Saturday, October 11, 2008
Other Cooking Notes
From the Velveeta Crowd Pleasing Recipes Cook booklet
  • Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Bake - super easy & everyone loved it
  • Southwestern Corn Soup - Used Poblano peppers instead of green bell peppers. Meh! Still looking for a recipe that rivals Applebee's Corn Chowder - their Wed. soup of the day

Heavenly Chicken - TRM
  • crock pot meal. Easy & went over very well, especially with Shannon

Carrot Souffle - Paula Deen - July/Aug 2008
  • yummy. Very sweet. Makes a lot: 3 quarts!

Cooper's Famous BBQ Chicken -
  • used sauce on wings, baked for an hour at 400º
  • spicy BBQ flavor with Chipotle peppers & Adobo sauce
  • good for a change of pace from Buffalo wings

Hoagie Lasagna - Mr. Food
  • added pepperoni
  • very good lasagna. Keeper.

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Cooking - Week Ending 10/11/08
Trying a lot of new recipes lately. I need to keep track of what worked & what didn't. In no particular order:

Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps - TRM - Recipe from Cook's Country
  • made these several times. The key is plenty of cilantro & extra sharp Cheddar.

Buffalo Chicken Party Sandwiches from
  • started out following the recipe and didn't like the chicken mixture. Very boring. Add garlic powder, black pepper, butter, & a lot more Red Hot sauce. That brought it closer to the Buffalo Chicken Dip I make all the time. Dressing mixture was pretty good. I'm sure I added extra cheese (gorgonzola).
  • decided to make wraps like the Chicken Salad Wraps above. Layer of shredded Cheddar, layer of chicken mixture, top with dressing. Wrap & roll. Spray with Pam & brown both sides in non-stick skillet.

Masala Shrimp
  • 2 jars Trader Joe's Masala Simmer Sauce
  • 2 lbs. peeled raw shrimp
  • 1 lb. cooked spaghetti

  • Porterhouse & Sirloin marinated in Montreal Steak Seasoning for a day or so. Broiled.

Beef Wellington with Gorgonzola - TRM
  • followed the recipe exactly. Made a day ahead to chill for 24 hours.
  • EXCELLENT!!! Fancy schmancy dish to keep in mind in case a rich person hires me to cater a meal. :-)

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes - ShopRite cookbook
  • recipe said that other cheeses could be substituted for the blue cheese. I had some feta that needed to be used so I subbed it. Couldn't even taste the cheese. So I ended up using the rest of my Gorgonzola - that definitely zipped it up. I guess the Feta was too mild.

Spinach Quiche -
  • made for Shana's baby shower brunch.
  • changes I made to the recipe:
    • 1/4 cup butter instead of 1/2 cup
    • plain feta
    • Penzey's Greek Seasoning
    • fresh mushrooms
    • 3/4 cup milk instead of 1 cup
    • 5 extra large eggs instead of 4
    • 2 frozen deep-dish pie shells, pre-baked for 10 minutes
    • mixed all ingredients together instead of layering. Mixed in most of cheddar, sprinkled small amount on top, as directed.
  • Turned out great with all the changes.

Eggs Bearnaise
Easy, tasty breakfast dish.
  • 2nd dish for Shana's shower
  • 12 Puff Pastry Shells - prebaked with top & insides removed.
  • 1 dozen eggs scrambled with Penzey's Sandwich Sprinkle & chopped tomatoes - about 2 too many eggs
  • cooked, crumbled bacon in bottom of shells
  • scoop of scrambled eggs
  • sprinkle of Cheddar
  • Knorr's Bearnaise Sauce on top. Used 2 packets - too much sauce.

  • used Spare Ribs instead of Baby Backs because of cost. I much prefer Baby Backs.
  • Marinated ribs in Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce for 24 hours.
  • Baked wrapped in foil for 6 hours or so at 250º.
  • Brushed with more sauce & broiled for a few minutes

Creamy Saffron Farfalle w/Crab & Shrimp - Rachel Ray Oct. 2008 mag.
  • doubled recipe. 1 lb shrimp, 2 6 oz cans crab, 8 oz bay scallops
  • made sauce today. Will cook & add to pasta tomorrow.
  • not very happy with this recipe. Lemon taste was very strong. Tried adding Parmesan & cream cheese to get rid of some of the flavor. Still not thrilled. As much as I love Saffron & seafood, I won't be doing this one again.

Zuppa Toscana - TRM
  • by Seth's request.
  • made this many, many times. It's in the regular fall/winter meal rotation.

Chocolate Macaroon Pie - ShopRite cookbook
  • a bit labor intensive. Didn't seem to have the Wow factor I look for.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Crunch - Rachel Ray - Sept. 2008 mag.
  • good, rich, fudgy yumminess
  • one problem I had was: the top layer of fudge didn't stick to the 2nd layer. Maybe press it down harder the next time. There will be a next time!

Sweet Milk Cake - Rachel Ray - Oct. 2008 mag
  • followed recipe except for subbing strawberries for papaya
  • chilled for way more than the 4 hours called for - all liquid never did absorb into cake. Cake was floating in liquid! Maybe poke holes in the cake before adding liquid the next time.
  • Topped with real whipped cream & slices strawberries. Just about any fruit would taste good with this cake.

Dirt Cake II -
  • helped Shannon with this cake for a friend's birthday.
  • used 32 oz. Oreos instead of 20 oz.
  • use deep, deep pan in order to fit all layers.

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Cooking - Week Ending 10/11/08

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Saturday, May 19, 2007
Days 3 & 4
Day 3 - dreary, chilly, rainy weather. We went to visit Lauren's mommy in the morning. Then we went to the A&P. WalMart shopping carts: good for baby carriers. A&P carts: not so good. The carrier actually clips in to the WalMart cart. I was nervous the whole time we were in A&P because it didn't feel as stable as I would have liked. In the WalMart cart, she is sitting at a good angle. In the A&P cart, she is laying pretty much flat on her back. Made it in & out of A&P with no trouble. :-) Home for our afternoon nap.

Day 4 - Lauren is still on a wonderful schedule for me! She's been sleeping longer than me in the morning. She's awake most of the time until our afternoon nap at 2:00. Again, she sleeps longer than me. She gets up around 6. She goes to bed between 9:30 & 10:30 and pretty much sleeps thru the night. Last night she woke up a couple times for less than a minute or two.

This morning we made 4 lasagnas & 4 big loaves of garlic bread for our monthly WARM shelter meal. The power went out at around 10:30 so we loaded up & headed for Westerly. We needed to kill some time before going to the shelter. I didn't want to get in the way of the lunch serving.

We went back to WalMart & got some more of that clearance Enfamil & some items to make Opa a couple meals that he's requested so he can have some good home cooking when he gets back. From there we went to Noni's (Auntie Ellyn's) to pick up 2 more lasagnas & 2 more loaves of garlic bread. Noni bought a few outfits for Lauren. One of the outfits is a beautiful blue dressy dress that Lauren will wear to the upcoming wedding(s).

Dropped off the lasagna & garlic bread at the shelter. They were all happy to see us. They always are & that feels good! We just provided the meal this month instead of cooking & serving as we usually do.

Came home & took our nap. It's about time for bed now.

Just 2 more nights without Opa...

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Thursday, May 17, 2007
Stay-At-Home-Logue - Life Without Seth/Opa
Day 1 - uneventful, except for the fact that Lauren slept in until 9:30 when I got her up. She didn't sleep much the rest of the day, tho'.

Day 2 - Sister's Class at 10 AM. I was holding Lauren before we got started when I felt something damp on my arm & smelled something unpleasant. Uh oh!! Total diaper blow-out! While changing this mess, the poor child had poop on her from head to toe, literally. She's squirmy so she gets her feet & hands in it. Then she touches her face with her hand. Oy! I couldn't get her cleaned up fast enough.

11:00 Sister's Class is over & I decide to attempt our first trip to the store. I've been very hesitant about going to the grocery store with Lauren, for a number of reasons. Every other time I've shopped, she's been with Opa or one of her Aunties. Today was the day to overcome that hurdle. So we set off for Super WalMart which is only about 2 miles from the hall. Lauren screamed & cried the whole way there. I decided to feed her some more before we went in - that's been one of my fears: that she'll have a total meltdown while we're in a store.

So, I mixed up a bottle & wedged myself into the back seat (behind the driver's seat) to feed her. We have a 4-door Chevy Blazer. Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm not a skinny little thing. It was a tight fit back there.

I fed her enough that I felt that we could start our adventure. I already had a shopping cart by the car - I was ready to just put her carseat in the cart & go for it. I tried to get out of the car & realized that the Child Lock was on. Now what am I gonna do? I couldn't crawl over to the other side of the seat & go out that door because the car seat was in the way - it's right in the middle of the back seat. I thought about crawling into the back & going out that way but I didn't see a way to open the back hatch. That left me with 2 choices: wait until someone parks in the empty space beside me, knock on the window & yell for them to let me out or climb into the front seat.

I couldn't go over the top of the driver's seat because of the head rest. And because of the steering wheel being in the way. So I started climbing from the rear left seat to the front right seat...and got my foot caught at the ankle between the driver's seat & the console. It hurt! I leaned over the driver's seat to the controls & moved the seat forward. Then I was able to get my foot unstuck. From there it was pretty easy, considering. I'm more flexible than I thought! ;-) I was thankful that I chose to wear jeans today rather than the skirt or dress I was considering.

We went into the store & I found this cart full of different kinds of baby formula that had handwritten signs on it saying "Clearance 5/15". I had one of the baby dept. employees paged to ask if the stuff was really on clearance. She didn't about that!?! She got a scanner & found out that it actually was on clearance so I cleared out all of the Enfamil powder. The cans that normally run around $25 were marked down to $17.50. We should have enough to last a couple months. It looks like they are re-doing their baby section so maybe they didn't have the shelf space. The expiration dates were 2010 so that wasn't the reason for the clearance.

Lauren dozed some of the time. The rest of the time she was content & happy. I got her a Spiderman toy with hands that are teethers because her dad loves Spiderman. She's less than impressed.

She started fussing as we left the checkout counter & headed for the door. Perfect timing! She was all right once the car was moving until we were almost home.

After a full 6-oz feeding, we took a nap. She fell asleep before me & woke up after me. You gotta love that! I know I do!

Our adventure for tomorrow is a visit to see Lauren's mom in the morning. Looks like it's supposed to rain. :-(

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Sunday, January 28, 2007
Not a lot new to tell but I wanted to update in case anyone is following this story.

The 4 of us went to the Parole Office last Tuesday. We were there for a long time - we were there about 20 minutes early for the appt. Someone finally called Mike into the talk to the P.O. He was back there for about half an hour. Mike came out & Shannon was called back. Another half an hour. When she came out, Seth & I met with the guy for 10 or 15 minutes.

He has to do a report & submit it to the court. I don't feel like we're going to get a whole lot of support from him. The new sentencing date is Feb. 14th - just a few weeks before the baby will arrive.

One of the worst parts of all of this is the "not knowing" what's going to happen. How much time in jail will Mike & Shannon get? Anywhere from no time/all parole to 2 years plus parole is the way I understand it. The "no time" doesn't seem real likely. Mike seems to be ready to do what needs to be done to get this over with. Shannon is just plain terrified.

They've settled in real well here. Seth is spoiling them rotten in every way he can. Me? I just try to cook things that they'll like. They're kinda picky when it comes to food - and they don't like cheese for the most part - that presents a real challenge to me.

They attended Memorial Service with us this morning. They've met quite a few of our Brethern already at Wed. night class & Fri. night Bible Readings. It makes me feel so good to see how welcoming & friendly everyone is with them. Everyone accepts them for who they are & no one looks down on them. That's gotta feel good. I hope they got something out of meeting today.

Anyway, we're kinda on hold for right now so I probably won't do anymore updating until the sentencing date. There really won't be a lot to say - our days are very calm & peaceful, as they should be.

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Friday, January 19, 2007
They're Here!
We have young people in the house again! We brought Mike & Shannon here to live on Tuesday - after Seth got home from MacWorld in Calif.

They slept in a real bed for the first time in a long time on Tuesday night. :-) The things so many of us take for granted...

Their sentencing date was Jan. 24th. It's been put off for a week or 2. The "Pre-Sentencing" people never contacted them until this week. They meet with these people on Tuesday. Seth & I will go along for support & to add our 2 cents. Maybe if the judge & the other court people realize that we have plans in place to help these 2 get on their feet, they'll go a little easier on them. Can't hurt to try.

We're trying to make their lives as comfortable as we can until they have to leave. That means buying Shannon all the chocolate stuff she wants, for one thing! And Mike loves bread so I picked up a couple loaves of Panera bread for him. I'm getting to feel like a mom again & that makes me really happy.

Mike is only too eager to help around the house - he vacuumed & steam cleaned the living room carpet yesterday while I was at the dentist. Shannon's just kinda relaxing & letting the 3 of us take care of her - which is what I want - she's almost 8 months pregnant & very scared about her future. They are able to keep themselves occupied. They've been doing jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, etc. Seth set up a computer for them so they can play around & watch DVDs on it. I was concerned that they would be terribly bored here. It's very peaceful & quiet for the most part - not what they're used to! That doesn't seem to be a problem. :-)

They went to Wed. night Bible Class with Seth & they are at Friday night Family Bible Readings with him this evening - because they wanted to go.

All of this is bringing back a lot of good memories of Shane. Mike is a year younger than Shane would be right now. And with the baby coming, it's bringing back a lot of memories from when Shane was a baby. Having a baby here will allow me to be a surrogate Grandma. I had just given up on the Grandma thing.

The situation has been very good for all of us. Seth & I are thankful that we've been blessed enough to be able to help these 2 kids & expand our 2-person family. It's almost selfish of us because it feels so good to be able to provide for those who have some real basic needs & who truly appreciate what we're doing for them.

If Shane was still alive, our lives would be totally different & we wouldn't be involved in this situation. Is this the reason we had to lose him? I don't know if there is "a reason" for why he died but I really want to there to be one. And I've been praying for a reason for me to keep going on in this life for the past 2 3/4 yrs. I needed a purpose to keep living. Mike & Shannon & their unborn child have given that to me. A reason to look forward to the future, when there was nothing to look forward to for so long. I think all of us will be better people for coming together as a family when all is said & done. There is a lot of love here...

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