Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Little of This and A Little of That

Making dinner is always a challenge if I haven't planned out a menu for the week.  For the past number of years I have tried to plan menus for the week - this way when ANYONE asks "what's for dinner?" there is no ambiguity about it.  My kids used to just go to the fridge and read the menu.  It started getting to be problem when their friends would come to the house and check the menu to see if they wanted to eat over!! But that's a story for another day.

Today is about unplanned meals.  I didn't plan a menu this week which makes each day interesting when I'm asked the famous (and sometimes) most important question of the day.

So this is what I had to work with:  a few pieces of chicken tenders, some bacon (everything is good with bacon in it), 1/2 an onion, some grape tomatoes, Marsala wine, some Parmesan cheese and a package of pesto sauce.  Sounds like a pasta dish.

The ingredients!
So how do I make this come together.  I started out by chopping up the bacon and cooking it in my pan.  Once the bacon was brown and crisp I removed it from the pan to drain.  I then tossed the chicken tenders with some of the pesto sauce mix (dry).  I then put the chicken in the pan with the bacon drippings and browned it on both sides.

I removed the chicken from the pan and added about a tablespoon of butter - and some finely chopped red onion and some granulated garlic.  I sauteed that for less than a minute and then added a good dose of Marsala wine.

The smell is wonderful!!
As it was reducing I added a couple ladles of pasta water (yummy flavor).  When it was reduced by half I added a small handful of feta cheese (this was a waste - didn't need the feta).  I then added about a teaspoon of tomato paste (leftover in the fridge).  Once the paste was incorporated into the sauce I threw in the rest of the dry mix from the pesto sauce and a few grape tomatoes which I halved.  At this point I wish I had some spinach or fresh basil but I was making due with what I had!!

Moving on!  I then put the chicken back in the pan as well as the chopped cooked bacon.  Next I threw in the pasta and tossed it till the pasta was completely covered with the sauce.  I then threw in some leftover Parmesan cheese and tossed.

All in all it tasted pretty darn good.  So look in your fridge tonight.  Find a little of this and a little of that and see what you can come up with.  The one thing that frustrates the hubby is that he can never get the same meal twice!! I never write things down and it's always just whatever you have hanging around in the cabinets or fridge.  Happy cooking!!

Monday, April 16, 2012


My sisters, niece and one of my daughters took a little trip this weekend to upstate NY to visit with our grandmother.  I'd like you to meet Thirza North.  She is 98.  

Gram just got home from rehab/nursing home.  She feel a few weeks ago while she was out shopping. She apparently fractured her pelvis and left elbow.  Funny thing is after the fall she got back up and went on her way.  It was several hours later when she got in touch with her son and he took her to the hospital.  When she was at the hospital they did all the normal things for tests including xrays.  In looking at the xray the doctor saw an old fracture in my grandmother's pelvis.  My grandmother said "yes I broke it when I was 12."  She then proceeded to tell the story of how she fractured her pelvis - a story which her son had never heard.  When she was 12 she was "playing" (actually she said she was doing something she wasn't suppose to be doing).  Anyway in the process of this "playing" she apparently fell and fractured her pelvis.  Since she was doing something she wasn't suppose to be doing she decided not to tell her parents because she knew she would get in trouble.  The fracture eventually healed but she quietly endured the pain and never told her parents.  Sidenote:  when she was little her father would not allow her to cry she was simply endure it.  I am so in awe of this wonderful woman - I can't even imagine having to endure that kind of pain.  She continues to live on her own and her mind is as sharp as tac!!

She is all healed up now and scoots around her apartment with her walker faster than some people walk on their own.  I don't know if you have someone around as wonderful as Thirza in your life - hope so cuz there is nothing like it.   She inspires me and I'll be there are quite a few young folks today that could definitely learn a thing or two from my granma!!!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Today was a bit of a gloomy day - very little sunshine here in MA!  So I spent the day organizing my coupons.
First I cleaned out my coupon binder.  I had some expired coupons from a month ago in there!!!  Then I got to the task of cutting and filing away the new ones.

It was a rather large job.  Actually to be completely honest there are the coupons from 3 weeks ago.  Yup - that's have far behind I am!!  I have two more weeks to cut but I probably won't get to it today.  There is really only one reason why I won't get to it and her name is Julia.  Wherever gramma gets her coupon binder out Julia is ready to assist.  Now I'm not complaining cuz having help with the coupons is a wonderful thing.  I usually give Julia the expired coupons or the ones that I won't use! She loves having her own coupons.

Although it took me a little longer than usual.  I did finally get my binder organized and now I'm ready for another week of shopping!!  How about you?  What did you decide to do today?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Is It Soup Yet?

About the only thing I love about cold/cool days is soup!! Soup is delicious, practical and sooo easy to make.  So this guinea pig date was all about recipes that were my own.  I tried to provide some variety such as cream, broth, meat, no meat - you get the idea. 

So first up we had very simple vegetable soup.  Vegetable is so so simple.  I used beef broth for this soup but you can use chicken or if you're into the total veggie thing use veggie stock.  Whatever floats your boat I say!!  I sauteed some onions, celery and carrots to start, then add corn (frozen), green beans (frozen), fresh squash and lastly some kale.  A little cracked pepper and we are good to go!!

Lots of veggies!!
As for me, I'm not a big vegetable soup lover but this wasn't bad.  I would really have liked some sausage in it!!!

Next we had clam chowda!! No living here in New England I have always loved seafood and chowda!! However my dad always made a brothy chowda - its not your typical thick chowda.  I started with bacon, dice it up and brown it in a stock pot.  Once browned remove the bacon from the pan but leave the drippings in the pan.  Now add some chopped onions (celery if you like).  I saute the onions till they are soft and translucent.  Next I add the clam stock (I had some in the freezer)!  You can make stock by just steaming a few quahogs (5-6 in a pot of salted water).  Or you could buy it but why would you do that!!! Next I add diced potatoes.  Pick good potatoes you don't want to end up with mush in your chowda!! I love love love golden yukons.  They hold up so well in chowda.  I simmer the potatoes till fork tender.  Next I add in heavy cream - the whole container!!  And thyme (fresh if you have it but dried is fine as well).  Lastly I add my chopped clams (yup they were in the freezer too) and the cooked bacon from earlier.  You can buy chopped clams at the local fish market, use the quahogs you boiled earlier for the stock or buy canned.  Why you buy canned I couldn't tell ya!! Moving on!! Allow it to heat through and serve!!

This was my sister, Sharon's bowl.  I had to grab a pic before it was all gone - everyone loved the chowda!!!

Lastly soup choice we had was the Mexican Chicken Tortilla Soup.  With this one I simply sauteed some onions, celery, peppers and garlic in olive oil.  Once soft I added a small can of chopped green chilis.  The kitchen smelled amazing while I was cooking this.  While the veggies were bathing in the olive oil I cooked up some boneless chicken breasts in olive oil.  I had sprinkled the chicken breasts with Cactus Jack (courtesy of Russ & Jackie) - secret family recipe!!  Once the chicken was cooked I cut it up in cubes and set it aside.  To the sauteed veggies I added two (2) bottles of Hot & Spicy V8 Juice.  Lastly I added corn (frozen), some rice I had cooked earlier and the cubed chicken.  It was delicious.  I did sprinkle a little more Cactus Jack into the soup while it was simmering but that was it.  We ate it topped with shredded cheese, fried corn tortillas and sour cream.

It'll warm you right up!!
It's another brisk day here in New England but I'm happy to say that I have NO leftovers!!  All the soup was eaten up!  So why don't you try your hand at soup today.  Clean out the fridge - add some broth and spice and snuggle up to a nice warm bowl of deliciousness!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

My Little Protégée!!!

I was at the bank recently opening a new checking account (new year, new bank, new stuff.....) and as one of the security measures the bank takes you must pick a "keysite" for the access to your online account.  It's just a picture and they are large variety to choose from.  I pick a photo of a bunch of tomatoes! I told the woman at the bank that I picked this because I like to cook.  She then asked me if I was "a good cook".  My response was that "I've been told that I am."  To which she said "then you are a good cook."  I do know this I enjoy cooking and especially cooking for others.  I gives me such great satisfaction to prepare meals for others and watch them as the devour it and hopefully are satisfied by it. 

That being said let me introduce you to someone who proudly professes to be a "good cook!"  This is Julia and she reminds me of what a great cook she is every time we are in the kitchen creating some sort of fantastic dish.  Even yesterday when we were working together to create a wonderful tuna salad for grampa for his sandwiches she reminded me as she sprinkled in the thyme "I'm a good cook." 

More on WHAT we are creating here later!!

I will say this for her - she is not afraid to get her hands dirty.  She is willing to get right in there and work at making a wonderful meal.  Now if I could just get her to try eating them!!

Do you have someone who watches and mimics you?  One of the best ways to keep ourselves in check is to remind ourselves that little eyes are watching!! And this one has eagle eyes when it comes to watching me!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Beginnings!!

2012 is here and I wish I knew where all the time went!! Do you ever feel like that?  So at the ripe ole age of ?? I'm trying to become more organized and a better planner!! Ok stop laughing at me!!Things can get out of hand so quickly when you work full time and are trying to run a household, do couponing, plan meals for the family, plan meals for the guinea piggers and blogging!! Not that I'm complaining - my life is full and rich with joy.  I am thankful for every wonderful day I have here on this earth.  That being said I really need some focus in my life.

In the first week of 2012 I did manage to organize my coupon binder and schedule meal plans for the guinea pig club and I did lay a menu out for the first week of January for the family.  I did NO laundry all week (Amber did all the laundry for me - my wonderful daughter-in-law who lives with me)! I did only the bare essentials as far as house cleaning goes too - dishes, scrub the toilet, etc.

So I guess I'm not off to a bad start.  I do want to be faithful to this blog too.  My goal is to post a couple times a week!! Wish me luck and I truly need your support!! I've been doing quite a bit of blog reading and trying to understand the blogging world and wrap my head around this wonderful world of blogging.  Hopefully I will post things/ideas/features that you will enjoy as well.  Keep me in check and if it's crap, let me know!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gratitude Not Attitude

I decided that I wanted to continue the Thanksgiving Day theme for my dinner with my guinea piggers.  We didn't have more turkey - I think everyone is pretty much turkeyed out after Thanksgiving but I did want to continue the thankfulness idea.  Hence the name of the dinner - Gratitude Not Attitude.  Well let's face it, us girls can have a LOT of attitude at times!!

Anyway on with the dinner.  First was the table setting.  These are branches I picked up from the back yard - always good if you can decorate from free!!

I know, it looks a bit bare and rustic but go with me on this - wait till the end! You'll see my vision!!

The meal was centered around sour cream.  I know - you're asking yourself what does sour cream have to do with Thanksgiving?  It doesn't - they just had a really good sale at Shaw's and I had coupons!! Had to use the sour cream up!!

So dinner we had Beef Stroganoff and Vegetables with Sour Cream Sauce.

This was not just my serving!!

Hard to see the veggies but they were broccoli, cauliflower & carrots
For dessert I made chocolate cake with sour cream and no it was not from a box!! It was covered with chocolate fudge frosting (also not from a can!) and I topped it with a squirt or two of whipped cream (yes from a can). 

Very rich tasting!!!
Before we started eating I told the girls about the theme and that I needed them to express their thankfulness for their fellow guinea piggers.  We each took leaves from the table and wrote one of the guinea piggers name on the front and what we were thankful for about them on the back.  Then we took raffia and hung them on the tree!! Now see our centerpiece.

Although there were only 4 of us at the dinner (Danielle, Sharon, Colleen and me) we did manage to fill the "tree" with lots of gratitude!! P.S. Keep your eyes open and you will see how thankful we were!!

So I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and I hope that you are able to continue the attitude of gratitude all year long!