Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Checking in

Hey, everyone. How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was great!....except for the fact that my coconut cream pie didn't set up, and the meringue on my lemon meringue shrank. What can you do? Well, I can promise coconut cream pie that it won't beat me yet. I will make it again, and it WILL SET UP. I will win the next round. :)

The Food Nanny experiment has been going along splendidly. I've decided that the best thing about it is that I have not had to start scrambling every afternoon to figure out what I'm going to cook for dinner. It's already decided, and that has been GREAT! Except for Thanksgiving leftovers we enjoyed, I have stuck to my menu plan and the recipes have all been tasty. Since I last checked in, I've made Potato Cheese Soup and  Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu. Both were delicious.

For the soup, you peel and chop the potatoes and cook them in chicken broth. When they have softened, slightly mash them and add sliced green onion, salt & pepper. Melt in some cream cheese and shredded cheddar cheese, and some crumbled bacon is optional. I added the bacon so I recommend doing that.  I liked it better than the slow cooker version I usually do, and it was easy to put together.

For the Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu, I cheated a little. :) I used Mel's method from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Instead of pounding the chicken breasts and rolling them up with the ham and cheese inside, Mel's recipe calls for cutting the chicken in breasts in half width-wise, then just covering them with the ham, cheese, and buttered bread crumbs. I considered this method to be easier so that's how I did it. It was so tasty! My family all loves chicken cordon bleu, so this recipe was a hit.

You can find all the Food Nanny recipes at http://byutv.org/foodnanny/plan/.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Birthday Mia!!

Our little Amelia turns 10 today...can't even believe it! She's growing up so fast. In the pic above, she's opening her first gift from us: 3 tickets to Centerpoint Theater's production of A Christmas Carol! Jeff and I will be taking her to see it Friday night. She LOVES theater, so she can't wait!
Her next gift was one of those things that almost literally jumps out at you at the store and you know your intended recipient HAS to have it. This red dress coat is adorable on her and she was thrilled!
Here she is in the red coat. It looks as good as I pictured when I bought it.
When the family came over to celebrate with us last Sunday, Mia was lucky enough to get a total of $75 to go shopping with! So this morning, she asked to go out to breakfast at Einstein Bros Bagels (instead of the lunch we usually do), and then we went shopping--Mia, her dad, and me. She bought this little cardigan, ruffled shirt, skirt and headband at Seagull Book. This is part of a new line they are carrying called Sweet Pea. So cute!
She also bought this black shirt, a white cami underneath, and then we went to Walmart for the black shoes.  Thanks to all our family who made these cute outfits possible!  She's extremely happy with all she was able to get. Happy Birthday, Mia!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

So far, so good

Well, so far in my Food Nanny experiment, I have made Chicken Shawarma, Traditional Beef Pot Roast, Fired Up Macaroni & Cheese, and Navajo Tacos.

First up: Chicken Shawarma. Pieces of chicken breast are cooked in a mixture of olive oil, curry powder and cumin and then served in a pita with hummus, a yummy sauce made with greek yogurt, and lettuce, tomato and cucumber. It was quite tasty and everyone liked the flavor of the chicken a lot. The only thing I would do differently is use plain hummus. I already had some sun dried tomato hummus on hand so I used that rather than buy more. It was okay, but didn't go as well with the chicken as I think plain hummus would.

Next up: Traditional Beef Pot Roast. This is pretty self-explanatory. Coat a 3-4 pound chuck roast with a mixture of flour, garlic powder, salt & pepper and then brown it in olive oil. To the pot add quartered onion, chunks of sweet potato, quartered red potatoes, and carrots. I used a bag of baby carrots instead of peeling and cutting regular carrots. Pour in a cup of beef broth and roast at 275 degrees for 5 hours, or 3 hours at 325. It was delicious, the roast was tender, and the vegetables tasted great! I made gravy from the pan drippings, and my only complaint is that it only made a cup of gravy. Next time, I will add more beef broth to the pan to get more gravy. I cooked an acorn squash to go along with our meal, so I felt pretty good about the health factor with all the vegetables.

Fired Up Macaroni & Cheese! Yummy. I have a good macaroni and cheese recipe from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, and was tempted to substitute it, but decided to try the new one. Food Nanny's recipe has a topping of buttered bread crumbs and it really added something to the dish. My boys said it's their favorite macaroni and cheese now. That's a ringing endorsement, lemme tell you!

Tonight we enjoyed the Navajo Tacos. I made the fry bread from Rhodes Texas rolls and it couldn't have been easier. Just heat your favorite chili and set out grated cheese, sliced olives, chopped tomato, sour cream, salsa and lettuce to top them with. Everyone was happy, so this is another winner. It's a plus in the health department because the family is eating beans!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Food Nanny experiment

We could also call this post, "Shopping with a plan." And it works. I bought all of the above groceries using store deals and coupons, after planning out two weeks of menus at The Food Nanny's website. I've seen her show just a couple of times, and as I thought about how well I need to plan my grocery shopping (because let's face it, prices don't seem to be going down!) I figured I'd give the Food Nanny a shot.

I went to her site last night, planned & printed the menus and then printed the shopping list. I had to go over the shopping list and x out everything that I already have in my pantry--which took off quite a number of things to buy--and then I wrote up my list for today's shopping.

It was a pretty darn successful shopping day, lemme tell you. I got everything in the pics above for just over $100. Admittedly, that doesn't count the chicken I needed--I like to get that at Costco. So add another $15 bucks. But it DOES include a turkey and other extras for Thanksgiving. Add another $25 for the Bountiful Basket I'm picking up tomorrow, with an extra pack of winter squash included, and we're still doing well. This is a family of 7, with two teenage boys, so we're doing especially well!

So the menu planning and shopping with the Food Nanny went well--the next test is the recipes themselves. I will post during the next couple of weeks and let you know which recipes worked...and which didn't. Hopefully they will all work, but I've learned not to hold my breath around here.

**Note: I have no affiliation with The Food Nanny whatsoever and I am not receiving any kind of payment for doing this. This is just me trying something new and letting you know what happens.**

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Orange Sweet Rolls

Here's another recipe from Mel at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. And it is another winner!
Click the link for the recipe. The only changes I made were that instead of
orange juice, I used orange juice concentrate, both in the filling & in the icing.
I also left out the orange zest and thought about adding orange extract,
but I didn't, and it was okay. They had great orange flavor just as they were.
The next day they get a little crusty on the outside
even if they're covered, which I think is great.
If you don't like them that way, just nuke them in the microwave for 20 seconds.
In my defense, there are 6 other people living in this house (it's a good thing, too!) so I only had one. Really!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Book Review: The Lantern

This last week, I finished reading The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson. If you like suspenseful ghost stories, you will like this book.

The story centers around Eve, a modern day version of the protagonist in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, which is one of my very favorite novels of all time--I've read it over and over. (Rebecca was also made into a movie by none other than Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense). The Lantern is very reminiscent of Rebecca, although I did not enjoy it quite as much as Rebecca.

I find it interesting that in Rebecca, the heroine remains nameless, while in The Lantern, the heroine has the name of Eve, who was of course the first woman in the Bible. Eve's story in The Lantern is juxtaposed with the story of Benedicte, a Frenchwoman, and her family, including her sister Marthe Lincel, a blind perfumer.

The story of the two women is woven together well, and I found myself at many points being unable to put the book down. The book is also reminiscent of Hitchcock's movie Suspicion, in which the wife (Joan Fontaine--love her!) is afraid that her husband (Cary Grant--happy sigh) is trying to kill her.

I don't want to give too much away, so just know that if you're looking for a good, suspenseful novel, look no further than The Lantern.

**I will definitely be reading Rebecca again soon, as well as watching Hitchcock's movie version of it, which is chilling. If you haven't read or watched Rebecca, you should!**

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Things I'm grateful for. (In no particular order)

1. My life.

2. My health and sanity. (The sanity is relative, but it's there most of the time).

3. My husband. I could not have been more blessed!

4. My children. Ditto! (Would you guys just clean your rooms? That's all I ask).

5. Dogs. A house without dogs just isn't the same....and they give you unconditional love!

6. A home that's warm, dry and safe.

7. The ability to choose. Freedom.

8. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

9. Prayer, the scriptures, and a prophet to guide us.

10. Family, friends, loved ones.

11. Electricity. Heat. Clean, running water. Not everyone has it.

12. Nature and all the beauty around us if we just look.

13. Books.

14. Chocolate. (#14? Proof that this list is in no particular order).

15. My piano.

16. Food. And the ability to walk into any grocery store here and choose from thousands of items.

17. Dirty Dishes. Noisy children. Piles of laundry. See below.

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

It's a pretty life.

It's anonymous.

And pretty clever, too, I think.

It's a blog: The Pretty Life Anonymous, and it's awesome. You should seriously check it out.

They are having a giveaway right now, for custom Christmas cards from Kourtnee Fisher Designs. I entered, and you should, too!

Speaking of a pretty life, I am blessed with some pretty daughters. Four of them! Here is a lovely picture of the three youngest, taken by the oldest, who happens to be quite talented with a camera.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

first real snow of the season

The first (measurable) snow of the season means this:
  • Christmas music played in the house today
  • Pumpkin muffins will be baking tonight
  • Hot chocolate will be enjoyed with the muffins
  • the fireplace will be on!
I like the snow until the novelty wears off....which happens to coincide with the first of the new year. I don't think that's a coincidence... snow isn't as much fun after the holidays are over, unless you're a kid with a sled and you live on a hill.