Sunday, May 29, 2011

Egg Yolk Cookies - 4 points

For two recent recipes (Shaum Torte; Mushroom and Swiss Frittata) I used 12 egg whites. One of my favorite bloggers, yummychunklet, wanted to know what to do with 12 leftover egg yolks. My Weight Watchers answer is - throw them in the trash (which is what I did when I made the frittata). However, I hate to leave people in a lurch - so here is an irresistible recipe from In the Kitchen with the AWA.

Now, while I feel that this recipe should come with a warning from the American Heart Association, the cookies truly taste amazing. Because of their high fat content, they are beautifully crispy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside. Their flavor is light with just a hint of lemon. I could go on with my own description, but I will steal one from a friend who told me last week that they are like, "A warm hug in cookie form".    

Egg Yolk Cookies
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 cups butter
3 cups sugar
12 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon flavoring

1. Combine flour, soda, and cream of tartar; set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar; add egg yolks. Stir in the flour mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla and lemon flavoring.
3. Roll into small balls, dip in sugar, flatten on a cookie sheet with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes.
4. Yields apx 60 cookies

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shaum Torte - 3 points

For this month's Random Recipe Challenge, Dom challenged us to go through our cookbooks and randomly select a dessert recipe. I let my husband do the flipping open, and it took several books before he opened one to a page with a dessert.

The book was In the Kitchen with the AWA (American Women's Association). The recipe was shaum torte. I have to admit that I had never heard of shaum torte before, and I chose not to do an internet search for it because I wanted to rely solely on the recipe for instruction.

I was nervous about this challenge because we have been having wet, wet weather here. If it is not raining, it is humid. Since shaum torte looked like a meringue recipe to me, I was worried that it might not work in this weather. (Not only does our weather feel like a wet blanket, we are also suffering from a 13 year cicada infestation. If you do not live in an area "blessed" by cicadas, please click below. If you want the real sound, turn your volume up all the way.)

I can imagine that this is a lovely recipe, with a taste somewhere between a marshmallow (on the inside) and a meringue (on the outside). That would be on a dry day. Since we have no dry days here of late, it was a bit runny on the bottom. Even runny, though, it was good enough that I will try it again when we have a day with less humidity.

Shaum Torte
12 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 tbsp vinegar
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Whipped Cream

1. Beat egg whites with salt, baking powder, and cream of tartar for about 10 minutes, until fluffy but not dry.
2. Add sugar and vinegar gradually while beating. Continue to beat 10-15 minutes, until sugar is dissolved. Beat in vanilla.
3. Spread into a 9x11 inch cake pan which has been greased only on the bottom. Preheat oven to 400F.
4. Place the pan in the oven. Turn the oven off. Do not open the oven for at least three hours, up to overnight. Before serving, top with fruit and whipped cream.
5. Yields 20, 3 point servings before whipped cream

One last thing, I wanted to give a little shout out to the Missouri Cattleman's Association. Today a friend in Missouri told me that the MCA has been serving hamburgers to the volunteers who are helping search, rescue, and clean up in Joplin, Missouri. Good on ya, MCA! Please continue to send love to this town where 125 are dead and 700 are still missing. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chicken Country Captain - 4 points

This is a dish I fantasized about for a long time. In my early cooking years, I stuck to baked goods. My signature dishes in elementary school were apple crisp and snickerdoodles (I also made Wendy's Welsh Scones). Although I didn't venture into main dish cooking, I did look through my mom's cookbooks and imagine what the different dishes would taste like. This was one that always appealed to me - chicken, curry, raisins - how could you go wrong?

I tried making this in middle school and found that my fantasies were spot on. This is a delicious dish. It is tropical and exotic and spicy and sweet and perfect.  If only all of my other fantasies could come true in such a satisfying way....

Chicken Country Captain
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium green pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 (14oz) can tomatoes, chopped
1 cube chicken bouillon
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1. Season chicken with salt and cayenne. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add chicken and cook until golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet.
2. Add onion, green peppers, and garlic to pan. Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, until onions are translucent.
3. Add curry powder, thyme, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, one minute.
4. Stir in tomatoes, bouillon, broth, and raisins. Return chicken to pan, stirring to cover with sauce. Cover, reduce heat to meduim low, and simmer 30 minutes.
5. Yields 8, 4 point servings
Many thanks to Foodafok for giving me an award. Please check out his excellent website.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lemon Chicken- 2 points, Menu Plan

It doesn't feel anything like spring in Tennessee, but that doesn't mean it can't taste like it. If you are lucky enough to have grilling weather, use the sauce as a marinade and throw your chicken strips on the grill. Either way, you can't help but savor the delicious lemon and herb sauce that coats these low point chicken treats.

Lemon Chicken
22 oz chicken breast strips
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
6 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk lemon juice with garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil, thyme, and rosemary. Taste and adjust seasoning.
2. Place chicken in the bottom of an oven safe dish; pour sauce over chicken. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes or until meat is cooked through and springy to touch.
3. Yields 11, 2 point servings

Menu Plan

tamale pie
green rice casserole
egg yolk cookies

prairie bean tortillas


yogurt soup with spinach and barley

gingery butternut squash and tofu curry


slower cooker lasagna
banana cookies

Friday, May 20, 2011

Crock Pot Black Bean Soup - 4 points

My mother has this theory that she heard from a friend; beans will not cook to softness if they are accompanied by tomatoes. When my mother is not at my house, this theory proves false. I cook Namibian beans all the time, tomatoes included, and they are delicious. As soon as my mom is on the scene, though, the theory inexplicably starts working.

I have made this recipe many times, so I decided it was safe to make for my mom and dad despite the bean/tomato combo. Epic fail. The beans didn't cook. I couldn't believe it! We managed to soften the beans up by boiling them for several dozen minutes. Since my mom is not at your house (as far as I know) these should cook as beautifully for you as they have for me every other time I have made them.

Black Bean Soup
1 lb dried black beans
2 (10 oz) cans tomatoes and chilies
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 clove minced garlic
14 1/2 oz fat free chicken broth
Cajun seasoning, to taste
1. In a medium bowl, cover beans with water. Soak overnight. Drain well.
2. Place all ingredients in crock pot. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on high.
3. Remove 2 cups of beans from the crock pot. Mash them with a potato masher until smooth. Return them to the crock pot and stir to combine.
4. Yields apx 20, 4 point servings (1 cup per serving)

Music Friday... I am really trying to get Music Friday back on Friday, so here is the song randomly selected for you by my zen. This time I am not giving you a video of the artist singing. The song, "All By Myself" was hilariously featured in one of my favorite moves of all time Bridget Jone's Diary; enjoy:)

I've been happily checking things off my list. Today was 323. Introduce Simon to the greatest cartoon movie of all time: Robin Hood.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Loaded Potato Soup - 4 points

The original post of this recipe seems to have been lost when Blogger went nuts a few days ago. It is so good that I hate to have it excluded from my blog, so I am putting it up again. Everytime I look at it three words circle through my head: potato, bacon, creamy. Those are good words.

Loaded Potato Soup - 4 points
6 cups shredded potatoes
12 slices bacon, chopped and fried
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup flour
1 chicken bouillon cube
2/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
6 cups fat free milk
1 cup green onions, chopped
1 1/4 cup fat free cheese
1 cup cauliflower
1 cup broccoli
1 cup carrots, chopped
1. Place potatoes on a large saucpan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook for 9 minutes.
2. Turn potatoes, cover and continue to cook for 8 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large pot over medium low heat, combine oil and flour to make a roux. Cook, stirring constantly, for three minutes.
4. Add bouillon, milk, salt, and pepper to pot. Cook over medium heat until milk begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
5. Steam broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower in a microwave steamer or stovetop steamer until tender. Mash with a potato masher if you desire a chunky texture or puree in a food processor for a creamier texture. 
6. Add all vegetables, bacon, and cheese to the milk base in the pot. Simmer until heated through. 
7. Yields 20, 4 point servings (approximately 1 cup per serving) 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Mushroom and Swiss Frittata - 2 points

I love frittata because it is delicious. I also love it because it reminds me of my favorite bed and breakfast, the Monteagle Inn.  I have stayed at the Inn twice, and both times were bliss. In addition to luxuriating in the opportunity to lie around and read all day, I loved the food. There are always fresh baked cookies in the snack room and the breakfasts are a gourmet treat. When I eat this frittata, I remember sitting in the sunlit dining room, sipping a fresh cup of coffee, reading the local paper, and eating an amazing, indulgent breakfast of frittata, fried potatoes, and fresh fruit.

If you can't make it to Monteagle this weekend, you can at least fix yourself a tasty, low point breakfast and dream about your perfect bed and breakfast getaway.

12 egg whites
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup 2% shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp chopped onions
2 tbsp chopped green pepper
1 tbsp chipotle mole
1 tsp olive oil
1. Beat egg whites with salt, pepper, and chipotle mole for 1 minute.  Fold in remaining ingredients, except oil.  
2. Heat oil in a 10" oven proof skillet over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into skillet; reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 10 minutes until bottom is nicely brown when edge is lifted.
3. Heat broiler. Place skillet under the broiler for 30 seconds or until top is nicely browned. Cut into wedges to serve.
4. Yields 4, 2 point servings

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spicy Sweet Potatoes - 6 points, Menu Plan

In my opinion, one of the most inspiring sites on the Internet is Sizing Down the Diva. One of the Diva's favorite dishes is a sweet potato recipe from the New York Times. Trusting in her good taste, I gave it a go. Yum, indeed! The combination of sweet and spice is a favorite of mine, and this is a vitamin rich example of that combo. You can see the original recipe by clicking here. Since I like my potatoes with some extra spice, I adjusted the recipe slightly.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes
1 tsp olive oil
2 medium onions, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp + 2 tsp paprika
2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp chipotle sauce
8 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 cup white wine

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to a minute. Stir in the paprika, cayenne and chipotle sauce, and cook, stirring, about one minute.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, and stir for about a minute until coated with the onion and spice mixture. Add the white wine, enough water to cover the sweet potatoes halfway (1 1/2 to 2 cups), and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are tender and the sauce thick. Taste and adjust salt.

Menu Plan

tempeh with sate sauce


tamale pie

round steak in mushroom gravy

sweet and sour meatballs

green rice casserole

I do hope to be a bit more active in my blogging this week. Hopefully, after 1 1/2 rounds of antibiotics and a rather painful shot in my hip, I am going to be back to normal soon. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Whole Grain Corn Bread - 3 points, Menu Plan Monday

Thank you for your comments on my Jazz Fest post yesterday. I will continue to include my travel/event/ restaurant posts as part of this blog. Again, I continually appreciate your support.

For some reason, one of the Google searches that seems to send people to my site is "What to eat with scallops". One of the reasons that this puzzles me is that I have no posts on what to eat with scallops (I do have recipes for scallops, which you can see here.)

If you are looking for a seafood sidedish, the Southern answers are usually cornbread, hushpuppies, and cole slaw. Here is a cornbread recipe that is light on fat and full of healthy whole grains.

Whole Grain Corn Bread
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup light butter
3/4 cup light soymilk

1. Sift white and wheat flours, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir in cornmeal. 
2. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. 
3. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk. Stir together until dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. 
4. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 10 -12 times. Roll out until 1/2" thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter (I used a heart shaped cookie cutter this time). 
5. Sprinkle an ungreased cookie sheet lightly with cornmeal. Arrange biscuits on a cookie sheet 1" apart and sprinkle with cornmeal. Bake 10-12 minutes. 
6. Yields 10, 3 point servings

Menu Plan Monday


stewed collard greens and white beans
white cake with whipped milk chocolate frosting for birthday at work

cabbage and mushroom curry
shaum torte
chicken Ceasar pizza for party with mentor

barbeque pork chops

spicy marsala chicken

night out at the park

chili cookoff: Angela vs. Stone

I mentioned on my Resolution Round Up that I was going to start a to-do list to check off. You can now see it by clicking on the "List" tab at the top of this blog. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Jazz Fest in Murfreesboro

One of my favorite local events is Jazz Fest. The Murfreesboro square, a historic area that was once the capital of Tennesee, is filled with the sounds of America's most significant contribution to the world of music: jazz. Bands from near and far take turns on multiple stages while vendors sell deep fried, chocolate covered, fresh squeezed fair food.

I love the music; I spend the whole festival alternating between tapping feet and swaying hips. I love a wailing sax, a loud guitar, and a drum solo so hot it melts my face off.  But I would be lying if I said that I wasn't just as excited about the food. When I think about Jazz Fest, two words pop into my head. Funnel. Cake. Deep fried, golden brown, lighter than air cake batter served on a paper plate with a thick dust of powdered sugar covering the top. Yes.

Here are a few glimpses of Jazz Fest Fun

The courthouse surrounded by stages on the east and west, vendors and inflatables on the north and south. Before there was a building here, the center of the square was used (by Andrew Jackson and his cronies) as a cock fighting pit. 
This is where we got our funnel cake...

We were very excited that the MexiVenn food truck was there. We purchased our lunch - tamales and horchata from our favorite Mexican/Venezuelan eatery. (BTW, the red thing on Stone's arm is because he donated blood at the Red Cross before Jazz Fest; what a great guy!)

The backstage of a local school show; Stone and Simon enjoying some music. I have to wait a whole year before enjoying more Jazz Fest fun.

Now, dear blog readers, I have a question for you. Generally, I post recipes with Weight Watchers Points Plus applied. I assume that most people are visiting my blog so see those recipes. So, when I write a post like this one about Jazzfest, or professing my love for big greasy burgers, or singing the praises of my favorite pizza joint, I wonder if they are incongruous when the rest of the site. I have been pondering whether it would be preferable to have two separate blogs: one for recipes and one for travel and restaurant reviews. The wisest people, of course, to help me make that decision are my readers. So...

Are posts like this interesting/relevant/good for this blog or should I take them somewhere else?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Family Hamburger Soup - 6 points

Here is an easy soup recipe from Pillsbury. I love a good beef vegetable soup on a chilly day like the one we had today in Tennessee. This soup has the decency to work equally well by following the directions below or by slow cooking in a crock pot. I do appreciate versatility in a soup.

Family Hamburger Soup- adapted from Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2008
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cups potatoes, diced or shredded
1 cup sliced celery
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
5 cubes chicken bouillon
5 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1. In a large saucepan, cook ground beef and onion over medium high heat 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.
2. Stir in remaining ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Yields 7, 6 point servings

Have you made your way over to Suzy Eats?  If you haven't, you really should. She has a great blog going, full of fabulous recipes. Suzy recently received a Stylish Blogger Award and was sweet enough to pass it on to me. The instructions require me to choose some bloggers to whom I pass on the award. Of course, I am going to cheat, since I am nothing if not rebellious to rules. 

I believe that my readers/ followers are amazing people who share terrific recipes, good humor, excellent writing, and honesty. You have given me courage to share my thoughts and encouragement when I need it. I would very much like to give this award to all of you. Please feel free to post it on your blog; if you would like, please leave a link of a recent/favorite post on your blog in the comment section below. I would love to have a list of all the cool things you have been writing about. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Root Beer Sloppy Joes - 4 Points

As you know, I have a bit of a fascination with cooking with soda. For example

Diet Soda Muffins
And, of course, Diet Cola Brownies

So, when I saw a recipe for "Root Beer Sloppy Joes" in Parenting magazine, I felt that it was my destiny to give it a go. The results were...mixed. I liked it but I also could taste the root beer very plainly. I would take a bite and think, "Mmmm...sloppy joes....wait...root beer?" If you don't like root beer, these are not for you (try one of the confections above instead). If you do like root beer, and are up for something different, give it a go yourself. Let me know if your thoughts take the same train as mine.

Root Beer Sloppy Joes

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup diet root beer
2/3 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 cup minced scallions (optional) - not in mine
3 tbsp diced green chilis (optional) - not in mine
1. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat; spray with non-stick cooking spray or kitchen spritzer. Add garlic and saute 1 minute.
2. Add beef and saute five minutes, stirring to separate. Stir in chili powder, salt, and pepper.  Add root beer, tomato sauce, chilis, and Worchestershire sauce. Bring to a livily simmer; cook for 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the scallions. Serve on buns or rolls
4. Yields  4, 4 point servings

It is not Music Friday, but writing of my rambling thoughts means I have to ask...does anyone else hear this in their head when they use the words "train of thought"? No? Just me? Oh, well....
"My train of thought's runnin' right on time, but it's off the track and I'm losin' my mind."

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Egg, Broccoli, and Ham Ring - 9 points

This lovely little ring was my offering for Easter dinner. I first started seeing these a few years ago at  Pampered Chef parties. They are fabulous dishes for showing off the wonders of stonewear. I first tried this particular recipe for Simon's baptism a couple of years ago; it was a big hit at the brunch following the service. The filling is reminiscent of a classic ham quiche, with those salty ham, cheese, and egg flavors that I associate with a good breakfast casserole. The crescent wrap adds a buttery lightness to the dish that makes it easy to justify a second piece. 

Egg, Broccoli, and Ham Ring - From Pillsbury Annual Recipes 2008
1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 oz Neufchatel cheese
3 eggs
6 egg whites
1/4 cup fat free milk
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup cubed ham
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cans reduced fat, refridgerated crescent rolls
1/8 cup fat free cheddar, shredded

1. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Cook broccoli and onion 2-3 minutes, until tender.
2. In a medium bowl, beat Neufchatel cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper until well combined. Add egg mixture to vegetables in skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally from outside edge to center until eggs are set but still moist. Stir in ham and cheese.
3. Unroll both cans of dough; separate into 16 triangles. Arrange triangles on a baking stone with short sides of triangles toward the center, overlapping wreath shape. Lightly press short sides to flatten dough.
4. Spoon egg mixture onto widest part of dough. Pull end points of triangle over filling, pressing tips together in the center to hold the shape.
5. Bake 25-30 minutes at 375F or until deep, golden brown. (Sprinkle with 1/8 cup fat free cheddar when five minutes remain).
6. Yields 8, 9 point servings

I realize this would have photographed better on a pretty serving plate. Forgive me for wanting to show off my baking stone. As you know, I am seeking treatment for my mild stonewear obsession;)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Resolution Round-up April

It has been 4 months since I hopped back on the healthy wagon after my holiday hiatus. So, it is time for my Resolution Round Up. 

1. Get down to goal weight of 127 pounds. Starting weight: 149.5, so -22.5 pounds. About ½ pound per week.
My weight on Friday was 139. That is down 3 pounds since last month and more than 10 pounds since the beginning of the year. I am almost halfway to my goal – which is good, since it is almost ½ way through the year. My Hashimoto’s disease seems to be under control again – meaning that I am not constantly hungry and have more energy to be active. Blood tests next week will show where my levels are.

I want to kick up the weight loss a notch because I need a little ego boost. So, I am going back to something I used to do; I am planning out my points for the day first thing in the morning. That way, I know exactly what I can have and am less tempted to use extra points. I will share some of my 29 point menus with you, since I seem to get a lot of hits from people looking for guidelines to a 29 point day.

PS - Yes, that is a concert t-shirt from the U2 360 tour. It was awesome in Atlanta! I am going to see them again on July 2!

2.      Log 130 workout hours (the equivalent of 30 minutes, 5 times per week). I chose total hours instead of times per week because I will inevitably be sick for at least a week and then feel like a failure for not exercising.

This month I logged just ten hours, which gives me a total of 59.2 hours for the year. A bad thing happened when I hurt my back and couldn’t exercise for two weeks; I remembered how much happier I am when I am not working out. I realize that is the exact opposite of what I am supposed to say, but I am not going to lie to you. Exercise bores me; it takes up precious time that could be spent reading, cooking, playing cards with my husband, cleaning the house, or catching up with friends.  It was so nice to have that time back while my back was recovering! Once my back was better, I had no desire to return to exercise.

I do realize that working out is good for me, so am trying to find ways to fit it back into my life that don’t suck the joy out of me. Lucky for me, it is spring! That means, gardening. 

And, trust me, gardening is great exercise - especially if you happen to live in a house that experienced the flood last year.

After a flood, you will fight weeds like you never have before. Yesterday I spent over an hour pulling up wild strawberries. It is not just weeds, either. Tree seeds love saturated ground. I have excavated 20 baby oak trees out of the ground so far. 

I promise, I am back on the wagon. I will have better numbers for you next month.

PS I was chuffed to find baby birds in my honeysuckle and a baby rabbit hiding beneath the hydrangea.

3. Make plans to do something special with my best friend once a month. We talked about it; I will plan one month, he will plan the next.

This month was a bit different. We had a packed schedule – full of grad school assignments, work events, family visits, and church -  and were despairing about our date. When could we get out? We couldn’t. But, I still managed to plan a date.

We had Simon with us for dinner, but as soon as my sister picked him up we got started on our night in. Stone got the wine; I got the dessert. The wine was a delicious orange wine from Stonehaus winery. The dessert was, of course, from Julia’s.

After enjoying our decadent treats, we played a couple of games of cribbage. We had great fun laughing, talking, and egging each other on. 

Finally, we settled down to watch an episode of House on hulu (thank goodness for hulu or I would never, ever see TV).

Overall, a very good date. 

PS That ridiculously good looking confection from Julia's Bakery is called an apple blossom.

4.      Take my nephew out to do something special at least once per month.

Simon and I had a great date, and we even dragged Stone along. First, we attended a fish fry to raise money for a local cemetery. Then, it was on to the playground for lots of swinging and sliding. Finally, we took him to the library to play with puzzles, gaze at fish, put on a puppet show, and – of course – read. It was an excellent day.

5. Go on two vacations. (I really want three, but two seems more achievable).

Check one for Helen, GA. I will be in the Ozarks in just over a month, enjoying vacation number 2.

6.Update blogs for a total of 5 updates per week.

Since I took one of my blogs down, I am not counting this one this time. I am thinking about doing another blog on a more food/travel theme. It is still just an idea.

7. Finish editing the book of short stories I wrote last year. Contact at least one agent.

Not done. Will work on it this summer. Really, I will. 

I had dinner last week with a friend who wanted to know how the book is going. I managed to distract her with a chicken wing. 

8.      Pay off the remaining loan on my car.2,792.61 which I owe to a relative who does not ask me to make regular payments.

Okay, this one took me forever to figure out because I had accidentally left off info from a February bonus.  The total to be paid off is now $1494.57.

9. Participate in a 5K.

I am checking to see about participating in a  1 1/2 mile walk in July, just for fun. I am trying to find a good 5K for the fall.

10. Make time to do things that make me happy.

This was a very happy month. On the top of my list is the Lenten season. I had a great time coloring eggs, just like I did as a child. 


11. Make an effort to be a better person.

I decided last month that this one had to go. It is too abstract. I have decided to replace it with: Cross one thing per week off my giant to-do list! In order to facilitate this, I am in the process of creating giant lists of things I want to do, need to do, and probably will never be able to do but dream about. When the list is done, I will make a note with some of the highlights. I will probably not post the whole thing as it is several hundred items long already. 

Thank you so much for sticking with me through this long entry and for being part of this wonderful blogging community. I continue to feel welcomed in the blogosphere and am always in awe of your outstanding creativity, honesty, and humor. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Methodist Bean Casserole - 9 points

A teacher asks each of his students to bring in an object that represents his/her spiritual beliefs and present that object to the class. On the day of the presentation, the first boy arises and says, "I am a Catholic. This is my crucifix." The second boy arises and says, "I am a Baptist. This is my Bible." The third boy arises and says, "I am a Methodist. This is my casserole dish."

All jokes aside, we Methodists are quite serious about our covered dish dinners (also known as dinner on the grounds or potluck). These gatherings are a chance for the church members to show off their culinary skills. Most people tend to make the same dish over and over again, knowing that it is their best. You can always count on Mary Ellen's barbecue brisket or Joe's sweet potato pie. There is always an elite group of members who make the best of the best dishes; they are the royalty of the covered dish dinner.

I don't have one dish that I always take - I am still looking for that signature dish. For my first covered dish dinner in Tennessee, I committed a terrible faux pas. I took banana cream pudding. Ms. Ethel Lee, you see, always brings her world famous, slap your mama, banana cream pudding. Not only did I bring the same dish...even worse....mine was better! That is because my banana cream pudding kicks butt; it is the best ever. It is untouchable. It contains enough fat and sugar to give you an immediate cardiac arrest/diabetic coma. It might have been okay, except that one of the male members loudly announced to his table that "whoever brought that banana's even better than Ms. Ethel Lee's." I was persona non grata.

It is my desire to never, ever repeat that experience again. So, I try to play it safe and take something that is not earth shatteringly good. This last week, though, I really wanted to make my beans. I was not sure whether to be chuffed or irritated when I heard people start asking about them. "Who made these beans, was it (Insert the name of one of the elite of the covered dish)? No? Well, then who brought them?" Hmmm... a compliment that they like them, but a bit of an insult that they went through a phone book of people before someone pointed out it was me.

A great many folks asked for the recipe. I am sharing it with you first!

Methodist Bean Casserole
1 lb lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 lb bacon, browned, drained, and chopped
2 cans pork and beans
2 cans lima beans
2 cans kidney beans
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp prepared yellow mustard
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup chopped onion

1. Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish. Bake at 350F until bubbly.
2. 9 points per cup serving

They may not look pretty, but, believe me, they taste great. Just make sure someone else at the covered dish isn't famous for their baked beans. You wouldn't want to upstage them.

I failed to give you my menu plan last week in my tizzy of preparing for guests. Here is my plan for this week.

pasta salad for church picnic
bread and butter pickles for church picnic
root beer sloppy joes
chocolate pie

hummus on toast

cheeseburger quiche

kailua monkey smoothie
zucchini muffins
French omelet

minty yogurt chicken

night out

stewed collard greens with white beans