side dish.

Cook diced bacon until crisp.
Add onions and garlic, saute until tender and fragrant.
Add Greens and saute quickly until wilted.

Sauteed Greens

2 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
4 c. greens (you can use spinach, beet greens, chard, kale, etc)

In a large saute pan over med high heat brown bacon, remove all but 2 T. of bacon grease.  Add onions and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until tender and fragrant.  Add greens and toss until wilted.

Feeling Melancholy over Max

Max has left for the airport.  I had thought that we would be taking him and Em out for an early dinner and then drop him at the airport but they wanted to be alone and I can certainly understand that.  Goodbyes are very hard for Max and it breaks my heart each time he has to leave us.

So now it is very quiet here, we had a lunch of leftovers of the meals made from leftovers and there are no leftovers leftover.

I don't know what the rest of the day will hold but we have clear skies and sunshine today so that will help us get over our melancholy

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Young Love

All the kids met at Shelby's home for photos before the prom.  The limo picked them up there and will return them there at midnight tonight.  Shelby's parents were very welcoming to the parents of 16 teenagers who all wanted photos.  There were snacks and drinks and laughter and fun.  When the kids return home there will be food and relaxation before they all head home for the night.  It was fun watching them all.  They were grinning ear to ear and they all looked wonderful!!

The whole gang.

Don't they look lovely?

They will have a great time!

Birthday Brunch/Casual Game Night/Weekly Menu

Today is Max's birthday so we surprised him with a Birthday Brunch.  The Awesome Emily Turner and her family joined us along with Dick and Jackie, and our friend, Sandy, who was Max's area coordinator when he lived here as our exchange student.

We had to have brunch because Max and Emily are going to prom tonight.  Stay tuned for photos.

I served Bacon, French Toast Casserole, Scrambled Eggs, Carrot Spice Muffins, Cheesy Potato Casserole, Mini Bagels with Cream Cheese, Melon and of course Birthday Cake made by Frank using his mother's recipe for Buttercream Frosting.

French Toast Casserole is one of my stand by brunch items.  You can make it the day before and just throw it in the oven an hour before you want to eat.  I think this recipe was originally from Pillsbury.  I love those little recipe booklets that you pick up in line at the grocery store.  But it has been so long since I first started making this that I cannot swear that it came from them, it may have come from a magazine or something.

I made a double batch today but I will give you the recipe for a single batch.

It's as easy as can be.
Whisk together the eggs, cream and vanilla.

Cube the bread.
Place it in a buttered casserole.
Pour the custard over it and mix it around so that all pieces of bread soak up the custard.
Cover and place in the refrigerator over night.

French Toast Casserole

1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread
4 eggs
1 cup half and half
1 t. vanilla

Cube bread and place in a buttered casserole.  1 loaf of bread will fill an 8x8 casserole.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over the bread, making sure all the pieces soak up some of the custard.  Cover and Refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350* for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Print Recipe

I think that almost everyone has their own version of Cheezy Potato Casserole, and their own name for the recipe as well but I thought I would share my version with you.

Another easy recipe that can be made ahead and just thrown in the oven before serving.
I throw everything into the roaster and mix it up so I don't have extra dishes dirtied.
I used whatever cheese I have on hand.  Today I had partial packages of cheddar, mozzarella, 
Swiss and a Mexican blend that I put together to equal 2 cups.

Cheezy Potato Casserole

1 pkg  frozen southern cut potatoes, thawed
1 small onion, diced
1 can cream soup (I used cream of mushroom today)
1 c. sour cream
1 c. half and half
2 c. shredded cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a casserole.  Bake at 350* for 1 hr. or until bubbly and golden on top.

Cake by Frank

Mom Klik's Buttercream Frosting

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. crisco, room temperature
2 c. sugar
2 c. milk
2 t. vanilla

Bring milk just to a boil. Reduce heat and slowly stir in sugar until dissolved.  Let chill in refrigerator.

Whip Crisco and Butter together.  Slowly add cold sugar/milk mixture beating continuously.  Add vanilla, continue to beat until light and fluffy.  Print Recipe

The party was a great success.  We have been having a ton of parties lately.  So many that yesterday Mom asked "What time is the party today?" I answered that we were not having a party and she asked why not???

Max and Em getting ready to make their plates.

Happy Birthday Max
May all your wishes come true!!

This evening we are having John and Kirsten and our friends, the Nutters, over for a casual dinner of Sloppy Joes and game night.

Tomorrow we will go out to eat before taking Max to the airport.

Wednesday we are going out to dinner and then to the theatre to see Sister Act.

Friday we will be having another party!!  This one to celebrate Frank's Birthday.

Here is my complete Weekly Menu.  Stop by each day for photos and recipes and join us at Menu Plan Monday for more great menu ideas.

Cole Slaw (leftover from Ting's party)
Cheezy Potatoes (left from Brunch)
Melon (left from Brunch)
Brownies (provided by Kirsten)

Rib Steaks
Baked Potatoes

Garlic Bread

Try it Tuesday
Roasted Red Skin Potatoes
Tossed Salad

Out for dinner 

Hot Dogs

Friday-Frank's Birthday Celebration
Italian Baked Chicken
Green Beans
Strawberry Torte