Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spring Cleaning

 My kitchen window.......

The weather has been getting warmer and spring is just around the corner. I'm so glad to feel it warming up again, even though we've had a pretty mild winter here, and now I'm in full swing with my spring cleaning.
This morning I took all the cushions off the couch and love seat and vacuumed up crumbs and whatever else happened to be under there. It always amazes me how much stuff ends up under a couch cushion, but now it's clean. Then I vacuumed the living room, wiped off the coffee table, picked up some odds and ends, and now I've started on the kitchen and have some laundry going.
However, my biggest chore to do yet today is the kitchen pantry. I remember when we first moved in to this house (just shy of a year ago now) and how tidy and organized the pantry was. But now it's just a big, cluttered mess and I cringe every time I open the door to get something out of it. I only have myself to blame for the shape it's in, not keeping things where they belong and now it will probably take me at least a couple hours to do and I'm not looking forward to it. Anyone else ever feel the same???
But, as I get more and more things done, I have to keep reminding myself that I'm actually getting something accomplished and I need to stop fussing over what's still waiting for me to do. For some reason I seem to think that I can be in several different places at once, tackling all these chores, then feel like I've failed when I don't get them done. I don't know why I'm like that, but it's a work in progress, as am I!
Time to get back at it again and get more things crossed off of my list.
Hope you're all having a wonderful day and as always, I look forward to hearing from you.   :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Courtney!

I just wanted to wish our daughter, Courtney, a very happy 24th birthday! She and her husband, Eric, just moved back to the Pacific Northwest where his parents live, and while I hate that we're so far away from each other, in our hearts we're with her on her special day.

Such a little cutie!

Hope you have a really wonderful day. We love you!

Our girl all grown up!

Chicken Paprikash

Every so often I find a recipe in a magazine that becomes a big hit in our house, and this one is certainly no exception. This particular recipe comes from the "Food Network" magazine and what I like about it is that it's not expensive or time consuming to put together, has wonderful flavor, and even if you're not a big fan of chicken thighs (like me)'ll still love it!

  • kosher salt
  • 6 slices bacon, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces egg noodles
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a separate pot over medium heat, 2 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook 3 more minutes. Combine the flour, paprika, marjoram and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; add the chicken and toss to coat.

Push the bacon and vegetables to one side of the pot and increase the heat to medium high. Add the chicken and any remaining flour mixture to the other side and cook, turning, until browned, about 6 minutes.
I didn't have any bell pepper, but it tastes wonderful just the same!

Stir together the chicken, bacon and vegetables and cook 2 more minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover and simmer until the chicken is almost cooked through, about 10 more minutes. Meanwhile, add the noodles to the boiling water and cook as the label directs; drain.

Uncover the pot with the chicken, increase the heat to high and cook 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the sour cream and parsley and cook 2 more minutes.

Season with salt. Serve over the noodles.

I doubled the recipe this time around, and had more than enough left over for Bill's lunch the next day plus another meal.
Serve this with a nice green salad, or maybe some corn bread and dinner is ready!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

This arrived earlier this afternoon. What a beautiful gift from my husband!
I love him more and more every day, and I am truly blessed that's he's in my life!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pepsi Tournament Bowling

Yesterday we were in Bessemer to watch Megan and RJ bowl in the Pepsi Tournament, and they did pretty good.! Megan bowled a 133, 117, and a 122. RJ bowled a 144, 122, and a 210. Now we need to see if they qualified for the State Tournament, but won't know for a couple weeks or so. Either way, we're proud of them both and I'm so glad they love bowling as much as they do.

Just before the tournament started

Go Megan!

Go RJ!

So, fingers crossed for now as we wait on the results of their scores!   :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making Almond Milk

I recently watched a tutorial on making nut milk that was on one of my favorite PBS how-to shows, "B Organic With Michele Beschen". It wasn't something I've ever considered making, but when our son, RJ, complained about having stomach aches after eating cereal in the mornings, I realized that he might be a touch lactose intolerant and wondered if switching to nut milks might be the answer for him. So I bought some almond milk at the grocery store and after a few days we both realized that this was the answer, and I was so happy this worked for him!
Nut milks are very easy to make and best of all, they're lactose free. I've seen walnuts and almonds used, and someone in an article I read used macadamia nuts, so that gives you a few choices about what to use.
When making nut milks you need to use raw, not roasted or salted nuts, organic would be great but if you can't find them don't worry about it.
The recipe itself is very easy. Just take 1 cup of nuts and soak them overnight in filtered or distilled (not tap) water. Soaking them removes the enzyme inhibitors on the nuts. These inhibitors keep the nuts from sprouting prematurely, and can also make it more difficult for you to digest them if you like raw nuts. There's a very interesting article here that explains all of this.
Once the nuts have been soaked, you need to drain and rinse them well. Next, put them in a blender and add anywhere between 3 to 5 cups of filtered or distilled water. Three cups with give your milk a creamier consistency, but if you want something a bit thinner, just add more water. I used 3 cups for mine and will probably bump that up to 4 cups next time.
I mentioned a blender. Most all of the tutorials I watched were folks using a Vita Mix blender. Well, I don't have one and after looking at them online, I almost fell out of my chair after seeing their prices! Needless to say, there WON'T be a Vita Mix blender in my house any time soon. Even some of the other blenders that were somewhat similar to a Vita Mix, were just as expensive. Sigh. But I will tell you, you can still make nut milk without one.
Before you start blending, think about if you want your milk to have any sweetness to it. If so, you can use honey or agave nectar, or you can toss in a few pitted dates. If using dried dates, just soak them as well to soften them (I used 4 small dates). You can even add a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract, or use a vanilla bean if you have some. You could also add some cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cacao powder, or whatever you want to flavor your milk with. Make it how you like it!
If using a standard blender, it will take a few minutes for it to really break down the nuts so just be patient.
Next, you'll need to strain the nut milk. I don't have a nut milk bag (you can buy these online or make your own), so I used a fine-meshed strainer lined with a few layers of cheesecloth. Make sure you squeeze as much liquid from the pulp as possible. You can use this pulp and add it to breads or cookies, or hot cereals. One of the tutorials suggested spreading it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and drying it in a low oven to extend its shelf life a little longer.
That's really all there is to making nut milk. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, but in my house it'll be used up before it has a chance to go bad! If the milk separates somewhat, that's ok. Just shake it before each use. I'm sorry I don't have more pictures to go along with this but I honestly didn't think about it at the time. But I did take a picture of the finished product (minus a bit after taste testing!).

I hope you'll give this a try, and's a lot of fun to make and cheaper than buying it at the store!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Happy Birthday RJ!!!

I can't believe that our youngest son, RJ, turned 15 yesterday! Seems like not so long ago we brought him home from the hospital, then he was a toddler taking his first steps and then running. Time slips by so quickly and kids grow up before we know it. Sometimes I just don't know where the time has gone.

My husband made the cake.......and I did the writing.......I think we make a great team!

And here's our young man!

We didn't do anything special really. I fixed a chicken dish we all really like and had some cake after dinner. It was just a nice evening and I know he enjoyed his day. He's definitely a joy and a blessing to his father and I.
We love you, RJ!