Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week 55 Saturday (1/31/15)

Recipe Review
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Resolution: Purple Smoothie        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Page:  7     Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins

         This is one of the prettiest drinks I have ever seen. The color is so vibrant. This one is filled with beautiful dark purple fruits, veggies, and grape juice.  This drink if filled with healthy antioxidants. It is a truly wonderful breakfast or a refreshing midday treat.  This one is a keeper even if I can’t enjoy it.


Random Reflections

         This past weekend was spent cleaning out old files and shredding paperwork from the early 2000’s. While cleaning the basement, I came to my filing cabinets and realized that I had been storing old tax returns and the paperwork for more than seven years. I can’t believe how long it takes to shred papers.

Helpful Home Hints

         Vacuuming your refrigerator coils can and will save you money. Adding this task to your monthly list can make a big difference in your electric bill, since your fridge will work better. Keeping a list of these monthly tasks, like changing furnace filters and vacuuming the fridge makes it easier to remember.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Week 55 Friday (1/30/15)

Recipe Review
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Boozey Bread Pudding
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Pages: 340 - 342      Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins

       I really liked Ree’s bread pudding, but not being a big fan of rum changed my desire to make this dessert. I must say that if it is half as good as her regular bread pudding then it will be wonderful.

Fabulous “Family and Friends” Food

Mozzarella Beef Roll
Author unknown

1.5 lbs. ground beef
1 teasp. salt
¼ teasp. pepper
1 egg
1 teasp. dehydrated onion flakes
½ c. packaged bread crumbs
1.5 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce with bits
2 Tblsp. vermouth


         Mix first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Shape meat mixture into 14 x 10 inch rectangle on a sheet of waxed paper. Sprinkle meat with mozzarella. Rollup like a jelly roll starting with a short side. Place (seam side down) in a 13 x 9 x 2 loaf pan. Combine tomato sauce and vermouth. Pour half over the meat roll. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Now, pour the remaining tomato sauce and vermouth over the top of the meatloaf. Bake for another 10 minutes. Life onto a serving platter with 2 large spatulas.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Week 55 Thursday (1/29/15)

Recipe Review
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Christmas Rum Pudding Cake
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
         Pages:  324 - 325     Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins   OR

         I was trying to discover the history of rum cake or rum pudding cake, and everywhere I looked the Caribbean was mentioned. Rum was big with the pirates who sailed in the island area. Rum cake became a holiday tradition in this area of the world. I have no idea who first brought it to America, but they didn’t have far to travel to get here.
         I’m not big on the taste of alcohol, so I was not really interested in creating this cake. Maybe, I will make it to take somewhere next Christmas.

Random Reflections

Click on this website and join in the singing:

Here are the lyrics so you can sing along – if I remembered them correctly.

Come and listen to the story of a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer barely kept the family fed.
And then one day he was shootin’ at some food,
And up through the ground came a blubblin’ crude
Oil that is black gold, Texas tea.

Well, the next thing ya know it old Jed’s a millionaire
The kinfolk said, “Jed move away from there”
They said Californey is the place you ought to be
So they loaded up the truck, and they moved to Beverly.
Hills that is. Swimmin’pools, movie stars

       Why the sudden interest in the Beverly Hillbillies? It all came about when I read that Donna Douglas, aka Elly May Clampett, died at the age of 81 of cancer. She passed away at her home in Louisanna.
         Donna portrayed Elly May for nine seasons. She was a unique character on the show. She was rough and tough and a strong animal lover. She was the first animal whisperer.
I also saw her in an Elvis movie, but I don’t remember which one.
         Okay, did you sing the song?  Come on – don’t be embarrassed – we all know it – don’t we?

Irksome Ideas and Images

         This is such a dumb thing to write about, but when has that ever stopped me?  One of the greatest irritations to me is when I am ready to climb into the shower in the morning, and my towel is still in the dryer from yesterday. This could so easily be resolved except that it is drying while I get ready for school. and finishes as I am leaving the house. Of course I don’t remember it when I get home. Oh well – this is probably just a low priority issue, or is it a memory one?  Either way – it still bugs me in the morning.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Week 55 Wednesday (1/28/15)

Recipe Review       
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Resolution: Orange Smoothie        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Pages: 6 - 7      Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 227 calories per serving, if 5 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

            I absolutely love this smoothie. It is similar to a orange dreamsicle.  The fruits are so smooth and refreshing. The calories are low and this one will also be a great breakfast drink for me. In two recipes, I now have made 10 smoothies to enjoy over the next 10 days. My fruit count will be greatly improved after this weekend’s cooking.

The first items I put in were the yogurt and mini carrots

Oh, I just love both bananas and honey

Ree suggested using frozen peaches and mangos.
I love these Great Value packages.

It looks brown in the photo,
but it really has a very orange tint

Here is one of the single servings

The bubbles show the creaminess

Gabbin’ About Gratitude

         I am thankful for Raffaele Esposito of Naples. The website below claims that “In 1889, this wonderful chef created the modern day pizza.  No one really knows when the first pizza was made or who created this masterpiece. Raffaele created his pizza for Italy’s King Umberto I and Queen Margherita.”
         I purchase my favorite pepperoni and black olive pizzas at Pockets on Kirk Rd. in Aurora. They aren’t making this one for a King or Queen, but just a lowly teacher who considers herself  a pizza addict.

Memory Musings

         I was reading through old calendars that I found while cleaning out the basement. I came across a time, when I was being hypnotized by someone, named Damon. My Mom and our friend, Sue Johnson and I, went to some hotel in the suburbs to be hypnotized. The goal was to help with weight loss. We were in a conference room with about 30 people. After about an hour this Damon fellow, came over and told me that hypnotism would never work for me, because I internally refuse to give my power to someone else. Today, I think that remains to be true. It was a good try.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Week 55 Tuesday (1/27/15)

Recipe Review
Today’s Recipe and Location:   Gingerbread House Cookies        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
    Pages: 318 - 320      Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins   OR

         I read everything I could find on gingerbread, and I learned that early recipes for it were found in Greece and China. I was really surprised because I thought it came from Europe. Queen Elizabeth loved the idea of decorating these cookies.  Today, we usually make gingerbread cookies during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Historically, they were made it all year around.
         Ree’s gingerbread cookies look adorable. She has a great house cookie cutter. I thought this was going to be a recipe to make a gingerbread house, not an individual house cookie. This is a whole lot easier than constructing a structure. If you want to try something new – these look good.

My Gorgeous Girls

       I am writing this on Sunday afternoon. It was predicted that we would get around four inches of snow today. Thankfully, all we have so far is a dusting.  The dogs love any amount of snow and have been outside four or five times. They just go outside and eat the snow and guard the yard.

Snow tastes wonderful

Yum!  Yum!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 55 Monday (1/26/15)

Recipe Review                              
Today’s Recipe and Location:     Resolution: Green Smoothie        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Pages:  4 - 5     Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 212 calories per serving, if 5 servings are made without the honey and 160 calories if 5 servings without honey. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

Here is some of the fruit - green grapes,
a pear, and a large banana

The blender was totally full

Had I added the Kale this would have been
bright green, but without Kale it
just turned a soft green color

This made five servings for me

         This is a really fruity smoothie. Think green fruits and they’re here. I have a lot of trouble getting in any fruits in the day, so this is a great way to solve my problem. I did skip two items in the recipe. I am allergic to the pineapple and kale is not okay either, so I left them out. I figured out the calories with the optional honey and without it. I really liked this smoothie, because it is sweet and light. I actually froze the extra servings, so I can have it a breakfast during the week. Low calorie, sweet, yummy, and ready to serve – what more can I ask for each day. It’s like eating sorbet for breakfast.

Random Reflections - Bucket List #43

         I want to be able to do something fun with each of my nieces and nephews individually. I wrote the word day, but I would settle for less. They are all busy and working, but I want to keep our close connection. When our family is all together, it is hard to hear all about where they are in life. So, I want time with each of them alone.

spend a fun day with each of my nieces/nephews
Take a formal cooking class
Organize and host a Christmas Caroling Party
Watch the IMBd list of the best 250 movies
Vacation in Colorado
create a list of home repairs
Prepare to teach a new course at Aurora University
Visit Brookfield Zoo and photograph the animals
Have absolutely no debt
Set up a schedule for next summer to visit area cities
Organize and purge the basement
I am going to learn as much as I can about large animals
Make repairs in each and every room of my home to prepare to sell
Research Hadrian’s Wall for visit to Scotland
Enter a quilt in a local fair
Write a book about school for parents
Host a game party
Purchase a truck
I would like to learn more about fostering animals
Visit the narrowed list of Kentucky towns each for a weekend
Have a B.M.I. of 24.9 or lower
Return to Florida/Alabama and see old friends
Play tennis again
Learn to play bridge
Have an in-ground pool
Finish writing a book on the Scent Family
Save up enough money for a down payment on my Kentucky house
Research every town in Kentucky in hopes of relocating
Work on learning calligraphy and bettering daily penmanship
Begin making my own clothing using a mannequin
Volunteer at an animal rescue
Visit all 50 states
Photography courses
Complete all of Mom’s and my scrapbooks
Go skiing again in Colorado
Meet the Duggar family
Watch every nominee and winner for the Academy Awards to date
Remodel my kitchen
Take piano lessons
Write 2 books for my great-nephews
Travel to Wales
Travel to Scotland
Alaskan cruise

Wants and Wishes

         I want to begin to create a list of places where I can volunteer after I retire. Of course, I would like it to be locally, if at all possible. I hope that I can locate choices that I am deeply interested in at this time.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Week 54 Sunday (1/25/15)

Recipe Review
Today’s Recipe and Location:   My Favorite Christmas Cookies        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
          Pages:  318 - 320     Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins    OR

         The holidays are past, and I am still struggling to lose the extra pounds gained, so these cookies are not going to be made this year.
         The base of these holiday treats is a sugar cookie. I personally love sugar cookies, and can’t think of putting them in my cupboards while I am thinking about staying in my calorie limit. What I think is really cool about these cookies is that prior to baking you paint on a colorful egg wash glaze. After the cookies have cooled, frosting is piped on as an outline. They are really different than other holiday cookies that I have eaten in the past.  I bet we could try these on Easter and use the same recipe and process.  Yep – that’s the plan.

Trivial Triffles

         This is a musical month for me. I learned about the 80th anniversary of The King and I earlier, and now I heard that 2015 is also the 60th anniversary of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I loved this movie as a kid. It had great singing and dancing and a lot of humor. Jane Powell was perfect in the lead as was Howard Keel. I loved finding out that Julie Newman was also in the musical cast. She would go on to play Catwoman in the Batman TV show.

Memory Musings

         After finishing college and getting my teaching degree, I needed to find a job. Of course, I wanted to work in the area where I grew up. I had completed my student teaching in St. Charles at Munhall School.
         I applied for a job in the Fox Valley cities of St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, and West Aurora. My first interview was for a 5th grade in St. Charles with Bob Graham, who at the time was the principal of Wasco Elementary. The interview went well. My next interview was in West Aurora at Freeman Elementary. Their position was a 5/6 part-time position. I was nervous, as there was a panel of three in the interview. They were wonderful. The principal asked to speak privately with the others, as I waited outside the room. He came back out, and told me that I should not take this position. He said that I should have a full time position and he wanted to send me immediately to Greenman Elementary where they had a fourth grade position that was full-time. I was overwhelmed by this compliment. I drove the mile to Greenman, and was interviewed by the principal Doug Zolper. The interview went well, and he said that he wanted to hire me, but that the Admin. Office would call and offer me the job. I left on top of the world.
         This all occurred on a Friday. I called my mentor, Charlie Bell, and asked him what I should do. He told me that St. Charles was waiting on the numbers, and wouldn’t know until Tuesday. He said that if West Aurora called that I should take the sure thing. He said if that happened, he would hire me when he became a principal in St. Charles.
         Within minutes of hanging up with Charlie, the call came from West Aurora. They offered me a fourth grade position at Greenman, and I accepted the position.
         I worked for the West Aurora School District for five years. It was the smartest thing I ever did. Growing up in middle class, white St. Charles was not the real world. Working with such diverse children was a blessing and a true learning experience for me. I loved the students and staff of Greenman.
         Charlie Bell kept his word, and when he was given the principalship of Munhall Elementary, he called and told me to quit my job, because he had a fifth grade for me in St. Charles.
         I am so grateful to Charlie for giving me my start in education.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Week 54 Saturday (1/24/15)

Recipe Review         
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Brandy Snaps        
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Pages:  303 - 305     Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins         OR

         The holidays ran out before I made these exquisite cookies. They looked so fragile and are filled with a wonderful brandy cream. The directions appear to look easy to make, but they also look difficult. I just decided to share the recipe and possibly make them later.

Random Reflections

         Did you know that the musical The King and I will be 80 years old this year? I loved the original version with Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. I actually learned a lot about Siam from the movie, as I had never really learned about it in school. Yul Brenner was the ultimate King. I loved that they made him open minded enough to want his children to learn, yet close minded when it came to polygamy and slavery. Deborah Kerr was wonderful as Anna. I loved her dresses. The singing and dancing made the movie wonderful. If you have an hour and a half, rewatch and enjoy The King and I this week.

Helpful Home Hints

         Where will you be on March 8th at 2:00 a.m?  I will be sound asleep in bed. Sounds like a silly question, right? March 8th is an important day on my calendar, because that is the day we will change our clocks by moving them forward. Did you learn the “spring ahead and fall back” expression? It has always helped me remember which way to move the clock. This is the day I also change the batteries in my smoke and carbon dioxide units. I always find it ironic when smoke alarms do not deploy because of an old battery. A fire that can be deadly because of a careless error. Put a note on your calendar to change yours, and not become a casualty of forgetfulness.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Week 54 Friday (1/23/15)

Recipe Review       
Today’s Recipe and Location:           Lemon Crème Pie Shooters
Found in: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays
                  Pages: 369 - 371      Copyright:  2013  Harper Collins

I figured out that there are 135 calories per serving, if 18 servings are made. (Please note that the calorie counts vary depending on the specific brands of ingredients that you choose to use.)

I think they looked pretty good

         I received compliments on these shooters from the Bunko group. I think they are very sweet. The lemon curd took a while to make, but it finally thickened and looked great. I slightly altered the recipe. When I went to the grocery store they did not have any lemon cookies except Lemon Oreos. The recipe called for soft lemon cookies. Oh well, I just put them in a baggie and smashed them into crumbs. I think the lemon cream in the Oreos actually made these really good.  I did what I had to do to make these little cuties.

Fabulous “Family and Friends” Food

Texas Cake
(Nancy VanMeter)

2 c. flour
½ c. sour cream
½ teasp. salt
2 c. sugar
1 teasp. baking soda
2 eggs
2 sticks butter
4 Tablsp. cocoa
1 c. water

         Mix the first six ingredients in a mixer bowl. In a small saucepan over low heat, bring remaining ingredients to a boil. Add boiled mixture to bowl. Mix well and pour into a large greased and floured sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Frosting Ingredients:
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
1 teasp. vanilla
1 c. pecans
1 stick butter
4 Tablsp. cocoa
6 Tablsp. milk

         In pan bring to a boil: margarine, cocoa, and milk. Pour into a small mixer bowl.  Add remaining ingredients. Beat until smooth. Frost a warm cake.