Saturday, October 18, 2008

Best Laid Plans

Well, as you may have noticed I haven't been able to post much recently. I had all these grand plans for things I wanted to accomplish this fall, then hit a major roadblock. I'll have to keep even this post pretty short because I've got a ton of work to try and catch up on, but the short version is that I have developed what we think must be a pinched nerve in my neck. It's been so painful that I can't even sit up most of the day; only if I lay down on the couch on either side of my body (not on my back, which is how I like to sleep) can I get any relief. I also can't turn my head to drive, so I've basically been trying to work from home this last week. I say trying, because sitting at the computer to type is a major issue right now. They have scheduled all kinds of scans, MRI's and other tests, but those will occur over the next week and we won't have answers until (hopefully) next Tuesday (week from this coming). Meanwhile, we're struggling with pain management. It's gotten so bad that I'm currently on a steroid for it. :-(

Please keep me in your prayers and know that I SO appreciate all the notes, prayers and good thoughts so many of you have sent me. I miss you guys and can't wait to be back, once I can sit and type comfortably again! Meanwhile, I'll be reading to stay caught up with what's going on in your lives, even if I don't comment a lot. I will update here (to avoid typing any more than I have to right now) as I have news, but please know I'm thinking of you and appreciate your love and support! Hugs,

Love, Dahrlin'

Monday, October 13, 2008

Menu Plan Monday!

We've been out of our routine here for several weeks, due to some family health issues. But I'm hoping, in the middle of all that's going on, to get back into at least part of our routine this week, if only for my sanity! :-) So I hope to get back to cooking a bit, working out/walking a little and back into my evening Bible study.

I took some time earlier in the week to plan a few weeks of fall menus at once. The next couple months (leading up to December, which to me begins winter) will be filled with a number of favorites we have not made in a while - but can now that cooler weather is finally here! I'm also hoping that by the time you read this Monday, I will have made a new recipe I've been wanting to try. Stay tuned for details on that one!

On to this week's menu - which is roughly centered on Italian foods. Wait...I take that back... looking through it again, it seems I must have been positively craving Italian when I wrote this menu. Added to the lasagna (made by a friend) that we enjoyed Saturday (and planned to enjoy more of Sunday night), it seems I'm on a pretty much straight roll with the Italian entrees this week! I typically go for more variety than this in my menus, but the flavors are so diverse that I think it will actually work fine.



Monday: Parmesan Whitefish (I'm using tilapia), Sweet Potatoes, Buttered Peas

Tuesday: (workout night) Lemon Chicken Scallopine (a freezer favorite), Marinara, Garlic Toast and Salad

Wednesday: Sausage, Tomato and Cheese Penne, Lemon-Butter Broccoli

Thursday: (workout night) Leftover Sausage Pasta, Salad

Friday: Florentine Turkey Meatballs (LOVE this recipe, and it makes great lunches), Buttered Baby Lima Beans, Rosemary-Garlic Toast (Whole Foods Rosemary Sourdough Bread - drizzle with olive oil and garlic salt and toast!)

Saturday: Chicken Cacciatore, Roasted Potatoes and Peppers, Steamed Kale

Sunday: Not sure yet... may try a new - non Italian! - recipe!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Love, Dahrlin'

Friday, October 10, 2008

A New Tag!

Yay! I love these things. My friend Lora at My Blessed Life tagged me this week, so here are the rules:



Here are seven random things about me:

(1) I love water. From a welcoming bubble bath after an exhausting day, to a lazy afternoon on the river, to the vastness of the oceans, I love water. There's something so soothing about it.

(2) I crave organization and serenity in my home, but the reality is more like an ever-changing sea (ha!) of piles of Things I Really Intend to Do...and Soon...Just as Soon as I Remember...

(3) Like Lora, I love history. I hated being forced to learn about it in school, but now I love it. I am currently reading three books that reflect this passion - The Great Influenza, The Persian Puzzle, and a book on Christian church history. I can get lost for hours reading stuff like that - I blame my Dad, LOL, whose response to most any question was "let's go look that up in the encyclopedia..."

(4) I love Honeycrisp apples. If you've never had one, RUN to your store right now and get some. May have to try the farmer's markets, but they are fantastic and worth it. I can't stand mushy apples, but I love a good crispy apple, and this variety just literally cracks apart when you bite into it (hence the name). Sooooo yummy. I am blessed to pass a Whole Foods Market on my way to and from work, so every fall I make a bi-weekly pilgrimage and stock up on like 8 at once. Try 'em!

(5) A few years ago, I finally learned the secret of making the honey mustard sauce that I learned to love at the Brass Register (a former restaurant in my hometown). This restaurant is also where I learned to love Derby Pie, a family favorite I now make every Christmas (and will share with you soon!). Anyway, I always wondered why most "honey mustard" sauces tasted mostly like runny mustard...not the creamy, yummy, mildly-mustardy stuff I grew up on. I finally hit upon the answer after browsing a lot of different recipes - the one I like is basically mayonnaise-based, with some honey and mustard added for flavor, LOL! The irony? I'm not really a mayonnaise fan, at least if it still tastes like mayo. But in ranch dressing, or this sauce? Love it!

(6) I have spent two (and almost three) birthdays in Europe. I turned 15 while on a school trip to Italy - I think we were in Rome that day. I turned 22 in Paris (I'll have to post that pic sometime!) and most recently, we went to Italy in April 2007 - arriving a couple weeks after my 32nd.

(7) I love puzzles, riddles, mysteries...anything that makes me wonder and have to think something through. I love science for this reason (but not math!!!). I also love games. Most recently, I'm addicted to Sudoku, Scrabble, Chinese Checkers, mystery movies and books, etc.

So I'm tagging the following folks - participate if you like, no worries if not.

(1) Angie at Angie's Spot;
(2) Steph at Steph's Little Corner;
(3) Michelle at Honest and Truly;
(4) Stephanie at Live.Love.Eat;
(5) Lisa at My Little Corner of the World;
(6) Lizz at Life with Lizz; and
(7) Bobbie at Rightmyer Recipes!

That's it for tonight! I'm off to make some dinner and watch a football game!

Happy Weekend!

Love, Dahrlin'

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mmmmm...Waffles!

This will be a quick post during a bit of a hectic week, but I wanted to share my all-time favorite waffle recipe. We make these all fall and winter (along with a couple other favorites) and these just make me smile any time of day. They are FULL of good things for your body, and yet they don't have that "health food" taste (or lack thereof ;-) Add some real butter and some real maple syrup, and you'll have a new favorite too! Try these out for your kids too. I bet you they won't even notice they're eating something healthy!



These freeze beautifully (cool completely, then freezer bag in flat layers with waxed paper separating the waffles). Reheat in a toaster (or regular) oven at about 275 for 10 minutes. I like to put some butter and syrup on a plate and sit it on top of the toaster oven while they heat. When they're done, voila - a crispy waffle, a warm plate and syrup and butter that won't cool everything down. YUM!

Hope you enjoy as much as we do!

Blueberry Multigrain Waffles
(Makes 24, 4" square waffles)

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
2 cups milk (or soymilk if you prefer)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (don't cheat - NOT "pancake" syrup)
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter, OR 3/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup flaxseed oil
2 cups lowfat (or fat free) plain yogurt
1 cup or so blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 cup or so pecans or walnuts, finely chopped

If you have a stand mixer, you'll want to use it as this makes a lot of batter. But any large mixing bowl is fine.

Combine dry ingredients (first 6 above) in the large mixing bowl (stir well). In a smaller bowl, melt butter (add flax oil if using). In another bowl, lightly beat the eggs then add the milk, syrup and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients, then add the butter mixture and the yogurt. Combine well (but don't overmix) and gently stir in nuts and blueberries. Allow batter to rest while you preheat and grease your waffle iron.

Bake waffles about medium heat until you see how your waffle iron works with the recipe. On mine it's about medium heat, and I have one of those square ones that makes 4 waffles at a time, so I use about 1.5 cups batter for each set of 4. These are SOOOO good - I hope you enjoy!

Love, Dahrlin'

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happy Saturday!

So as many of you know, it's been a rough week around here. Hubby asked me not to blog about it, so I won't, but I will just say thanks to all for your prayers and love for us and Miss Tucker. She's hanging in there! I will update soon by email.

Meanwhile, I made my very favorite bread recipe last weekend, and wanted to share it with you. I apologize that I did not take step-by-step pics, as I had a second little Beagle Booger underfoot to keep an eye on.

But anyway, this is one of my very favorite side dishes for fall and winter. I'm not typically a "bread with dinner" type person, because I usually seek to optimize calories vs. nutrition, and bread isn't always the most nutritious contribution to a meal :-) But this one has veggies!! Real, actual sauteed veggies, that at least make me feel I'm doing something right!

So try it sometime. It's super easy (and fun) to make, and kids would enjoy making it too because of the hands-on factor. Bonus - it only rises once, so it doesn't take forever to make! And it's beautiful and colorful and homemade. Perfect for a luncheon or company, as well. What else can you ask for in a dinner roll?



Veggie Pull-Apart Bread
(Makes one round bundt loaf)

You can use a bread machine to make (but not bake) the dough, or a stand mixer with dough hook, or a food processor (use plastic blade and check your user's manual) or make by hand. Whatever your preference! I use the stand mixer, because it takes about 2 minutes to knead the dough to a perfect consistency.

For Dough:
4.5 tsp butter, softened
1/2 cup water (plus extra teaspoon or two if needed)
1/2 cup sour cream
3 Tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1.5 tsp active dry yeast

For Veggie Mixture:
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup sliced green onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
(can also add finely diced or shredded carrot)
3 Tbsp butter
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
*optional - 6 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled

This would be an excellent dough for a thick-crust pizza, too.

If using bread machine, follow manufacturer's directions to make dough. Do not bake in bread machine though.

To use stand mixer with dough hook or food processor, add dry ingredients, except one cup flour but including yeast, to work bowl. Mix briefly to combine, then turn on low (or pulse a few times as you go) and add liquid ingredients gradually. Add last cup of flour gradually, then add water a tsp at a time if needed, to correct consistency. Knead for a couple minutes; dough should be smooth and elastic but not sticky. Turn out onto a floured board, cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

While dough is resting, saute veggies in butter until tender (you could use EVOO instead, if you prefer). Remove from heat and combine with cheese (and bacon, if using). Grease a standard bundt pan with olive oil.

Divide dough into 24 balls (more or less), and roll each ball in the veggie and cheese mixture. Place in greased bundt pan, cover and let rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size. Bake at 350 or 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Yummy!! Hope you enjoy!

Love, Dahrlin'
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