Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

How many times have you ordered soup in a restaurant only to be disappointed? I have many times. Disappointments can sometimes lead you to great things.

I love soup especially creamy based thick soups that are full of flavor. I always knew the potential of broccoli soup but could never get the bowl that tasted just perfect….until I developed my own version of broccoli and cheese soup.

This is a fairly quick meal to prepare but it is full of flavor and will keep your family wanting more.

Broccoli and Cheese Soup

2 medium onions chopped
4 tablespoons of butter
1 quart of chicken stock
1 quart of water
2 bags of frozen chopped broccoli
½ package of the large box of Velveeta cheese – cubed
Half and half- about 2 cups-depending on how thick you want your soup
Heavy cream –about ¾ cup

(I didn’t say this was fat free)

Melt butter in large pot add onions and cook until tender- you can add a little water if they start to burn. Add chicken stock and water-bring to a boil and add broccoli. Cook until broccoli is done. Mash broccoli with potato masher- leave some chunks-add cheese and half and half. Cook on low until cheese is melted-stir often. Stir in heavy cream. Serve hot. YUMMY YUMMY!

I served this with my veggie sandwiches tonight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hold on to the Land and make a Connection

Thomas Wolfe wrote “You Can’t Go Home Again”, sadly that is so. My brother has moved to Louisiana and has placed his home on the market for sale. This is the land that I grew up on- I never knew of another home until I married and moved to my own home.

I grew up in a single wide trailer-it was purchased new by my parents and they made monthly payments of $78.00. It only had two bedrooms so my little sister and brother and I all shared a room. As we grew older, my parents knew we needed our own rooms so they built a whole house around the trailer- it did not even look like a trailer by the time they were finished. That old house saw lots of laughter, tears, milestones, holiday celebrations all of which created memories, some good and some bad but all my memories.

When my brother married my parents moved out to a smaller place on the property below my brother- my brother tore down the old house (that was sad) and built his own home on the same land. I understand that- what breaks my heart is that the land my family has owned for over 60 years will be sold to someone outside our family and I will no longer be able to go “home”. I understand the importance of owning the land- it is a precious thing and if you can hold on to it do so with all your might.

I love the land and working on the land makes me remember my grandparents most of all-they were connected to the land and it sustained them. They relied on the land for survival and it was a faithful servant. This I did not understand when I was young, and how I wish I could have…I would have sat at my grandparents feet and absorbed all the secrets to tending the land, but youth does not allow for such wisdom only the passing of time can beg for such.

In the past few years I have yearned to grow my own garden and last year I was very successful in “making a garden”. I cannot explain to you how wonderful that was to put tiny seeds into the ground and watch them grow and produce food. So many evenings, I would go out to my garden and harvest the very food I would prepare for dinner. My little 4 year old planted watermelon and pumpkin seeds and you can only imagine the look on his face the first time he saw his effort producing the orange and green beauties.

We had a friend come over on Saturday and turn our soil-the smell of that fresh dirt pulled the memories from my mind –memories of my grandparents, parents, children-connecting me to the land.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Steamy Windows and a Warm Kitchen

When I was growing up on East Cope Creek most nights our dinner table was filled with beans and cornbread. Pinto beans, green beans, shucky beans (leather britches) were the choices just depended on what was available to fix. We would also have potatoes in some fashion, stewed, fried, or baked. Meat was only served a couple of times a week. We didn’t have convenience foods on hand and we rarely went out to eat and when I say rarely I mean maybe three times a year. We just did not have that kind of money, but we did always have food and a warm house. These were two things my parents made sure of. I remember learning to cook “different” types of food in Home Ec. I was so excited not to be cooking beans, cornbread and potatoes. I continued to broaden my cooking experience, trying new things. Funny but my mom never really cared for the new things I was learning to cook. My Daddy liked everything but he is a BIG eater.

So many years have passed since those high school Home Ec. Days and I have learned to make many, many different foods and have even developed my own recipes but on cold, rainy days there is nothing I want more than a big crock pot of mixed beans and cornbread. When my kitchen windows steam over from the warmth of the inside against the cold of the outside-I am that young girl again in my momma’s kitchen coming home after a long day at school knowing my mom loves me and is doing the very best she knows how.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Live Life to it's Fullest

I received the below in an email-I thought it was beautiful and I am very proud to say that I do many of these things already but I need reminding every now and then of what is important. Enjoy!

(written after she found out she was dying from cancer).

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, 'Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.' There would have been more 'I love you's' More 'I'm sorry's.'

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute.look at it and really see it . . live it and never give it back. STOP SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF!!!

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what
Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fried Chicken and Tater Biscuits

Is there anything that says Sunday dinner like fried chicken? I think not. Good fried chicken is one of my favorite meals. I know what you might be thinking….this girl has lost her mind…today is not Sunday. No I haven’t lost anything, I just won’t get the chance to have my fried chicken this Sunday because my son Aaron had a piece of his art work selected to be in the youth art show at Western Carolina University. The show is tomorrow and it begins too close to lunch. No one at my house minded one little bit that we had it tonight!

I soaked the chicken breasts all day in brine (kosher salt and water) and then I drained the water and skinned the chicken. Make sure to rinse and pat dry chicken before dipping in your choice of something for the flour to stick to. I had some leftover homemade ranch dressing so I chose to use it up before it went bad. Put some flour in a deep bowl and season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken breasts into ranch dressing and then dip into flour. Then fry on low until done. Flour tends to burn if you leave it on one side too long…turn often …after the chicken is almost done put a lid on it and let it finish cooking on low-bone side down.

I also had leftover mashed potatoes that I had served earlier in the week with meatloaf. These are the best to make potato pancakes with or as my mom has always called them tater biscuits. I used a little bacon grease on the griddle to cook them. As they cooked and the potatoes, onions and bacon dripping mixed together, I was taken to a different time long ago when I was a child in my granny Mills kitchen. She always cooked on a woodstove and everything tasted so good, so very good. The sense of smell is a powerful thing and can so quickly take you to a place you were not even thinking of prior to the scent that transported you. So for a little while tonight I was back in my Granny’s kitchen smelling wood smoke, bacon frying, biscuits baking and coffee brewing, and for a moment I had my Granny back.

Saturday's are the Best Breakfast Mornings

Saturday morning's are the greatest days for having a nice breakfast. School morning are just too hectic and three of us do not like to eat first thing when we wake up (the kids do eat but it is a quick one). Sunday morning’s are so busy getting ready for church – so Saturday is the BEST! This morning I made whole grain oatmeal in the rice cooker (I tell you these are the greatest for cooking rice, oats and grits. I am sure I will find other uses for it too. When the oats were almost done-I added some tropical dried fruit mix and pecans, with brown sugar and a touch of butter. This was delicious and good for you. I also made canned croissants special by rolling up a piece of chocolate in each one before I baked them. The mini Hershey chocolate bars work great – break one in half for each croissant. I put smoked apple wood bacon in the oven and made scrambled cheesy eggs. I also made smoothies but left them thick so they would fit into fancy little glasses. (The kids love these). That is one think I look for in thrift stores – fancy little glasses that I can serve special items in like the thick smoothie or cut up fruit, pudding, and so much more.

The day is beautiful so I am going out to enjoy. I plan to plant some dahlias – my granny always had the most beautiful ones ever and I look forward to trying my hand at them. I will share with you at another time how these were grown and used to decorate the graves of loved ones on decoration day. This is a tradition that is not done many places but was a huge part of my life as a child. I am also going to plant a beautiful rose bush today.

Enjoy life my friends!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Meet the Author

Tonight was for me! I don't take too many of those nights but one of my favorite authors was at City Lights tonight reading from his new book and doing book signings. His name is Ron Rash and if you want a good book that has a regional setting with characters that you know-then his books are worth reading. My favorite of his so far is Saints at the River. I have included the prolouge from it and even though it is deals with a 12 year old drowning - it turns into a powerful story about the bonds of family. His most well known book right now is Serena. City Lights is a great book store and I believe in supporting the local merchants so it was a pleasure to attend this event tonight.

Prologue to the novel Saints at the River by Ron Rash
She follows the river trail downstream, leaving behind her parents and younger brother who still eat their picnic lunch. She is twelve years old and it is her school's Easter break. Her father has taken time off from his job and they have followed the Appalachian Mountains south, stopping first in Gatlinburg, then the Smokies, and finally this river. She finds a place above a falls where the water looks shallow and slow. The river is a boundary between South Carolina and Georgia, and she wants to wade into the middle and place one foot in South Carolina and one in Georgia so she can tell her friends back in Minnesota she has been in two states at the same time.

She kicks off her sandals and enters, the water so much colder than she imagined, and quickly deeper, up to her kneecaps, surging under the smooth surface. She shivers. Fifty yards downstream a granite cliff rises two hundred feet into the air to cast this section of river into shadow. She glances back to where her parents and brother sit on the blanket. It is warmer there, the sun full upon them. She thinks about going back but is almost halfway now. She takes a step and the water rises higher on her knees. Four more steps, she tells herself. Just four more and I'll turn back. She takes another step and the bottom she tries to set her foot on is no longer there and she is being shoved downstream and she does not panic because she is a good swimmer and has passed all of her Red Cross courses. The water shallows and her face breaks the surface and she breathes deep. She tries to turn her body so she won't hit her head on a rock and as she thinks this for the first time she's afraid and she's suddenly back underwater and hears the rush of water against her ears. She tries to hold her breath but her knee smashes against a boulder and she gasps in pain and water pours into her mouth. Then for a few moments the water pools and slows. She rises coughing up water, gasping air, her feet dragging the bottom like an anchor trying to snag waterlogged wood or rock jut and as the current quickens again she sees her family running along the shore and she knows they are shouting her name though she cannot hear them and as the current turns her she hears the falls and knows there is nothing that will keep her from it and the current quickens and quickens and another rock smashes against her knee but she hardly feels it as she snatches another breath before the river pulls her under and she feels the river fall and she falls with it as water whitens around her and she falls deep into darkness and as she rises her head scrapes against a rock ceiling and all is black and silent and she tells herself don't breathe but the need rises inside her beginning in the upper stomach then up through the chest and throat and as that need reaches her mouth her mouth and nose open at the same time and the lungs explode in pain and then the pain is gone along with the dark as bright colors shatter around her like glass shards, and she remembers her sixth grade science class, the gurgle of the aquarium at the back of the room that morning the teacher held a prism out the window so it might fill with color, and she has a final, beautiful thought--that she is now inside that prism and knows something even the teacher does not know, that the prism's colors are voices, voices that swirl around her head like a crown, and at that moment her arms and legs she did not even know were flailing cease and she becomes part of the river.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Snow, Leprechaun Eggs, and Rainbow Cupcakes

Sometimes you just need to make cupcakes. One of the benefits of having dinner almost ready when you get home late is that if affords you some quality time with the little ones. Dinner was yummy and since we are having leftover tomorrow night- I did not have any other prep work to do tonight. Shade, Erika and I made rainbow cupcakes this was so much fun. This was easy to do and I highly recommend it if you have kids. You simply use a white cake mix and make according to directions then divide between six bowls. Use food coloring to mix your colors: Purple 9 drops of red 6 drops of blue Blue: just blue food coloring Green: green food coloring Yellow: yellow food coloring Orange mix red and yellow (more yellow than red) and Red: use red food coloring. Layer in cup cake liners- I used about one tablespoon of each color starting with purple, blue, green, yellow, orange and top with red. After they have cooled spoon cool whip in a baggie, snip end off of one corner and pipe onto cupcake. The effect looks like a cloud---get it and cloud and rainbow. I also did this with my students at school today and they loved it.

Tonight we also made magic green snow and are growing our very own magical leprechaun eggs. If you are interested in things like this the website I ordered them from is Steve Spangler Science. I get lots of things for my classroom here but it certainly is a site you can buy things to do with your own kids at home.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day Everyone!!!!!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Not as easy as Taco Bell but much better !!!!!

Tonight was Taco Night!!!!! They were delicious and tacos are not my favorite in the Mexican food genre, mainly because they are so messy to eat. However, as you have read in the previous post- I am getting home late this week and need recipes that are quick. This is how it went. I came home at 6:30 and took out the prepared ground beef from Sunday- added the taco seasoning and heated through- once again Gregg got the call ahead to put the refried beans in the oven- I had put the yellow rice in the rice cooker (which is a great tool) purchased from Wal-Mart –Black and Decker for around $14.00. Anyway back to cooking the rice – I put it on as I was getting ready this morning. It was done by the time I was ready to leave (nice). So I had the beans ready for salsa (which I had canned over the summer) and cheese. I topped the rice with cheese and fresh cucumber, shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes. All done in 30 minutes. It was really delicious and we had leftover for lunch the next day.

I quickly popped spaghetti noodles in a pot of water and put the remaining ground beef into a pot with the sauce. These cooked while we were eating dinner. As soon as dinner was over, the guys cleaned the table and I assembled the spaghetti done lasagna way. I also chopped the remaining lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes and made a big salad. Dinner for tomorrow night ¾ of the way complete. I still had a few minutes before American Idol was to be on so I made a chocolate cream pie – easy – but goooooood.

The last thing I did was put chicken breast (with bones and skin) into the crock pot to cook over night. This will be used for the chicken salad on Friday. I use these types of chicken breasts because the cuts are usually cheaper than the skinless/boneless and because the bones and skin add flavor to the meat- this is the way to go if you are going to be using the breasts in soups or salads.


Spaghetti done lasagna way

Spaghetti noodles
16 oz cottage cheese – large curd
8 oz shredded Italian cheese
2 tablespoons of butter
Ground beef
Sauce of your choice
Sliced mozzarella cheese

Cook noodles and drain- combine cottage cheese and shredded cheese with butter-mix well
Pour into greased 13 x 9 pan
Top with ground beef and sauce mixture

Bake 350 for 25-30 minutes and take out top with mozzarella cheese slices and put back into oven into melted and bubbly

Chocolate cream pie

Chocolate pie filling
Cool whip
Pie crust of choice (graham, shortbread, or regular)
Spoon ½ of pie filling into crust
Mix remaining pie filling with ½ cool whip until creamy
Pour over 1st layer
Top with remaining cool whip and store in fridge

Monday, March 15, 2010

Busy Week does not mean you have to eat out

For the next two weeks I am getting home later than usual-Aaron my 15 year old is taking Drivers Ed. Classes. The classes end at 6:00 and then I have a 30 minute drive after that putting me home around 6:30. If I want to make a “good” dinner we are looking at a 7:30 -8:00 dinner time. I DO NOT LIKE that choice so I have come up with ways to combat these late evenings. On Sunday afternoon, I do all the prep work for my meals for the week. I have a menu and make a list of my necessary groceries that are needed. This week the menu is as follows: Monday: meatloaf, green peas, my fabulous mashed potatoes, and home made mac and cheese: Tuesday: Tacos, refried beans, yellow rice Wednesday: Baked spaghetti lasagna style, salad and rolls, Thursday: leftover spaghetti and salad (because I am going to see Ron Rash at City Lights tonight) and Friday: Fresh chicken salad sandwiches and French Onion Soup with crusty bread topped with mozzarella cheese all melted on top.

Here is how I have planned it: Sunday: cook ground beef with a chopped onion – this will be used for spaghetti and tacos- take remaining fresh ground beef and make meat loaf mixture – to speed up cooking time on Monday I make meatloaf patties- place in 13 x 9 baking dish and cover in fridge- prepare mac and cheese and place in fridge- cook red skin potatoes that have been cut into chunks (leave a little under cooked)– no need to peel these because you mash the whole thing- caramelize onions (2 large) in butter-drain potatoes and store in fridge- cool onions and place in fridge. I am done for Sunday-

Monday evening I called my husband as I left Sylva and had him place the mac and cheese and meat loaf in the oven- I also had him put the potatoes back into a pot and cover with water –finish cooking- by the time I got home I put the peas on to cook and finished off the mashed potatoes.

I will let you know how the rest is done as the remainder of the week goes along. I hope it will be helpful to busy moms out there 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Balsam Mountain Inn

I have heard it said many times, if these walls could talk. That could certainly be said of The Balsam Mountain Inn. I remember as a teenager, driving up the road late at night with friends to look at the grand lady on the hill that had been closed for many years. While my friends shrieked and huddled close together talking of ghosts and references of The Shining, I drifted back into time and could almost hear the train whistle blowing- as the Inn came into view. I wished to be wearing the fashions of the day while sipping tea on the beautiful front porch as the warm summer breeze kissed my face. I could see it all. I was in love. I felt a connection and if I believed in a prior life, I would have been sure that I walked those porches, descended the beautiful staircases, and laughed among all the other occupants. You can only imagine how I felt about ten years later when I discovered that the inn was going to be restored to all her glory and re-opened to the public. I remember the first time I went inside for dinner, I felt as if I had finally come home. It was breathtaking-just as I knew it would be. I have been back to the Inn many times since then for dinner I am always taken away as soon as I walk through the front doors. When my husband wanted to know where I wanted to go for an overnight anniversary trip, I replied, The Inn.

I believe the past whispers in our ears as we walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before. I heard those whispers, saying our baby took its first steps in this room… we spent our 50th anniversary here…we spent our 1st anniversary here… we spent Christmas here… It was a magical, mystical stay and as I put my head on the pillow and turned out the lights, it seemed as if the grand old lady whispered sleep well my friend.

The photo at the top of the page are items I found while treasure hunting at the greatest thrift store- you could actually bid on items in the store - so cool- these are some of the teasures I found - I like to find unique glassware, candle holders, jewelery, and teapots/coffee pots. The store was called The Open Door :) great find

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ancient Greek Games and Salmon

No No I haven't lost my mind- I am just thinking about my week with my studnets. We finally got in a whole week without early dismissals or snow days. We have been studying Ancient Greek Olympics and comparing to modern day Olympics. The kids have produced some amazing art work from this unit and I am so proud of them. If you wander down the hallways at Fairview School you can see their work proudly displayed. Tomorrow we are having our own classroom Olympics complete with medals of honor. I can't believe I get paid to do this job!

For dinner tonight we had fish, specifically Salmon in a mustard sauce. The mustard sauce was courtsey of my friend and wonderful right hand woman Mrs. Rhea. I baked the salmon until almost done and then spread on the mustand sauce and finished baking. It was very tasty- as a matter of fact- I do not have a photo because my husband and son got into it before I could do a photograph - so you will just have to use your imagination. We had mashed sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, steamed green beans, and pasta salad.

Recipe for Mustard Sauce

1/2 cup of coarse ground mustard
2 Tablespoons dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoons soy sauce
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
4 cloves of garlic pressed

Mix well

Mrs. Rhea loves this sauce on pork on the grill and I plan on trying that too!!!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Charleston Cheese Straws - Not exactly

The weather is just beckoning me outside. I love this time of year where the breeze is just warm enough with the promise of what is to come. However, the laundry will not wait. Today is my 9th anniversary. I am married to a wonderful man. He is also a great father. One of his few flaws is that he does not do well when I am feeling bad or he is not one to spoil but his other chracteristics overshawdow the (I would not even call them bad) irrating ones.

If you read the post from last night you know I made soup and salad-the wonderful thing about making a meal like this is the next night. There is always enough soup and salad left for the next night. However, that is not the case with the sweet potato biscuits, they go quick.

I like having these little cheese crackers/bread/waffers ? not sure what to really call them but they are delish. I got the receipe from my friend Kelly but I changed it a bit - they are also very much like the Charleston Cheese Straws you can find when in Charleston ( but I think better).

Cheese Somethings

1 8oz sharp cheddar cheese (block)
1 c all purpose flour
3/4 stick of butter (real butter)leaves about 2 t tbs of butter from the stick
hot pepper (cayenne) to taste

combine all ingredients except salt in food processor. Mix unitl mixuter come together in a ball. Chill 30 min. Preheat oven to 350. roll dough into long longs and slice 1/4 in rounds - bake for about 15 min sprinkle wiht salt while hot.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Soup and Salad Night

Tonight was soup and salad night at the Clark house. I made Cheeseburger soup and strawberry and spinach salad with homemade dressing. I have included the recipes below. I also made a family favorite " sweet potato biscuits" cut out in heart shapes for my sweet ones. I ran into to friends in the store this week and they were telling me how much they liked the menus I post on facebook but they thought it was expensive to cook this way or took a long time. This started me thinking- I don't want folks to think my cooking costs lots extra or takes lots of extra time. The truth is you need to be a good planner and have a plan in place before you start cooking from the beginning. For example, the cheeseburger soup takes lots of spices and for me that could mean lots of trips to the pantry. It also requires celery, onions, and carrots to be chopped and shredded. This could make you crazy trying to prepare everything, but I am going to let you in on a secret. Plan ahead- if you know you are going to make this soup- chop and shred the veggies ahead of time and put in fridge, the day you are going to make the soup - gather all the spices together. This is soup that most of the prep work could be done before and saved in the fridge until you are ready to make. The sweet potato biscuits are some of the best biscuits I have ever tasted. Even if you do not like sweet potatoes, I think you will like these. Make soup and enjoy...until next time wishing you joy - Pauletta

Cheeseburger Soup

½ pound ground beef
¾ c chopped onion
¾ c shredded carrots
¾ c diced celery
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp parsley flakes
4 T butter divided
3 c chicken broth
4 cups diced potatoes (can be fresh you have cooked and diced or you can use 2 cans of diced canned potatoes)
¼ c all purpose flour
8 oz Velveeta cheese cubed (about 2 cups)
1 ½ c milk
½ t pepper
¾ t salt

Brown ground beef, drain and set aside. Saut̩ onions, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 T butter until tender. Add broth, potatoes, and beef, bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 min or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile in small skillet, melt remaining butter add flour cook and stir 3-5 minutes, add to soup, bring to boil Рcook and stir 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low- add cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until soup thickens.

Sweet Potato Biscuits

2 ½ c all purpose flour
½ tsp allspice
¼ c brown sugar
½ c butter cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ c milk
¾ tsp salt
¾ mashed sweet potatoes
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginver
½ c pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 450
Combine all dry ingredients. Add butter with fork until texture is small crumbs
Combine milk and sweet potatoes add to flour mixture add pecans
Knead dough with hands until smooth
Roll out on a floured surface to ½ “ thickness cut with biscuit cutter
Place on greased baking sheet 2” apart
Bake for 10-15 minutes or lightly browned
Spinach Strawberry Salad

Spinach Leaves
Sliced strawberries
Pecans chopped
Mon. Jack Cheese

1 c oil
¾ c sugar
½ c red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp paprika

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March Picnic

Today was picnic day. I may be rushing spring but I wanted to be outside in nature and my children needed to be able to run and play. The day was a success. We went to Deep Creek in Bryson City. In the summer Deep Creek is filled with folks of all ages splashing, relaxing, and dodging rocks. Laughter and ooohs and ahhhhhs can be heard for miles it seems. However, in the fall and winter it is a place that is unrecognizable compared to the summer months. You can still hear laughter but it comes from children picking up sticks or rocks seeing to can throw into the cold mountain waters. Ooohs and ahhhs can still be heard but it is from folks being amazed by the beauty that they are surrounded by. The trails are great for most ages and you may even need to move over to let a horse and rider pass.

A picnic is a must on a day like this: today’s menu consisted of potato soup brought in a thermos, veggie sandwiches, and fruit. I brought along a nice little snack for the kids after the hike is complete. Nutella and mini chocolate rice cakes (not too bad for them) but be careful this is addictive. I have many other ideas for picnic and hiking foods that I will share as the summer goes along.

Soup: (this is done in the crock pot super easy and super good)
8-10 small to medium potatoes peeled and cubed
1 can of cream of chicken soup
2 cans of chicken broth
½ c onion

Combine all ingredients in crock pot – cook on low for 8 hours

When finished add 6 oz -8 oz cream cheese that has been cut into small pieces
Stir in bacon that has been crumbled or real bacon bit pieces
Top with cheese

1 avocado
Red onion
Cucumber –peeled and cut into flat long pieces
Lettuce ( optional)
Provolone cheese
Spicy brown mustard coarse ground mustard
Bread of your choice ( I only had French bread today –it was ok but I would not recommend a bread this thick)

When I make these sandwiches I place all ingredients in an assembly line fashion- this makes the assembly of the sandwiches much easier. After assembly – wrap sandwiches in wax paper before wrapping in foil or placing in baggies- the wax paper keeps them from getting soggy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Simple Things

Today was certainly beautiful! The warm weather was nice to see and feel. Although I spent most of the day inside cleaning and doing laundry, I did open the blinds and curtains to let the sunshine in. I have posted a photograph of my children enjoying the day- they are growing so fast.

I wanted to share two simple but great ideas with you. Since Christmas I have been on an apron kick. I wanted aprons to wear while I am cooking and living in the area I live in, there just wasn't much of a choice. I posted comments on Facebook asking my friends where I could find some. Since that time, my mom made me a beautiful white one with dainty little flowers trimmed in lace. There is no way I am going to wear that beautiful piece of work - it means too much. I have picked up two, nothing fancy ones in thrift stores but still was not satisfied. Just a week or so ago, my friend Linda sent me a message telling about an apron idea. I loved it and so I made two. This is a simple thing to do. You buy a dish towel, two large buttons, and ribbon. Sew the buttons on each end of the dish towel(long side). Tie ribbon and leave a longer end so you can take the ribbon off to wash towels. I found two nice towels and coordinating buttons. The whole project only cost $5.00.

Thanks Linda :)

The next idea came from needing something simple yet practical on a small table I have in my kitchen. I had a larger candle on the table but was not happy with it. I wanted a simpler look. I took three clear cylinder vases and put pillar candles inside. I really like the look and thought I would share.

Please leave comments about these ideas or recipes- I would love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Alice Springs Chicken done my way!

Hello Friends:

Tonight I write this and I am struggling to hold my eyes open and I still have statistics software to download to my computer for my classes. Whew I had rather cook :) Tonight we had Alice Springs Chicken done my way. If you have been to Outback Steak house then you know what I am talking about- but mine was much cheaper per serving and it was really good. Aaron my 15 who says little said "Mom this is awesome" so I took it to heart.

Easy recipe and very tasty:
bacon ( cook this ahead of time in the oven- the oven keeps it from shrinking up)
brown chicken breasts on both sides (season with salt and pepper)
honey mustard
Monterey Jack cheese

place chicken in 13 x 9 pan
top with honey mustard - drench chicken
top with bacon strips
cover in cheese

Place in oven 350 - bake until done
juices from chicken will mix with mustard making a very tasty sauce

serve honey mustard on side for dipping

this is great with a salad, baked sweet potato or regular baked potato

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ok my friends I have no delish ideas to share with you tonight- but rather a confession- I had after school duties, then Aaron needed a haircut and we had to order new glasses for Erika so I did not get home until after 7:00 tonight. Had ordered chicken tenders from Schwan's today so that is what the family had- nothing fancy just that and fries. But that was not what my tummy wanted - my tummy saw Sugar Smacks on the counter and something evil came over me LOL I wanted Sugar Smacks in the worst way- so I gave in and had one small bowl- Oh my I was happy- finished that off and then I thought a little bit more won't hurt anything so I had a second bowl (larger than the first) and it was even better than the first. Took the bowl to the kitchen to put in the sink and that little cute frog was calling to me once again. I am so weak and I gave in - I poured a third bowl- this was the biggest bowl of cereal I had ever had...and finally I was content-

Remember I told you this blog was for real life (and it may just be my opinion-but Sugar Smacks made it great)

Goodnight all

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Snow Day Dinner

Oh my have you looked outside - how beautiful- the snow is really coming down. As my Momma always said when I was little, "the old woman is plucking her geese". That is exactly what it looked like earlier, snowflakes as big and fluffy as feathers. Days like this just scream Comfort Food- So I have made a wonderful Pot Roast. I did the prep work last night and cooked it overnight in the crock pot. Now I must say that I am not a huge fan of the crock pot just because I think it leaves food with a different texture than fresh cooked food. However, the crockpot is great for working mothers- or if you don't want to watch an oven all day.

This is a simple roast but full of flavor:

I use a boneless chuck roast - I pay around 10 - 13 dollars for them
put a tablespoon of oil in a pot- heat - salt and pepper roast on all sides- brown roast on all sides and place in crock pot

clean carrots and cut into large chunks, peel and quarter 2 - 3 onions-place carrots and onions in pot that you browned roast in and put a sear on them- pour over roast - pour beef stock -about 1 cup - into browning pan and deglaze pot- getting all that flavor out- pour over roast- pour more beef broth until veggies are covered.
cook over night on low-I like to pour about 3/4 cup of bbq sauce (smoky one) over roast just before serving - I like the flavor- believe me it really does not act as a bbq sauce more like a steak sauce - so it is great with the roast- also good with creamy horseradish sauce

Lemon Pie
(quick and delish dessert)
I use the shortbread crusts (like it better than the graham cracker ones)
1 can of lemon pie filling
1 container of cool whip

spoon about 1/2 cup of lemon pie filling in bottom of crust
mix the rest of the lemon pie filling with 1/2 coolwhip place on top of lemon layer
cover with remaining coolwhip and freeze slightly