Michigan – One Morning – 4 Seasons Passing Through

Spring is coming….spring is coming….”I have to chant this today since the temperatures are going down instead of up, the wind is getting stronger and the rain had turned to a light sleet which is now snow. Spring is coming….spring is coming, what’s that saying “in like a lion, out like a lamb?” Ok, let’s hope this is a preview of how March will arrive in the next nine days so that by the end of March, and when spring truly does arrive on March 20, March temperatures will roll into April gentle as a lamb. Only in Michigan can you preview four seasons in one morning.

I think the interview I went to yesterday went a little better than the one last week, at least this time the interviewer actually came out and said “So, I have to ask.” “Why, would someone with your experience and background, want what could be considered an entry-level position?” “You could do so much more with your background.” So we spent about five minutes talking about why I want this role, how my background and experience will benefit them and why I want an entry-level role. She said she appreciated my honesty and I made sure to reiterate my stand on why I am the ideal candidate for this role in my “thanks for the interview” letter. We’ll see what happens.

On Saturday my bestie Tina made my morning.  I was enjoying a cup of coffee Saturday morning when I heard my phone chime that I had received a text.  At first when I saw it was Tina I held my breath for a second, we don’t usually weekend text so when I saw her name I sort of held my breath for a second.  Ok, quick sidebar….yes I am a creature of habit, I do not do well with surprises or things that happen out of the natural scheme of things that make up our lives.  So yes…her text made me pause for a second.

Ok..ok…back on track.  So I received a text which was actually a photo:

Vanilla Coconut Muffins

Tina decided to make the “Vanilla Coconut Muffins” on Saturday morning so she sent me a photo and a quick note to let me know that she made the muffins, she used coconut milk (yes I was jealous, I didn’t have any when I made mine), the house smelled delicious, she ate three mini muffins because she couldn’t wait and she thought they were so good she took some over to her neighbor.  Woohoo!!  I’m excited because Tina also had made the “too die for” blueberry muffins a while ago and I forgot to tell her to spray the top of the muffin tin as well so that when the blueberries melt and burst as they bake they don’t stick to the top and rip when you try to get them out.  Of course I was excited when the Vanilla Coconut Muffins were a hit.  Way to go girlfriend!!

Today I am going to share another tortellini recipe with you.  Just when I thought there couldn’t be another sauce we would like for our tortellini I stumbled across this one on the Taste of Home site.  It’s fast, easy and delicious….three of my most favorite things when I cook.  It’s a perfect dish to make for those “Meatless Monday’s” or better yet for Friday night dinners during lent.  Try it, this dish won’t disappoint and it reheats exceptionally well.

TORTELLINI WITH TOMATO CREAM SAUCE

Tortellini

What You’ll Need:

1 package (16 ounces) frozen cheese tortellini

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed      and squeezed dry

1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Additional grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

  • Cook tortellini according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion in oil until tender.
  • Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add the tomatoes, spinach, basil, salt and pepper.
  • Cook and stir over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in cream and cheese. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until thickened.
  • Drain tortellini; toss with sauce.
  • Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Tortellini-with-Tomato-Cream-Sauce

 

 

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Busy Monday, Busy Week

Monday morning, coming out of a wonderfully relaxing and quiet weekend.  Walt and Josh played games on Playstation and watched basketball (oh boy) while I read a lot and finished a book, “Safe Haven.”  It is the beginning of what looks to be a very busy week.  Doctor today, an appointment with Robin on Tuesday to drop off our tax info and an interview on Wednesday.  In between all of those appointments there will be stops at the books store and Michaels, a Paczki run on Tuesday.  Since my wreath turned out so well I will probably make a trip to JoAnn’s for fabric to make St. Patrick’s Day and Easter/Spring Wreaths.  Oh yea, I will not leave without all of those great little cutting helpers like mom has, the rotary blade, the mat and the ruler, what a difference those made in getting my material cut into strips quickly and evenly!

We did a lot of cooking this weekend, which included but wasn’t limited to, homemade chicken soup, coconut muffins, slow cooker chicken and rice.  I wanted to make brownies yesterday but after thinking about it I really want to pick up some Paczki on Tuesday and that’s just too many sweets for us for one week.  So….the brownies need to wait because we can’t pass up Paczki Day!

After three weeks of putting it off, yesterday I found the courage to sit down with the wireless printer and just go for it.  Within 30 minutes it was up and running on not one but two computers.  WooHoo…I did it without either of my go-to-girls, Nikki and Cindy.  Yes when it comes to anything that has to be assembled, downloaded or technical I always go to Nikki and Cindy who just seem to be able to these things without a blink of an eye.  After it was all done I sat back and wondered what took me so long!

Surprised and shocked to wake up this morning to find that Pope Benedict XVI is retiring, having a difficult time putting my head around that one.  I am even more taken aback by the fact that he states his retirement will begin on February 28.  He gave a two-week notice just like someone who works for General Motors, Johnson Controls or General Electric…..WHAT??!!??  I’m sorry, I hold the Pope to a high standard, he just doesn’t get to resign as if worked for one of the automotive giants.  I don’t now, maybe it is the right thing, maybe a younger Pope with an open mind is what my religion, what my church needs right now.  Change is on the horizon, I pray that it’s a positive one.

Short post today so I can get to my appointment but I’ll leave you with a new recipe I tried last week, it’s a recipe for Kielbasa and Sauerkraut made in the slow cooker.  I will admit at first I was just a little leery but I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of making this, it was really tasty.

Are you on Pinterest?  Join us: http://pinterest.com/nancyrezich03/

APPLEY KIELBASA 

Kielbasa and kraut

What You’ll Need:

For The Kielbasa:

2 lbs. fully cooked kielbasa sausage

¾  cup brown sugar

1 cup chunky applesauce

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

For The Sauerkraut

1 jar of sauerkraut

¼ cup brown sugar

Directions:

  • Cut kielbasa into 1″ pieces
  • Combine brown sugar, applesauce, and mustard
  • Add the kielbasa to the brown sugar, applesauce, mustard mixture
  • Drain sauerkraut and rinse with cold water
  • Make sure you squeeze out excess water
  • Mix kraut with ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • Note:  You can heat up the kraut and brown sugar in a frying pan for a few minutes to remove excess water before placing in slow cooker
  • Place in slow cooker
  • Pour kielbasa mixture on top of the kraut
  • Cover and cook on high for 2 – 3 hours until thoroughly heated

Source:  http://busycooks.about.com/od/appetizerrecipe1/r/applekielbasa.htm

Who Let The Sun Out?

Who let the sun out today?  It was bright and sunny this afternoon, the snow and ice on the little side streets that don’t get plowed actually started to melt a little.  The sun must have escaped for a brief few hours to tease us knowing that the ice and snow will arrive in a few hours.

Hello family and friends, yes I know, today’s post is late.  Why you might ask (probably not)?  Because today is shopping day for one and two they keep talking about this huge snow storm moving our way which meant that if I didn’t get an early jump on my grocery shopping I was going to run into all the people who aren’t prepared for a day or two indoors and all of the people on their way home from work who want to stop and pick up a few things before the storm hits.

I really could have stayed home today and not shopped at all, I’ve got enough food on had to get us through shopping day and then some, but Thursday is my normal shopping day so I stuck with my schedule with the exception that I went earlier in the day.  I was right, Meijer was packed.  I don’t mind sharing the store or the aisles what I mind are the rude people who think that their time and their needs are more important anyone elses.

As I sit in the living room typing my post the 5:00 p.m. news has started and they are talking about the storm, it has already hit western and northern Michigan and moving its way east to our direction.  They cut to a camera positioned in Grand Rapids, not looking too good right now if that is what is headed our way.  Later in the broadcast they are going to talk about potential school closings tomorrow, I am sure all the babies are watching, hoping for a “Snow Day.”

Have you ever seen the Stephen King movie “Storm Of The Century?”  Yea, kinda freaked me out a little, well maybe more than a little.  I saw that movie when it first came out as a TV movie mini series years ago, I think it was 1999.  Now when we are expecting snow storms and I watch the news I always get flash backs to the movie and it is always the scene with Martha Clarendon, an 80-year-old woman who was the first victim of Linoge while she was sitting in her livingroom watching the weather as the storm moved over the tiny island.  Freaks me out especially when I’m home alone, I know, another one of my little quirks…..Tina, stop laughing.

I am happy that the storm starts after Walt gets home tonight and more than likely the roads will be clear long before he has to head back in tomorrow.  I had a doctor appointment tomorrow at 8:20 a.m., however they called and gave me the opportunity to keep it or reschedule for early next week.  I took the reschedule, why go out if I don’t have to and if for some reason the storm doesn’t hit as bad as they think it will, well, I have a free day tomorrow since all my errands are done.

So my Michigan family and friends….and to all those affected by this storm in other states, snuggle up in a blanket, watch some old black and white movies and settle in for a cozy night and maybe even a cozier Friday.

Yesterday I made Golabki (Stuffed Cabbage) but since I’ve previously posted that recipe today I am going to leave you with a recipe I threw together (literally) last Thursday.  I came home from grocery shopping last week and really didn’t want to put a lot of effort into making anything so I grabbed a few things I had on hand and began assembling what turned out to be a great tasty little dish.  I wanted something a little spicy, I had a craving for corn bread, I had some chicken breasts, a packet of taco seasoning and green chilis in the cupboard so I thought “oh go ahead, what could go wrong?”  Obviously nothing because Walt couldn’t get enough!  Try it, let us know how it turns out for you!

FIESTA CHICKEN CASSEROLE 

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

What You’ll Need:

3 cups cooked chopped chicken breasts (I had 3 breasts)

1 packet Taco seasoning

1 (4 oz) can green chilis

1 (15 1/4-oz) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (14 3/4-oz) can cream-style corn

1 (8-oz) package corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy)

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large skillet heat chicken add taco seasoning and 2/3 cup water, add green chilis and let cook about 3-5 minutes
  • NOTE:  I used pre cooked chicken, if using raw chicken that cooking time will be longer
  • In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter
  • Add chicken to corn muffin/corn mixture
  • Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown
  • Remove from oven and top with Cheddar
  • Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted
  • Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm

Fiesta Chicken Casserole

 

Joshie’s Chocolate Chip Pancake Day

You just have to love the little people, they are like little sponges.  You never know what they will absorb, how much or how they will interpret anything that they see or hear.  Our little family blog has been fun for all of us and a learning experience.  The little ones already know that we have to take pictures of food before we eat it, they know that sometimes they have to take retake photo’s for pictures that are going on the blog.  They know about food days and silly holidays coming up.  We have fun discovering new things together.  Of course because he’s older and understands more than Eric and Kaylee, Josh takes the blogging a little more seriously than “oh grandma is gonna put our picture on the blog.”  Which is the reason why this morning I have to share a funny Joshie moment which more than likely was blog related.

Earlier today I received a funny private Facebook message  from Josh and Kaylee’s other grandmother Mio.  Evidently yesterday, Josh told Mio that it was National Chocolate Chip Pancake Day and requested chocolate chip pancakes.  Of course she wouldn’t doubt Josh since she knows that Josh is involved in and with the blog, so it would only make sense that Josh would actually have accurate information about a “National Anything Day.”  So, Mio sent me a message to say thanks for the day and then asked if she had been “duped.”  I laughed so hard because……

  1. Yesterday was not National Chocolate Chip Pancake Day
  2. I did some research and can’t even find a National Chocolate Chip Pancake Day
  3. Josh really does listen to my blog chatter and has now used this knowledge to his advantage

Josh loves chocolate chip pancakes, he must have had a craving for Chocolate Chip pancakes so he created a day for it, pretty creative for an eight year old.  So, in honor of Joshua’s creativity, I am declaring February 5 as National Chocolate Chip Pancake Day created by Joshua K. who’s love for chocolate chip pancakes lead him to convince his grandma, Mio, that chocolate chip pancakes had to be made in honor of the day.  And Mio…you weren’t duped, you were seeing genius in action.  I love it!

Today I have a recipe for you that I know Josh would never create a day for or even as for because it has hamburger in it and way too many other things he doesn’t like but Walt does, it’s Cincinnati Chili.  Cincinnati Chili is a regional style of chili con carne characterized by the use of seasonings such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice or chocolate.  It is commonly served over spaghetti, sometimes being mistaken for a spaghetti sauce rather than a chili.  This chili is packed with flavor as noted by the number and variety of spices it calls for.  You’ll note that I have listed several different assembly versions of the chili after the initial sauce recipe, the number before the word “way” determines which ingredients are selected.

I made this dish last week as part of my promise to use my cookbooks rather than the internet sites.  This recipe is from “Square Meals” Alfred A. Knopf – New York – 1984.  This recipe won’t disappoint, you will pick up all the wonderful flavors of the spices and the chocolate.  Let us know how you like it!

CINCINNATI 5-WAY CHILI

5 Way Cincinnati Chili

 

What You’ll Need:

1 lb.  Finely ground – ground beef

2 Medium onions chopped finely

2 Cloves of garlic minced

1 Cup (8 oz. can) Tomato Sauce

1 Cup Water

2 Tbsp. Ketchup

1 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 Tbsp. Chili Powder

1 Tbsp. Paprika

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Honey

½ ounce Unsweetened Chocolate – grated

½ tsp. Turmeric

½ tsp. Ground Cumin

½ tsp. Marjoram

½ tsp. Allspice

½ tsp. Cinnamon

¼ tsp. Nutmeg

¼ tsp. Ground Cloves

¼ tsp. Mace

¼ tsp. Ground Coriander

¼ tsp. Ground Cardamom

½ Dry bay leaf – crumbled

Additional Chopped Onion

What You’ll Need to assembly your Cincinnati Chili:

  • 2 Cups Shredded cheddar cheese  (Or more)
  • 1 Can Red kidney beans – heated and drained
  • Heavy Pasta Noodles (I used Spaghetti, broke them in half and cooked them – then mixed in a tablespoon of butter

Directions:

In a large skillet, brown meat, garlic and onion

Add tomato sauce, ketchup, water, vinegar and honey

As mixture begins to boil add the spices – mix well

Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour

**If the sauce gets too dry to ladle – add some tomato juice**

Constructing Cincinnati Chili:

It’s all in the chili and the assembly of Cincinnati Chili.  5-Way Chili is the authentic Cincinnati Chili, however for those who don’t like the beans I’ve also included assembly for 4 and 3-Way Cincinnati Chili.

In a single serve bowl build your Cincinnati Chili as follows

5-Way Chili

  • Pasta
  • Chili
  • Beans  (DO NOT add to chili, are added in the assembly)
  • Onions
  • Cheese – lots of cheese to cover

4-Way Chili

  • Pasta
  • Chili
  • Onions
  • Cheese

3-Way Chili

  • Pasta
  • Chili
  • Cheese

Home On The Rezich Range

Today we’re home on the Rezich Range and we’re chatting (ok, we’re blogging) about beef stew.  Beef Stew, everyone seems to love it including us but it’s generally not something I think of as a Sunday meal.  When I think of Sunday meals I think of pot roast and chicken, turkey with stuffing, but never beef stew.  I always thought of beef stew, much like I do spaghetti, as a mid-week kind of meal.  We can chalk that up to my childhood memories of the great meals my mom created on Sunday’s and believe me, it was never stew or spaghetti those were always weekday meals.

Now that Walt and I have declared our Sunday’s as “Slow Cooker Sunday” (at least during winter) I wanted to switch things up a bit and I thought to myself, “hey why not stew, the settlers and cowboys ate beef stew on Sunday”….in fact almost everything they ate could have been considered a stew or a soup.  Besides, beef stew, much like a pot roast meal, consists of veggies and meat slow cooked in a tomato sauce or gravy.  Stew has chunks of meat while pot roast is a big piece of meat.  It’s a “you say potato..I say potato” kind of thing.

Anyway, after pondering this “stew on Sunday” dilemma for a few days, this is the thought came to me (yep family and friends…hunker down this post is going to be one of my quirky ones).  When settlers first came to our country they lived off the land.  They spent their days clearing land, planting crops, feeding livestock, drawing water, hunting for food, building homes, creating communities.  Food was scarce and generally families were large with a lot of people to feed.  Because time and food sources were limited as were cooking utensils, meals were generally cooked in one pot or one skillet over an open flame.  Meat, vegetables, roots, plants, water, were all thrown into one big pot and simmered all day while everyone worked to create a new life in the colony.  Although many believe that stew is an American dish it really does have roots abroad; stew dishes actually date back to the roman days when stews were made of fish and lamb.  If you think about it, stew or a stew like dish probably really originated when man first discovered fire.

Sometimes we read stories or see movies that are roughly based on or around actual history of those days long ago.  We might wonder and fantasize about how great part of that life style might have been; the adventures of first settlers who headed out to explore and discover the west or cowboys out on the range, their lives very hard yet simple.  We can imagine them setting up camp for the night, cooking stew over an open fire.

Ever notice that cowboys always seemed to have a “Cookie” some jolly old cowboy who did all the cooking, the guy who would throw meat, veggies, maybe plants and roots with a little water into a pot which would cook and simmer over an open flame all day ready to feed the masses when the cowboys came back after a long day out on the range.   “Cookie” would ladle out the stew into tin cups or plates and watch as the cowboys would dig in to his tasty creation.  Of course there was always coffee brewing too (oh, and whisky) but that’s another blog story.  But you kind of get my point stew has been around for a long time, a part of our history many times memorialized in movies and stories, even history.

This week I decided that if the settlers could do it and the cowboys could do it then the Rezich’s could also rustle up a good old fashion stew for Sunday dinner.  We did just that this past Sunday for Slow Cooker Sunday. The recipe I have for you today is one of the lost treasure recipes that I found last week while I was flipping through all of my neglected cookbooks.  The word EXCELLENT printed in my handwriting next to the title of a recipe forgotten as the internet, name brand on-line recipe sites, Allrecipes and Pinterest pulled me further and further away from my books and the tasty recipes we once made.

This stew, which I found in the Pillsbury “One-Dish Meals Cookbook” on page 247, was as tasty as we remembered and we will definitely make it again.  The only thing I will do differently the next time is to add a water/flour roux about 30 minutes before the end of cooking time.  Although the stew does thicken upon standing, I like a really thick stew but this time I let Walt talk me out of adding the roux so the stew wasn’t as thick as I would have liked it.

OLD-FASHIONED BEEF STEW

Slow Cooker Old Fashion Beef Stew

What You’ll Need:

1tbsp.               Oil

1.5 lbs.             Beef stew meat cut into ¾” cubes

4                       Medium carrots, peeled and cut into ½” slices

3                       Medium red potatoes – unpeeled, cut into ½ inch cubes (I used 5 russet peeled and cut into cubes)

1½ Cups         Frozen pearl onions (from a 16 oz. pkg.)

3 Cups             Vegetable juice cocktail (I use V-8)

3 tbsp.             Quick Cooking Tapioca (not Jell-O Tapioca pudding mix)

1 tsp.                Beef-flavor instant bouillon

2 tsp.               Worcestershire sauce

1½ tsp.           Monosodium glutamate (I leave this out)

¼ tsp                Pepper

Directions:

  • Heat oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat until hot
  • Add beef, cook and stir 4 to 6 minutes or until meat is browned
  • In a 3.5 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine browned beef and all remaining ingredients, mix well
  • Cover; cook on low setting for 9 to 10 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender

Source:  Pillsbury “One-Dish Meals Cookbook” on page 247 – Copywrite 1999 by The Pillsbury Company

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday everyone are you ready for the weekend?  I know we are.  We’re also waiting for the mini snow disturbance, 1-3” our local weather channels are calling for.  You can’t really call it a snowstorm, 1-3” is an annoying disturbance, it’s not 6” which really gets in the way.  I thought the snow was supposed to start early so when I woke up this morning and opened the curtains I was surprised to find that no snow had fallen, I did a little happy dance.  I turned on Good Morning America and just happened to catch our local news and weather break the snow is on its way, it’s just a little delayed.  Bring it on I did all of my running yesterday!

Today is going to be a quiet day I’m going to bake some M&M cookies then attempt to hook up the printer I purchased a week ago.  Yes, I am procrastinating setting up the printer, if the truth be told I am afraid of this project, afraid of screwing it up because it’s wireless.  I know I need to just jump right in and get it done, I wish I would have just arranged for Best Buys Geek Squad to do it.  I can’t procrastinate any longer, it has to be done.  Wish me luck.

I am going to attempt to make homemade tartar sauce again today.  I guess attempt isn’t really the right word, I actually did make a great homemade tartar sauce about a month ago we just didn’t get to eat it because when I opened the refrigerator door the bowl of tartar sauce came flying out and crashed onto the floor, what a mess that was.  It was my fault, on several levels; first I put it in a glass bowl instead of in a covered container.  Two, I set the uncovered bowl on top of two small Tupperware bowls that, at the time, I didn’t know weren’t staked evenly so when I set the bowl on top of them it moved the top Tupperware making it even more unsecure.  When I opened the refrigerator door, the jolt of the door opening made the Tupperware slip even more causing the bowl to slip right out of the refrigerator and crash on the floor.  Lesson learned, tartar sauces stored in covered Tupperware bowl and not stacked onto anything else!

Speaking of Tupperware I was invited to a Tupperware party tonight, I haven’t been to a Tupperware party in probably 30 years but I’ll pop in tonight for a quick visit and see what they have.  My corner cabinet, a lazy Susan style, has been driving me crazy lately; maybe I’ll be able to find a few containers to help me get it a little better organized.

My new thing is Pampered Chef, I don’t like to host the shows, I don’t generally like to attend them either but I do love to order from Pampered Chef.  At one time I was into Longaberger Basket parties, I hosted them a couple times a year and I went to any and all of them that I was invited to.  I own so many baskets I’ve lost count, they are all over the house and many are still in boxes in the storage room, never unpacked when I moved into this house.  I still find it hard to believe that the first basket I bought for $26.00 now, 30 years later sells for almost double.  I hope when I’m gone Nikki and John don’t sell them in some garage sale for .25/each, but hey I wouldn’t know anyway right?  To Nikki and John…..I will know and I will haunt you, don’t sell my baskets for a quarter.

Time to get this day started so I’ll leave you today with Paula Deen’s recipe for Slow Cooker Swiss Steak.  As with most slow cooker recipes this one assembles pretty easy.  It’s tasty, the meat is very tender.  We served it with mashed potatoes and corn; it made a very hearty tasty meal.  Give it a try

SWISS STEAK

Swiss Steak

What You’ll Need:

1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 (8 ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1 Cup sliced onion

1 Cup sliced celery

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

½ cup water

1 (0.87-ounce) package brown gravy mix

½ teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine steak, mushrooms, onion, celery, and garlic.
  • In a medium bowl, combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, gravy mix, salt, and pepper.
  • Pour over steak mixture.
  • Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Source:  http://www.cookingwithpauladeen.com/recipe_results.php?id=3192

Knockoff’s And Copycats

It’s Thursday, grocery shopping day.  I am not looking forward to going out into the 11 degree weather with a wind chill that makes it feel like 2 degrees.  On top of that we had a “dusting” of snow; a dusting, there is no dust about it, it’s snow, it doesn’t matter that it finely covers everything!!  Spring cannot get here fast enough!  I feel bad for the homeless and people who have to work outside.  It is just way to cold.  I doubt that today will be one of those days that I only wear one of Joshua’s school hoodie sweatshirts so that I don’t have to have a heavy old winter coat in the store.  Even though it’s just a quick run from the car to the store and back again, it’s still too cold.

A few nights ago I made a new Alfredo sauce, one that was supposed to have been restaurant quality.  Have you ever gone to a restaurant and said “WoW, I really wish I could make this at home?”  Sometimes we try to recreate a meal either on our own by throwing things together that we think made up this great taste or we do an internet search looking for “Knockoff” or “Copycat” recipes.  But what exactly is a “knockoff/copycat?”  Lots of people who post knockoff or copycat recipes claim that their recipe is the real deal, that it is the recipe your favorite restaurant uses to make the dish you just have to have at home.  Most of the time that just isn’t true, generally knockoffs are a copy or imitation of something popular, most of time it falls into the imitation category.

Although I have never tried Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce, I am strictly a chicken scampi girl when I go to Olive Garden, I was very interested when I found the recipe below on Pinterest.  I mean come on, heavy cream, cheese, butter, garlic; at the very least it’s the basics for any Alfredo sauce.  But again, to clarify, I have no idea what Olive Garden Alfredo sauce tastes like so I can’t tell if you this is the real deal. I can tell you that there are well over 306,000 internet entries claiming to be the recipe for Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce.  Going through the first half-dozen recipes that popped up, none of them resemble the one listed below.

The original recipe, which the source link below my recipe will take you to, actually makes a gallon of sauce enough to feed fourteen.  Walt and I certainly could not consume a gallon of Alfredo sauce so I had to make some adjustments which are what I have listed below in the recipe posted today.  Even with the adjustments that I had to make this was a pretty tasty sauce, I think the fontina cheese is a great addition.

As with almost all Alfredo sauces my biggest complaint is when you reheat it the next day, the cheese separates and the butter pools, this one does as well.  I have to say that the only Alfredo sauce I have found to reheat well is the one from The Avenue, a little restaurant that Walt and I like to go to; I actually look forward to eating the leftovers the next day.

This recipe is worthy of a try. It won’t replace my “go to” Alfredo sauce but I’m glad I gave it a try.  Is it the Olive Garden’s recipe?  I’ll never know.  Does it taste like Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce?  I don’t know, but if you’ve had Olive Garden’s Alfredo sauce give this recipe a try; let us know what you think.  We love your feedback!

Have a great Thursday everyone!

 OLIVE GARDEN ALFREDO SAUCE

Alfredo Sauce

What You’ll Need:

2 oz. milk

1 Pint heavy cream

4 tbsp. butter

1/2 tbsp. flour

4 oz. Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 oz. Fontina cheese

3/4 tbsp. minced garlic

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

  • On medium heat, add butter, garlic, and flour until butter is melted. Do not brown garlic
  • Whisk in the heavy cream and milk until hot
  • Slowly add the freshly grated cheeses into the hot cream mixture
  • Finally add the salt and pepper
  • Stir often to make sure no cheese settles at the bottom
  • Simmer until all the cheeses are melted and the sauce reaches the desired thickness. Do not let this sauce boil, or it will begin to separate and the cheeses will become grainy
  • Turn heat off or on low before serving

Source:  http://italian.food.com/recipe/olive-garden-alfredo-sauce-173712?scaleto=.25&mode=null&st=true

Another Cold Michigan Day

Another cold day in Michigan, at 11:00 a.m. it’s only 9 degrees and yes, I am counting down the days until spring.    This year spring officially arrives on Wednesday, 20 March 2013. That means it is exactly 55 days, 7 hours until spring makes its official appearance.  I am waiting and I will admit not very patiently.

I have no reason to go out into the cold so I am staying in.  Today will be a day to work on a few projects I keep putting off.  As I sit here it sounds like a plan however once Walt walks out the door for work and I finish this post it could be an entirely different story.  Rather than finish a project I will probably, more than likely, start a new one or do nothing at all.  I don’t know what it is lately, I am completely unfocused, hopefully this too shall pass, sooner rather than later.

This week I wanted to get a jump on my meal planning for next week so yesterday I spent some time going through some of my cookbooks.  I’ve spent so much time on Pinterest lately, pinning and trying recipes from Pinterest that I’ve completely neglected the many cookbooks that I have.

I have a lot of cookbooks, hard cover, soft cover, name brand, famous chefs, church fund raiser books, specialty recipes…on and on and on.  At one time I was the queen of the checkout line cookbooks, you know, those little 8.5×5 books published generally by name brand companies.  If there was a new one published it was in my cart, Pillsbury, Campbell’s, Betty Crocker, Taste of Home.  Books containing recipes for everything and anything; comfort foods, easy meals, slow cooker recipes, recipes using hamburger, casseroles and more.

This is just a small sampling of the checkout line books I own:

Cookbooks

As I flipped through my checkout line books, I was excited to find recipes that I remember making, marked as EXCELLENT! but for some reason only made once and forgotten never to be made again.  Actually that’s not true, I do know the reason for only making them once or twice, it’s because yet another new recipe book found its way into our kitchen and the old recipe was forgotten and replaced with something from one of the new book.

Now I’m on a new cooking mission.  My plan is to make at least one or two recipes from the cookbooks that are on the bookcase that I insisted be installed when we remodeled our kitchen in 2007.  The other day I found cook books that I had forgotten about on the bookcases down stairs, I plan to add them to the books on the kitchen bookcase. I want to pull a way, just a little, from the on-line recipes and go back to the books that have recipes we’ve tried and loved in the past.

Next week’s menu planner has been started and so far it has several recipes from those lost and forgotten recipes books, I can’t wait to make them again and share the recipes with all of you.

Today I will leave you with a really great recipe that we tried on Saturday, Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers.  First the house smelled amazing all day long.  Second, this recipe is delicious!  I would go so far as to say that even if you didn’t want to use this recipe as a sandwich recipe it could easily pass for a stuffed pepper soup because there is a lot of liquid.

SLOW COOKER SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS

Slow Cooker Sausage and Peppers

What You’ll Need:

1  tbs olive oil

1 lbs bulk ground sweet sausage

1/2  lbs ground beef

2     15oz cans fire roasted tomatoes

1      8oz can tomato sauce

1      small onion, sliced

1      red pepper, sliced

1      green pepper, sliced

Sliced provolone or mozzarella

Fresh rolls

Directions:

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
  • Brown the sausage and ground beef, breaking into bite sized portions as it cooks
  • Transfer to a large slow cooker
  • Stir in the roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, onion, and peppers into the slow cooker with the sausage mixture
  • Cook on low for 5-7 hours
  • Toast rolls with a slice of mozzarella on each until golden brown and cheese is starting to melt
  • Using a slotted spoon (there is a lot of liquid), pile sausage and pepper mixture onto rolls

Sources:

It Looks Like Monday…..But It Sounds And Smells Like Sunday

When I look out my window this morning I know that it’s Monday, a very cold somewhere around 18 degrees kind of Monday with a light dusting of snow.  Trash and recycle bins line our street, people out and about early sweeping off the unexpected snow that fell during the night before they head off to work.  It looks like any typical Monday.

The sounds and smells however are reminiscent of our typical Sunday.  I can hear Joshua’s humming (he always hums, I’ll explain that one day) coming up the stairs as he plays a game on the Playstation downstairs.  Big “Sunday” breakfast of bacon, sausage and pancakes has been cooked, eaten and cleaned up this morning but the smell of sausage and bacon lingers in the air as I begin today’s post.   It may look like Monday,and in fact it is Monday but it definitely sounds and smells like Sunday in our house today.

Walt and I had a full “grandbaby” weekend.  Eric came to stay with us on Saturday night, our little guy is getting over yet another round of bronchitis so he was, for the most part, pretty laid back.  A little Playmobil, some Max and Ruby, Fresh Beat Band (they annoy me, I don’t know why), snacking on banana’s and red grapes, ending the night watching “Finding Nemo.”  On Sunday we had our “Sunday Breakfast,” a new chicken dish in the slow cooker.  Eric played and watched a little TV until Nikki came to pick him up in the early evening.  It was a good visit, Eric likes having Grandma and Papa to himself from time to time.

Joshua and Kaylee had a full weekend with their mom and her family.  Ice sculpture shows, a hockey game, family birthday’s to celebrate with dinners and parties.  They had a pretty full weekend, however Josh, not wanting to leave us without a visit, worked us into his busy weekend schedule and spent Sunday night with us since there is no school today due to Martin Luther King Day.

Last night Josh played video games while Kaylee and Papa colored.  Cindy and I had a visit before she rounded Kaylee up and headed home.  Josh spent the night which is why today, Monday, it sounds and smells like Sunday because I prepared another big Sunday breakfast on Monday.  Josh and Papa are going to play a little Playstation before papa heads off to work and Josh will head back home so he can hang out with some of his buddies this afternoon.

Even with everyone in and out I had a weekend full of cooking and baking my only dilemma right now is to where to start the sharing.  Do I start with Friday’s Gooey Butter Cake or Saturdays Slow Cooker Peppers and Onions?  Maybe I should start out with the one thing we both agreed we won’t try again…..Sunday’s “Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken” which I found on “Rachel’s Nest” through Pinterest; http://www.rachelsnest.com/2011/08/honey-garlic-chicken-crock-pot-recipe.html.  I don’t know who the original author of this recipe is so I can only post where I found it.  You can visit Rachel’s site through the link above.

Now you may wonder why I would post a recipe that we didn’t like all that well.  First because I promised myself when I started this little blogging adventure that I would share all the recipes we try on our blog, be it good, bad or ehh.  After all that is the point right, sharing what we’ve tried and what we’ve learned.  Second, just because Walt and I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that someone out in this great big blogging universe won’t think that it’s fantastic, after all there are a lot of people who posted how much they liked this on Rachel’s blog.  It’s all about your palate preference.

I followed the recipe exactly as written and although Walt and I both like soy sauce, I especially love dipping my sushi in soy sauce with a little wasabi mixed in, the soy sauce in this dish was just way to over powering for us, the sauce just a little too bitter which surprised me because of the honey.  I decided to add some brown sugar and let it cook a few minutes longer and it became a little bit sweeter.  We did eat it, Walt had seconds and he will take the rest to work for lunch on Tuesday, it’s just not a recipe we will attempt to make again.

After this, the second time I attempted to make something of oriental fare, Walt has officially informed me that we are no longer going to try any type of oriental dishes either stove top or slow cooker, they just don’t seem to work out well for us.  I don’t know, maybe we are spoiled by the great Chinese restaurants we have close to home so when we make our own we are disappointed in how it turns out.  As I sit here and write, it has just occurred to me that I was so disappointed that I forgot to take a photo!

So family and friends I leave you with this recipe and unfortunately no photo.  If you love soy sauce try this, you may have a different opinion of this recipe than we did there are many who tried it loved it.   We ate it, it’s just not a recipe that Walt and I care to try again.  If you do try it, let us know how it turned out for you.

Today is “National Hugging Day” give someone a hug!!  Have a great Monday everyone!!

CROCK POT HONEY GARLIC CHICKEN

What You’ll Need:

1 Package of boneless, skin-less chicken breasts

3 Garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 Cup soy sauce

1/2 Cup ketchup

1/2  Cup honey

Pinch of basil

Salt & pepper to taste

Cooked Rice

Instructions:

  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours
  • Remove chicken from crock pot and transfer to covered plate to keep warm
  • Reduce the sauce in a pot until thickened to desired consistency
  • Serve sauce over chicken and rice

It Is Friday….Right???

I had a little scare this morning, a brief moment of pause, a moment when I felt a chill.  It’s a little funny now, but in those few minutes of conversation concern, fear and even panic set in.  Every morning Walt’s routine is the same, he wakes up, puts on a pot of coffee and goes downstairs on the Playstation to see if Josh has left him a message and to play a little bit before getting ready for work or starting his day.  The only variation on Saturday is that Walt will wait to make coffee until I get up….during the week he makes it before he heads downstairs.

So this morning I was surprised when I walked into the kitchen and there wasn’t any coffee made but thought maybe Walt decided to wait a bit today before putting it on.  I opened the curtains, put a few glasses in the dishwasher, sat down with my lap top at the kitchen table and I could hear Walt coming up the stairs.  When he walked into the kitchen he teased me about not starting the coffee, I’m not quite used to this new coffee pot yet, then he went about the kitchen getting the coffee ready.  As he is running water into the carafe this conversation took place:

Me:  I’ve got a little running I need to do, I have to run to Kroger, to the other Meijer to see if they have any of the coffee that’s on sale, get the meats for the week and then to Randazzo.

Walt:  In a few hours I’m going to run up to Lowes for some totes, work a little more on the storage room.

Me:  In a few hours??

Walt:  Yea, I want to get it done early, I don’t want to wait until later in the day.

Me:  You’re going today?

Walt: Yea, when else am I going to go?

Me:  You’re going before work?

Walt:  No, I’m not working today, what are you talking about?

Me: Sweetie it’s Friday.

Walt: Are you ok, it’s Saturday.

Me: Walt, it’s Friday

Walt: No it’s not, it’s Saturday, are you sure you’re ok?

**This is where panic sets in because he is determined that today is Saturday and I’m the one with the confusion issue.  I physically got up out of the chair so I could look right at him**

Me:  WALT!!!  Remember, I was supposed to take Josh and Kaylee to Karate last night, Karate is on Thursday night. Josh and I had dinner instead.  Today is Friday.

Walt:  Oh, Oh, you’re right!  WoW, I thought today was Saturday, I have to go to work today!

Me:  Are you OK?

Walt:  Yea, yea I’m fine, I just really thought it was Saturday.

Me: Are you sure??

Walt: Yea, I’m fine, I just lost track of the days.

It wouldn’t have been so scary had Walt just agreed with me the first time I said it was Friday, but when he thought I was wrong and challenged me about it I got just a little bit worried.  I’ve had more than my fair share of family members suffering from strokes, dementia and Alzheimer’s so I know what each is capable of doing.

I watched dementia take my Busia from us, coherent one minute, grabbing my arm the next begging me to take her out of the hospital because the nurses were trying to kill her.  Eventually, in her mind, Busia lived in some other place, some other time …..lost.  No longer able to share a joke or funny story, no more weekend trips up to the cottage.  No more chicken wings in a too ketchupie, greasy bbq sauce, no more pasta mixed with cream of mushroom soup to feed the masses who showed up to the cottage on weekends.  No more deli chicken and deli pasta lunches after shopping.  No more popping in to the Mercier house,  I close my eyes and I can see everything in the house, it’s not clouded or forgotten, it’s exactly the way it was, the way it always was.  I see Busia sitting in her chair, Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy on the TV, an Awrey or Sanders coffee cake on the kitchen table.  I can hear her, “Leona, Patsy, Carole, Nancy”……it always took Boo a few names before she got to our own, there were so many of us.  The hardest part was watching my mom try to take care of Busia at home until it became to much….after a while it wasn’t a good idea for either of them and busia was put in a nursing home.  I admire my mom a lot, we all came and went Mom and Dad lived it every day.  Even though we saw the deterioration in Busia, Mom and Dad lived with it, that had to be the hardest part of all.

I’ve seen my dad and brother both go through strokes, my brother still relying on a cane and sometimes a wheelchair, never really fully regaining the use of his arm and hand.  My ex-mother-in-law’s stroke was so bad it left her unable to speak or walk, I know in her head when she spoke she heard words, we only heard garble.  When I close my eyes I can still see the fear and frustration in her eyes, it haunts me 30 years later.

So for a split second I was frightened…..now Walt is walking around, teasing and joking, telling me how I screwed up his plans.  He woke up so sure today was Saturday, he was looking forward to getting a little rest and relaxation then I woke up and took it away.  He is hustling and bustling around here exactly like he does every morning before work.  All is good.

Before I sign off and head out to get my errands done I’ll leave you with a slow cooker recipe, Creamy Italian Chicken.  I found this through Life As A Lofthouse’s blog on Pinterest; http://life-as-a-lofthouse.blogspot.ca/2012/08/crockpot-creamy-italian-chicken.html.  This is another one of those slow cooker recipes that has just a few ingredients but is packed with flavor.  If you try it drop us a quick note let us know how you liked it, we love hearing from you.

CREAMY ITALIAN CHICKEN

Slow Cooker Creamy Italian Chicken

What You’ll Need:

4 -6 boneless, skin-less chicken breasts
1 packet Good Seasons Italian dressing mix
2 (10 ounce) cans cream of chicken soup
1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, cut into cubes
Egg Noodles or Rice

Instructions:

  • Spray crock pot with non-stick spray
  • Place the chicken breasts in crock pot
  • Sprinkle breasts with the Italian dressing
  • Pour the cream of chicken soups over chicken,
  • Spread the cubes of cream cheese evenly over all.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6 hours
  • Remove lid and stir mixture together.
  • Cut chicken into bite-size pieces or shred
  • If the sauce seems too thick, you can thin it out with a little
    milk

    Serve chicken and sauce over cooked egg noodles or rice.

Enjoy!