Friday, January 31, 2014

Week 4 Friday (1/31/14)

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Spicy Lemon Garlic Shrimp
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Pages 206-207      Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 342 calories per serving, if 6 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         In creating this fabo dish I screwed up.  What a surprise? The recipe called for shrimp in the shell, but I bought shell-less shrimp.  Is there such a word as shell-less or deshelled or just plain old naked shrimp.  I gave the problem a lot of thought – maybe a whole minute – then launched into making it as the directions stated with the exception of the shells. I am so glad the shrimp didn’t have the shells because all of the yummy spices clung to the shrimp. It was mouth-watering!  Now I just love shrimp in every form.  You can grill it, fry it, butter it, and even leave it raw and buck-naked and I am one happy woman. This love came about when I moved to Florida to live with my best friend Kathy Stopka – now known as Kathy Kirchler. We ate a lot of fish and a passion grew over time. I wonder if Kathy still loves seafood as much as I do?  I need to pick up the old phone and touch base.
         Ree has really nailed this dish!  Try it – you’ll like it!

Today’s critics:  We have new guest critics today

Maddie and Trisha Coleman, and their fabulous puppy Cammi
         Trisha said she loved it. She said, “It’s not too spicy but it has a little kick. This would be good served on rice or pasta. Maddie said, “I like it!” Maddie shared a major smile as she ate the dish. Cammi loved to lick Maddie’s hand so we decided it was “finger lickin’ good! (that’s dog language for dog-gone great!)

        Nicole and Gianna Serpico:  Gianna said she loved it! Nicole would make it with larger shrimp, but she loved it, too.

Why Weight?

         Today, I decided to see what the weight range charts say that we should fall into depending on our body frame. The health check system said that since I am 5’6” (yes – I am the incredible shrinking woman – both ways. I used to be 5’7 ½” but I am now only 5’6”. At this rate I could be 5’3” before long – OMG!) I should fall into the range that fits my body type.

Small Frame                  Medium Frame                  Large Frame
120-133 lbs.                  130-144 lbs.                  140 – 159 lbs.

         Of course, we all want a large body frame because then we have less to lose.  The problem is, I think, I have a large body frame because of all of the weight.  I don’t even remember what my body looked like when I was thinner.  So basically, I must fall into the 120 – 159 range.  That seems ridiculous because it is so expansive. So I will just shoot for 159 and then play it by ear.  The other two sites agree with the health check system. 

         Don’t be afraid – go online and type in your height and get your ranges.  Be honest – this is just between you and your computer!

Fabulous “Family” Food

This is a dip Ann Kunzelman (my sister’s mother-in-law) served and passed down through the family. We do not know where the dip originated but she called it Zack’s Dip.

Zack’s Dip

1 lb. melted processed cheese (cubed)
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 lb. hot pork sausage
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small onion, chopped
Frito Scoops, to serve

Directions:  Add the ingredients and heat in a crock pot.  Serve it when all ingredients are hot and have melded together.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 4 Thursday (1/30/14)

Happy Birthday to Me!  Today I turned a whopping 58 years old.  I have to say that birthdays don't really mean a lot to me anymore.  I guess it is because it's all about how I feel - not  how old I am.  I am raising a Diet Coke to me!

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Swiss Sliders with Spicy Fry Sauce
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Pages 100-103      Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 480 calories per serving, if 12 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         Whoa Baby, these mini burgers are amazing! The sliders have such a fabulous flavor that they would be perfect on a buffet table, or created bigger as a burger for dinner. Who would think to add heavy cream to beef??  As far as I know - only Ree.  She has the secret to making something that melts in your mouth, has a little zing and leaves you longing for more. The sauce is so easy to make and adds so much to the taste. I actually made a container of it and kept it in the refrigerator as a condiment for other meals.  Have you bought Food From My Frontier yet?  How many fabulous recipes do I need to show you before you buy this amazing cookbook???  I have already purchased 18 of them for friends and family and you need one, too.

There are days when I hate my photographer abilities or lack thereof.
These are so wonderful that you deserve a real photographer.
         I am changing my tastes so quickly that I think I am in shock.  My body does not know how to adjust and deal with this rich, filling, and decadent food. I now love spicy food.  I have always hated the food that made me panic and reach for the cold glass of water, but Ree is exposing me to so many new flavors and tastes that I can’t believe I am experiencing so many new things. This is so not the Dr. Rebecca Scent that is known as the horrible picky eater! I vowed to try everything I could, and am, holding to a vow I made to a woman I have never even met.  My admiration for Ree grows daily and I look to her as my absentee mentor.  Too bad she doesn't even know about me.

Today’s critics: 
         Nicole Serpico:  “The sliders were juicy and good.  I loved the sauce.”

         Brandy – “Loved, loved loved them. Why don't I make sliders more often?? The chipotle sauce, grilled onions, and cheese were great! I really, really enjoyed them!”

Random Reflections

         I am really not a tree person.  I have perennial flowers all throughout my yard but only one tree (except the city’s trees in the parkway).  This beautiful tree is an Autumn Blaze Pear.  It has beautiful color throughout the year.  In the spring it is white, while in the summer it is green. In the fall, it turns a breathtaking red.  It stands guard over my pond by my front door. This is not a messy tree as are other fruit trees. The pears are so small that the birds devour almost all of them. If you are interested in buying a new tree – consider buying an Autumn Blaze Pear.  You won’t be sorry!

The spring beauty!

Turning from summer green to fall red.

Bold, red, and beautiful in the fall.

Irksome Ideas and Images

         Kirk Rd. has always been referred to as “Killer Kirk.”  Now this is not a comforting thought for someone who drives down it every day on her way to work. I believe it got its name because even though Kirk is a busy highway, some genius put curbs on the sides like in a city.  The problems occur when someone hits the curb at a high rate of speed and literally ricochets off and into the other cars thus causing deaths.
         My thought yesterday as I was driving down this road, was a memory of a change in attitude.  Sept. 11th shook up Americans pretty badly.  The greatest change I witnessed at the time was on Kirk Road. People actually began being thoughtful.  No one was weaving in and out and people actually let someone in a lane without a single selfish thought.  For quite a while, Kirk Rd. was a pleasure to drive down on my way to work.
         Unfortunately, we have short memories and now Kirk has returned to its pre-Sept. 11th status.  Do we really need a crisis to remind us to be thoughtful of others and put ourselves second?  I would prefer that we all just do a little something nice for a fellow driver.  How hard could that be?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Week 4 Wednesday (1/29/14)

Before I begin I need to wish Cory Lehman, my fabulous nephew, a Happy Birthday!  
I love ya, man!

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Pam’s Piecrust
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Page 37       Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 163 calories per serving, for two individual piecrust if cut into 16 slices. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         This piecrust is so easy to make, and I love the aspect that it can be made ahead. The recipe makes two piecrusts, which is great because you can make a double thick crust or a top and bottom one if you prefer.  I made the recipe the night before so it reduced the time necessary to actually make the quiche.  The crust was light and rich and buttery. I also like the possibility of making it ahead and freezing it or just keeping it in the fridge for the next day. If you look closely you can see the rich creamy butter!

         I have always been a pie girl and prefer that to cake. Of course, my choice of flavors is small, since I am such a picky eater.  
        Whatever happened to Poppin’ Fresh Pies and Baker’s Square?  How do these places go under?  Is it because they became too big?  Maybe they just should have stayed a small pie company and left the restaurant business to someone else.  I miss them both.  Who will make me a French Silk Pie? The dessert world seems to be headed in the direction of cute cupcakes. I like the television shows but “I don’t want no stinkin’ cupcakes!”  Okay, don’t lose your mind – it was intentional bad grammar. I think it came from some movie but the title is lost to me. I really stink at names and titles. Oh well – I strongly recommend this crust because it is easy, yummy, and a make ahead item.  Think about it!

Gabbin’ About Gratitude

         I love my job.  I have been teaching school for 29 years and I have to say that every day is a fun challenge.  The unique part about my job is that it can be so different from year to year and even day to day.  Each new set of students brings a new beginning for me.  I have been blessed to have taught the greatest kids and have felt very supported by their parents.  Don’t settle for a job that you don’t love.  I have worked in many fields and yet I have to say that teaching was my ultimate profession. 

Memory Musings
       Joy and Jerry Myers and family lived next store to us during my childhood. They had a hill in their backyard and didn’t seem to mind the neighborhood kids taking full advantage of it during the winter months. It wasn’t what you would call a giant hill but for five to ten year olds it would suffice. Most of us had the old wooden sleds of yesteryear. Today, the kids have the fancy plastic round dishes that fly over almost any terrain. We did have a few trees to avoid but it worked well for us and was practically in my backyard. Mom let us have hot chocolate when we came inside which capped off the afternoon and night. The Rainbow Hills kids always enjoyed every season and winter was just as special as every other one.
A big shout out to all of my Rainbow Hills friends!!!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Week 4 Tuesday (1/28/14)

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Cowboy Quiche
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Pages 32-33      Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 428 calories per serving, if 16 servings are made. I make two single crust pies that create 16 servings. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         I absolutely loved this quiche.  It was hearty and filling and I loved every single ingredient.  I had a major crisis creating this yummy breakfast. Because I did not have a deep dish pie plate so I improvised.  BIG MISTAKE!! I placed the pie pan in the oven and went outside to play with my dogs. Suddenly little Sage ran toward the house and frantically tried to get into the door.  I thought she was hurt or stung by a bee.  When I neared the door I thought I heard the timer (even though it was five minutes early). What Sage heard was not the timer, but all of the smoke alarms going off. I ran into the house and checked the oven because the house was filled with smoke.  All of the butter in the recipe had bubbled over, out of the pie pan, and was on fire on the bottom of the oven.  I turned off the oven, removed the pan, and opened every blasted window in the house.
         A side note or random thought – don’t ya just love firemen? I love anyone who will run into a burning building to save me.  Now, I didn’t actually start my house on fire, but just knowing that they will come and save me gives me peace of mind.  A shout out to the fireman I know well, respect, and love.  Thanks a bunch – Leo Veseling, Mike Thomas, and Brian Byrne.  You are the best!
         Now back to the tragedy of the day. My oven was trashed.  Because of the oven crisis, the dish was not cooked in the middle. I decided to clean it off and microwave the glass dish until the middle firmed up.  The glass pan I selected in the beginning was too small for the amount of liquid and butter in the dish.  MY fault – not Rees!  After a lot of problems – the dish turned out great – as you can see from the critics. The best part was that I actually learned how to clean a self-cleaning oven (technological genius I am not). I also stayed up the entire night because I thought the oven at 500 degrees would start the kitchen on fire. I came to this thought because I touched the outside of the oven and the sides felt extremely hot.  I really thought the cabinets that butted up to the oven would ignite.  I called my neighbor, Nicole, and she said not to worry.  I was not really consoled so I called my Mom – who reaffirmed what Nicole had already told me. Apparently, I am a maniac and couldn’t let it go.  Oh well – another sleepless night in Illinois.  Maybe it would have been better if I were in Seattle…or not.
         My issues with fire began when I was a child.  When I was a kid, my neighbor’s house burned to the ground and their two children and dog died in the fire.  Since that time, I have had an unrealistic fear of fire.  It probably was traumatic for me because I watched them pull the dog out of the building.  Unfortunately it imprinted on my psyche and I am permanently damaged.  OMG – I sound pitiful!
         Back on track - this quiche is absolutely wonderful!  It will fill you up and truly make you a happy camper.

These pictures were taken when I remade it into
disposable pie plates to deliver to friends.

Today’s critics: 

         Brandy Lehman:  “Quiche - is that how you spell that? I have no idea? Here is the thing about Quiche with me. I don't like them, none of them, so I tried not to be biased. It was good for Quiche, but like I said, I don't like Quiche. Use Nicole’s review for that one ha ha.”

         Nicole Serpico:  “I would definitely make this crust. The quiche was very hearty.  I want the women’s version!

Why Weight?

         So let’s talk about counting calories and cooking Ree Drummond’s (Pioneer Woman’s) food.  Ree is such a magnificent cook that I worried a little if I could cook her food and continue to lose weight.  Well let me tell you that it can be done.  Of course I wish I was riding the range with her family and punching cattle (to all of those kids reading this it means working with cattle - not hitting them), but I am not fortunate enough to be on the Oklahoma range.  So from the beginning, I figured out how many calories were in each of her recipes. I have to admit that it took a tremendous amount of time but was totally worth it.  I eat Ree’s food every day for every meal.  It is rich and creamy and definitely not diet food.  All you have to do to figure out the calories is look at the packages or just look online.  I typed in
                  HOW MANY CALORIES IN________________?

I was very specific.  Here is an example:
         How many calories in 4 oz. of Bowtie pasta?
                  The answers ranged from 400 to 420 calories because I didn’t type in the brand name of the product.

It is more specific if you just look on the label of the product you actually use to create the dish.

         Of course, I hope everyone is buying Ree’s cookbook to try out the magnificent food, but you can figure out the calories in any recipe easily.  My next challenge is to figure out the calories in her brand new cookbook so I can eat my way through that one, too.  Can you tell I love her cooking? 

My Gorgeous Girls

         Selecting a vet is just as important to me as selecting a doctor for myself. Willow and Sage have wonderful doctors. My cousin, Dr. Craig Stevenson, used to be my veterinarian but unfortunately, he retired. Darn him!  He was the best of the best and I always had complete faith in his abilities. 
         I am so thrilled that we stayed at Sandwich Veterinary Hospital because the vets are amazing. They are all caring individuals who are gifted in their field.
         I think I know the entire staff at the hospital.  They have always been so good to my girls, as they were to my previous shelties.  I love a business where the customer is treated with respect. No matter how ridiculous or annoying my questions have been, I have never been brushed off, ignored, or patronized.
         It is worth a wonderful drive in the country to have a veterinary staff you know and trust!  Give them a call, you won’t be sorry!

Sandwich Veterinary Hospital
1214 East Church St.
Sandwich, IL 60548
815 – 786 – 2103

The amazing vets are:  
Marianne Krumdick, D.V.M.
Theresa Herbers, D.V.M.
Heidi Dinelli, D.V.M.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Week 4 Monday (1/27/14)

Week 4         MONDAY

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Citrus Butter Cookies
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Pages 236-237      Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 216 calories per serving, if 35 cookies are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire I love these cookies.  At first I thought these cookies would taste more like sugar cookies – fool that I am.  Possibly they don’t because the name is butter cookies. Duh! These are heavy wonderful cookies that would be perfect for all holidays and a light snack for the kids.  I felt full after one but they continued to call to me.  The citrus flavors are wonderful.  I broke the bank when I brought them to Norton Creek Elementary School Today, we have oodles of guest critics.

You can see the lemon, lime, and orange zest clinging to the top.  Yum!

Today’s critics: 
        Brandy:  “Very cake-like I thought, and every time I ate one this is what popped in my head "these are so different they’re good" Is that weird? Never had anything quite like those, but they were good.”

        Nicole and Gianna Serpico weighed in with, “I can taste all of the fruit. It is buttery, but I like them.  They are a heavy cookie.” Gigi stated that it reminded her of Christmas. “After a few days, the kids thought the zest on top looked like mold?  They didn’t even know what it was.”
        I took several of these fabulous cookies to school today so we have many guest critics.
         Rachel Friend shared, “I’m not a lemon cookie girl, but this is delicious. The lemon doesn’t overpower everything else!”
         Jenny Anderson said “Yummm!!! This isn’t a cookie that I would grab to satisfy a sweet tooth, but I would love one or two a night with tea.”
         Virginia McGannon wrote, “Very good. Reminds me of a mini scone.”
         Kate Phillips replied, “Good cookie. Tender, moist, and flaky with a hint of citrus flavor. I would have preferred a stronger flavor.  Good frosting.”
         Genesis Madigan wrote, “The cookies are soft and flavorful. I don’t usually like lemon cookies, but these are delicious!”
         Christie Griffin replied, “Zesty and refreshing!  Would be great with a cup of coffee.”
         Joyce Simkus stated, “Delicious! I love citrusy pastries. The glaze is perfect and the inside is moist and dense but crumbles and melts in your mouth. A wonderful treat!”
         Madonna Strom wrote, “The perfect cookie to have with a cup of tea. Refreshing but not too sweet.”
         Kim Verbout said, “Really enjoyable cookie! I love citrus anything. I thought the texture was great.”

Craft Corner

         I love growing flowers.  Working in the garden, getting my hands dirty, and planting something beautiful makes me so happy.  My gardens are my pride and joy all summer long.  I put in a lot of time and energy and it really does pay off. 
         Here is a winter activity you can do while you’re waiting for the real thing to grow.  The pictures show two different floral arrangements that I created. The spring arrangement is one I copied from Straw Flower Shop in Geneva. They had this arrangement in their store, and I loved the look of it, but not the price.  I truly love that store because they sell all of the materials needed to create these arrangements. Now the hard part is going home and recreating the vision in your mind. I would never take a picture of an arrangement because that seems unethical. I just took a picture in my mind by studying it, and was able to complete the arrangement in two days.
         The store clerk allowed me to watch them work their wonders, and I learned how they melted the glue in an electrical skillet. I watched how they worked and was quite successful, if I do say so myself. I love this arrangement and it sits in my entry.

         The winter piece is different. I designed and created this one alone.  I did buy many of the supplies at the Straw Flower Shop because they have the best materials. I grow many hydrangea plants in my yard.  Some of the plants in this vase are purchased and several were dried from my gardens. 

         Try to become more observant as you shop.  I am never afraid to try to create something new.  If it fails – oh well.  No problem. At least I gave it the old college try.

Random Reflections

         I like to take on new challenges in my personal life.  One of my most satisfying as well as challenging was extreme couponing. I loved the show and decided to tackle shopping for less.  I began by purchasing 12 Chicago Tribunes (they gave me a great deal).  I cut out the coupons and then hunted for sale items that I had a coupon for that week. Walmart matches other store’s prices so I went armed with coupons, various sale papers and a great attitude.  Locally, I obtained about 55 – 65% savings.  I was disappointed. I went online and hunted for double coupon stores locally and discovered we do not have these gems. I did find one in Ottawa, Illinois. I made my plan and headed south. 
         Due to their rigid policy, I was limited in how much I could purchase. I did achieve my goal of 97%, but it really wasn’t worth it.  It was too far to go, I could only buy a couple of each item, and I wasted too much time.  The store has tightened their policy so you can only buy so much with each visit.  Apparently, they watched the show, too. Ha!
     The pictures below are of my stash in the height of my shopping sprees.  I do not have nearly this much anymore, but I still cut coupons and save a lot of money.  Try it – you may like it.

It is a little scary being like those people on T.V.

I was up to four shelving units when I cut back to one Tribune.

Laundry soap is one of the easiest to say money on if you cut coupons
and buy it when it is on special.

Wants and Wishes

Wise words can be found on Pinterest. I love this quote from Beth MMBBGC from wickedpaper, the ETSY shop of designers Jason and Cami. I got it from Good Housekeeping  (July 2013).

“You could make a wish, or you could make it happen.”

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Week 3 Sunday (1/26/14)

Recipe Review

Today’s Recipe and Location:  Cherry Limeade
         Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From my Frontier
                           Pages 114-115      Copyright:  2012  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 190 calories per serving, if 12 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

         Ree picked a great name because there is a general debate online about if this should be called a kiddie cocktail or a Shirley Temple. The Minnesota fans call it a Kiddie Cocktail, but New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arkansas, and even Nova Scotia call it a Shirley Temple.  Way to avoid the drama and be creative, Ree! 
         I actually liked this drink but it was a little sweet for me.  I am really a Diet Coke girl and would rarely choose a sweet drink, unless it had ice cream floating in it.

Today’s critics: 

         Brandy:  “Pink Punch Cocktail - DELICIOUS! I loved it, want more, want to put alcohol in it! Nick loved it too. That was a sassy little punch!”
         The Serpicos thought it was too sweet.  Nicole suggested that she would nix all the sugar.  There is enough in the pop, or soda if you prefer and the cherry juice.

Trivial Triffles

         Today I was thinking about how we handle aging.  I read some quotes from people over 100 years old and they all seemed to say that you need an active mind and body. They also discussed that you need to have a reason to get up each day.
         I never thought of it that way. Our minds and bodies need us to stay in touch, tuned in, and active to sustain life. What have you done that was interesting today?

Memory Musings

         If I could aspire to be like anyone in the world, it would be my Grandma Ehrhardt.  She was such a happy, caring woman.  I loved going to spend time with her at her home in Aurora. My grandparents lived in a modest saltbox house and were very happy.  She loved to garden, and I remember helping her pick rubarb and weed her little backyard garden. 
         Her greatest quality was that she was kind.  I never heard her speak ill of anyone. She must have had some of those thoughts, but kept them to herself. All she shared was encouragement and praise. My Grandfather had health issues, but I never heard her complain or whine about her lot in life. She looked for the best in everyone and every situation.  She was kind and generous and volunteered her time.
         I treasure the letters she wrote to me while I was in college.  She had her own style.  She always began with the weather, including the temperature, and then filled me in on what was happening while I was away at school.  I loved getting the mail because she wrote to me a lot.
         I am so blessed to have known and loved this special woman! I thank the Lord for giving me a wonderful role model.