Friday, January 23, 2015

LOVE ME, LOVE MY KITCHEN



    

  I couldn't get enough of holding this little cutie and it is making me inpatient for my granddaughter.  2 more weeks!  I bet MC is happier than I am about this.  ;-)



I made a promise to Kevin to make a few meals before she had the baby, while they had to work and  deal with being tired and a bit stressed out.  These are the times that I feel so blessed that I don't have a job outside of the home, and that my kitchen is my favorite place in the whole house.  Things have been bubbling away since I did a big shopping on Monday.  This is a huge pot of soup of lentils, sausage and Swiss chard.  Daughters Emily and Abby said, "Forget it, Kevin will never eat this."  I said, okay,  he can go to McDonald's then.  Son Jeff said, "Make healthy 'stuff' for him'".  They are going hiking in the spring for Jeff's bachelor party.  Kevin has been running every day.  We'll see.  

Recipe links will be listed in a future post or if you follow me on Pinterest, you can find most of them there.   More on that later.



STUFFED SHELLS

1)  While you boil your shells, (1 lb.) in a sea of salted water, make your sauce.  I use 2 jars of pasta sauce...I like to mix them..here I did an Arrabiatta  (sp?) sauce mixed with Emeril's garlic marinara (he has super tasty red sauces).  When I have time, I make my own sauces but for now...we do the convenient.  Heck, I've made my own pasta as well, I'm not going to try to impress with this recipe!  However, to this sauce I added one pound of cooked ground sweet Italian sausage, as well as 1 medium chopped green pepper and a handful of fresh basil.  Let simmer on low for 1/2 hour to meld the ingredients. 

2)  Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together a 16 oz. container of Ricotta cheese, 1 cup of shredded mozzarella, two beaten eggs and two tablespoons of parsley.  

3)  Drain shells when just soft.  Mix a tablespoon of olive oil into the colander and toss several times to keep them from sticking and to drain excess water from their folds.    

4)  Assemble a work surface.  Spread out shells and have a 9x13 dish ready with a few spoonfuls of red sauce on the bottom..  Place a shell on a cutting board and with a teaspoon, add about two dollops of the cheese mixture.  Use your (clean) fingers to sort of tuck that cheese in.  Place into the dish.  Keep repeating until you have two layers of shells.  Don't try to be perfect.  This takes patience.  Enjoy the process, it's so worth it.  

5)  Spoon the red sauce over, top with about 1 1/2 cups of shredded Mozzerella, as evenly as you can...then give it a good sprinkling of Parmesan.  

6)  Bake 40 minutes covered with foil.  Remove foil and give it a few minutes under the broiler, watching very carefully. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before you serve.  Use a big old metal spoon.  This should not be cut like lasagna, although it looks like it should.

I try to make recipes sound doable...maybe some look complicated in the crazy way I write them.  I simply believe that when I was a young "cook", I shied away from recipes that had a mile long list of ingredients.  Sometimes half of those involved spices.  Still, it looked daunting.  I try to make my recipes look and cook "friendly"...for all of you by listing the ingredients in bold.  You can assemble them easily this way.

 



As late as it is, I'm off to make one more dinner to freeze for my lovebirds, and the dough for the cookies.  I simply feel alive, worthwhile and earnestly chuffed to do this.

I will see all of you soon.  Many prayers for those on the east coast...we've heard of the treacherous weather coming your way.

I also wanted to mention that I joined Instagram, and you can find me here if you want to follow me.  And you can also follow me on Pinterest here.  No big deal, I think you might like to see some of my "found" recipes that are so Go To!!

Jane xx


Joining in with Thoughts from Alice

Sunday, January 18, 2015

ONGOING ORGANIZING AND SOME JANUARY DRIVEL


I found a few cool things, I used to love to go through the piles of old linens at some of the antique stores we would find in little towns.  Pillowcases like these were snapped up without a second thought.  I have a few with the handkerchief closure.  Just buried and very musty smelling in this long overdo~to~be~cleaned out linen closet.  I washed everything twice.  With lots of bleach.  And I ironed a lot.  Well I did that because I left everything in the dryer overnight.  

 

I also felt I was coming up short on hand towels so I ordered a few from Macy's, which was having a "Blowout" one day only sale.  I think I missed all the white sales this month which is odd as I get every conceivable offer from every conceivable store in my email box every day.  Maybe I mindlessly deleted them.  

So...you saw the closet "Before" picture here. And now we have this:



On a funny note, I was awoken this morning to The Husband banging around in his closet.  He had made an 8:00 a.m. trip to Home Depot and was in the midst of repairing his closet organizing system.  He has one of those kind that you spend all day putting together; wire shelves on metal brackets.  It's always falling apart.  I liked this...sort of a domino effect. :)















Jane x 

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

SOME ORGANIZING & THE THINGS WE EAT








Today I caved and went downstairs to my storage room, which is starting to look like a garage sale in the making.  I found a cloche and some pinecones for my coffee table and added some of my decorating books.




I found these S & P shakers at Terrain a few years ago.  If you look closely, they are mini Mason jars.




I've been back on my low carb/no carb diet since January 1 and so far, so good.  Abby on the other hand decided to go with whole foods and little dairy or excess fat.  She has been making smoothies with our new Magic Bullet (a Christmas grab bag gift).  I can't have fruit but I've tasted a few.  The strawberry/pineapple/banana/Greek yogurt is a winner.  Anyway, she wanted to go to a restaurant we've recently discovered called The Harvest Room.  The food is farm to table, organic or organically raised.  They make their own biscuits, jam, syrups, soups and pastries.  The menu was incredibly interesting...if you are curious and want to scratch your head in confusion a lot as I did, here is their website.  

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So who eats tuna salad simply because they love it?  Crave it?  If you crave more it can only be because you are still ravenous.  Still, here is my tuna salad recipe.

1 pouch of tuna in water (one serving size)
2 T mayonnaise 
1/2 stalk of celery sliced thin
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t Mrs. Dash
A pinch of parsley flakes

Mix all and chill one hour (preferably...I never plan ahead and usually devour it as is).  Serve on a few iceberg lettuce leaves.



January means organizing and goals to eat better and be more active for so many of us.  Dr. Oz, whose new magazine is just terrific, wrote in the January issue, "So many New Year goals fail because we expect immediate results.  When that doesn't happen we throw in the towel."  I agree that we have to be in it for the long haul.  Be patient no matter what your plan is. 

I was going to go back to the gym this week.  I found that I just needed more space between the chaos of the past few weeks and a true commitment.  It's pretty easy to have that goal shimmering in front of me full of promise.  Then there is the harsh reality of completing that first run around the track and remembering how much I hate to exercise!

Off I go to work on that closet.  Maybe I'll burn a few calories while I'm doing it.

Jane x

Monday, January 12, 2015

A BABY SHOWER


I threw together the sugar cookies the night before after the Red Velvet cookie debacle.  This simple and delicious recipe came from Jennifer at Town And Country Living.  I used decorating sugar on some of them and the others I dipped in white chocolate and then sprinkles.  Fun!  These would be great for Valentine's Day.

















I had lofty plans for today; go to the gym and get a manicure...or one or the other.  I settled on neither! lol.  It's 23 degrees, my car is covered in icy snow...okay, excuses.  I'm just so darn lethargic today.  I know I will perk up soon.  I have a few projects to get done this week, mostly involving some cleaning and organizing.  I wonder why January is such a popular month for that.  Is it because we are housebound?  Bored?  That it all went out the window during the holidays?  I have to say, I do get motivated seeing the magazines and blogs with their tips and solutions for everything imaginable.  Maybe it's a way to make a clean slate for the year ahead.  Sounds good to me.

Below is a list of the party food links.  I would highly recommend everything I chose to make, nothing about the recipes is difficult, unless you want to make everything at once as I did!  Ha!

See all of you soon!

Jane x



Joining Marty at Inspire Me Tuesdays 

Friday, January 9, 2015

PRE~PARTY PREP & OFFICE REDO REVEAL


I love the little stork banner we have hanging from the fireplace.  And yes, that's a big old crack in the marble that happened when it was being put in.  The installer and carpenter both pointed to each other in blame and it was never resolved.  We've lived with it for 25 years.  Just wanted to point that out in case you thought I didn't know it was there.



I could not get good lighting due to the limited light in the hallway and the room is so tiny, that's where I had to stand to get my shots.  The giclee painting was my inspiration...just a little femininity in keeping a very simple, calming decor in a small space.   I had bought the painting for the living room but it was a no go, I knew I would use it somewhere else, either here or the lakehouse.  I like it right here and this is proof positive you can use large pieces in a small space...at least on the walls!  Oh, and that's the clock I painted which I mentioned in my last post. 



When our home was added on to back in the 1950's, this part of it was a Mother In Law's Quarters.  And this room was originally the kitchen, there is actually a gas hook~up.  I turned it into a nursery of sorts when we moved in; a crib, changing table and dresser.  I could stand in the center of the room and reach everything.  It was perfect for the girls until they came out of their cribs into beds, and then they moved across the hall.  It became a toy room and finally an office.



In a nutshell, I only added the message boards.  Everything else was here.  It's such a good feeling to have a "new" room.  Did I mention I never go in here?  Nope, maybe just to print something. My laptop and a cozy blanket are all I need.   



Cut up a half bunch of asparagus, just the tips and another two inches down for a total of one cup. Chop 1 1/2 cup of broccoli and then blanch both simply by pouring a kettle (or pot) of boiling water over  while they sit in a colander in your sink.  Let cool for five minutes.  I also used two green onions that I coarsely chopped and sauteed in a T of butter for just a minute or two.  In a bowl, whisk 8 eggs, room temperature, 1/3 c. heavy cream, and 1 T melted butter.    Add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir in the veggies and 3/4 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded, and then pour into a greased or oil sprayed pie or tart pan.  I grated a little fresh Parmesan over the top but that's optional.   Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.  Let cool before cutting.  Enjoy!



And then I made Red Velvet cookies, one of those recipes where you utilize a cake mix.  After I baked them for the 14 minutes the recipe stated, I found they were still gooey inside.  So I kept adding a few more minutes here and there and finally, even though they were very soft, I took them out to cool.  Then I put them in a big plastic bag to keep fresh.  I got up in the middle of the night for a drink of water and I just had an odd feeling about those cookies.  I took one out of the bag...it was rock hard.  Seriously, a red hockey puck.  I tossed the whole bag in the trash in case Abby decided to take a few in her lunch.  I could imagine a livid call from her with a  broken tooth.  So this is not a good way to start out working on the menu.  I'm going to throw together a basic sugar cookie recipe today and jazz them up with a glaze and sprinkles.  There were also two other recipes I had to ditch, one required fresh cranberries, the other fresh figs.  Three stores later (in -2 degree weather), I had to give up the search.  I hope our guests come on a full stomach.

Okay, off I go into the land of reality.  Did I mention The Husband put two loads of his clothes in the laundry room?  Perfect timing.  

I'll be back next week!

Jane x

Tea Sandwich picture source here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

JANUARY PROJECTS & BABY SHOWER PREPARATIONS


Layla is sick as, well, a dog.  Remember Tulo, my granddog coming over and spreading his upper respiratory infection to Milo and Layla?  This was a good week before Christmas.  Milo recovered very well, but Layla had to go on a second course of antibiotics.  She finished that up last week and then over the weekend she kept pawing at her left ear and whimpering.  Yesterday morning I was at the vet as soon as they opened.  Major ear infection, raw throat and fever.  She had to have a chest x-ray and fluids.  My heart was aching for her.  So she has ear drops and two meds that I give her every morning.  This pic was last night...poor thing.  Today she is much better.  I hope this is the end of animal flu season.   










So I worked on the mantel yesterday, adding only some mercury glass for a bit of sparkle and lots of votive holders so I can have the soft candlelight on dreary days and cold nights.  







Since space is limited, we decided to have the shower in mid afternoon so we wouldn't have to do a full on meal.  It's all finger foods.  I have a great selection of tea sandwiches to make, as well as small~bite appetizers.  Emily is getting a few dozen petit fours, tarts and small pastries from a local bakery.  Then tea, coffee, pop and wine.  We collected all of our cake plates and tiered stands, stocked up on candles, vases and a few odds and ends from Michael's and The Dollar Tree.  We are so budget savvy!  I'm so excited.







So...the house is as clean and organized as it's going to get.  Tomorrow I have a trip to the grocery so I can start on some of the fillings for the sandwiches and some little sweets I'm adding to the bakery items.  We're going to get little white tea roses to scatter around in bud vases.  I'm so happy that Emily has had so many money saving ideas, she did this with her wedding, too, and it was simply lovely.  I'm very excited.  

Kevin stopped in tonight.  The baby may be arriving sooner than the due date of February 11.  She is estimated to be over 9 pounds already.  This is one healthy girl!  So she may be coming as early as February 3rd or 4th depending on the doctor's schedule.  The  3rd is my birthday...wouldn't that be something!

I'm off now, a busy few days ahead.  I will get as many pictures as I can on Saturday.  And then...I have nothing but free time for a few months!  I think I might just go into shock with that!

Stay warm!

Jane x