Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wednesday's Weeknight Recipe Review: Cranberry Orange Scones

Okay, I enjoyed the weekly recipe review idea so much that I've decided to feature it again. I like that it helps encourage me to try new recipes each week (and actually make them, instead of just dreaming about it, LOL!). So this week's feature is not a recipe I would try to make on a weeknight, but it is a great one to make over the weekend, and then enjoy any time of day during the week. And because I love seasonal cooking, this one just shrieks "fall" to me.

Recently, I've started watching Ina Garten's show, Barefoot Contessa. I was familiar with her as a Food Network personality, but had never tried any of her recipes. I started watching her show one afternoon, and quickly became hooked. She's awesome! And she's so very calming and relaxing to watch (and listen to) after a long day at work. She's got a very soothing voice and she makes such comforting food!

Since I rarely do anything halfway, I rushed out and ordered two of her books - Barefoot Contessa at Home, and Barefoot in Paris. I think I will really enjoy both of these cookbooks, because her recipes are very "un-fussy" and feature whole ingredients, without skimping on elegance and style. The result is recipes that are very accessible (sometimes with just five or six ingredients), but make it feel like you are preparing something very special.

The other day, I caught an episode of her show in which she made the recipe I am featuring today. I rarely make this kind of thing for myself, because it is too close to shortbread, which I could cheerfully eat until I make myself seriously ill. I adore shortbread. I also love biscuits and anything with a similar deliciously crumby, buttery, flaky texture. So scones are not usually on my list of things to make, unless I have someone to take them off my hands, and quickly!

However, I love to make this kind of thing for holiday breakfasts, and with the holidays not too far away, I wanted to try them in anticipation of making them for Thanksgiving dinner/breakfast. I love the combination of cranberry and orange, and I usually make a cranberry orange bread that I'll share with you in a few weeks. So these looked particularly inviting, and I decided to make 'em this weekend!

I am happy to report they are very easy and VERY good. Like, so good that I am going to have to take them to work (or I may try freezing them). Because otherwise I may gain 5 pounds just eating these things. They're that good!

I have a couple notes to offer with my own take on the recipe, which I'll add at the end. For now, let's make these beautiful, buttery scones!

You'll need these items:

We've got flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, orange zest, dried cranberries, eggs, heavy cream, and butter. Oh, the butter... PW would be proud! Optional ingredients (for a glaze) are confectioners' sugar and freshly squeezed orange juice.

Before you begin measuring dry ingredients, go ahead and throw the butter (3 sticks - shhhhhh!!!) in the freezer for a few minutes. That will help it maintain its shape while you're working with it. In a large mixing bowl, combine 4 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp baking powder, 2 tsp kosher salt, and 2 tsp orange zest.

Next, cut the butter into small cubes. I use a cheese slicer for this, which takes only seconds (and the wire won't stick to the butter like a knife would). Toss it into the dry ingredients and mix on slowest speed until butter is the texture of small peas.

While that's mixing, beat 4 eggs, and then combine the eggs with 1 cup of cold heavy cream.

Next, toss 1 cup of dried cranberries with 1/4 cup flour, then add to the flour mixture. With mixer on low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring only until blended (may be a little lumpy). Turn it out onto a floured board, and using a floured rolling pin, gently roll out until it's a little less than an inch thick. The trick with scones (to keep them light and crumbly in texture) is not to overwork the dough, and to work quickly so the butter doesn't melt. You want tiny little pieces of butter to remain in the finished scones, so that when they bake they will steam gently.

Now, some recipes (including this one) call for you to cut round scones and then re-roll the scraps and cut those, etc. I have never liked making round portions in this manner, because you always end up with extra dough that doesn't get used, and (as with scones) some doughs are "fragile" and will change texture if they're handled repeatedly. So my preference is to make either square or triangular pieces, so that I only have to roll and cut once. But cut them in whatever shape suits your fancy, just remember to keep things chilled so the butter doesn't melt. I was more interested in the taste of these rather than perfect portions, so mine are a little messy, but here's what I ended up with. Don't forget to line your baking pan with parchment!

[Optional egg wash - beat one egg with a couple tablespoons water, and brush over tops of scones; dust with granulated sugar if you like.]

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. If you want to glaze them, combine 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 4 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice (adjust sugar and juice to your desired texture). Drizzle over top (or smother in butter, like me!) and enjoy!

Printable recipe here.

Love, Dahrlin'

Fall Project Update

So a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I have several goals for this fall, in terms of projects I'm working on and want to complete. I am happy to report that, although I haven't gotten much blogging done recently, I have made progress on a lot of those goals! For those interested in my various hobbies, including knitting, scrapbooking and my everlasting Quest to Get Organized, here are a few pics.

First, the ongoing kitchen reorganization project is coming along nicely. I've gone through a lot of the paper and junk shoved into this cabinet recipe-related clutter I've diligently collected, and attempted to cull and organize my cooking magazine collection. New magazines come in the door at the rate of 3 per month, so this is really a survival tactic :-) A few things are missing from this shot (hence all the extra space), and there's a whole shelf I cannot even reach (hence its emptiness), but you'll get the idea:

YAY! Also, I am very excited to report that I have FINISHED the wedding scrapbook! WAHOOOOOOO!!! If I seem a tad excited about that, it may help you understand, to know that I got married in 2001. And, um, my scrapbook is 80 pages long, because yeah, I went that crazy with it. But anyway, it's DONE! I hope to figure out how to share pics of some of those pages with you. Stay tuned!

Next, the Lizard Ridge Afghan project is back on track. It was moving along nicely, as evidenced by these two blocks, which I completed while I lay dying of respiratory yuck on the couch a couple weeks ago ;-) But then I tried to knit while watching TV this week (I know better than this, but do the same thing every time) and made an unrecoverable error. Tried to rip back and redo, but it was too far gone. So, I lost about a quarter block of progress for the week, but that's okay. I restarted the block, and thankfully Pixie did not manage to do any damage when she took my knitting for a little adventure Saturday morning.

And last weekend, I finally got the rest of my dining room decorations done for fall (because of my love for the season itself, I usually put them up as soon as September comes around, but they hang around and serve as our actual decor for Thanksgiving dinner). Here's a shot of the buffet, and it's also more evidence that I've GOT to get a camera like Angie and PW have, if I really intend to keep inflicting my photography on you guys! Sorry for the weird lighting and odd blurriness that occurs in many of my pics...But again, it'll give you an idea.

And now, I'm going to take a break from blogging and get ready to go over to our friends' house to watch the Georgia game. GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Truly The Best Brownies

Today's recipe is one I've been meaning to share here for a while. There are a bazillion recipes for brownies out there, and everyone seems to have their favorite version. Some like cakey brownies, some like gooey ones, some fudgy ones, some with flavors or candy added, etc. etc. But for several reasons, I think these are the best I've tried.

First of all, they're a "whole food" type of recipe, meaning no artificial ingredients and nothing you can't pronounce. Second, there are literally 6 ingredients, and they are super easy to make and super yummy! I made them Saturday to take to our friends' house for dinner, and they're always a hit. And lastly, I think they have the best flavor and texture I've tried.

Since brownies are a pretty universal treat, and no special skills are required, I didn't do my usual step-by-step photo layout. To emphasize how quick and easy they are, I'll just tell you it takes about 10 minutes hands-on, and about 45-minutes baking, to go from this:

To this:

The only special trick you need to be aware of is that it will make your life SO much easier, if you will line your baking pan with parchment paper before making these (or any brownies). Once they're baked, let 'em cool a few minutes and then just lift the paper out of the pan and onto a cutting board. I use a pizza cutter to make quick squares out of these. (And then I quickly put them into something to take them somewhere, anywhere else, so I don't eat them all immediately!)

My Favorite Brownies
(Makes 16-25 brownies)

2 sticks butter
4 Tbsp cocoa
1.5 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 300. Melt butter in a microwave-safe dish. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk together. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and add to butter; stir in vanilla. Add to dry ingredient mixture and stir gently just until combined (do not over mix; batter may be slightly lumpy). Pour into 8x8 pan lined with parchment paper, and spread batter evenly in pan. Bake at 300 for approx 45 minutes or until baked to your liking (I like them a little more fudgy). Cool about 1/2 hour in pan, then lift paper out of pan and slice as desired.

Hope you enjoy!

Love, Dahrlin'

Pixie Sticks?

(Titles like that are a sure sign that I have been away from blogging WAY too long, LOL! But it will make more sense in a second...)

Things are finally settling down a little bit around here, and I am thankful. We've been pretty busy the last few weeks, and I look forward to sharing some of those happenings with you here. I appreciate those of you who read this blog - more than you know! Thanks for sticking with me, even when I don't show up for a while :-)

It was a gorgeous fall morning here, and these are my favorite days of the year. The early fall sun is so pretty (and so pleasant at this lower intensity!).

Meanwhile, this weekend is a trial run at our house, as we may be adopting this little one:

Her name is Pixie, which suits her perfectly, and she belongs to a friend of mine from work. She's about a year old, and my friend has had a third child and can no longer keep her. They are not in a rush to rehome her, but they've got a little too much going on at their house to keep her right now.

So, we brought her home for the weekend to see how she gets along with Tucker, our resident grumpy old lady. Tuck is going to be 12 this winter, so she's slowed down a lot from her paint-the-town days.

So far, so good, except that Tuck is not really interested in playing, which leaves Miss Pix with a lot of time on her hands. She is a typically energetic, active Beagle girl, and she has a delightful personality. She loves to play with us, but we were hoping Tucker would want to play with Pixie and they could entertain each other :-) But so far, Tuck is holding in her usual pattern of pretty much sleeping all day and ignoring any other animal that comes into the house. So we'll see.

Meantime, I've caught some very cute pics of this adorable little prankster. It's a lot like having a toddler around, as she is constantly into something. So far today, I have caught her out on the deck with one of my socks, she took my knitting (needles and all) off the table and out on the deck, and she has jumped onto the couch and into my lap several times (Tuck isn't allowed on the furniture, but it looks like Pix may not be used to that ;-)

This, however, is one of my favorite photos of Pixie:

I don't know why, but she seems to love this spot on the stairs. Such a cutie!

That's the news for today from around here - stay tuned for further updates (and some new recipes)!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, September 22, 2008

Liquid Gold Olympics

I’m alive, I’m alive, LOL! A couple friends have written asking if everything is okay, because I’ve been so spotty on blogging recently. I apologize for the lack of new content here lately, but should be back in the swing of things shortly. It’s been a tad busy around our place this last few weeks! The good news is I’ve got a ton of things I want to blog about, so look for some new posts coming up!

Meanwhile, this post is a little off-topic from my usual, but I just wanted to share something out of the ordinary that happened yesterday. It is either funny or scary depending on how you look at it, and I realize it’s pretty minor, so I am trying to laugh about it. But it was a tad scary and did make me think.

My husband and father both follow the commodities markets pretty regularly, and lots of friendly arguments usually ensue regarding what each thinks oil, gas, and related markets may do, both in the long term and short term. I am usually a semi-interested bystander for these debates, which is to say that I sometimes offer my thoughts, but more often let these conversations flow around me while I’m doing something more fun, like cooking :-)

But anyway, I am super-spoiled super-blessed and very grateful for it, and can honestly say I have never been to a gas station when they were out of gas. Not once in my 17 years of driving have I ever gone to get gas and found none. Nor have I ever really been at a station where it was super crowded and people were getting antsy. Nor have I ever been stranded there, because I did not have enough gas to go elsewhere. But that changed yesterday!

I rarely let my gas tank get truly low, before I stop for gas. This is typically because I once ran completely out and had to hike two miles for gas do not like to take chances, unlike my hubby who routinely drives on imaginary gasoline (according, at least, to his gas gauge which is usually below E whenever I get in the car). However, yesterday I knew Monday was coming up and I hate to stop in the mornings, so I made a special trip out to fill up. As my last outing had been to the grocery store, and I did not want to stop with frozen foods in the car, I was pretty low on gas. To illustrate, my car supposedly holds 15 gallons, and when I finally filled up, it says I used 15.3 gallons…(maybe the station is cheating and the pumps are rigged or something - go figure). But anyway, that’s the lowest reading I’ve ever had - I’ve never seen it claim that I used more than 15 gallons, so I know I was very close to empty.

As a side note, and you all know how this goes - I had not yet showered for the day (long story), so I looked pretty grungy. I was also looking forward to having a nice happy hour beverage upon returning home, and continuing with my (interrupted) organization projects and pile-o-laundry, so I was not in the mood for a lengthy trip anywhere.

My (first) stop was at our corner BP. I pulled in and noticed that all the pumps were out of service. Thinking this a bit odd, but not really concerned, I took off for the Quiktrip down the street.

Upon arrival at the QT, I saw that their pumps were also out of service. I was a more than a little surprised by that, and more than a little alarmed, because now I had an actual problem: I had no gas to get to another gas station at this point. Our area is pretty suburban and things are spread out, to the point where I do not even know where the next closest station would be...these stations are both on my work route and it’s very rare that I would need to stop elsewhere. I also did not know what the issue was, and thought it might be some kind of regulatory/county-imposed outage, so I went inside to inquire. The nice (and very patient) gentleman working the register informed me that “everyone around here is out of gas.” I was stunned - I’ve simply never seen all of our stations run out before in normal circumstances (when there are no real supply disruptions in our area, etc.). More alarming was that “everyone” - because my car did not have enough gas to even get home at this point. He did say they were getting a delivery, and I could wait if I wanted, about half an hour. So I (thankfully) thought to go ahead and pull into a pump bay and waited...and waited...and watched, as the station QUICKLY began to fill up with similarly aggravated folks who did never intended to spend hours waiting for gas. It’s just very unexpected and unusual around here for any station, especially in our area, to run out.

The story would not be nearly as interesting, except for what happened next. So they finally cut the pumps back on, and by now, cars are three to four deep at every bay. It’s a large QT, with about 24 pumps, so you can imagine the mob scene. I say mob in the generic sense, but people were definitely antsy, which was a little unsettling. I wanted to take a photo with my phone, but I was actually afraid I might annoy someone (people were getting testy) and I did not want to push it.

So anyway, the pumps came alive and everyone started pumping as fast as they could. Of course, that demand slowed the actual fueling at each (already slow) pump to a crawl, which only annoyed people further. Meanwhile, not to be outdone in this little derby, I rushed through the process of swiping my card, etc. and set about trying to start the pump. And you just know what's coming next... but ... wait for it... waiiiitttt...

Yep, it wouldn’t engage. Now, the procedure for filling a gas tank hasn’t changed a lot since I was 16, and I’ve had a fair bit of practice in the meantime, so I knew it wasn’t me. I quickly called the poor attendant (who was running around taking the plastic bags off the pumps) and she came over, only she could not get it to work either. She ran inside to find her manager, and by this point I was having visions of that single tanker load of gas being guzzled up before I could even START to fill my tank, because how was I going to get in another line at this point? The station was already bumper-to-bumper, with more people coming in by the minute. There was barely room to leave when you were ready.

Several minutes later the girl comes back and says her manager said there is nothing that they can fix; the pump will have to be examined. She suggested I get in another line. Now those of you who know me well, know what’s coming next. I did not think much of that suggestion, since I was literally one of the first three people to pull in at the pumps in the first place. I was not in the mood by this point to wait in another three-deep line (it was taking about 15 minutes to fill a standard tank) only to have, as I feared, the gas run out before I could get any. So I managed to restrain what I really wanted to say, and politely told her that was not going to be workable, and she’d need to get her manager to come out and hold back the tide of angry motorists and find me a pump :-).

(Wisely, she decided to run back into the station as fast as her feet would carry her.)

Our tale of (minor) woe ends happily, as the manager did make an appearance, and a very kind and patient looking Japanese gentleman did allow me to back up to the pump behind mine and fill up. I kept apologizing to him, because it was running soooooooooo slowly that I just knew he must be ready to run me over. But anyway, this entire experience of spending (literally) an hour trying to simply get gas really got me thinking. We don’t live in a hugely populous area. I mean, it’s a thriving county, but we’re not downtown or anything. And pf course I know plenty of others have had far worse experiences than mine, and may have even lived through the 70's gas shortages. But it was just very interesting to me (once I got away from the mob, which was just plain scary) to see all this unfold. One guy’s car died on him while he was sitting at the pump, and he had to be pushed out of the way. He was being very vocal and pushy even before his car died, and that sort of put him over the edge. Another guy had an experience like mine, where his pump wouldn’t work when they turned them back on. But really, this is crazy. I guess it’s what we have to look forward to, if we can’t figure out how to become energy-independent. I mean, I certainly realize there have been intermittent supply issues all over the country. We just haven’t seen it often in our neck of the woods so it took be a bit by surprise.

Anyway, hope no one else is having fuel problems. That was an eye opener for me, just in the sense that I need to be more careful about relying on the gas station to have gas when I need it!!

(And next time, Mom, I swear I’ll take a shower before I leave the house!)

Hope everyone had a great weekend.

Love, Dahrlin’

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Wednesday's Weeknight Recipe Review

Happy Wednesday!

I may start this as a new feature on this blog, because I am always looking for good, weeknight-friendly recipes. But anyway, we tried PW's Cheese Muffins last night, and they were GREAT! On a tip from my friend Barbara, I added a tiny bit of garlic powder to them. That was tasty and added a little zing to the cheese.

I happened to be (also on the spur of the moment) deviating from my planned menu, so we were having Italian Stuffed Chicken Breasts for dinner (I can't get enough of these freezer meals!). I checked and discovered that the chicken and the muffins bake at the same temperature for (basically) the same amount of time. Woohoo! I decided to make them, then noticed I only had half as much cheese as was called for. So I decided to halve the recipe, and that worked fine!

Half the recipe made exactly five muffins. If you have extra muffin tin "holes", you can fill them with water to help make sure the surrounding muffins bake evenly. And in some recipes, if you need "half" an egg, you can just throw the whole egg in. But this is baking, where you have to be at least a little careful (even with quick breads like muffins), so I just decided to beat one egg in a measuring cup and use half of it in the recipe. That seemed to work fine.

The muffins were a hit with both of us, and for myself I also had wilted spinach (hubs had regular salad, since he won't eat spinach unless it's been cooked to death at least twice). It was a nicely rounded spring or fall menu that was truly on the table in 30 minutes! I was very pleased with that feature, as well.

Hope you guys have a great Wednesday!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, September 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!

We’re one week deeper into fall, and I made basically none of last week’s recipes due to illness. So I may recycle that menu soon, but in the meantime, several new recipes and a couple old favorites caught my eye as I was planning yesterday. So for this week, we’re looking at the following:

Monday: (grocery store run) - BBQ Pork chops, Buttered Peas, Garlic Toast

Tuesday: (starting back to walking) - Skillet Chicken (my mom's baked chicken with mushroom gravy), Sweet Potatoes, Buttered Broccoli

Wednesday: Bacon Cheeseburger Calzones, Salad, Garlicky Green Beans

Thursday: (walking night) - Garlic Lime Chicken, Black Beans, Broccoli

Friday: my best friend is coming to visit! Wahoo! We’ll probably go out Friday and then cook Saturday after a day of scrapping!

Saturday: We’ll see what Angie feels like eating, and I’ll report back on what we make!! I’m hoping at a minimum to try PW’s cheese muffins, and maybe a couple other things.

Sunday: Tilapia Parmesan, Baby Limas, Buttered Corn or Carrots

Enjoy your week!

Love, Dahrlin’

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Ultimate Comfort Food

In honor of my friend Stephanie, and her recently multi-tasking posts, today's post will combine several themes that have been on my mind this week. Normally, this is Foodie Friday on this blog, so today's post will (finally!) feature a new recipe. (Sorry I've been away from blogging so much recently!) And I've been miserably sick most of the week, so the recipe will be one that is helping to get me well! And lastly, running out of this more priceless than gold commodity earlier in the week reminded me of a universal truth I must have forgotten: no household should ever be without homemade chicken soup in the freezer! Because here's truth #2: you won't feel up to making any when you really need it - even if you've already got the ingredients on hand!

I also need to give a big shout out to my wonderful husband, who (with a little bit of coaching) made this for me last night, when my fever was 103 and I could barely see straight. He protested a little bit at first, saying he didn't know how, but I promised to whisper directions pitifully from my perch on the couch talk him through it. I had to laugh, because once he figured out that soup is a wonderful use for leftovers, vegetables languishing in the fridge and just about anything else you want to throw in it, he started asking if I wanted this, that or the other in there too. Hubs hates to see food to go to waste, but I stopped him when he got to the beautiful tomato hanging around on the counter (the same one I forgot to slice and serve for hamburger toppings for last weekend's party). I've made lots of yummy soup recipes with tomato, but they all say either "Italian" or "Mexican" to me. I didn't want this soup to be overwhelmed with tomato, so I vetoed that addition :-) Later I laughed at myself - last night I was so congested I couldn't taste anything. Wouldn't have mattered what was in it!

So anyway, what we ended up with is something wonderful indeed. I am very pleased with it, since it's slightly different (and I think better) than my usual chicken noodle soup recipe. I like it so much that I think I'll make this my new standard, just varying the veggies by season or what's on hand.

Try it sometime and freeze any leftovers. When someone in your family needs something warm, nutritious and yummy, you'll have it ready to go! Is there anything more comforting than homemade soup?

Love, Dahrlin'

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
(Makes 1 pot; about 8 servings)
** see also notes below

1 can cream of chicken soup (not condensed)
2-3 cans water, as needed
2 large cooked chicken breasts, or any leftover cooked chicken
Chicken base** to taste
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, sliced
Baby carrots or sliced carrots
Yellow squash (2), chopped
Zucchini (1), chopped
Frozen baby lima beans
Elbow macaroni (couple handfuls)
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt and pepper
Olive Oil

Saute vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes. Add soup, water, and about 1 Tbsp chicken base (to start; you can add more later if you need it). Add chicken and bring to a simmer; check seasonings and add more chicken base if you want. You'll use the soup itself to cook the pasta, so add more water if needed (just a little at a time; you don't want it super-thin :-). Return soup to a simmer, add pasta** and cook about 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in herbs and serve to anyone in need of serious comfort food.

**Recipe notes: As with all soups, this is really more of a method than a specific recipe - hence all the notes. I am giving the ingredients (and method) I used, because they are what I had on hand, but any mild-flavored veggie or bean would work. Vary the proportions as you see fit. The most important thing here is protein and nutrition! On the canned soup, I used Health Valley Organic Cream of Chicken, which I just discovered (it's super!). For the chicken base, I use the Better than Bullion found in the grocery store soup aisle. They're absolutely right - the flavor is WAAYYY better than bullion cubes or granules (but if you use those, just add to taste - remember, you can always add more, but you can't take it back out). And on the pasta, if you're going to freeze the soup, just add (separately cooked) pasta to the portions you're serving; the pasta will have a much better texture if you don't freeze it in the soup. I like Barilla pasta because it's got those little ridges that hold sauce or broth.

Oh - and because I was sick and figured I need the calories, I might have added a little half and half to my servings. Even though I couldn't taste it until I ate some today, it was divine. But again, do that after you thaw any that you freeze. Don't add it before freezing.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Never Forget

No words today, except to say may God bless this great country which, even with its faults, remains the greatest country in the world. I am, and always will be, so thankful to be an American.

Image above courtesy Hosanna

Image above courtesy TC Design

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Chicken Soup and W(h)ine

Okay, so normally I try not to post anything whiny on this blog. But since I seem to be in good company, I'm going to go ahead and post this quickly. I've come down with a dreaded late summer/early-fall cold... UGH. Just when I was getting back into a routine, eating well and working out...blam!!

And I'm with Michelle on this one - who wants to eat chicken soup when it's still this warm out? Not me, but I have learned over the years that it has nearly miraculous healing powers if I only force feed it to myself, day and night until I'm well! Thankfully, I had a little leftover chicken noodle soup in the freezer for just such an occasion, but will be asking hubby to bring home my all-time favorite remedy: Campbell's chicken noodle. And I know it's not homemade, but it does have a ton of salt in it, and that helps my super-swollen throat, LOL! Meanwhile, I'll finish off the batch I made for Dad while he was here.

So the rest of you all STAY WELL! We've had way too much illness in the blogosphere lately! :-)

And now I'm crawling back under the covers with my laptop... sniffles!

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, September 8, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Another week has flown by!

So we're into football season, which is making me crave yummy, slower-cooked foods. But it's usually pretty warm around here in September, so I am not quite up for heavier foods just yet. Soon though!

Meanwhile, for this week I'm hoping to make a couple more freezer meals (this will use up most of those we've got) and make several old favorites that will be nice for the changing season. I also want to try a couple new things I've found:

Monday: Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Buttery Pasta, Wilted Spinach

Tuesday: Halibut in Artichoke Broth, Cheese Muffins (new PW recommendation to try)

Wednesday: Tacos, Black Beans and Salsa

Thursday: Lemon Chicken Scallopine with Marinara, Broccoli with Lemon-Lime Garlic Butter

Friday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Salmon, Buttered Peas

Saturday: Over to our friends' house for a birthday party

Sunday: Roman Chicken, Parmesan Potatoes, Wilted Spinach

Have a blessed week!

Love, Dahrlin'

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thankful Thursday Thirteen

Okay, so for today's post I'm combining a variety of "themes" :-) I've received a couple of awards recently and I definitely want to acknowledge and say thank you for those, and I love Fussy's "Thankful Thursday," and I also love Angie's usual Thursday Thirteen. So we'll put them together - here are a few things I am thankful for this Thursday:

(1) I'm thankful for my dear friend Robin, who gave me this award:

Memoirs of a Mommy created this award in honor of the donor that saved her son Noah's life. The purpose of this award is to raise awareness about organ donation and to share the love ... so share this award with blogs you love, blogs that make you smile, blogs that make you laugh, blogs that make your day, and blog owners that leave you uplifting comments. (Please include the links when posting the award to your blog.)

I am passing this award along to... Angie, Stephanie (Reillybug), Michelle, Stephanie (Live.Love.Eat), Bobbi, Tara, Janyne, Knatolee, Crowzma, Melissa at Stretch Marks, and Dephal. Enjoy!

(2) I'm thankful for my new friend Bobbi, who gave me this award:

The rules of the award are:
1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links of those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs of the people you’ve nominated.

I'm passing this one on to each of you that I named in #1 above, so consider yourself awarded! Love to ya, ladies!

(3) I'm thankful for all our wonderful friends here in Atlanta, several of whom who are graciously joining us for (what I hope will be) a great birthday party this weekend. (And I'm thankful for the pool, which we've enjoyed all summer. Hope it's not too cold to use it this weekend!)

(4) I'm thankful that Gustav didn't cause more damage.

(5) I'm thankful that fall is FINALLY here! (I don't care what the calendar says. Around this house, fall starts Sept. 1.)

(6) I'm thankful for our family, whom we've been blessed to see a lot of this summer.

(7) I'm thankful for this blog, which gives me a way to keep in touch with family, old friends and new friends!

(8) Of course, I'm thankful for all of YOU who read my nonsensical ramblings (and I'm especially thankful to those of you who comment)!

(9) I'm thankful that my Dad's prostate cancer is currently kept at bay.

(10) I'm thankful for Facebook, where I've recently been able to reconnect with a lot of old friends.

(11) I'm thankful for all the wonderful new recipes I'm picking up from so many of you.

(12) I'm thankful for the week we got to spend visiting with my Dad last week.

(13) And I'm so thankful to be saved by Christ's grace.

Hope everyone has a blessed day!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Workout Update

A couple of my regular readers have recently pointed out that they have fallen off the 100 Pushup Challenge wagon. I invite any of you who fall into that category to feel free to blame me :-) I promised to keep us all on track here and then I didn't ... and I apologize!

As it's a short week and we have the party coming up (and of course, even though it's just friends who know us and, amazingly, still love us, I am super stressing with my perfectionist usual) it's been a bit of a busy week so far, but I have been determined to get some good workouts in and begin to get back into a routine. As such, I have worked out both of the last two nights and I am thankful to report that I swam for 45 minutes last night, and then tonight I started the Couch to 5k program that Angie (and I believe Michelle) is working on. I pushed it a little bit by starting with walking 5 minutes, then running 4/walking 1 for 20 minutes. I was pretty comfortable with that beginning, so I'm hoping I can stay on track with the progress!

I am also happy to report that I started with the pushups again tonight. I don't think I've lost any progress, so that is good, but I'm starting once again on a Wednesday, if anyone wants to come along. If you're way ahead by now it's no problem; I will still enjoy knowing I've got company!

Hope you guys have a great evening! I'm off to try to fix a somewhat healthy, quick dinner and then do some more cleanup on the house.

Love, Dahrlin'

Wordless Wednesday

(Almost wordless!) - Our rain gauge from last week:

Thank you Lord!

Monday, September 1, 2008

I need your help!

Okay, gang. I need your help once again on recipe ideas. I am throwing a 40th birthday bash (a little late) for hubby and two other friends this weekend. As in, yes-THIS-upcoming-weekend-I'm-having-20-people-over-and-I've-not-had-a-chance-to-plan-anything, weekend. So if you've got any great ideas, help me out, would you please? :-))

I need two things - first, your best-ever favorite recipes for a casual party. We'll have about 20 people, mostly adults. The general menu is cookout - burgers, grilled chicken, that kind of thing - but I need sides and appetizers and maybe a couple drinks to go with. I'm thinking of trying P-dub's chocolate cake, but we'll have to see how far I get on that LOL!

And Martha Stewart I am NOT, so if anyone's got any creative decoration ideas, send 'em on over here!

Thanks so much Ladies (and any Gentlemen reading!)

Love, Dahrlin'

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Labor Day, and happy birthday Mom!

I can't believe it's the first day of September. The way it usually happens around here is that the next time I blink, it will be Christmas. Wow!

Anyway, I'm back on the menu-planning wagon this week, with a few freezer meals and things we haven't made recently. Here's the plan:

Monday: Steaks and loaded baked potatoes, salad with PW's ranch dressing

Tuesday: Atkins Park Pork Tenderloin, jasmine rice, garlicky green beans

Wednesday: Apricot BBQ Chicken, leftover rice, buttered broccoli

Thursday: Salmon with Peas, baked sweet potatoes

Friday: Snacky dinner/leftovers. I'll be prepping for our party the next day.

Saturday: We're having some friends over to celebrate hubby's and two other friends' birthdays. Menu's still in the works, but I will post it Friday to share.

Sunday: Party leftovers!

Everyone have a blessed week!

Love, Dahrlin'
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