Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday Weigh In

I lost half a pound. I'm satisfied with that.

Wild Mushroom and Beef Stew



This is a Cooking Light recipe. I've had it in my recipe book for a while and have never made it, until now. I will, however, never make it again. I read the recipe, constructed my grocery list and went to the store. The recipe called for three different kinds of mushrooms, button (easy), crimini (easy), and porcini (hmmm....). My local store didn't have porcini, so I got some other kind of mushroom that wasn't button and wasn't crimini. Mistake #1. I went to make the stew and realized that the porcini mushrooms were supposed to be dried! Mistake #2.

My mushrooms cackled at me, "We're not porcinis, and we're not dried. Ha ha ha. Joke's on you!"

I don't know why I saw they were supposed to be dried right before I went to make the stew, but failed to see this when I constructed my grocery list. This isn't the only time I've made silly cooking errors. One night, I made three bean salad with only two types beans -as pointed out by my husband. On the same night, eager to have everything ready for my husband, I toasted the hamburger buns for him. But, I toasted both sides of the hamburger bun. Not one to eat wheat, I just didn't know that you don't toast both sides. There have been many other cooking follies where I have failed to read the recipe all the way through and have been shocked halfway through a recipe ... "I need cheesecloth?"

I gave myself a pep talk, telling myself that they're just mushrooms. Then I got further down in the recipe where I saw I was supposed to use 10 cups of crimini mushrooms!!!!!!!!! I somehow goofed and wrote down 1 cup of crimini. Mistake #3. Luckily, I had a bunch of the other type of mushroom. By this time, I told myself again, "They're just mushrooms. Hubby won't know. And besides, who needs 10 cups of mushrooms on top of the six other cups of mushrooms?" But I can't keep anything from him. I recounted my sad tale to him.

To his credit (hubby doesn't really like stew), hubby said the stew smelled good when he walked in the house. But, the stew failed to really please. I chose the recipe because the picture of it made it look so good, but as hubby said, it lacked flavor and just simply tasted like beef and mushrooms. I have to agree, and after all the work that went into it, I would have been just as satisfied if I had opened a can of soup.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My Flowers

My backyard is huge and it's filled with rock. On purpose. I call it Amature Landscaping At Its Worst. We haven't done anything with it since moving here two years ago because it just seems so overwhelming. And expensive. There's so much to do.

So this year, I decided to focus on the deck. Even our deck is huge, but it will be much more manageable than the whole back yard. This weekend, I added some potted flowers. Not wanting to spend a lot of money, I just did a few flowers but it already makes a big difference on the deck.

On the list to do is to move Babycakes' sandbox, get the picnic table from Grandma's house and re-finish it, do something with the old table chairs we currently have out there, and move the two wood piles at the end of the deck. My goal is to have all this done by Memorial Day. Hopefully I'll be able to show you the finished deck by then. But for now, here's a picture of my flowers. They give me hope for my deck.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Book Review - The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

The Shop on Blossom Street, the first in Macomber's Blossom Street Series is a story of how four women's very different lives are "knit" together through their knitting class. Yarn shop owner, Lydia has fought cancer twice and is afraid of love. But in the end, of course, she gets the guy. Punker Alix Townsend, is an unlikely candidate for the knitting, but she ends up being the hero in two of the women's lives, she gets a makeover, and gets the guy in the end. Jacqueline Donovan is a high society lady with a troubled marriage, and of course, by the end of the book, her marriage is healed and she learns to be less snob-ish. And Carol Girard, who physically can't bear children, is given a child and becomes a parent by the end of the book.


Despite my pathetic summary, I did like this book, and my usual complaint for a Macomber book, that she doesn't write deep characters, was changed a little bit. We got to see a lot into the psyche of Lydia. But, then Macomber did it again, and skipped forward a year at the end of the book! I wanted to read some of the interactions that happened, but instead, just got the summary version. Overall, I do like this book and plan to read the rest of the series.

I did get three other books from the library from authors I've never heard of before. I have to be honest and say that the first one I tried...oiy...it was all about apples and blah blah blah. I couldn't stick with it. With the summary of the book on the back cover and the prologue that basically describes the ending...why do I need to read the book now? Oh, how I need a Nicholas Sparks book.

Marlboro Man's Second Favorite Sandwich


This recipe is from Pioneer Woman's site. The recipe can be found here. We really liked this sandwich - much better than Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich. Hubby even added Mayo, lettuce, and tomatoes. (I ate mine without the bread, and it was still plenty for a meal, so it works well for both of us.) Thanks again, Pioneer Woman.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich


This recipe is from The Pioneer Woman's site. Her husband is Marlboro Man, and this is his favorite sandwich. The recipe is here. I think we'll rename it "Cube Steak Sandwich with Butter Sauce," or as hubby put it, "Stroganoff Sandwich." We liked it alright, but we weren't crazy about it like Pioneer Woman said we would be. That's okay. I am grateful for having the chance to cook with cube steak; I had never done it before, and I think I will use it again in other recipes. Thanks Pioneer Woman!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Book Review - Heart of Texas, Vol. 2 by Debbie Macomber

Heart of Texas, Volume 2 encompasses Caroline's Child and Dr. Texas. I enjoyed both stories, and each story had a main character (unlike the Cedar Cove series) which is always nice for the reader. The stories are extremely simplistic, but if you need a light read, the Heart of Texas series is for you. Not much more to say than that.

Thursday's Wednesday Weigh In

I stayed the same - nothing much to report here. At least I'm not gaining weight....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book Review - 74 Seaside Avenue by Debbie Macomber

74 Seaside Avenue, book number seven in the Cedar Cove series, is more of the same. The reading is pleasant enough, but the character development is shallow. Why do I keep reading you ask? I don't know. I think part of it is a hope that maybe, just maybe, Macomber will go deeper with just one of the characters. It's an unfounded hope. Part of it may be that I have an unhealthy obsession with her books - I can't explain it.

Book number eight in the Cedar Cove series comes out in September, and Macomber's contract includes book number nine. I can't imagine it going on and on from there. Let's hope not. I can imagine it would just be the creation of more characters that aren't fully explored, which is unfortunate because I believe Macomber has a talent for creating interesting and likable characters.


I'm happy to report that I have just ordered four books from the library from four different authors I've never read before! I'm branching out!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Emeril Lagasse's Cocktail Meatballs


I've made these meatballs before, and I absolutely love them (so does Hubby). The recipe can be found here:
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_20330,00.html
The first time you make it, you have to compile Emeril's "Essence" which takes quite a bit of time, but once you make it, there's plenty for many more recipes. So it doesn't take as much time to make them after the first time. This is my favorite recipe for meatballs!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Snow

Here's a picture to show you how my strawberry plants are growing.
We had a brief 12 minutes of sun last week in which I was able to get out and take that picture.
Today it's snowing.
I didn't think ahead to move the pot out of the snow (not even sure I can lift it). I hope they are hardy and will survive this cold snap, or else, it's $30 down the drain.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Book Review - 6 Rainier Drive by Debbie Macomber

6 Rainier Drive is the sixth book in Macomber's Cedar Cove Series. I liked this book much better than books four and five, mostly because I was interested in all the characters. I must say though that this series of books (even though I think Macomber would claim otherwise) doesn't have a main character. We might hear about one character a little more than the others, but Macomber doesn't delve deep into that character. I long for some deeper characters. I really need a new Nicholas Sparks book, but his website doesn't even say whether he is currently writing or not...although Nights in Rodanthe comes out in theaters June 6. I digress. Back to Macomber - one storyline - that of Ben Rhodes' son, was not finished. Because of certain evidence, Ben was concerned that his son might have set fire to The Lighthouse restaurant, but in the end, we find out it was not Ben's son. Despite the fact that he has all this evidence against him, he is never again mentioned. I know these books are part of a series, but some things need to be wrapped up. Plus, I am 125 pages into the next book, and still nothing has been mentioned about him.

Door to Door

I've already told you about the strawberry plants I bought from kids selling things door-to-door. Then, last night, our doorbell rang, and a cheesecake was delivered!! It was my lucky day. Apparently, hubby had bought a cheesecake from kids selling door-to-door a while back. I was so excited! But, when I went to cut into it, it was frozen. I have to wait until it thaws to try a piece, and hubby said I can't have any without him. How can I go all day long with it looking at me every time I open the fridge?

I don't know if I'll make it, but I do know one thing. I think I'll home school just so my kids don't have to participate in door-to-door fundraisers (just kidding - I would go NUTSO!!!).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wednesday Weigh In

I lost half a pound, which I'm really grateful for considering all the junk I've eaten (3 pieces of my chocolate pie over the weekend, with whipped cream, plus I finished off the can of whipped cream; 2 copies of my chocolate-peanut butter melt; several candy bars (okay they were minis) etc...). Gotta go - Babycakes is whining at my ankles which automatically turns my off my concentrating power.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Book Review - Someday by Karen Kingsbury

Someday has a dreadful and depressing start. I did not want to keep reading it. The beginning includes a funeral for a baby born with anencephaly. Dayne and Katy's marriage and Luke and Reagan's marriage are both on the rocks. John Baxter decides to not date Elaine any longer, the Christian Kids Theater is no longer running, there is a very minor character - a child who is dying of cancer. Who would want to read on? Because of this, it took me a long time to start this book. We never hear about the sick child again. We hear once from Bailey's friend in Iraq. He misses a deadly roadside bombing that the rest of his troop perished in, but that storyline is never finished.
Dayne and Katy are a little too unbelievable - haven't they ever heard of hiring drivers or having Safeway deliver groceries so they can avoid the paparazzi? Haven't they heard of email or text messages? Yes, there is 7 hour time difference so it's hard to talk on the phone, but they could text.
Most of the storylines are wrapped up neatly and that's the end of that book. Overall, opinion is that it was mediocre. The big positive in this book is that the characters frequently turn to God for help. We see them praying, hearing from Him, and praising Him. I find it encouraging to read this and notice that in my life I found myself talking to God more. This aspect - even though cheesy sometimes is very positive and encouraging.

Even though Someday is the third book in a series of books (which is in a series of books), Kingsbury does a good job of not boring the reader with so much back story from previous books like Macomber tends to do.

Okay, I just checked Karen Kingsbury's website - they have Baxter Family T-shirts - this is over-the-top cheeseball!!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

De-LICIOUS Chocolate Pie

I made Pioneer Woman's De-LICIOUS Chocolate Pie. And it was De-LICIOUS!! Pioneer Woman says to start with a freshly baked pie crust. I thought - let's buy the pie crust and bake it in my oven. Great idea - a lot less work. My confession is that I like to eat the raw pie crust!!! And since the roll out pie crust from the store is always bigger than the pan, I thought - why not? Then I read further in the directions that I was supposed to fold the extra under so the edge would be thicker ... oops. Then, after I baked it, it was very noticeable where I had nibbled a bit:
Anyway, the pie turned out De-LICIOUS!!! Thanks to Nicole for letting me borrow her Kitchen Aid for the mixing of the filling.
Pioneer Woman suggested putting whipped cream on top with homemade chocolate shavings. Instead of making my own chocolate shavings (it looked like a lot of work), I just shaved off pieces of a Hershey bar. So easy and De-LICIOUS!


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mashed Potato Pie

Hubby and I made this our version of Shepherd's Pie. We don't put any veggies in it, so we renamed it "Mashed Potato Pie." It's ground beef with onion, a can of sloppy joe sauce, topped with mashed potatoes, and topped with cheese. It was nummy!!


Now, if I would have just moved that one kernel of corn to be with the other kernels...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Wednesday Weigh In

I stayed the same as last week, which I'm thankful for, considering the chocolate and peanut butter I've been pounding down.

I was really inspired by Ali's weight loss on Biggest Loser!! She looks great, and you could really tell that she lost a lot of weight this last week. I really hope she wins.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot

When I went grocery shopping last week, I had an urge to cook a whole chicken. I don't know where this came from - I've only cooked a whole chicken one other time. It was 40 Clove Chicken cooked in the crock pot. I didn't want to bother with 40 cloves of garlic this time, but I wanted to cook it in the crock pot. I found a recipe in my Slow Cooker recipe book that was basic: whole chicken, lemon juice, butter, thyme, onions, etc... so I set out to preparing it this morning. Neither the recipe nor the bag the chicken came in said what I should do with the insides of the chicken. Then I noticed this on the packaging:

Some parts may be missing??? How can they not know whether they gutted the chicken or not? So, with my limited culinary knowledge, I peeked inside the chicken cavity. There was a long thick piece tumbling around in there, which I assume was the neck. That went in the trash. Then, it seemed as if there was a heart - no wait, there were two of them, so I'm guessing they were the lungs - GROSS!! This was almost enough to make me go vegetarian. I was wondering why I didn't just buy the rotisserie chicken already made at the grocery store, but like I said, I had an urge to cook a whole chicken. At this point I didn't know what to do. I called hubby at work, because he always has some sort of advice to hand out. No answer. I was on my own. Then I had the brilliant idea that I didn't need to touch the lungs (or whatever they were) with my hand, but that I could use a spoon. Great! So, I scooped out the lungs into the trash, rinsed the chicken at least 5 times, and proceeded with the recipe. I'm hoping that since I didn't find a heart in there that that was one of Foster Farms' missing giblet pieces...I'll never know.
The end result was very good - very tender. I wanted to hurry up and eat my meal, so this is the best picture I got of the final product.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Tiddleywinks' Potato Salad

As an avid recipe follower, I've always wondered when a recipe becomes my own. How many changes do I have to make to it before I call it "Tiddleywinks' Potato Salad"? I'm still not sure of the official answer to that, but I've made lots of changes to the original Best Foods Mayonnaise recipe for potato salad to call it my own, so here it is:




(Not the best picture, but I didn't have long since hubby was eagerly waiting to wolf down some potato salad.)

1 cup Best Foods Light Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups cooked, peeled, and cubed potatoes
2 medium dill pickles, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Chopped fresh dill

Combine and mix the first five ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and mix together and enjoy!

I recommend making a double batch because it's so good!

Book Reviews - Books 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Cedar Cove Series by Debbie Macomber

I've finished 204 Rosewood Lane, 311 Pelican Court, 44 Cranberry Point and 50 Harbor Street, books 3, 4, and 5 in Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Series. 204 Rosewood Lane has been my favorite so far. 311 Pelican Court was okay. 44 Cranberry Point was my least favorite, followed by 50 Harbor Street, simply because I was not that into the main characters of each book. The main characters each debuted in the first books of the series as secondary characters, and I preferred them to stay that way. I found I was forcing myself to finish reading the chapters about the main characters so I could hurry up and get to the following chapters about the other characters I like more. I am amazed by Macomber's ability to come up with completely new characters with no duplicity of traits (like I've seen in Susan Wiggs' books, where several of the main characters in different books were red heads with green eyes and freckles and named Kate).

But, overall, I really like this series (hence why I haven't posted in a while - as you can probably guess, I'm read all the Macomber books I have at home and am waiting for more at the library).
I'm currently reading Karen Kingsbury's book Someday, and it is definitely not as addicting as Macomber's books, which is probably good.

My Strawberry Plants

A month ago, a couple of neighborhood girls came to our door selling bulbs and plants for a school fundraiser. Since everything in the catalog was only $5, I thought I could swing it. But, the catalog had mostly bulbs...hello, it's spring...But, they did have ten strawberry plant starts, so that's what I got. I knew that my $5 donation would turn into a $30 expenditure because I knew I wanted a strawberry pot so I don't have to go off the deck and into the dirt to water them every day. So, $30 later (the cheaper terracotta strawberry planter just wasn't as pretty), here's my strawberry planter:
And in case you were wondering, here's my straight out of camera shot, before I altered it, which do you like better?

Saturday's Wednesday Weigh In

My weight stayed the same from last Wednesday. I've lost 3.5 pounds for the month of April, which I think will put me in first place for our Family Biggest Loser competition. I will find out the final numbers on Sunday.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pork Chops with Bourbon-Peach Sauce

I made this recipe from Cooking Light tonight. It was a "Super Fast" meal, which was true.

After hubby took a bite (he was quite skeptical of fruit being served on meat), I asked what he thought, and he said, "It's fine...I'm trying to eat it." He really didn't mean it to sound so bad, but I enjoyed teasing him. He actually liked it.

Overall verdict: thumbs up; we'll cook it again.

Battlestar Galactica Starts Today!!!

My favorite show Battlestar Galactica premiers Season 4 (the final season) tonight on the SciFi channel. Unfortunately, we do not subscribe to cable, so we have my Father-in-Law record it for us and we have to wait until we can pick up the video from him before we can see the episode.

My other favorite show is Ugly Betty, which premiers later this month!! Yay!!

Wait - I just checked the SciFi channel's website, and they will be offering full episodes of BG on the web!!! Yay! No more watching it late on VHS!!!
http://www.scifi.com/battlestar/home.html

Puke in a Pan

Dear Husband really likes this recipe. It's a called "Jeannette's Spaghetti" (named after a friend we knew). It has ground beef, 2 cans of Tomato Soup and 2 cans of Cream of Mushroom Soup, plus olives and mushrooms - SICK!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe my very picky husband likes this ghetto spaghetti. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go:
Even if I could eat wheat (there's wheat in any Cream of You Name It Soup), I would not eat this stuff, so as you can see, I've accurately renamed it.
Just so you don't think ill of me, I actually made this for Dear Husband even though I don't eat it(he's always made it in the past).