The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 313-319 (week 46)

November 18, 2012 at 10:02 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  It’s been an interesting week…  nothing Earth-shattering, just interesting.

Work has been really busy, which I can only think is NOT a good thing considering what I do, that means the foreclosure business is booming, or maybe things are just moving better through the courts, but whatever is going on, it can’t be a good sign for the economy.

And of course, there was all the post-election stuff going on, the stock market dropping, businesses laying people off, Hostess closing, just kind of a depressing week all the way around.

BUT, William had a really good week at school, things are going very well for him, he’s enjoying his classes, and getting good grades.  Absolutely cannot complain!

Mike had a good week at work, things are picking up, they are finally keeping him almost busy, and he spent all day yesterday working on his guitar.  Took his birthday money and bought some new pick-ups, a new pick guard, and he’s really happy with the results.

I’ve been fairly busy working on jewelry, too, but I need to get better at getting OFF the computer at night and doing things I LIKE instead of wasting so much time on Facebook.  I mostly work on new pieces on my lunch hour at work, but I spent about 3 hours last night making clay beads, which was more fun than I remember, and then a few hours today making jewelry from some of those beads, so I feel like I had an extra special day!  And, I still got the laundry done, cleaned up the kitchen, and did my nails.  GOOD DAY!

So, on to the food….

Monday

Baked BBQ Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops

About 3 cups BBQ sauce of your choice

1 Tsp garlic powder

Put the pork chops in a roasting pan, sprinkle with garlic powder, pour over BBQ sauce, cover and bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour, or until chops are done through and sauce is bubbly.  Serve!

Ratatouille (this was fun!)

1 smallish yellow squash

1 smallish zucchini

1 Chinese eggplant

2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 cup tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

1/4 cup Parmesan

Italian seasoning blend

Using a mandolin slicer, slice the squash and eggplant very thin.  Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with olive oil flavor cooking spray.  Pour the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan, sprinkle with the onion flakes and garlic powder.  Liberally salt and pepper.  Lay the slices of squash and eggplant on the sauce, alternating each type of veggie, overlapping each, all the way around and in the center. (sort of like in the movie, looks a little like a fan)  Salt and pepper, sprinkle with a few Tbsp Parmesan.  Layer more veggies, salt and pepper, Parmesan.  Repeat until you have about 3 to 4 layers, or you run out of veggies.  Sprinkle with remaining olive oil and any remaining Parmesan, and sprinkle with Italian seasoning blend.  Cover with aluminum foil, cook at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes, or until tomato sauce is bubbling up around the edges of the veggies.  Serve!!

Fried Potatoes

2 leftover Perfect Baked Potatoes

Sour cream, about 1/2 cup

Parmesan, about 1/2 cup

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Chop potatoes into bite-sized pieces.  Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add potatoes and fry until they start to brown a little.  Skin on or off is entirely up to you!  Once the potatoes are heated through and just a very little browned, remove from heat, stir in sour cream and Parmesan.  Serve!

Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Pudding Pokes

Basic Yellow Cake recipe

3/4 c butter

3 eggs

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 3/4 c sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 c milk

1/2 c chocolate chips

Allow butter and eggs to sit at room temp for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease and flour 9″ x 13″ baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds.  Gradually add in sugar, beating on medium, until well combined.  Scrape sides of bowl, beat two minutes more.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  Alternately add flour mixture and milk, beating on low after each addition, just until combined.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes for 9″x13″ pan (I actualy had to put this back in for an extra 20 minutes before it was done, so I cooked 50 minutes)

Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan before frosting.

When cooled, poke holes in the cake with the handle of a wooden spoon.

Prepare instant chocolate pudding to package directions, family size package.  Pour over cake, making sure it gets into those holes and leaks down the sides a little.  Allow to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes before serving.  YUM!

Tuesday

Ranch Fried Chicken, Bacon and Tomato sandwich

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 pkgs ranch dressing mix

2 cups flour, divided

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 pound bacon

1 large tomato, sliced

Cut the bacon into about 1/2″ wide pieces, cook until crispy, remove to paper towel lined plate to drain, set aside.

Trim any excess skin or fat from the chicken, cut into chunks, then pound those to about 1/4″ thickness between two sheets of plastic wrap.

Put 1 cup plain flour in one wide shallow bowl.

Put the eggs, beaten, into another wide shallow bowl.

Mix the other cup of flour, ranch dressing mix, and a little salt and pepper, in a third wide shallow bowl.

Dip each piece of chicken first in the plain flour, then in the egg, then in the seasoned flour.  Fry in shallow oil over medium heat until golden brown and crisp.  Remove to paper towels to drain excess oil while cooking remaining chicken.  I can usually do 3-4 pieces at a time.

Serve on bread, toasted or not is up to you, with bacon, tomato and your choice of sauces.  YUM!

Wednesday

Jet’s Pizza

Thursday

Chicken and Sausage with Tomato Sauce

3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 rope Kielbasa

1 Jar spaghetti sauce

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend

1/8 Tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tsp orange Everglades seasoning

1 Jar (that sauce jar!) water

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

Cut the sausage into roughly 2″ pieces.  Don’t cut the chicken, in fact, frozen works really well for this.

Put everything in a crock pot, mix a little, cook on LOW 8-10 hours.  Using a slotted spoon, fish out the chicken, which should be falling apart at this point, the sausage and beans, put on a serving platter.

Serve with rice or pasta, your choice, and a little of the sauce from the pot poured over each serving.

Parmesan Orzo

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

1 stick butter

1 c Parmesan

Cook pasta to package directions.  Drain.  Melt butter in the hot pan, add back in pasta, and add Parmesan.  Mix well and serve!

Steamed Veggies

Friday

Burritos and Taquitos

Frozen ones, sorry, no recipe this time!

Saturday

Taco Bell

Yes, we ate out.  I just didn’t feel like cooking after working half the day, then housework, just didn’t have it in me!  But, once I ate dinner, I made…

Chicken soup

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

4 pkts chicken flavor Flavor boost

2 pkts vegetable flavor Flavor boost

4 quarts water

2 Tbsp green Everglades seasoning

1 Tsp garlic powder

1/2 bag frozen green beans

1/2 bag frozen sliced carrots

1/2 c frozen peas

1/2 box Orzo style pasta

In a LARGE stock pot, pour in water, add flavor packets and spices, mix well.  Add in chicken.  Cook over LOW heat about 2 hours.  Increase heat so that water boils, add in pasta, cook about 15-20 minutes, or until pasta is well done.  Reduce heat again, add in veggies, cook another 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, serve, or allow to cool and put into serving size containers.  Freezable!!  This made about a dozen large servings, about the same size as Chunky soup cans, but a lot better for you.

Sunday

Breakfast for Dinner

Bacon, cooks crispy

Scrambled eggs with cheese

Crescent Rolls

Simple, quick meal that everyone loves.  I added a sliced tomato to my plate, but I’m the only one that likes them…

Apple Banana Dessert

1 small apple

1/4 cup dried banana slices

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp butter

1/4 C old fashioned oats

Core apple, cut into wedges, then slice the wedges into very small slices.  Put into a microwave safe bowl.  Add in the dried banana slices.  Top with the butter and brown sugar.  Microwave 1 minute, mix well, microwave another 4 minutes.  Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before serving!  Top with a little ice cream, YUM!!!

Anyway, that’s it for this week.  Hope you found something you want to try!!

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza day 299-305 (week 44)

November 4, 2012 at 10:02 pm (Food, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you all had an amazing week, and were inspired by something, anything at all, to do something new or interesting.  I’ve been trying all kinds of new things lately, and it’s been awesome!

For starters, technically, on paper at least, I’m still the scout-master of the cub scout pack William was in last school year.  So, I get things in the mail, like the ID cards for the new scouts this year, so I had to trek out to the scout meeting Monday night, kind of got sucked into a conversation with some of the current scout moms, was there a LITTLE longer than the 5 minutes I had planned on.

Halloween was Tuesday, and that always makes things interesting.  Got home from work, with William, at about 5:30.  Not even close to dark yet, but kids being kids, he was a little anxious to get out there and start collecting candy.  So, quick dinner of a sandwich and chips for him, and off we went to his friend’s house so they could go together.  We get there, his dad had made chili, and since I didn’t actually get to eat, I had some.   Ummm…  I’m not much for spicy food, but I was SO hungry, I ate more than I probably should have, even though my mouth was burning from the first bite.  I didn’t want to be rude, but it really wasn’t my thing!  I think I need to find a chili recipe I like, and play with it until it’s the way I like chili!!  Anyway, we had to wait around a little for a couple other boys to show up, but not long, they were all excited!  And for the first time I can remember, I didn’t take the boys out!!  William’s friend Noah’s dad took them all, they were gone for over an hour, and they came back very happy with their haul!  Then all the adults got to sit around and talk while the boys played video games for about an hour, very nice!  We don’t have many friends outside of work and family, so this was really a nice change for us.

Before I forget, here’s the pumpkin I made for the office:

I did decoupage with construction paper leaves, sprinkled on a little glitter, painted some veins on the leaves, added some cute wire spirals on top and hung paper bats from them.

So, the rest of the week was relatively quiet on the home front.  Mike had a good week at work, including working Saturday at the travelling Vietnam wall, (did I mention he works for the VA?) met some nice folks, made some good contacts for work.

End of the month for me is always a little hectic, but was relatively calm this time around.  My vendors did mostly what they were supposed to do, I found out some new computer tricks for them for using the company website, so it was actually a good week!  While Mike was working Saturday, I spent the day doing little chores around the house, cleaned the cat box, kept laundry going, did dishes, cleaned up the kitchen, got ready for cooking today.  Got blood work done, VOTED, picked up prescriptions, did my nails, too!  But I didn’t try to do it all one right after the other like I usually do, I took little breaks between chores, so I didn’t feel like I had been running all day, felt good to have things done!  Didn’t make the curtains I was supposed to make for my friend, but I got so much cooking done today, I should be able to knock them out tomorrow after work.

Oh, and since I finished that blue cuff bracelet last weekend, I started a new one in golds and browns, looks very classy so far.  I’m really liking it!!  Part of yesterday, though, was sorting out some beads, taking some of the cuff bases I made last weekend and putting together beads with the cuffs in bags, so I’m ready to start the next one as soon as this one is done.  I am SO loving this bead embroidery!  I conquered my fear of it, and it’s AWESOME!

So, I know you’re here for the food, not the gossip, so I guess I should get to it!  Here we go…

Monday

Parmesan Orzo

1/2 box Orzo pasta, cooked to package directions

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 stick butter, melted

Melt butter in the hot pan from the pasta, add back the pasta and the cheese, mix well.  Serve!

Chicken Sausage

1 package chicken sausage, cut into rounds, then the rounds cut into quarters

Pan fry until browned and almost crispy.  Serve over your favorite pasta!

Steamed veggies

No broccoli at the store when I went shopping, so we had peas, green beans and carrots.  Nothing fancy, just cooked in the microwave. Fill a microwave safe dish with veggie of choice, add a little butter, salt and pepper, microwave on HIGH 5 minutes for a small bowl, about 1/2 a bag, or 7 minutes for a large bowl, or a whole bag.  Comes out perfect every time!

Tuesday

I will be totally honest, I forgot to write it down, and whatever it was, it was so BLAH, I don’t remember what it was!

Wednesday

Sandwiches and candy!  Hope you all had a HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Thursday

Chicken Fillet Sandwiches

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

1/8 cup Everglades seasoning (orange one this time, could have used a little more!)

3 eggs

Oil for frying

Bread or tortillas, your choice!

Trim any excess skin or fat from chicken, cut into strips about 1/2″ wide, the full thickness of the breast.

Place the pieces between two layers of plastic wrap, and pound them to about 1/4 in thick or less with a meat hammer.

Beat the eggs and put them in a wide shallow dish.

Mix the flour and seasoning in another wide shallow bowl.

Dip the chicken pieces first in the egg, then in the flour.

Fry in a skillet over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve on bread or wrapped in a tortilla, with your favorite sauce and toppings!  YUM!

Steamed Veggies

Once again, green beans, peas and carrots.

Friday

Braised Pork Chops

4 boneless pork chops

1 can diced tomatoes

1 packet Flavor Boost veggie flavor

1 Tsp garlic powder

Preheat a deep pan over medium heat.  Sear pork chops without any added fat until browned on both sides.  The fat on the chops is enough!  Add in tomatoes with all their liquid, flavor packet, garlic, and salt and pepper to your taste.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 15 minutes or until chops are done through.  Serve with a little of the tomato sauce and some Parmesan cheese, YUM!!

Biscuits

Sorry, not homemade, canned, but still yummy!

Steamed Veggies

The usual, green beans, peas and carrots, but I glazed the carrots with a little brown sugar this time.

Here’s my plate:

Saturday

Bacon Cheeseburger Roll

Got this idea from a post I saw on Facebook, but theirs was for a taco roll…

1 pound ground beef

2 cans crescent rolls

1 pound bacon

About 1 cup shredded cheese

Corn meal to sprinkle on pizza stone

Cut bacon into bite sized pieces, cook until crispy, set aside.

Cook ground beef until no longer pink, drain, mix in bacon.

While those are cooking, sprinkle a pizza stone with a little cornmeal to keep the roll dough from sticking.  Separate the crescent rolls into triangles.  Lay them on the pizza stone, overlapping towards the center, so that the sort of look like a flower, skinny ends out towards the edges.  Press the overlapping pieces together, and flatten them as much as you can towards the center, fill the hole if you can!

Sprinkle on about 1/3 of the cheese, then spoon in the meat mixture.  You MIGHT have a little leftover, depends on how much you want to pile up the meat.

Fold the outer “petals” of dough into the center, pressing them into the middle.  Top with remaining cheese.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, cover with foil for the first half, remove for the second half.

Microwave Chocolate Chip Cookies (for the boys)

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp butter, melted

1 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

3 drops vanilla

1/4 cup flour

2 Tbsp chocolate chips

Mix egg yolk, sugars, vanilla and butter together until smooth.  Add in flour, working into a soft dough.  Work in chips.  Microwave on HIGH 50 seconds.  Allow to cook at least 2 minutes before serving!

Apple Cherry Microwave Dessert

1 small apple

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/8 cup brown sugar

1/8 cup oats

1 Tbsp melted butter

Core apple, cut into small slices, place in microwave safe dish.  Add in butter, brown sugar, oats.  Microwave on HIGH 1 minute.  Add in cherries, stir well, microwave on HIGH another 1-3 minutes, depending on your microwave.  Cook until cherries are plump, and apples are soft.  Mine took 1 minute, but some microwaves might take more.  Allow to cool at least 3 minutes!  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it’s AWESOME!

Sunday

Or should I say COOKING DAY!  Wow, I feel like I accomplished so much today!

Sausage Egg and Cheese Casserole

12 eggs

1 cup half and half

3 Tbsp flour

4 sausage patties

1 cup shredded cheese

Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with butter flavor cooking spray.

Thaw sausage patties, cut into VERY small pieces.  Put in the prepared dish.

Mix eggs, half and half, flour and shredded cheese together.  Pour over sausage in prepared dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

For us, I let this cool completely, cut it into 8 pieces, and put them in containers for quick breakfasts on the run during the week.

Bread Machine Focaccia

1 Cup warm water

3 cups flour (I did 2 cups white bread flour and 1 cup wheat flour)

1 Tsp salt

1 1/2 Tsp olive oil

2 Tsp dried oregano (or in my case, I didn’t have oregano, so I used Italian seasoning mix)

1 1/2 Tsp bread machine yeast

Put all this in the bread machine, in the order listed, set machine to DOUGH and turn it on.

When done, turn dough out onto a floured surface.

Oil a jelly roll pan, or like I did a pizza pan.  Stretch and press dough into pan, cover and let rise for 40-45 minutes or until doubled.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Poke the dough with your finger tips creating small indentations.

Mix 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, sprinkle over dough.  Then spinkle over 1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley.  Bake at 400 degrees 25-30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.

Potato and Parsnip Gratin

3 large potatoes

4 medium parsnips

Parmesan cheese

1 cup half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

Garlic powder

Wash and peel potatoes.  Slice on a mandolin.  Pour over some salted water to keep from browning.

Wash and peel parsnips and slice on the mandolin.

Spray a 13″ x 9″ casserole dish with butter flavor cooking spray.

Start layering potatoes in the bottom of the dish.  Layer in parsnips. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese.  Repeat.  Should have four layers of potatoes and parsnips.  Pour on half and half, press down to work out air bubbles and make sure the cream is saturated into the layers.  Top with a little extra Parmesan.  Cover with tin foil.  Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, remove foil, bake another 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft to a fork.  Serve!

I actually let these cool, cut into 8 servings, and put them in containers for later in the week.

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Wash and dry large baking potatoes, however many you want to cook.  Poke holes all the way around the potato.

Coat with a little olive oil, sprinkle with a little salt.  Now, you can put them right on the rack in the oven, or you can put them in a pan.  In the pan takes just a little longer, but I like it better because they are easier to handle as a group rather than one at a time.

Bake at 350 degrees for at least an hour, longer if needed depending on how big your potatoes are.  Mine were so big, I cooked them for an hour and a half, and they could have used a little more time.  They are done when you can cut them open, give them a little squeeze, and they pop open nice and fluffy.

Serve with your favorite toppings!

Potato and Parsnip Chips

So, I had a few slices of potatoes and parsnips leftover from making the gratin, and William has been asking for parsnip chips (hard to believe, but it’s true!), so I made some.

Heat about 1″ deep oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, drop in a handful of EITHER parsnips or potatoes, they do take different amounts of time to cook.  Potatoes take about 3-5 minutes to cook, parsnips take 1-2 minutes to cook.  Remove from heat, sprinkle with a little salt, and serve!

Chicken Fillets

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour

1/8 cup Everglades seasoning (green this time)

3 eggs

Oil for frying

Bread or tortillas, your choice!

Trim any excess skin or fat from chicken, cut into strips about 1/2″ wide, the full thickness of the breast.

Place the pieces between two layers of plastic wrap, and pound them to about 1/4 in thick or less with a meat hammer.

Beat the eggs and put them in a wide shallow dish.

Mix the flour and seasoning in another wide shallow bowl.

Dip the chicken pieces first in the egg, then in the flour.

Fry in a skillet over medium heat, about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Serve on bread or wrapped in a tortilla, with your favorite sauce and toppings!  YUM!

Pan Fried Steaks

2 New York strip steaks

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper

Large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter, add steaks, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cook about 7 minutes per side for medium well.  Boy were these good!  Sorry, didn’t get photos, but I was pretty proud of how they came out.  I think it’s probably been 20 years since I’ve done a steak this way!

Steamed Veggies

The usual, green beans, peas, carrots.

So, all in all, a very busy day, but a really good one!  I had FUN!!

And to end the post, here are the nails for this week…

So that’s it for this week!  Hope you all found something inspiring here…

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 250

September 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’ve all had a Wonderful Weekend!!

It’s been a busy weekend around here, but it felt so good to have cool stuff to do instead of just chores!  If you read yesterday’s entry, you know I cooked a LOT, well I continued cooking today.  Plus I finished up the laundry, scooped the cat box, emptied the trash, and made some jewelry.  YEAH!

I started off the day by making the frosting for the cinnamon rolls I made yesterday, very easy!

Cinnamon Roll Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbsp milk

1/2 Tsp vanilla

Mix well, spread on the cinnamon rolls and serve!

Then, I got some laundry going, and sat down to play with my beads!!

So here’s the bracelet I did today, lots of aluminum chain, lots of PURPLE, very cool!

And some blue elephant earrings…

And I started another pill/needle bottle necklace…

And now for the food!!

Perfect Baked Potatoes

Large russet potatoes, washed and dried

Sea salt

Olive oil (you can use vegetable oil if you want)

Pierce potatoes once on each side.  Coat lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Place on baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and soft when poked.  Remove from pan and serve.  Top with your choice of toppings, tonight we did just butter, salt and pepper, but they are also good with sour cream, shredded cheese, broccoli, chili, really whatever YOU want to put on them!  I actually cooked a whole bag of potatoes so we’ll have some laying around ready to top.  PLUS, they freeze well, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad!

Pot Roast

About a 4-5 pound roast, use your favorite cut, I prefer the tip roast

2 packets Flavor Boost, beef flavor

About 1/4 cup dried onion flakes

Water

Place roast in crock pot, add in beef Flavor Boost and onion flakes, salt and pepper if you want, and just enough water to almost cover the roast.  Cook on LOW 8-10 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.  Remove to serving platter and allow to rest while you use some of the juices to make gravy.

I use a packaged gravy mix, 3 cups juice with 9 Tbsp gravy mix, bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute, turns out just about perfect every time!

Garlic Butter Crescents

Crescent roll dough

1/2 stick butter

About 4 Tbsp garlic powder

Unroll dough.

Melt the butter in a cup, add in the garlic powder and mix well.

Brush the garlic butter onto the unrolled dough.

Roll them up from the short side to the tip, and brush again with garlic butter.

Bake per package directions, serve!

And of course we had some veggies, broccoli and peas, kind of our usual.

Then I made a breakfast casserole for during the week.  Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures.  But it smells awesome!

Breakfast Casserole

12 eggs

1/2 cup half and half

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup shredded cheese

1 chicken smoked sausage rope

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with butter flavor cooking spray.  Set aside.

Beat the eggs, add in the cream.  Pour into prepared dish.  Sprinkle in the cheese.

Chop the sausage into small pieces, cook in a medium skillet until lightly caramelized.  Add into eggs and cheese, make sure it sinks into the eggs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes, depending on your oven, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and top is lightly browned.

I let this cool for about 30 minutes, then cut it into 8 servings and put them in individual containers so everyone can just grab, heat and eat in the morning!

So I think that’s it.  I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I don’t know what.

Until next time, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 200-202

July 23, 2012 at 9:27 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  I guess I’m proving, to myself more than anyone, that I’m just not up to doing this every single day and working and keeping up with the house and doing crafty things…  so I’m just going to post as much as I can, and that will have to be OK!  I’m OK with it…  hope you can be, too!

Anyway, let’s see, last thing I posted was Friday night, and we went out!  LOL!  What’s happened since then…

Saturday was grocery shopping, short list, but I came home with I think 8 Walmart shopping bags full of stuff.  Lots of fresh fruit, meats, bread, some frozen veggies…  fridge is full, freezer is almost full, cupboard is well stocked but not overflowing.  Washed four out of five loads of laundry, cleaned up the kitchen.  Went to Bealls Outlet, FINALLY found a purse I liked for a price I wanted to pay!  Also got two tops and a pairs of jean capris for work, a cup for my desk, and a pair of earrings I plan on copying.

I know it was movie night, but we didn’t do snack type foods for a change, we had Mexican!  Frozen burritos, but cooked my way.  Frozen taquitos, just cooked to package directions, nothing special.  And home made quesadillas!  So here’s how you do it…

Semi-Home Made Burritos

1 pkg frozen burritos of your choice (we like both the beef and bean, and the chicken and rice varieties)

1 small can enchilada sauce

1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange burritos in a large pan with at least a little bit of a lip, you can’t do this on a completely flat pan, it makes a mess!

I believe the package directions say to cook 25 minutes.  I cook them for 22 minutes, then take them out.  Pour enchilada sauce over partially cooked burritos, making sure to get them covered well, take your time!  Spread shredded cheese over all burritos.  Put them back in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is well melted and sauce is hot.  Serve!

I like to serve this with a little bit of sour cream, or if you don’t have that, they are really good with a little ranch dressing on the side, too.

Home Made Beef Quesadilla

1 pound ground beef chuck

2/3 cup water

1/4 cup taco seasoning

About 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese

1 pkg soft taco sized flour tortillas

Butter flavor cooking spray

Brown and drain ground chuck.  Put back into skillet.  Add in water and taco seasoning, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened.

Preheat another large skillet, at least large enough to easily fit a tortilla.  Spray with butter flavor cooking spray.

Put in a tortilla, spread about 1/4 cup shredded cheese, about 1/4 cup meat, another 1/4 cup shredded cheese, top with another tortilla.  Spray top with cooking spray.  Cook about 2-3 minutes or until tortilla is browned and a little crispy, carefully flip and cook the other side.  Cheese will be very melty and yummy!!  Remove to serving platter, cut into 6-8 wedges with a pizza wheel.  Repeat until out of tortillas and meat, you might have some cheese left over.  Serve with sour cream, ranch dressing, enchilada sauce or salsa!

You can also substitute chicken for the ground beef for a lighter and slightly healthier dish, but the taco sauce made with the water and seasoning isn’t quite the same with chicken as with beef.  It still tastes really good, though!!  I like to put a little salsa inside the quesadilla when I use chicken, just makes it moister.

So, Sunday, no cooking going on.  Went to my mom’s for the day, spent the day swimming with my boys, eating mom’s picnic food (hot dogs, potato salad, deviled eggs, chips, baked beans, white cake with chocolate icing…  YUMMY!!!), mom bought me some tops and some new sandals, and then she and I clipped, sorted and tallied coupons that her group sends to a military base in Italy for the military wives to use at the commissary!  I just thinks that’s so cool!!  She said that we ended up with almost $4000 worth of coupons in that batch.

And last but not least, today…  Monday was a little crazy at work, two people called in sick, and silly me, I volunteered to cover for one of them!  Between my inbox, his inbox, my reports, his reports, I didn’t quite finish everything I was supposed to do today, but I think I did OK!  It was the busiest day I’ve ever had since I started this job, first time I even came close to feeling overwhelmed.

James and I made Cottage Pie, and then I made pineapple angle food cupcakes.  So here are the recipes…

Cottage Pie

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

2 Tbsp dried onion flakes

1 Tsp garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups water

6 Tbsp gravy mix

3 pounds potatoes

1 cup shredded cheese of your choice

Wash and peel potatoes, cut into chunks, boil until soft.  Drain, put back in pot.  Add in 1 stick butter and about 1/2 cup milk, mash with a hand mixer, adding in additional milk if needed, about 2 Tbsp at a time, until smooth and creamy.

Brown and drain ground beef, put back into skillet.  Add in garlic, onion, salt and pepper.  Add in water and gravy mix.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently if not constantly, about 10 minutes.

Heat oven to broil.

Layer meat mixture in bottom of casserole dish.  Cover with potatoes, smoothing over the top.  Top with shredded cheese.  Put dish on a cookie sheet to keep from messing up your oven in case it boils over.  Heat about 5-8 minutes under the broiler, just until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Serve!

Pineapple Angel Cakes

1 box angel food cake mix

1 can UNDRAINED crushed pineapple

Mix these together very well, using hand mixer.  Prepare muffin cups with butter flavor cooking spray.  This makes AT LEAST 24 normal sized cupcakes.  I actually ended up with 12 regular sized and 12 jumbo!!

Cook the normal sized ones 15 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cook the jumbos 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  When cooled, you can serve plain or top with whipped cream, strawberries, blueberries, it’s up to you!  They are REALLY good plain!!

So, that’s it for today.  Warehouse 13 season premier is on, so I gotta go now.

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 176 & 177

June 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm (Food) (, , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

It’s been a sort of slow week around here, but that’s OK, I think we need a week like this from time to time.

William is well settled in to his summer routine, gotta go get him those books so he can get busy reading!

James is working, Mike just got home a little while ago, I had a quiet day at work.

Anyway, last night we sort of had a free-for-all dinner.  I made a couple of quick and easy baked potatoes for Mike and I, William had a burrito, James went to a card game, so no idea what he ate before he left.  Nothing special…

Tonight though, I made a good meal, that no one wanted to eat!  I’ll give you the recipe anyway…

Pot Roast and Potatoes

1 chuck roast, you pick the size and how much fat you like on it – I like it a little leaner

3-4 medium potatoes, washed and cut into bite sized pieces

1 packet dry French onion soup mix

2 quarts water (or whatever it takes to fill your crock pot)

Yes, we’re heading for the crock pot again!  I just love that thing.

Put your roast and cut up potatoes in the pot.  Mix the water and onion soup mix in a pitcher, pour over the meat and potatoes.  Cook on LOW 8-10 hours or HIGH 4-5 hours.

Remove the roast and potatoes to a serving tray.  Strain some of the juices from the pot, I did about 4 cups, and add in some brown gravy mix.  Stir well, simmer until thickened, and serve with the meat and potatoes!

Yummy meal, and leftovers too!

Anyway, that’s it for now.  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 138

May 19, 2012 at 8:44 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend!

I feel like I got a lot done today, but I also had some fun, so it’s a good day in my mind.

5 loads of laundry down, 2 more to go.  Of course, how in the world 4 people can make 8+ loads of laundry in one week is beyond me!  (counting the two loads I did earlier in the week…)  Although, if I really think about it…

Mike wears one set of clothes to work, and changes into something comfy when he gets home.

I wear one set of clothes to work, and change into something comfy when I get home.

William wears uniforms to school, and we make him change into casual clothes when he gets home.

So James is the only one around here who doesn’t wear two sets of clothes every day, but only because he isn’t working every single           day!  If he was, it would be a uniform for work, and casual clothes at home for him, too.

Anyway…  cleaned up the kitchen, Mike helped, was getting way out of hand, think we need to have a family meeting about it.  No one wants to unload the dishwasher after work or school, I don’t want James to get stuck doing it every day, but it needs to get done.  Have to admit, I got a little snippy with Mike “discussing” it while we cleaned.  Think that’s why he helped, but I’m not questioning or complaining!

So, started the cooking marathon in between loads of laundry and dishes, here are the first recipes for the weekend:

Dinner Rolls

7 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup + 3 tbsp) 80-90 degree water

3 cups bread flour (can mix white and wheat or rye)

2 Tbsp dry milk

3 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tsp salt

3 Tbsp butter, cut into 4 pieces

1 packet active dry yeast

Add water to pan of bread machine (2nd best investment ever!).  Add flour, dry milk, sugar and salt to pan.  Tap pan to settle dry ingredients, level with a spatula then push a little into the corners of the pan.  Place butter in corners of pan.  Make a small well in the center of the ingredients, add the yeast.  Lock pan into bread maker.  Set machine for dough, press start.  My machine runs for 1 hour 20 minutes on this cycle, doing most of the kneading and such for me, which is WAY cool!

When the machine is done, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, cover, allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Now, at this point, you can turn this into crescent rolls, cloverleaf rolls, four leaf clover rolls or breadsticks.  I opted for some cloverleaf rolls, and some breadsticks, only because I don’t own two muffin pans of the same size, so I didn’t have enough spots for all of this to be rolls!

So, pull off a small piece of dough, about half the size of a golf ball, roll it into a ball, put it in a greased muffin pan.  Put three dough balls in each muffin spot.  If you have enough muffin spots, you can make 18 rolls.  If not, you can do what I did, and take the rest of the dough, split it into four pieces, roll them into ropes, put them on a greased cookie sheet.  Brush them with melted butter.  If you want, you can sprinkle the breadsticks with garlic, or parmesan, or herbs at this point.  Cover the rolls and breadsticks, let them rise another 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, serve warm!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

1 bag frozen meatballs

1 can crushed or chunked pineapple, DO NOT DRAIN (in juice, not sugar or syrup)

2 bottles sweet and sour sauce

1 green pepper, chopped

About 3 cups water

3 Tbsp soy sauce

Mix the water, sweet and sour sauce and soy sauce in a pitcher.  Put the meatballs in a crock pot (best investment for the kitchen ever!).  Add in the pineapple, including the juice and the green pepper.  Cover with the liquid.  Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours.  At this point, you can strain the liquid into a sauce pan, add in a few tablespoons of corn starch, heat over medium high heat until thick.  Add back in the meatballs, green pepper and pineapple, serve over rice!

Now, I also started cooking for tomorrow, here’s what’s cooking:

Potato Soup

4 pounds (more or less) potatoes

1 packet chicken Flavor Boost

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tsp black pepper

1/8 Tsp red pepper

1/8 Tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 quart water

Wash and peel potatoes, cut into bite sized pieces, put in the crock pot.  Mix everything else in a pitcher until thoroughly mixed, pour over potatoes.  Cook on HIGH 3-4 hours, or low 7-8 hours.

Add in 1 cup half and half, and 1/2 cup flour mixed with 1/2 cup water (should be a loose paste) and cook another half an hour or until thickened.  Serve with your choice of toppings, such as sour cream, bacon bits, chopped scallions, cheese, etc.

Perfect Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Pierce potatoes once on each side.  Coat lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Place on baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and soft when poked.  Remove from pan and serve.

Still trying to figure out what I’m cooking tomorrow, plus I need to make stuff for lunches for William, but that’s tomorrow.  I think I’m done for today, so until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 119

April 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  Here we are again, another week gone, another weekend gone, and ready for a new week to begin.  Hope you’ve all had a Super Sunday!

We’ve had a pretty good day around here.  My folks brought us a FREE 42″ flatscreen TV, it’s all hooked up and we’ve been watching movies all afternoon.  Mike’s been playing with the color and contrast and stuff, trying to get that perfect picture.  I think he’s finally got it!

William had a little homework, plus normal Sunday chores, and except for a little complaining, he’s gotten it all done with a minimum of fuss.  That’s a nice change!

James is out and about, be home later.  He’s had my car all weekend, waiting to see it come home OK!  It’s not that I don’t trust him, but without that car, I can’t get to work tomorrow and we’re screwed.

I did the grocery shopping, finished up the laundry, cleaned up the kitchen, and managed to cook a decent meal in the process.  Here’s what we had:

Pot Roast

1 Eye Round Roast, about 3 pounds

1 carton beef broth

1 Tsp dried rosemary leaves

2 Tbsp kosher salt

Put everything in the crock pot, cook on HIGH 4 hours, or on LOW 8 hours.  Remove from pot, allow to rest about 10 minutes, slice against the grain of the meat and serve.

Baked Potatoes

4 medium russet potatoes, washed and dried

Kosher salt

Olive oil

Pierce potatoes once on each side.  Coat lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Place on baking pan, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, or until done through and soft when poked.  Remove from pan and serve.  Top with your choice of toppings, tonight we did just butter, salt and pepper, but they are also good with sour cream, shredded cheese, broccoli, chili, really whatever YOU want to put on them!  I actually cooked a whole bag of potatoes so we’ll have some laying around ready to top.  PLUS, they freeze well, so you don’t have to worry about them going bad!

Plus we had a light fruit salad, actually the last of what I made last weekend.  We really just had pineapple and grapes, because that’s all that was left, but I had to use it up because I just finished making a new fruit salad for this week with pineapple, mango, papaya and grapes.

So, hope you all enjoy something from this meal, or the whole meal, and have a wonderful rest of the weekend.

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 115

April 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm (Food) (, , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  It’s been a Wonderful Wednesday around here, hope yours is just a good!

Third day on the new job, starting to get a better handle on how everything fits together, actually got to do a little hands on training AND a little work today, and I only made one mistake!  The drive in was horrible, there was a bad accident on one route, which of course caused heavier traffic on the other possible route, so it took me an hour to make a 20 minute trip!!  But the boss was really understanding, said a lot of folks were late today, not just me.  So far she seems like a pretty good boss, I mean, how far wrong can you go with a red headed Irish woman!  And everyone around me is really helpful, very easy to talk to, no one has any attitude issues that I can see, which is a HUGE plus in my book!

Anyway, James is at work, got a ride from a friend, got her to feel sorry for him, need to make sure he gives her gas money, or at least OFFERS!  William had a good day at school, FCAT’s are almost over, but he has homework tonight, not too happy about it either.  Mike had a busy day, but a good day, and his drive wasn’t too bad for a change.

Seems we didn’t completely avoid the HOA lawn police.  SOMEONE came and cut our grass today, which is sort of funny considering the neighbor literally next door has weeds (no grass, just weeds) over a foot tall, which is part of why we always have weeds, but no one is cutting THEIR “lawn”.  Oh well, guess we’ll get a bill for that at some point.  Better be cheap, though, since we pulled all the weeds, trimmed the bushes, and did the edging last Friday.  AND I made sure to e-mail the jerks, and got a read receipt!!  I’m ready for them…

So, we had another quick and simple dinner tonight.  I had pork chops thawed out, so I threw those on the grill.  Salt and pepper on both sides before grilling, cooked about 5 minutes on each side at medium-low setting on our gas grill.  AWESOME!  Made another baked potato for Mike and I to split, since it was about 2 pounds, that was PLENTY of potato!!  William just wanted some Mandarin oranges to go with his dinner, figure he’ll hit me up for chips or popcorn later, but right now he’s doing homework and trying to get done so he can go ride his bike before it gets dark.

Sorry I don’t have any big complicated recipes tonight, but I just wasn’t up for it!  Thinking about either fried chicken or curried chicken tomorrow night, so we’ll have something cool for you either way!

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 92

April 3, 2012 at 12:39 am (Food) (, , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!  So glad you could join me again on this journey…

Monday…  what can I say!  Busy day, but then Monday always is around here.  Cleaning up from whatever we did over the weekend, not much in this case, but still had a messy kitchen to deal with.  Worked on a new necklace a little, but I’m running out of beading line, and money, so I think I’ll have to take a break, at least until next weekend anyway.  Argued with a bead supplier over a back-order, they just don’t get it!  I don’t understand why when I order 100 of something, and they have 10 packs in stock, but not the 100 pack, why won’t they just send me 10 of the 10 packs!  It’s still 100 either way, but they make more money on the 10 packs…  guess I get to make a side trip to the local bead store for a suitable replacement part tomorrow.  Gotta get going on a custom order!!  Then, of course, it’s scout night, that went well.  The boys are working on a sportsman badge, so they played marbles and ping-pong tonight, that was interesting.  And, to top it all off, I applied for 12 new job postings, and heard back on three from a couple weeks ago, more “thanks but no thanks”, but at least they are getting back to me instead of just ignoring me!  Maybe my mother is right and I should be the one getting the cooking degree, maybe then I could find a job!

Anyway, here are the two recipes for tonight, both very easy and very tasty:

Fried Fish Bites (yeah, this is a repeat, I know)

1 cup flour

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup Everglades seasoning

4 eggs

3 Tilapia filets, cut into bite sized pieces

In one wide shallow bowl, mix flour, bread crumbs and seasoning, set aside.

In one wide shallow bowl, beat eggs, set aside.

Put cut fish pieces into eggs, coat well.  Remove a few pieces at a time and place in flour mixture, coat well.  Once coated, fry in oil heated over medium heat, cooking about 2-3 minutes per side until light brown and crispy.  Remove to paper towel lined serving tray, and serve warm.

Home Made French Fries

4 large russet potatoes, washed, eyes removed, UNPEELED

Cut potatoes into thin french fry slices. Fry in hot oil approx 8-10 minutes, or until deep golden brown.  Remove from oil to paper towel lined serving tray, salt, serve warm!  I think I need to work on this one a little more, these weren’t very crispy, but they did taste good!

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!  They are ALL gone!

Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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The Great 2012 Cooking Extravaganza! Day 82 83 and 84

March 25, 2012 at 11:21 pm (Food) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hello again friends, and welcome back!

I know, I know, I was incognito for a couple of days, but it was SO worth it!  Had a really cool weekend with my scouts, went to an event instead of planning badge related things for them all day, and they all really enjoyed themselves.  If you are in the Tampa Bay area this time of year next year, check out Planes, Trains and Automobiles at the Plant City Airport.  It’s a nice day out, very family friendly, food isn’t completely unreasonably priced (hot dogs for $2, icees the same for small ones, sodas for $1…  definitely cheaper than the fair!), and kids between 6 and 17 get a free airplane ride if you don’t mind waiting a while.  Plus, if you have a Boy Scout (not a Cub Scout, sorry), they can do activities to earn a merit badge.  Classic car show, with prizes.  Model airplane show, R/C mostly, from tiny little 6″ planes to 5′ long, or more!  And model trains!  Here are just a few photos….

So, on this little weekend adventure, I still managed to at least HELP cook some things, and William and I cooked for ourselves Friday night and Sunday morning, then he helped me make dinner tonight, so I’ve got a couple of outdoors things for you, and two oven dishes as well.  Here they are in order…

Friday night:

Chicken Sausage over an open flame, literally Johnsonville chicken sausages, cooked in William’s mess kit on my Sterno stove.  Sliced up and served warm, with fruit snacks and chips on the side, plus Cranberry-Pomegranate juice, which William has now decided is his favorite!  We also did standard S’mores over the campfire, but I think everyone already knows this ooey-gooey marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker treat!

Saturday:

Breakfast – egg, cheese and potato burritos, made from Scramblers ready made packets that we cooked in boiling water on a camp stove instead of in the microwave.  Could have been hotter, but it’s just so hard to tell when you’re cooking this way!  William and I packed sandwiches, cheese sticks and fruit snacks for our lunch at the event, rather than buying a bunch of food, but we did get fresh squeezed lemonade and Rita’s Italian Ice, and of course a big bag of kettle corn to bring home.  Dinner was a group meal for all the scouts, spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and green beans.  Each parent brought something to contribute, I brought the pasta, and cooked it on a camp stove, never done that before, so I guess that counts!  Also helped make the garlic bread on a griddle on the camp stove, that was interesting.  Then, the coolest new treat on the block, sort of like S’mores, but better!  Toasted marshmallow sandwiched between two candy chip (M&M) cookies!  YUM!!!  Thanks Ms. Lisa for that idea!!!

Sunday:

Breakfast, also using William’s mess kit and my Sterno stove, we had ham, egg and cheese scrambled together, almost an omelette, but better, the last of the cranberry-pomegranate juice, and some powdered donuts.  Not the healthiest breakfast, but it helped us get through packing up all that wet dirty camping gear without hurting each other, so it was all good!

Came home, unloaded and unpacked stuff, laid out the tents, tarps and chairs to dry (it rained overnight, a LOT), got some laundry going, and sort of snacked instead of having a real lunch.  BUT, William and I made dinner, his way:

Pigs in a Blanket

About half a package Little Smokies (maybe a little more than half)

1 can crescent roll dough

Unroll dough onto a flat surface, separate triangles, cut each triangle into three smaller triangles, roughly the same shape as the original.  Roll one Little Smoky in each triangle and place on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake at 375 degrees for 11-13 minutes (my oven took 12) or until golden brown on the edges.  Serve with dipping sauce of your choice!  We like ranch, BBQ, ketchup or salsa.

Ham and Cheese Crescents

1 can crescent roll dough

4 slices cheddar cheese

8 slices lunchmeat ham

Unroll crescent roll dough, separate into triangles.  Cut slices of cheese diagonally, and place on crescent rolls so that they roughly align with the shape of the rolls.  Arrange ham slices so that they will fit into rolls when rolled, and then roll up just like you would if making regular crescents.  Bake at 375 degrees 11-13 minutes or until golden brown (my oven actually took 15 minutes for this one).  Serve warm!

So, that was our busy weekend!  Hope you had a great one, too!  Until tomorrow, eat well, love well, live well!

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