Tuesday, August 31

Works For Me Wednesday-Storing Fresh Basil

We have had an abundance of fresh basil around here.  Could be because we planted so much.

Anyhow, I prefer to just cut it as I need it, but sometimes I get a little over zealous and I cut too much at once.  My hubby told me a great little tip that they do at their restaurant in order to store fresh basil in the fridge.  They fill a tall container with an inch or two of water and place the cut end in the water....it helps keep in fresh much longer and it doesn't get all flimsy nearly as fast.

So I did it and it really works!  Isn't that a nifty little trick?  For other great tips, visit We Are THAT Family

Monday, August 30

Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Gravy

I realized I have been making these pork chops for a while and have never shared them before. They are really good and they come together really easy, which when you have a hungry Peanut, makes dinner time much, much smoother. (She is so impatient when she is hungry....I have no clue where that comes from. None.)  The recipe comes from Rachael Ray, but she also serves them with an apple coleslaw, which I have never done--although, it sounds delicious, so I really don't know why I've never done it that way.

And I personally wouldn't call it a "gravy," and although very good, even letting it reduce for quite a bit longer than directed, the sauce wasn't gravy-like.  It was, well, saucy.  But the saucy-goodness was just that--good, good, good.  The Peanut even had seconds of both the broccoli and pork. 

(and I apologize for the less than stellar picture....apparently the pink plate did no service for the pork chops, which I assure you is cooked through...despite the "pink" tinge)

Pork Chops with Honey Mustard Gravy -- adapted from Rachael Ray

Boneless pork loin chops (I used bone-in--they work just as well)
Grill seasoning (such as Montreal's)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup grainy mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Sprinkle chops with grill seasoning on each side.  Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium high skillet and grill pork chops.  Brown each side for about eight minutes, or until pork is cooked through.  Remove chops from pan.

De-glaze the pan with chicken stock (if you want it thicker, I wouldn't use a full cup) and then add in mustard, honey, vinegar, and thyme.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and let reduce for several minutes.  Drizzle the sauce over pork chops. I served it with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and homemade biscuits. 

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Two For Tuesdays Recipe Swap

Sunday, August 29

Menu Plan Monday

We finally, finally, finally got our grass fed beef this week!  Yay for us!  So you will see more beef meals listed on my menus in the future.  Of course, as always, there are a few roll overs because I didn't get to everything last week like I thought I would.   Here's what's on the menu for this week. 

Sunday-Pork chops with Honey Mustard Gravy, Potatoes, Steamed Veggies

Monday-Bacon, Leek and Tomato Spaghetti, Green Salad with homemade ranch dressing

Tuesday-Lasagna (using this tip), green salad, crusty bread

Wednesday-Beef Enchiladas with homemade sauce, black beans, green salad

Thursday-Nacho's with taco meat, black beans, cheese, sour cream, and salsa

Friday-SpanakoPizza (Greek Style Pizza)


Friday, August 27

Highlights of the Week

We went out of town earlier this week.  Hubs had a company picnic east of SmallTown and on the way home, we were able to stop and see his uncle and aunt that live just a short distance from where the picnic was held.

The picnic was fun...Peanut enjoyed being able to run free...and when I say "run free," run free she did.  Like, she didn't stop.  Except for the food and ice cream.  And that was only for a moment.

I chose to get the vanilla ice cream, much to the caterer's irritation, as he had to rinse the scoop after a long line of small children wanting the bright blue bubble gum ice cream.  Yes, I have to be a pain like that.  And I know the vanilla choice supposedly indicates my bland personality, but I truly chose it because it had less artificial coloring and flavors.

At least I hope it did--you know, that "real foods" thing again.

But Hubs lives on the edge and he chose to get the bubble gum and as you can see, the Peanut loved it.

It even received a round of applause.

She also got her second skinned knee.  And I didn't even sanitize it.  I know, I was extremely carefree that day. 

Of course, it was hardly that bad, but you know.

Hubs uncle and aunt and cousins showed us a great time that evening out on the town.  Peanut got to have her first carousel ride, which she thought was grand fun.

Hubs uncle is a semi-professional photographer, so I gladly let him take some pictures trying to achieve a panning shot while the carousel was moving.  It turned out fairly decent, despite the horrible lighting.

Peanut was also enthralled with this goat sculpture at the park.  When you hit this button, it sucks up small pieces of trash in it's mouth.  Our little animated girl is so funny.   She could have done it all night if we let her.

His uncle also was gracious enough to take some wonderful family pictures...these had quite the backdrop,  don't you think? 

The park also had the biggest Radio Flyer in the world....

The pully thing on the wagon (what is that thing called?) was a slide and once again, Peanut had no problems going down by herself.  Fearless, I tell you.  Fearless.

And on the way home from his uncle and aunt's, we stopped to get our beef.  Yay!  We are all stocked up!

Now, truthfully, I did some research on grass fed beef after we made our initial deposit for our portion.  Isn't that smart?  So of course, then I became very hesitant about the taste of grass fed beef.  Many of the things I came across online said grass fed beef was "gross,"  or that "it tasted 'gamey'," or "it was different," etc, etc.

Well, I made our first chuck roast last night and after reading all that, Hubs and I were pleasantly surprised.  It didn't taste any different than what we are used to--it tasted like beef to us! Imagine that.  Perhaps a difference would be noticed in a side by side "taste test," but we both loved it!  In addition, just as I came across many times in my online research, the meat was much leaner.  There wasn't that marbled fattiness to the roast as there typically is with the more "inexpensive" cuts.  All in all, we are so happy with it and I am so glad that we did it!

We are blessed!

Have a great weekend y'all! 

Monday, August 23

Tomato and Olive Tapenade Bruschetta

Last week, when we went to our landlord's for swimming and dinner, she made this wonderful bruschetta.  I didn't get the official recipe from her, however I went off what she told me was in it and this is what I came up with.  And just so you all know, I made it the following night because it was so amazing.  In fact, I might even make it again tonight.  It's that good.  

First, I made some french bread baguettes using Lucy's Crusty French Bread recipe (I shaped mine into three skinny baguette sized loafs).  Sourdough bread would probably be even better, but that requires starter and when you are craving bruschetta, you don't want to wait that long.

I sliced the baguettes into slices and then toasted them under a low broiler for about five minutes.  Watch it close though, as they will go from nicely toasted to charred in no time flat.  Don't ask me how I know....

And now, without further ado, the star of the show....

Tomato and Olive Tapenade Bruschetta

1/2 cup black olives, finely chopped
1/2 cup green olives, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large tomatoes, chopped (garden fresh would be best, if not, store bought work too--that's what I used)
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Fresh basil, chiffonade
Parmesan Cheese, grated

In a mixing bowl, gently toss black and green olives, garlic, and tomatoes.  Add olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon generous amounts of olive and tomato mixture on toasted baguette slices.  Sprinkle liberally with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy! 

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Two For Tuesdays Recipe Swap 
Life As Mom Ultimate Recipe Swap

Sunday, August 22

Menu Plan Monday

We are finally getting our beef for sure this Wednesday!  Yay!  Now I just hope that we like the taste of grass fed beef, because hey, we don't have a choice now.  I am excited to say the least.  I also made some impromptu items last week for dinner, so there are a couple of roll overs from last week. 

Sunday-Mac and Cheese with Broccoli, green salad with homemade ranch dressing

Monday-Pizza with homemade crust and sauce, green salad


Tuesday-Out of town for hub's company picnic

Wednesday-Nacho's with ground beef, black beans, cheese, sour cream and salsa

Thursday-Roast, mashed potatoes, horseradish carrots

Friday-Baked Potato bar with chili, sour cream, cheese, broccoli, green onions, and bacon


Friday, August 20


Someone got up about three hours earlier than normal...

...and didn't even make it through lunch. 

Tuesday, August 17


We spent the afternoon and evening at our landlord's home today.  She invited us to come over and go swimming and also served us a wonderful steak dinner.  It was a perfect day to do it--it was around 102 degrees, or at least that's what the thermometer read-that was in the shade.  And we rarely enjoy steak, so that was a treat as well.  Our landlord was a wonderful hostess, much like my Mom and her husband is of the same political persuasion as my Dad...made me miss my parents all the more.  We had a wonderful time, to say the least.

My sister used to swim competitively all through her youth and well into her teen years.  Let's just say we don't share that love of the water gene.  My sister has webbed feet and apparently that same gene that bypassed me has been passed on to my daughter.  Which is good, except when she tries to get in the pool on her own.  Have I mentioned she is fearless?  Don't worry, Mom, absolutely no harm came of it.  But let's just say she kept us on our toes. 

Speaking of toes, Daddy's  were prunes (bless his heart) by the time dinner was served.  She not only loved the water, but she loved getting in and out and in and out and in and o--you get the idea.  So Daddy just stayed in the pool and and I stayed out and we passed her back and forth no less than six or seven times. 

And being the paranoid mama I am, Peanut did not have one bit of sunburn at the end of the afternoon.  Perhaps that was because we might have just as well dipped her in a gallon of sunscreen. 

But I was thrilled nonetheless.  I even gave myself a pat on the back. 

Monday, August 16

Sundried Tomato Pesto

I don't have a new recipe this week, but this is a re-post of a recipe I first shared way back when I first started blogging.   Okay, that was just a little over a year ago, but it bears a re-post because it's that good.   



My sister shared this recipe with me over a decade ago and it is always a hit!  In fact, it is the only request I ever get when I offer to bring something for any gathering with my husband's family.

Special note: A food processor really helps with the preparation.

Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (or you can use almonds, like I do with this)
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
*1/3 cup olive oil

In your food processor with the blade running, drop in cloves of garlic to mince. Add pine nuts, Parmesan cheese and salt. Pulse until coarsely chopped. Add tomatoes, pulse until coarsely chopped. With blade running, add enough olive oil for desired consistency. *I usually only use a tablespoon or two, as the tomatoes in oil provide enough. Serve with toasted sourdough baguette slices. Enjoy!

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Two For Tuesdays Recipe Swap

Sunday, August 15

Menu Plan Monday

We were supposed to get our beef early this week, but the rancher told us it wouldn't be quite ready yet...so my menu is going to be on stand by.   If we get the beef at some point during the week, it will go as follows, if not, I'll be rearranging some things. 

Sunday-Turkey meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green salad with ranch dressing

Monday-Macaroni and Cheese, steamed veggies

Tuesday-Out to dinner at our landlords (how nice, huh?)

Wednesday-California Club Pasta Salad, crusty bread

Thursday-Roast, potatoes, horseradish carrots

Friday-Burgers, cucumber pasta salad 


Saturday, August 14

New Arrival

No, I am not pregnant.

We did however, get a knock at the door at 7:45 yesterday morning from the Fed Ex guy.  I know.  I didn't even know they delivered that early.  This is, of course, coming from a night owl.  Anything prior to 8 am is ridiculously early to me.  How I ever survived earning a paycheck, I'll never know.

Anyhow, the box delivered was an early birthday present for the Peanut.  My Mom and Dad had sent a table and chairs for her and it was quite the event. 

She learned how to thread the washers on the screws and she got to help Daddy assemble the table...

and then she had to try out the green chair immediately to make sure it was just her size.

Later after her bath and nap she immediately began to play and color.  She also made sure that Dolly had a place at the table as well.

To say she is thrilled with her new "toy" is an understatement.

But then a song from the Jonah movie came on and she had to shake her tail feathers...

And then she was quickly back to having tea and coloring at her table. 

And just another sign of how fast she is growing up....since having to rearrange the furniture to make room for her table and chairs, I thought I would go out on a limb and move some pictures down.  These have been sitting on the table well within the Peanut's reach for over 24 hours and she touched them once, and I told her "No, those aren't to touch" and she hasn't touched them since.

Let's see if that will last.

Monday, August 9

Southwest Chicken with Black Beans

This is a super easy recipe and oh, so good! I usually use chicken breasts, but I had found some chicken drumsticks on sale a while back and decided just to go ahead and use those instead.

Southwest Chicken with Black Beans

3 cups cooked black beans (I soak and cook mine in big batches and freeze like Gayle does, or you can use two cans black beans, rinsed)
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup salsa
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of Cayenne

4 chicken breasts or 6-8 chicken drumsticks

Spray a 9 x 13 casserole liberally with cooking spray, set aside.  In a separate bowl, mix black beans, onion, olive oil, cilantro, salsa, cumin, and red wine vinegar.  Add salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.  Spread in an even layer in prepared casserole dish.  Season chicken with salt, pepper and paprika and lay chicken on top of black bean mixture, spaced as evenly as possible.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until thermometer inserted in chicken reads 165 degrees or until juices run clear from the chicken. 

I served our chicken with the black beans and Spanish rice

This recipe is linked to:

Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday
Blessed With Grace Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap

Two For Tuesdays Recipe Swap 

Sunday, August 8

Menu Plan Monday

We just said goodbye to my parents a few hours ago and my sister is coming for a visit this next weekend.  Then we get to get our beef next week.  Hopefully the following three weeks will go fast, because then we get to make a trip to HomeTown for Peanut's birthday celebration....and DH's fantasy football draft.  {Crickets....}  But yay! for him and my Dad!  May the force be with them....or something.  I am not a football fan--as if that wasn't obvious

Anyhow, on the menu for this week....

Sunday-Shepherd's Pie Baked Potatoes

Monday-Chicken Enchiladas with Homemade Enchilada Sauce, Spanish Rice

Tuesday-BLT's, Macaroni Salad

Wednesday-Sweet and Sour Pork over Rice, Steamed Broccoli

Thursday-Three Cheese Baked Ziti, Green Salad


Saturday-Pizza with homemade sauce & crust and green salad with ranch dressing

For other great menu ideas, visit the Organizing Junkie.  

It's Been Awhile

I just realized it's been a week since I last posted.  I knew it had been a while, but I didn't realize it has been that long.  I've been getting some stuff done for Peanut's birthday gala...can you call it a gala when it's going to be a barbecue and Elmo themed?  Well, I want it to be festive just the same....I just hope the weather stays nice back in HomeTown, so we don't have to be inside like last year.  I have lots of homemade handcrafted Elmo things for her party...but I want it only to be revealed at her party, so it will just have to wait another month or so.  But if I do say so myself, I have some pretty cute things in mind. 

We've been spending some time outside and Peanut has been swimming and enjoying the collection of swimsuits...

Her newest distraction is now watering our plants with the pool water. She is such a helper. 

And remember these?  I can proudly say I have completed my first round of canning.  All. by. my.self.  Although I did get advice from my Mom prior to starting, I didn't even call her once during the process in a panic about something like I normally do.  I getting to be such a big girl!  And thank you, Mom for always being there for me.

And my Mom and Dad visited us for a too short visit this weekend, which was filled with the usual....lots of hugs and kisses with Grandpa...

and bath time with Grandma....

and pesants {presents} from Grandma's stash.  And many tears as we said goodbye for now. 

I heart Melissa and Doug toys.  They always have the greatest stuff and my Mom always finds something new for the Peanut.  And the Peanut can now name all fifty states.  I am so kidding....but she can point to our state on the map all on her own and say "Live."  Hey, she's not even two,  folks.  I was impressed.

By her next birthday though, she'll be able to put the puzzle together, name all fifty states and the major economic industry in each in under five minutes.

Oh, how I kid. 


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