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Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Day Lucky Food

Happy 2011!
I have to admit...I like the idea of getting good luck, simply from making a meal.  From what I've heard, black eyed peas and greens, on New Year's Day, is the ticket to having a good year. Well, that's just easy.  I'll do it!

Greens are said to look like money so they'll allegedly bring you prosperity.  An easy recipe:
Thoroughly wash your favorite greens (we are doing collard greens).  Cut them into bite sized pieces.  Put them in a pot with an inch of water.  Add ham (pork is another lucky food-apparently pigs symbolize progress).  I use Honeybaked ham left over from Christmas.  Some people prefer country ham pieces. Add about 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  (Omit the salt if you are using Country ham.  It adds plenty).  Bring the greens to a boil.  Then turn the heat down to low and let them simmer until tender.  Serve with hot sauce to spice them up!

Black Eyed Peas are a popular good luck food for two reasons.  One is they are said to look like coins.  Ummmm..... okay... that's stretching it a bit.  The second reason traces back to the legend that during the Civil War, the town of Vicksburg, Mississippi, ran out of food while under attack. The residents fortunately discovered black-eyed peas and the legume was thereafter considered lucky. We eat Black Eyed Peas in the form of  "Hoppin' John".  Here's how I make it:
1 can black eyed peas
1 onion
2 stalks of celery chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup chopped ham (I use Honeybaked ham)

Saute celery, green pepper, and onion in butter.  When vegies are tender, pour in can of black eyed peas and chopped ham.  Simmer for approx. 15 mins. to blend flavors. Serve with your favorite rice.

Apparently, donuts are lucky too.  Hmmm.... that one's tricky.  How can I eat donuts and be on the path to healthiness? Good thing John prefers cornbread!

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/newyearsday/luckyfoods#ixzz19f4yxeih

Happy New Year and Best Luck to you all!
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Eve Celebrations

This will be the 11th year my husband, John, and I have celebrated the New Year together.  Each year has been special.  Most of the time we stay in, play games, and watch Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years.

Now that we have kids, I want to incorporate them into our celebration.  Last year, they included themselves.  Both kids were up at midnight, puking.  It honestly became a bit comical.  Here we were, watching the ball drop, with two ill kids.  After their midnight vomit, they quickly recovered, and we've had a great year.  This year, we have a different plan.  We want them to celebrate with us, just not at midnight.

My kids are 4 and three weeks away from 2.  I'm thinking midnight won't be a happy time for them.  So, I'm going to make their midnight 9 o'clock!  Which is late for them. We'll have bathtime and then come back downstairs for the festivities.  Usually after bathtime we have stories and then it's bedtime so this will be a special treat. I plan on making some of Jill's marvelous caramel corn, playing Wii (we just got Just Dance for Kids and Just Dance 2), and counting down until our midnight (9:00 pm for these kiddos). We bought horns, blow outs, and sparklers, which will all be part of our New Year's festivities.

After the big party and storytime, we'll talk about some things we'd like to work on for the New Year.  Hopefully, we'll make some resolutions together. I'm thinking GraciAnn may want to start listening better, the first time. Mariella may want to cooperate more when putting on her pajamas.  I'm not sure that's what they'll choose. I'm just thinking those would be excellent choices.

As for me, I plan on setting aside some me time to take care of myself.  2011 brings on a big birthday for me (much later in the year).  I want to be able to keep up with my kids, even though I'm getting older.  That means I need to really work on getting in shape.  That's my plan and I'm sticking to it!

Do you have any New Year's traditions to share with us?
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Creamy Chicken with Egg Noodles

My Mom introduced me to this recipe and it has quickly become a family favorite.  Unless I make a double portion, there usually aren't any leftovers!  This is a delicious and easy meal to make.  I promise it will be gobbled up!

Creamy Chicken with Egg Noodles
4 Chicken Breasts
1 can of Cream of Mushroom
1 can of Mushrooms
1 1/4 cup of Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper to Taste
1/2 bag of Wide Egg Noodles

Mix Cream of Mushroom, sour cream, salt and pepper, and mushrooms in a bowl.  Spray a ? ???? with cooking spray.  Place Chicken breasts in glass dish.  Cover with cream of mushroom mixture.  Bake at 350 for about an hour or until chicken is fully cooked.  Prepare Egg Noodles according to directions on package.  Serve chicken and over egg noodles.

This is a very simple recipe, but one loved by our family.  It would also be a very nice recipe to take to a friend in need.


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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Great Winter Printable

 We both love these printables from Bunch of Craft

We bought an inexpensive picture frame from Walmart ($3) and we print these out every time a new one comes out.  Head on over and pick up a cute and inexpensive decoration for your home!

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Peppermint Bark

Peppermint Bark is easy to make and delicious!  It was one of the treats we included in my daughter's teachers' gift tote.  You can alter the recipe by using any kind of chocolate chips you'd like.  We prefer teh semisweet.  You can layer with white chocolate too.  My girls don't like white chocolate so we made it just with the dark chocolate.  You can substitute Heath bits for peppermint.  Get creative!

What you'll need:
A Jellyroll pan or cookie sheet
Freezer Paper or Parchment Paper
Cooking Spray
A double boiler or two pots that fit together to create one
A spatula
A stove
Peppermints or candy canes
A bag of semisweet chocolate chips
A hammer
A Ziploc bag

I stacked these pans to make a double boiler.  I added a couple inches of water to the bottom pot and brought it to a boil.

This is my 23 month old, Mariella.  She's adding the chips to the pot that will be on top. Check out her cute apron Grandmommy made her for Christmas.

Hey!  I say you sneak that chip, little girl!

Mariella, don't eat them all!

There goes another one!  Lucky for us, this recipe doesn't need exact measurements!

In walks my four year old, GraciAnn armed with the hammer, ready to attack the peppermints.  We put four candy canes in a Ziploc bag and sealed it. Grandmommy made her cute apron too.  Matchy matchy!

Mariella's keeping her distance as GraciAnn makes powder out of the candy canes.

We've lined the jelly roll pan with Freezer Paper. We sprayed the freezer paper with cooking spray.

Here's the chocolate chips.  They've started melting.

GraciAnn's carefully stirring the chocolate chips.  Mariella's saying, "Chocolate!"

The chocolate chips are melted. It's time to add the peppermint.

GraciAnn's stirring the peppermint in.

...and stirring....

It's well mixed now.

We put the chocolate on the freezer paper.

Smooth out the chocolate mixture to a thin layer.  You could swirl in white chocolate, sprinkle peppermint pieces on top, whatever you want to jazz it up.  My girls are just happy eating it pretty plain. When it's spread out, put it in the refrigerator to harden.

They love liking the spatulas.

Waiting patiently for the peppermint bark to harden.

Oh my! After she's cleaned up, the bark may be ready.  Really, let it chill for about two hours. Take it out of the refrigerator and break it into pieces. Yum!

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White Chocolate Bark

This is really good and rich! It makes a great gift and was included in my daughter's teachers' gifts.
Line a jellyroll pan with alum. foil.

Cover the bottom with graham crackers.

Melt 1c. butter in saucepan, add 1c. brown sugar then add 1c. chopped nuts (I use pecans). Make sure it's well blended boil just a little.
Spread mixture over crackers, making sure to cover them.
Bake @ 400 for 8 mins. until it bubbles.
Let it cool for 10mins.

While it's cooling melt 1 bag of white choc. morsels in a double boiler.
Spread chocolate over crackers.
Place in freezer for 20 mins.
Break bark and place in air tight containers.

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Chicken Tacos

What You'll Need:
Four frozen chicken breasts
Chicken Seasonings (I used McCormick Rotisserie Blend)
Soft Taco Shells
Taco Toppings of choice

Put chicken breasts in crockpot and season.  Cook at least four hours on low. When chicken is done, remove it from the crockpot. Shred chicken with a fork.

Top a soft taco shell with shredded cheese.

Put the warm chicken on top of the cheese.

Top chicken with lettuce.  Add any other toppings you'd like.  I added a little Frank's hot sauce.

This recipe is easy, healthy, and my kids will eat it! 
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Free Subway Art Printable

Here's a cute printable.  Just stick it in a frame and you've decorated for the New Year!

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

French Toast Recipe

Two years ago on Christmas Day, I got all Super Mom and made a huge breakfast.  We had Baked French Toast, Sausage Egg Casserole, Bacon, hash-browns, on and on.  We were a family of 4 then, with one being a newborn and another just 2 years old.  What was I thinking?  I was stressed beyond belief by the time breakfast was over. Plus, I had friends coming for a big dinner as well.

Not this year!  I made it easy on myself.  It did help that we were all getting over that nasty stomach bug that was going around.  I made French Toast and it was delicious!  What was even better was that it took me very little time and effort.  Everyone was pleased, bellies full and ready to enjoy the rest of the day as a family.  I think it will be my new Christmas morning tradition!

French Toast Recipe

4 eggs
2/3 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Warm Syrup of Choice
Day old French Bread Loaf (or more-you will have plenty egg mixture for 2-3 loaves)
Griddle or Large frying pan

Beat eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Cut French Bread into one inch slices (or larger).  Dip French bread and evenly coat both sides in egg mixture.  Place bread on Griddle and allow to thoroughly cook on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).  Bread will brown from toasting.  Serve with butter and warm syrup.

Tip:  I get my French Bread from Sams Club.  You can get about 6-8 long sub rolls for under $4.  We love to use this bread for french toast, bread for Italian dinners and turkey subs for lunch.

I hope that you enjoy this recipe.  Learn from my previous mistakes.  Make something simple and delicious for those holiday meals.  You will be less stressed and get to enjoy the day more!

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Winter's Here! Let's Make Soup!

So, I hear it's even freezing in Florida.  If you're like me, as soon as the temperature drops, you cook for the cold.  Soup warms you inside out.  I've got a few easy recipes I wanted to share.

Italian Vegetable Soup
1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
2 stalks celery sliced
1 and 1/2 cups sliced carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 can diced tomatoes (16 ounces)
1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
1 can red kidney beans, undrained (15 ounces)
2 cups beef stock
1 small beef bouillon cube
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup small elbow macaroni
Parmesan Cheese

Brown beef in a large pot; drain.  Add ingredients through basil.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes.  Add cabbage, beans, and macaroni. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.  Sprinkle individual servings with parmesan cheese, if desired.

This hearty, but healthy soup makes a perfect meal with a salad and Italian bread.

Italian Wedding Soup

1 grated sweet onion
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 1b. ground pork
1 large egg
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
*Mix all ingredients well.  Shape into balls. Put balls in refrigerator.

Bring 12 cups of Chicken Stock to a boil.  When it boils, take meatballs out of refrigerator and add them to broth.  Bring the meatballs and stock back to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium. Add 2 heads of chopped curly endive or escarole (or a head of each).  After the meatballs are cooked through, and the greens are tender, mix 2 eggs with 3 tablespoons of parmesan cheese, and approx. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Whisk the egg mixture well. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the broth. It will quickly cook and curdle.

Serve the soup in a bowl and garnish with parmesan cheese and freshly grated black pepper. This soup is excellent with a crusty bread and salad.  It's not too heavy, yet very satisfying.

Potato Soup

8-12 small red potatoes, cut in cubes
1 lb. bacon
1 or 2 sweet onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2% milk
Shredded Cheddar Cheese to garnish
Green onions, sliced, to garnish

Cook your entire package of bacon until the bacon is crispy, not burned.  My favorite bacon cooking method is in the oven, on the pan that comes with your oven.  These pans come in two pieces.  The top piece has holes so the bottom piece can catch the fat that drips through the holes.  I cook mine on 350 degrees. When the bacon looks crispy, flip it over and let the other side cook.  You'll get great, crispy bacon everytime.  Put the bacon on a paper towel to get any excess grease off.  Flip it to degrease the other side too. Chop the bacon into small pieces and put the bacon to the side.  Put the bacon grease, in a large pot.  Add the onions and green peppers.  Cook them well on medium heat.  Add the potatoes.  Cook them until they're slightly tender.  Drain any excess grease off the potato mixture.  Add enough milk to thorougly cover the potatoes.  Bring the milk to a slow boil.  Once it boils, turn the heat to low.  When the potatoes are tender, the soup is ready to serve. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the soup in a bowl. Top it with the bacon, cheddar cheese, and green onions.  I don't usually serve bread with this, since the potatoes are so starchy.  But, I do serve a dark green leaf salad on the side.

Cauliflower Soup

1 head of cauliflower
1 carton Chicken Stock
2% milk
Crushed Rosemary to taste
Salt to taste
Shredded Cheddar Cheese for garnish
Fresh Rosemary, for garnish (optional)

Using a steamer, steam your cauliflower until tender.  Remove cauliflower from steamer.  Take 1/2 of the cauliflower and put it in a blender, with chicken stock. Add crushed Rosemary (approx. 1 teaspoon), and salt (approx. 1/2 teaspoon)  Blend it well.  Put it into a pot on the stove on medium heat.  Take the remaining cauliflower and chop it into smaller pieces. Add it to the cauliflower mixture on the stove.  Add enough milk to give the soup the consistency you want.

Serve the soup with shredded cheddar cheese on top and a sprig of fresh rosemary as a garnish. I love making popovers to go along with this soup.

Popovers-here's the easy recipe I use.  They are so good!

Chili in a Jar-

Are you looking for the perfect little gift for a friend or neighbor?  How about bringing dinner to someone in need?  This is so.... cute!  I made it for my daughter's teachers for lunch one day.  Use your favorite chili recipe and cornbread recipe and voila...

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

A great blog to learn about blogging

I wanted to share with you a great site for learning more about blogging.  If you are interested in learning how to start blogging or how to make your blog even better, The Blog Guidebook is a great resource.  I learned many great tips when I was building this blog.  They also have a great listing of thousands of popular blogs.  We are excited that our blog will now be added to their listings!  Check it out!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

There is nothing better than seeing the joy and amazement in a child's eyes on Christmas morning!  We hope that you get to experience some of that same joy and amazement today!

We want to thank all of our friends, family and followers!  You have made our first month of Our Seven Dwarfs a blast!

Have a blessed and very Merry Christmas!

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